THT Awardsby John Barten
September 01, 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, Aug. 24 through Sunday, Aug. 30. All season stats are through Sunday.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop
Good luck division
Clay Buchholz was ripped by the White Sox lineup to the tune of seven runs in four and two thirds. He struck out three of the 23 batters he faced, walked three, and gave up two home runs. Luckily for him, Jose Contreras and D.J. Carrasco were even worse and Contreras end up with the loss while Buchholz walked away with no credit and no blame.
Justin Lehr won a game in which he allowed five runs. Manny Parra won when he gave up six. And he now stands at one game under .500 with a 6.66 ERA.
Scott Richmond and Josh Beckett were each abused, combining for 10 runs as many innings. They had the good fortune of timing their worst day in unison so they each avoided the loss.
Bad luck division
Courtesy of Adam Wainwright, Wandy Rodriguez got tagged with a loss despite throwing seven one-run innings. This is typical. He is currently 12-9 with an ERA under three.
Brett Anderson had a very solid run, striking out eight in seven innings, allowing a single run on Russell Branyan’s solo home run. However a weak A’s offense combined with Michael Wuertz blowing the save to give Anderson no result.
In his last start for Tampa, Scott Kazmir allowed one run in six innings, striking out 10. But J.P. Howell blew the save and Kazmir got nothing but a plane ticket to Orange County.
Mat Latos and Jair Jurrjens dueled for 14 and two thirds combined, with one run allowed between them. They received no-decisions.
And Tim Wakefield put up seven innings of one run ball to no avail.
As suggested by a reader last week, Matt Capps is a vulture. That’s only part of the story though. Brad Lidge crapped the bed, with three runs being tallied against him without a single out being recorded.
Please hold the applause
Only in the weird world of baseball scorekeeping would allowing two runs in a third of an inning be considered helping the cause. But Rafael Betancourt was granted a save for doing just that. And Brian Wilson was given one because Sergio Romo bailed him out.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
In the Brett Anderson game above, Ryan Rowland-Smith struck out only one of the 28 batters he faced and was punished with only two runs.
Trevor Cahill shut out the Angels for seven frames when only two of the 20 balls put into play found open grass and only one of those two went for extra bases, that being a double. So that is three total bases in seven innings with two strikeouts.
My only comment on the Little League World Series
I find it to be a very strange accident of history that we collectively care very deeply about finding the best team of 12-year-olds in the world but give little attention to the best teams of 14, 16, and for that matter 10-year-olds. We collectively ignore these players again until they’re either in the College World Series or until we can complain about how much they demanded for their first pro contracts.
Joe Carter Award
If you were ever curious how one would go about driving in six runs in 16 at-bats while hitting .188/.176/.188, then you should find Wil Nieves and ask him. In addition to the lack of power or walks, he also grounded into two double plays.
Less objectionable, but more topical, was Mark Teixeira, who drove in eight runs while batting .208/.286/.375. In a related note, Derek Jeter and Johnny Damon had OBPs of .481 and .478 this week.
Rey Sanchez Award
Russell Martin continued with his down year, going .278/.278/.278.
Melky Cabrera also hit .278, and still didn’t do much else to speak of. But .278/.316/.333 is slightly better, even when factoring in positional expectations.
Lyle Overbay hit five singles and a double in 21 at-bats. That works out to .286/.286/.333.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Josh Willingham managed only five hits in 22 at-bats. But two of those hits were home runs and another was a double. He also chipped in with six walks. Interestingly enough, almost all of the damage was done in one game, when he drove in as many runs as the Cubs did.
Also nominated are Mitch Maier (.227/.320/.636), James Loney (.227/.370/.545), Dan Uggla (.235/.458/.471), Kevin Kouzmanoff (.240/.387/.480) and Grady Sizemore (.240/.345/.480).
Steve Balboni Award
Travis Snider had an awful week, in no small part because he failed to make any kind of consistent contact. He struck out 12 times in 19 at-bats. That goes a long way toward explaining how he can end the week at .053/.250/.211.
Three true outcomes
Adam Dunn makes sense here. And for good reason: His week with two home runs, six walks and 11 strikeouts in 23 at-bats is not out of line with what you expect from him.
In other news
I can’t be alone in thinking that this is NOT a phenomenon that is isolated to basketball. Sometimes, the accounting errors versus hits is a joke. Would it be overkill to say that an easy solution would be to bring scorekeeping under the umbrella of the league office rather than a team function?
This week’s MVP
AL: Zack Greinke had two starts and he pitched pretty well. In his first, he went eight innings, striking out 15, setting a new franchise record. He allowed one run on five hits and a walk. In his second start, he threw a two-hitter, shutting out the Mariners.
He is currently my choice for AL Cy Young and I am in good company. It isn’t likely controversial to say that he has been the best pitcher in the league, since he leads the AL in ERA by a good margin, WPA, WAR, PRC. He is either first or second in just about any kind of significant or insignificant measure, except for wins, which is something that all too many writers still rely on for guidance. So count me with Rany.
If you just have to have a position player, then I will use this as an excuse to talk about J.D. Drew, who hit two doubles and three home runs, drew five walks and ended the week at .364/.500/.864. Drew strikes me as one of the more underappreciated players in the game. Fans and broadcasters seem to be more enamored with complaining about how his $70 million contract is more than he “deserves” and on the time he misses every year due to general fragility than on the fact that he is consistently great at getting on base and hitting for power. This season he is batting .265/.382/.491. In his career, he is .282/.391/.502. Add in good defense, and he’s somebody you should brag about as a member of your lineup, not somebody to lament.
NL: Speaking of brittle outfielders who have a history of not endearing themselves to the locals, Milton Bradley hit .545/.643/.955 for the Cubs while stories like this ran in the press.
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