THT Awards, Week 7by John Barten
May 23, 2008
For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.
All weekly stats are the previous Monday through Sunday. All season statistics are through Sunday.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Ian Snell got away with allowing the Cardinals to score five runs on him in four innings without receiving official blame from the scorer because Jason Isringhausen blew the save and the Pirates won a messy game.
Chris Sampson did him two better and allowed seven runs in five innings against a very weak Giants lineup and managed to pull out a no-decision courtesy of the San Francisco bullpen.
And we had matching no-decisions in a Rangers/Astros game in which Shawn Chacon and Sidney Ponson combined for eight and a third innings, 15 runs, 15 hits and four walks.
Finally, the cream of the crop was Josh Beckett, who got the win on Sunday despite allowing four home runs on his way to a seven-inning, six-run effort. The Red Sox offense lit up the Brewers for 11 runs in the game and Beckett improved to 5-3 on a day on which his ERA jumped almost half a point.
Bad Luck Division:
Cliff Lee and Shaun Marcum on Monday each spun gems, combining for 17 innings of shutout baseball. Of course they did this against each other, so neither got a decision.
Similarly, Chien-Ming Wang and Edwin Jackson combined for 14 innings with one run, 12 hits and four walks, but they too walked away with matching no-decisions in an 11-inning game.
Then there’s John Danks and Jered Weaver dueling for 13 combined scoreless.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Probably the worst I saw this week was Matt Herges allowing two runs in as many innings, blowing a one-run lead, wasting a very good effort by Greg Reynolds in his second career game. Herges benefited from the Rockies offense scoring three runs and handing him a gift.
Josh Rupe let an inherited runner score, blowing the save, but the Rangers offense picked him up and he got the W.
I often mention that a large part of collecting relief wins is pure luck. Jonathan Broxton had that kind of luck, closing out the eighth inning against the Brewers right before Guillermo Mota let three Dodgers score, blowing the lead and giving Broxton the win.
Oscar Villarreal had the same kind of luck and needed all of four pitches and one out to get a win against the Giants.
The Wes Littleton Award
Just to grab a random three-run save from this week’s pile, Eddie Guardado struck out two in a perfect ninth inning to get a save. But according to Fan Graphs, the Rangers already had a 96.3 percent chance of winning that game when he entered. He contributed only .037 WPA.
Holds suck, too
I’m officially requesting submissions to rename this category. It is becoming a regular feature, but I hate the name I came up with and I’m not clever enough to create something better on my own.
Trever Miller and Chad Qualls each got a hold in a game where he threw two pitches.
Ron Mahay had to throw only one pitch.
And recently I talked to reader Seamus about a couple of Saturday games. He mentioned that David Aardsma did his best to screw up Tim Wakefield’s day, allowing two inherited runners to score before mercifully ending the inning. He still got a hold even though he was awful in the game. And Seamus pointed out that Armando Benitez was still out there being Armando Benitez, as he got a hold in a game in which he had an ERA of 27. Honestly, what has me guessing as much as the ideas that they should get little shiny statistical buttons telling the world that they had helped win the game was the idea that Aardsma and Benitez were actually involved in games where the “save situation” was in play. It’s questionable that either should be on a major league roster. It’s downright bizarre that they’re protecting close leads.
Every given Tuesday
When the Royals and Marlins met up this weekend, they started the series a combined four games over .500 at .525. They went a combined 140-184 last season. If they hold up this pace, they will win a combined 30 more games than they did in 2007.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the continent, the Padres and Mariners were preparing to hook up as they stood at a combined 22 games below .500 at .369. Last year they won a combined 177 games for a .545 winning percentage.
The Joe Carter Award
Vlad Guerrero had six RBI this week, but hit a very Tony Pena Jr. like .214/.233/.357.
Also nominated are Reed Johnson, Tadahito Iguchi and Michael Young. All had six ribbies as well, but they hit .263/.318/.368, .250/.250/.393 and .250/.323/.393 respectively.
Season: Emil Brown is hitting .256/.282/.369 and is tied for 11th in all of baseball with 33 RBI. The two batters he’s tied with are Kevin Youkilis, who is batting a robust .329/.398/.605, and Adrian Gonzalez, who is the biggest weapon in a very anemic Padres lineup and has more home runs (11) than Brown has extra base hits (10). He’s hitting .274/.325/.520 and he plays half of his games in Petco Park. I will make the assertion that if Gonzalez isn’t the most underrated, overlooked player in the game today, he’s almost certainly on the short list of candidates for the honor.
This Week’s Dumbest Thing Ever
And stay off my lawn!
And in other dumb news, Tony Pena Jr. now has two intentional walks on the season after Marlins skipper Fredi Gonzalez held up four fingers on Friday. It’s sheer madness.
Finally, I have no words to explain how silly it is for the Cubs to bring in the corpse of Jim Edmonds and send down Felix Pie. The fact that Cubs management is capable of building a legitimate pennant contender and not being smart enough to figure out that Pie is their best available center fielder makes my head hurt. They’re not even willing to give the poor guy a chance to show that he’s better than a washed up formerly famous guy. It’s beyond comprehension. Did Pie run over somebody’s dog or insult somebody’s mother? Give him a chance or trade him already. It’s time to start the Free Felix movement.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Ryan Church managed only a .227 batting average this week. But of his five hits, one was a double and two were home runs. And he drew five walks in the process for a very nice .227/.357/.545 line.
Season: I knew Adam Dunn would make an appearance here sooner or later this season. He’s hitting .221/.364/.481 with 10 home runs, four doubles and only 15 singles.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average Is All I’ve Got Award
Jeff Francoeur hit nine singles on the week, but with only one double, no home runs and no walks in 35 at bats, his line was an unacceptable .286/.306/.314.
And Gary Matthews Jr. hit .280/.333/.320, which isn’t going to cut it.
Season: Jose Lopez has five walks in 176 at bats, which makes his .307 batting average into a very pathetic .312 OBP.
And what happened to Carl Crawford? .282/.315/.394 isn’t what we were expecting from him.
The Steve Balboni Award
Wladimir Balentien (who makes my spell check insists is actually Vladimir Valentine, which is either a truly great name or a truly horrible one and I can’t decide which) had 22 at bats and only two singles to go with his one double, one home run and three walks. The problem was that he fanned 11 times.
Season: Ryan Howard still lives in this territory this season. He’s struck out 64 times in 162 at bats, dooming him to a .191/.296/.414 line. He defied the Balboni Principle for one week, at least, hitting .318/.400/.773 despite going down on strikes 10 times in 22 at bats.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Geovany Soto collected two homers, five walks and five strikeouts in his 24 plate appearances.
Season: Ryan Howard lives here, too, with 64 K, 10 HR, 25 K in 189 PA.
Dan Uggla is also deserving of a mention; he’s at 13 HR, 20 BB, 44 K in 182 PA.
Rany has my full support. We should really expand it outside the scope of the Royals though. The state of nicknames in sports is worse than I ever thought it could be. We need to work on it.
Also, do you remember back in early April when we were all a little freaked out by the implication that Brandon Inge could be a pretty good hitter, even if it was in a small sample? Well, rest easy with the knowledge that he’s worked his way back down to .221/.327/.368 and all is right with the world.
This Week’s MVP
AL: Jose Guillen seems to be turning it around. He was on fire this week, going .458/.480/.917. Hey Jose, that was great, but as a Royals fan I ask, can you at least consider taking some walks? Thanks in advance.
Honorable mention goes to Josh Hamilton, who hit .429/.480/.952. Now he’s actually making better contact than last year, striking out in 12 percent of his plate appearances after ending last season with a 19 percent rate. Despite that, he’s actually showing more power&mash;his isolated slugging has bumped up 17 points. How many people expected him to be better than he was in 2007? I can’t make that claim.
Season: Kevin Youkilis just keeps on hitting with a .329/.398/.605 season line in 167 at bats.
Honorable mention again sees Hamilton hitting .318/.370/.597 with Carlos Quentin trailing close behind at .301/.415/.589, only in a slightly smaller sample and with less defensive value.
NL: When I saw the sortable stats bring up seven home runs for Alfonso Soriano, I immediately went through his game log to make sure it was right. It was. The left fielder hit .516/.500/1.258 on the week.
Honorable mention: Lance Berkman hit .481/.548/.963 and Ryan Braun hit .345/.367/1.069.
Season: Berkman is running away with it right now, hitting .399/.476/.804 with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 26 walks against 20 strikeouts in 163 at bats. One of the weirdest fantasy baseball sidenotes we’ve seen this season has been Berkman’s theft of eight bases in nine attempts. Everybody hates the “on pace for” projections, but it’s worth mentioning that he’s on pace to steal 29. His career high is nine, which he accomplished in 2004. And even then he was caught seven times.
Runners-up include Albert Pujols at .357/.493/.592, Chase Utley at .306/.388/.636 and Chipper Jones at .410/.475/.679.
Least Valuable Player
AL: Johnny Damon has had a reasonable season, but he was awful in Week 7, with his only positive offensive contributions being two singles and a walk in 25 at bats for a .080/.115/.080 line.
NL: Michael Bourn wasn’t as bad as Damon, but he’s been a liability all season, whereas Damon has been acceptable. Bourn hit .160/.222/.160 and was caught stealing three times in four attempts.
Thanks for reading and remember to submit your favorite candidates. I need your help.
John Barten writes the THT Awards weekly feature. Please send suggestions, comments, corrections, and input to his email address. Follow him on Twitter at JohnMBarten