THT Awardsby John Barten
June 23, 2009
Welcome to the awards.
For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.
All weekly stats are for the period of Monday, June 15 though Sunday, June 21. All season stats are through the 21st.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Jason Hammel left the game leading the Pirates after allowing five runs in six innings. He walked away with a no decision after a blown save that must have been the baseball gods’ way of telling us that insolence would not be rewarded with cheap wins this week.
Johnny Cueto and Clayton Richard combined to allow 10 runs in seven and two thirds, including four home runs. They both had the good taste to do their worst work when facing each other. Richard deserves special merit because he made the Reds look good after they lost to Luke Hochevar in an 80 pitch complete game last week. If we have learned anything this season, it is that Willy Taveras and friends will gladly tap a weak grounder to the second baseman if you simply let them do so.
Bad Luck Division
Clayton Kershaw was unfortunate to walk away with no decision against the A's on June 16. You could argue that he should have still been more efficient with his pitches as he only lasted five and two thirds. However, anytime you strike out eight men in that period of time while holding them scoreless, you deserve credit for a job well done.
Jon Garland was the victim of a blown save after shutting down the Mariners lineup in seven scoreless innings.
Matt Cain and rookie Derek Holland were brilliant against each other, with 15 innings down and only one run per pitcher allowed. They each walked away with a no decision in what turned out to be a very good extra innings game.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Jason Frasor had one job in facing the Philles. That job was to keep Jimmy Rollins from scoring. He failed to do so, giving up a single to Shane Victorino to bring home the fleet footed shortstop. Frasor had blown the save. He even failed to retire a single batter by way of his pitching. Victorino ended the inning with an ill-fated attempt to steal second base. Nevertheless, he was awarded the win as Rod Barajas slammed a solo shot in the top of the ninth to hand Frasor a cheap win.
Let’s hear it for Joe Nelson, who got a win and a blown save against the Mets on Sunday.
Wes Littleton Award
Andrew Bailey made it interesting, walking a man and allowing a single, but had little chance of failing with a three run lead against the bottom of San Diego’s lineup.
Please hold the applause
It would be difficult to paint what Seth McClung did for the Brewers helpful, walking two, allowing three hits, and getting charged with three runs in two and a third. Two of the three runs were allowed to score after closer Trevor Hoffman inherited them and blew the save in the process. But McClung was simply bad and allowed a lot of baserunners. McClung still got the hold.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Nick Blackburn fanned two in a complete game victory over the Pirates. He allowed 27 balls in play, but only six managed to find pasture, resulting in only one run.
Micah Owings failed to get any of the 26 batters he faced to strike out. But he still managed to win the game by limiting the Cardinals to a pair of runs in six frames. Of the six hits he allowed, one was a solo home run, making his feat seem all that much more impressive.
Brad Thompson also won despite not striking a single batter out, surrendering four runs on five hits in seven innings against the Royals. Two of the five were home runs.
A special thank you
Thank you to Sid Rosenberg, with whom I had a nice dialogue over at OPEN Sports. If you would, please head over there and give them and their advertisers a moment of your time.
Joe Carter Award
Jason Bay drove in five runs in 19 at-bats, but they came despite a .158/.261/.368 line.
On the other side of the continent, Andre Ethier also drove in five while hitting an empty .250/.308/.375 for the Dodgers.
Season: James Loney maintains his grip on the dubious award. He is hitting .279/.343/.383 with 47 RBIs. That is two more than Nelson Cruz, who has 162 points of slugging on the Dodgers first baseman. That is two more than Adrian Gonzalez, who has clubbed home runs like they were baby fur seals despite playing in a ballpark that is outright hostile to flying things. That is two more than Chase Utley, who is a Gold Glove caliber second baseman hitting .297/.428/.547.
The Dodgers lineup will make just about anybody into an RBI machine this year, even a punchless first baseman.
Rey Sanchez Award
Jorge Cantu isn’t one of the first players I think of when the subject of empty batting averages comes up, but he fits the bill this week, posting a .304 average, but with two doubles, no home runs, and no walks for a very sub par .304/.304/.391 line.
Season: Vlad Guerrero is hitting .288, but there is something wrong with him as he has suffered a complete power outage. And he has never been a walk machine. His .288/.308/.360 line is just a little sad.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Carlos Pena only collected four hits this week for the Rays, compiling a miserable .182 batting average. But two of the four were home runs and the other two were doubles. And he chipped in four walks for a .182/.333/.545 week.
Season: Pena was the leader last week and he won the weekly award, so you can do the math and figure out that he retains the honor.
Steve Balboni Award
Chris Davis just keeps on trucking down the whiff highway, swinging and missing his way out of the majors. This week he struck out nine times in 20 at-bats and the home run that he hit didn’t even come close to mitigating the damage that his strikeouts did to his ability to hit for average and post an acceptable OBP. .050/.050/.200 is one of his worst weeks yet this season.
Season: Davis also was the leader last week and won the weekly award. He leads baseball with 101 strikeouts in 222 at-bats and has sunk below the Mendoza Line, with a sub-.250 OBP to boot. This really can not last much longer. But if it does persist until the end of the season, his strikeout total would become one of the great untouchable records in history.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Carlos Pena is a dominating force here with a pair of bombs, four walks, and nine strikeouts in 22 at-bats.
Season: Pena again. He sits inside the top six in all of baseball in all three TTO categories.
This week’s MVP
AL: Of all of the random explosions of production you will find in small sample sizes this year, Luis Valbuena punishing the ball to the tune of .385/.467/.808 with two doubles, three home runs, and four walks in 26 at-bats should rank very near the top.
Season: I am still going with Jason Bay. But let us be frank here. I see no fewer than seven players that I can make a somewhat convincing case for as the MVP up to this point. So if your favorite candidate thus far is Evan Longoria, Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera, Mark Teixeira, Carlos Pena, or Zack Greinke, then you have my blessing. And I fully expect somebody to pass Bay on my own list in short order, as Bay hasn’t been the best player on his own team on a per game basis. Kevin Youkilis has been a more effective hitter when he has been healthy, but the missed time has taken some of the value from his season. However, as the season progresses, the 60 or 70 at-bat deficit will seem less significant.
NL: Albert Pujols had a very Albert Pujolsian week going .389/.522/1.111 and making the Royals look like the Royals.
Season: I don’t want to give anything away, but I am pretty certain that I have found the source of Pujols’ freak show abilities. He is the definition of awesome. We are almost to the point where Chuck Norris will start creating lists of amazing facts about him.
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