THT Awardsby John Barten
June 07, 2008
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 Friday, May 31 through Thursday, June 5. All season totals are through the 5th.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Starters Aaron Cook and Ted Lilly had a contest to see who could make the Rockies feel at home in that circa 1999 way by combining to allow 14 runs on 18 hits in 9.1 innings. They struck out six while handing out five home runs. They each got no decisions. Combined Win Probability Added? -.389. They made their teams almost 40 percent more likely to lose.
In the 12-inning Yankee win over the Twins on Saturday, Chien-Ming Wang and Boof Bonser allowed 10 runs in 10.1 innings. They were not held responsible by win/loss statistics.
Then Wang turned around in his next start and got into another bizarro world pitcher’s duel, this time with Dustin McGowan. Once again, no decision for either of the starters.
The Phillies lineup gave a helping hand to 87-year-old starter Jamie Moyer, touching up Marlins pitchers for seven runs. Moyer for his part allowed five runs in his seven innings, allowing a pair of homers to Mike Jacobs.
Aaron Laffey and Doug Mathis helped their teams get into a slugfest by way of performances that would make Bonser and Wang look Cy Young-worthy by comparison.
And Cliff Lee got the win despite raising his ERA from 1.88 to 2.45 by way of six Ranger runs in five frames.
Finally, I present to you, Jair Jurrjens.
Bad Luck Division:
Brett Myers took the blame for a Phillies offensive failure when he held the Reds offense to a single run in 7.1 innings, striking out eight and allowing only one hit.
Greg Maddux and Ted Lilly threw 14.1 brilliant innings between the two of them and walked away with a no decision and a loss, respectively. They had a combined 1.88 ERA in the game.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Alex Hinshaw was graced by the generosity of one of the best relievers in history when Trevor Hoffman’s implosion handed the rookie his first career win despite his allowing a pair of runs on an Adrian Gonzalez bomb in the 10th inning.
The Wes Littleton Award
According to reader Noah Schmutter, Billy Wagner got very, very lucky, throwing two pitches and getting the save. Upon entering the game in a tight situation, in Schmutter’s words:
“His first pitch to Aaron Rowand was lined towards the right-field corner and landed about a foot foul. If that ball is one foot to the left, the tying run comes to the plate. Instead, Rowand grounds into a double play on the next pitch. Game over. Save No. 12 for Wagner.”
Salomon Torres entered the game with two out in the bottom of the ninth and Lance Berkman on first base. He threw two pitches to get Carlos Lee out to end the game. .012 WPA.
Finally, Bob Howry got the always fun blown save slash win on Thursday. Well, maybe it’s fun for Howry. If he does that enough times to Ryan Dempster, it may start to actually cost Dempster money in his next contract.
Please hold the applause
Ron Flores received a hold for throwing four pitches and accumulating .024 WPA. Color me underwhelmed.
The usually steady Carlos Marmol received a hold in a game where he allowed a trio of runners to touch home plate.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Kyle Davies and the Royals bullpen walked more Indians than they struck out and managed to allow only two runs in the win.
Oh, and the Cliff Lee pounding I mentioned earlier makes for a nice nominee as well. You don’t expect to give up nine hits in five innings when you strike out eight.
Hey, did you used to be...
The Joe Carter Award
Adam Jones collected eight RBI while hitting .276/.267/.414.
Ryan Howard had six ribbies with a .208/.321/.375 line.
And Orlando Cabrera with five RBI made that look Ruthian by comparison with a .250/.300/.250 line.
Season: Carlos Lee takes over for Emil Brown with 47 RBI, good for sixth in baseball. Lee isn’t really helping as much as his RBI totals would lead you believe thanks to his stubborn refusal to take a walk and a mediocre batting average. .260/.300/.476 isn’t acceptable from a corner outfielder.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average Is All I’ve Got Award
James Loney hit six singles, two doubles, and drew one walk in 26 at-bats and that’s it. .308/.333/.385.
And Delmon Young hit .321/.310/.464. He’s hitting .265/.318/.345 on the season. Secondary skills matter, especially when you’re a corner outfielder who isn’t Ichiro Suzuki in mid-career form.
Season: Derek Jeter is hitting a disappointing .281/.333/.392. He’s only hit three home runs and, surprisingly, he’s only drawn 13 walks.
And I hadn’t noticed that Victor Martinez hadn’t hit a home run yet this season. .286/.333/.346 is quite a letdown for a career .300/.370/.464 hitter.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average Is For Wussies Award
I’ve been a vocal critic of Jeff Franceour and his mediocre hitting stats over the last couple of seasons. But I’m one to give credit where it is due, and a .250/.323/.536 line ain’t half bad. In 28 at-bats, he hit a pair of home runs and drew three walks.
Honorable Mention: Edwin Encarnacion at .250/.357/.583.
Season: Adam Dunn: .249/.411/.542, Jack Cust: .249/.406/.445.
The Steve Balboni Award
Cust hit a homer, a double and drew three walks. But he struck out 10 times in 24 at-bats and his batting average suffered to the tune of .167/.259/.333.
Season: Striking out in a quarter of your at-bats isn’t a lethal sin for most players. But when you’re a speed player who doesn’t draw walks or hit for much power, putting the ball in play is vital. Carlos Gomez isn’t doing that as well as he needs to and his empty .276 average isn’t going to get the job done. .276/.306/.397 is unacceptable.
3 True outcomes alert!!!
As a fun little one-week feature and in lieu of our usual routine, I present to you the Three True Outcomes All-Star Team:
Catcher: Mike Napoli 132 PA, 10 HR, 13 BB, 32 K
First Base: Carlos Pena 230 PA, 11 HR, 28 BB, 66 K
Second Base: Dan Uggla 245 PA, 18 HR, 24 BB, 65 K
Third Base: Mark Reynolds 223 PA, 11 HR, 24 BB, 67 K
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez 263 PA, 12 HR, 31 BB, 58 K
Left Field: Adam Dunn 231 PA, 15 HR, 49 BB, 53 K
Center Field: Chris Young 269 PA, 12 HR, 30 BB, 61 K
Right Field: Jack Cust 219 PA, 9 HR, 44 BB, 63 K
Designated Hitter: Ryan Howard 260 PA, 15 HR, 36 BB, 81 K
What was in the water this week? Coming in, it had seemed to be a season of relative calm. Then in comes Matt Kemp, Yorvit Torrealba, Coco Crisp and James Shields.
Welcome back, Hiram. I'm rooting for you.
I don’t think I’ve mentioned it, and I apologize if I have, but it seems strange to me that Kevin Slowey has allowed more home runs as a Major Leaguer than he has walks. In fact, he had more bombs than free passes last year and again this season. So it’s not like he’s had a fluke stretch where he induced massive amounts of whiplash as balls were hit out left and right, padding that side of his stat line. This is a part of his very extreme skill set. He’s generally quite prone to homers and he’s freakishly capable of throwing strikes all day long. Can this trend keep going? The guy Slowey in essence is replacing as an regular starter this season is Carlos Silva, who has the same exact kind of profile, but even he has only had two seasons where he watched more home run trots than slow strolls to first. Also, where do the Twins keep finding these guys who have the ability to never walk anyone? This is getting ridiculous with 2.59 walks per nine innings handed out as a team.
Finally, I meant to mention this last week, but the craziness of the expanded column allowed it to slip my mind. On Tuesday, May 27, Miguel Olivo, Mark Teahen and John Buck had a three-pitch inning. They only saw three pitches in the entire inning despite getting a hit. Does anybody with play-by-play archive skills know exactly how uncommon that is?
This Week’s MVP
AL: I’ll give this to teammates Milton Bradley and Michael Young. Bradley hit .409/.552/1.136 with five home runs and five walks. Young hit .500/.515/.750.
Season: Josh Hamilton repeats, courtesy of his .321/.369/.611 early season domination of AL pitching. He’s leading the AL in Runs Created and is second in OPS to his teammate, Bradley.
NL: Chase Utley hit .360/.448/.880 and is the rightful winner, but the interesting topic is Jay Bruce, who hit the ground running with a .429/.484/.786 debut.
Season: Lance Berkman. My only comment is that the guy has a 210 OPS+.
In our continuing effort to stay up to date with franchise milestones, the Dodgers passed 9,000 losses on Saturday.
That’s the awards. Check back in next week when I’ve had a chance to digest the draft completely. I might have some deep insights. I might not. I know I’m planning on sharing at least one purely trivial exercise dealing with the Rule 4. It should be fun.
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
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