THT Awardsby John Barten
July 19, 2011
Welcome to the awards.
All season stats are through Sunday, July 17. If you are a new reader, reference the week one column for category explanations.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop
Good luck division
Much was made of the fact that Jo-Jo Reyes went almost three years without a win. He had good starts, bad starts, and a year when he only got one major league start. But here he was getting his fifth win of the season despite a game score of 21. Reyes was blasted for seven runs in five and a third. But Bartolo Colon never made it out of the first inning and when he left, the Jays were up by two runs. He was lucky to have Luis Perez around to strand the runner that Reyes bequeathed with one out and the top of the Yankee lineup coming into play.
Jair Jurrjens not only escaped without picking up the loss, he actually was in position for the win before George Sherrill blew the save. Jurrjens was torched for six runs in five innings on eight hits and two walks.
Josh Tomlin got shelled for five runs in five frames, most of the damage coming on three home runs by Oriole batters. But Jake Arrieta also allowed five in five and his bullpen handed Tomlin a win by yielding another run.
Season: Tomlin is two and two in games where he has allowed five or more runs.
Derek Holland is 8-4 with a 4.32 ERA in a season where the average AL pitcher is posting a 3.88 ERA. He has two wins in games where he has allowed five runs to go with a no-decision in a game where he has allowed five. Add to that three more no-decisions where he allowed four runs.
Bad luck division
While Jo-Jo was getting a lucky win, Matt Garza was having a nice seven shutout inning appearance squandered by his wayward closer. Carlos Marmol allowed five runs without recording an out and Garza got the no-decision.
Jeff Niemann and Josh Beckett combined to throw 16 scoreless innings, striking out 16, walking two. There were only three hits allowed between the two of them. Neither got the win as the game went 16 innings before either team scored.
Aaron Harang threw seven shutout innings at home against the Giants. He allowed only six base runners. But like Garza, his closer blew the save as Aubrey Huff squared it up with a solo home run.
Luke Hochevar and Nick Blackburn combined to allow one run in 14 frames on seven hits and five walks, striking out seven. Blackburn was in line for the win as Matt Capps entered the game. Capps turned it into a loss on Eric Hosmer’s two run shot. And neither starter got the victory.
Season: Doug Fister is 3-11 with a 3.18 ERA. In just one three start stretch, he threw 25 innings, giving up three runs on 17 hits and two walks and he had two no-decisions and a loss. He had two more no-decisions when he went eight and gave up one and two runs respectively.
It just wouldn’t be a baseball season if Felix Hernandez didn’t get terrible run support. His Royal Highness is 8-8 with a 3.03 xFIP.
It really should be noted that Tyler Clippard got the win in the All Star Game despite not retiring a single batter at the plate. The only batter he faced, Adrian Beltre, singled and Jose Bautista was thrown out at the plate to end the inning. After that, Prince Fielder’s three-run home run put the NL up for good and Clippard got the win.
Wes Littleton Award
In Jordan Walden’s 21st save of the season, he was protecting a two-run lead and the first two batters up were Kurt Suzuki, who was hitting .231/.294/.352 at the time and Cliff Pennington, who sat at .237/.286/.307. The Oakland lineup is really, really bad.
Please hold the applause
LaTroy Hawkins faced three batters, retired one of them. The other two went on to become runs charged to Hawkins. Hawkins got the save.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Kyle Kendrick struck out none of the 29 of the Mets he faced at City Field on Sunday. But he still made it through seven innings allowing one run on six hits and three walks.
Wandy Rodriguez struck out 11 of the 28 Pirates he faced and was still touched up for four runs on eight hits.
Season: Jeff Karstens has struck out 60 batters in 107 innings, but batters are still hitting .235 against him thanks to a very favorable BABIP. His ERA is 2.34 despite a FIP of 4.49 and an xFIP of 3.83.
On the other extreme, it would take a far smarter man than I to figure out what is going on with Zack Greinke with a K/9 of 11.99 and a better than career average walk rate, his .343 BABIP and a home run rate of 15.3 percent of fly balls, he is the owner of a 5.04 ERA despite a FIP of 2.87 and an xFIP of 2.13.
Joe Carter Award
Danny Valencia is batting .230/.280/.378 and has 47 RBIs, the same number as Freddie Freeman, who is batting .273/.347/.454 and Dustin Pedroia, who is batting .293/.400/.466.
Torii Hunter has 45 RBIs and .239/.310/.379 and has three more at-bats than cross-town rival Andre Ethier, who has 44 RBIs and a .300/.372/.447 line.
Season: This is just getting harder as the run scoring environment changes. A few years ago, if somebody posted the .288/.327/.378 line that A.J. Pierzynski currently boasts, it would get an automatic entry to the Sanchez list. However, as AL catchers as a whole are batting .235/.306/.376, it would seem a bit silly to knock the guy as he is average or above in every rate stat compared to his position.
With that being said, it looks like Vladimir Guerrero is done despite having a more than acceptable batting average. .279/.315/.385 is not good, especially for a designated hitter.
Darwin Barney has been productive thus far, but if he sees any slippage in his batting average, his .296/.326/.362 line will start to look inadequate. He has demonstrated very little in the way of secondary skills. And I have less optimism when it concerns his ability to sustain a high batting average in the absence of power or plate discipline than I have with his double play partner, Starlin Castro.
Ben Revere’s big league debut has also been filled with empty average. He gets credit for having an impeccable defensive reputation and speed, but .278/.314/.320 is weak and his speed has only given him 13 successful steals in 18 attempts.
Matt Diaz is batting .275/.310/.350. And Martin Prado is sitting in the danger zone at .274/.318/.437.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Season: Mark Teixeira is having a down batting average season, but everything else is working fine as his 25 home runs and 49 walks have been enough to bring his line to a very acceptable .240/.346/.500.
Before he went down to injury, David Wright was not on an MVP pace, but given his home ballpark, .226/.337/.404 is deceivingly good. Another thing he adds that I like is that he was nine for nine on the bases.
And another east coast third baseman, Mark Reynolds is doing good work despite a poor batting average. .223/.339/.478? I’ll take it.
Carlos Pena: .217/.330/.441.
Finally, I think he shows up every year, but I have to mention Chris Iannetta and his .219/.372/.411 act. I also feel compelled to acknowledge fellow catcher Matt Treanor’s .218/.348/.303. Some power would be nice, but 30 walks in 206 PA will get you here.
Steve Balboni Award
Season: Adam Dunn is the feature attraction, and we have spent a lot of words here talking about how the collapse in his power and batting average has rendered him an albatross around the neck of the White Sox lineup. So we will just look at his 122 strikeouts in 335 PA and his .160/.290/.302 line and nod.
I would not have guessed Kelly Johnson as the number three strikeout batter in all of baseball. 105 whiffs in 336 at bats will drag your average down. It with a .217/.299/.435 line, it seems obvious that he has abandoned all other offensive weapons for power.
I mentioned often last year that Austin Jackson does not have the secondary skills to make up for a very high strikeout rate. With 100 K’s in 335 AB leading to a .245 batting average, the prophecy has come true. .245/.318/.361 is not helping the Tigers. His partner in the outfield, Ryan Raburn, has problems of his own, namely 86 strikeouts in 281 PA leading to a .214/.248/.359 line and Andy Dirks and Casper Wells each making a strong push for Raburn’s playing time.
With 15 home runs and 34 walks, Dan Uggla’s problems this season have stemmed mostly from batting average. And his 87 strikeouts in 387 PA have been a major factor in that. .189/.264/.366? Oof.
Miguel Olivo hits for power, but is bad at baseball. 84 K’s in 304 PA and a .217/.257/.377 line speaks to that.
Three true outcomes
Season: Mark Reynolds is one of the usual suspects here and for good reason. You have to have a ton of walks and home runs to be worthwhile when you set the all time record for strikeouts in a season and then beat that record by 19 the next year. This year he stands at 20 home runs, 51 walks, and 103 strikeouts. He is a full 22 strikeouts behind Drew Stubbs for the major league lead. But he has nine more home runs and 13 more walks than the Cincinnati center fielder.
Carlos Pena is at 19-50-96 in 356 PA.
Joey Bats is not striking out as often as the others on the list, but 31-75-54 is remarkable in 379 PA.
Lance Berkman is 25-54-54 in 339.
Carlos Santana is at 15-65-74 in 374 PA.
And Chris Iannetta has posted a 10-52-63 in only 275 PA.
Season: Ben Revere has been on a mission to put the ball in play and has done that capably, posting a 0-9-19 in 206 PA.
Somehow Brent Morel has given the White Sox a 1-3-27 in 225 PA. Note that Morel has more caught stealing and GIDP (four each) than walks.
And Aaron Miles: 1-8-27 in 260 PA.
This season’s MVP
AL: It seems obvious to me that the guy who is batting .336/.470/.701 is the best player is baseball. And it isn’t even really close. His OPS 187 points higher than Miguel Cabrera, his closest AL competition. If he maintains this pace and voters go for Adrian Gonzalez because of RBI, then it would be a travesty.
NL: The NL has been much closer than the AL, which really only has three notable candidates. In the NL, with apologies to Prince Fielder, Lance Berkman, Matt Holliday, Matt Kemp, Ryan Braun, and Joey Votto, Jose Reyes has been a force of nature. A good defensive shortstop that bats .354/.398/.529 with 30 steals in 36 attempts is ridiculously valuable. His walk rate is low, but he has also struck out only 26 times in 380 PA. Given his age, injury history, and the fact that his excellence is largely hinging on the 61 points of BABIP that he evidently picked up in the offseason, I’m not sure I would give him a six plus year contract after the season, but he has been an exceptional player this year.
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