Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, June 7 through Sunday, May 13. All season stats are through the 13th. For award definitions, see this year’s primer.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop
Good luck division
Barry Zito has been good enough this season that you can’t really knock him for having a bad day. But he got away with one when the Cincinnati bullpen coughed up the lead. Five runs in five and two thirds and escaping with a no decision is what I call good fortune.
Gavin Floyd’s only sin was not staying in the game longer than he did. After Floyd yielded one run in six innings, striking out eight, Matt Thornton destroyed his day by getting lit up for five runs in a third of an inning. Floyd ended up with better rate stats than when he started, but he had no win.
Brad Lincoln and John Lannan combined to allow 10 runs in 10 and two thirds. Both scuffled, but it’s easier to forgive Lincoln since this was his first start in the majors since being called up from Indianapolis and the lineup he was facing didn’t feature five through eight hitters that range from .500 to .662 OPS.
Johnny Cueto got punished for five runs in six frames and got the win because his teammates made Brian Bannister wish he had never gotten out of bed in the morning. When your offense throws up an 11-spot against the other starter, it doesn’t really matter how bad you pitch as long as you can get through five innings to qualify for the win, at least according to win/loss record, which needless to say I don’t support.
Bad luck division
Clayton Richard and Mike Pelfrey had a nice duel, going 16 combined, allowing one run on 12 hits, striking out 12 and walking only one. The game went 11 innings and neither starter received official credit.
Ted Lilly can complain that Carlos Marmol blew the save after Lilly gave the North Siders a gem of a start. Lilly went eight solid, striking out eight and the only flaw to his day was the solo home runs he gave up to Corey Hart. Yovani Gallardo can complain that the Brewers lineup failed to get to Lilly and gave John Axford a lucky win despite Gallardo giving the Brewers seven scoreless.
Roy Halladay got the loss despite holding the Marlins to one run in eight innings with eight strikeouts and only one walk. Josh Johnson was great and got the win. But it sucks for Halladay. It sucks any time you post a 73 game score and get the L.
Gavin Floyd gave the White Sox a complete game with only one run against him and nine strikeouts. They gave him no run support as they were stymied by Ted Lilly and Carlos Marmol.
Wes Littleton Award
I understand that when the guy you’re relieving isn’t effective, you need to put out the fire no matter what. But Manny Corpas entered the game with runners on first and second with a four-run lead and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. He struck out Jason Michaels for the save. He would have had to have completely imploded against the only team in baseball that is making outs more than 70 percent of the time.
The day after Corpas’ four-run save, Jose Mijares was tasked with protecting a fou- run cushion with runners on first and second. The only thing he needed to do was retire sworn enemy of the Awards, Yuniesky Betancourt. If he hadn’t succeeded, I wouldn’t be bringing it up.
Please hold the applause
Danny Herrera demonstrated one of my favorite weird statistical feats, getting the loss and a hold in the game against San Francisco. He allowed two base runners before getting a groundout and being lifted for Enerio del Rosario, who allowed both runners to score and blew the save. Herrera was left with both of the runs and the loss being charged to him. That isn’t what I would consider unfair per se. He was not effective and relied on somebody else to clean up his mess. Getting the hold because the Reds still had the lead when he left is a bizarre bit of inconsistent logic.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Draft time name game
For a couple of years now, I have pointed out names from the draft, not for the quality of player attached to those names but because of the names themselves. In the past I have pointed out the Royals’ proclivity for drafting alliterative names, a trend that continued this year with firs- rounder Christian Colon and eighth-rounder Michael Mariot.
This year I will draw conclusions just based on how the names sound.
I think fourth-rounder A.J. Cole sounds like the name of the star quarterback in a high school movie.
Padres top pick Karsten Whitson is a natural for Jeff Sullivan’s Jane Austen All-Star team.
I swear I saw No. 1 overall Bryce Harper as the male lead in a Kate Hudson chick flick.
Is Kolbrin Vitek the Red Sox first-rounder or is he the villain in the next Die Hard?
I didn’t take supplemental first-rounder Peter Tago or unsignable 13th-rounder Kevin Ziomek because I am about 80 percent sure they’re completely made up names.
Sixteenth-rounder Jordon Shipers sounds like one of the rich kids in a bad knock-off of Gossip Girl. Maybe he is a classmate of second-rounder Griffin Murphy and third-rounder Cameron Rupp. Fourt- rounder Sam Dyson has to be the head master at their prep school.
Sure Kendrick Perkins can rebound and bang bodies in the paint with Dwight Howard, but can he hit a slider?
For simply great names, here are my submissions: sixth-rounder Gauntlett Eldemire, 10th-rounder Kawika Emsley-Pai, 18th-rounder Hosh Ashenbrenner, 29th-rounder Broughan Jantz, 31st-rounder Taiwan Easterling, 34th-rounder Dusty Harvard and 50th-rounder Damek Tomscha, who just broke my spell check.
Joe Carter Award
David Ortiz, Ryan Braun, Stephen Drew and Justin Smoak all drove in six runners this week. Ortiz smacked four doubles, but no home runs and a lack of singles limited him to a .250/323/393 line in 28 at-bats. Braun suffered from bad luck on balls in play and ended up at .130/.192/.348. Drew hit a vanilla .208/.321/.417. And Smoak struck out 10 times and ended up at .217/.308/.348.
Season: Carlos Lee has been a disaster this season, batting a horrific .226/.263/.397, but he has accumulated 35 RBI in his 239 at-bats. He’s also his usual horror show in the field.
Howie Kendrick has 41 RBI and a .269/.298/.399 line. It is bad enough that he has only nine walks in 268 plate appearances, but he isn’t doing what he has always done, hitting for average.
Josh Wilson hit a very Sanchez-like .296/.321/.333. He hit seven singles, one double. He walked once. This was in 28 plate appearances.
Todd Helton ended the week with six singles, one double and no walks for a .292/.280/.333 line.
Willy Aybar hit a very symmetrical .273/.273/.273.
Season: Cristian Guzman is hitting an empty .304/.327/.379. Only 13 of his 65 hits have gone for extra bases. And he has contributed only seven walks in 56 games.
Ryan Theriot drew 73 walks in 2008. He is currently on pace to walk 27 times. Then again, why would any pitcher walk him when he has a 28 ISO? The only things he is doing well are hitting for average and stealing bases. Being successful in 14 of his 16 attempts helps. But .289/.321/.317 doesn’t help the Cubs, especially since all but eight of his 264 plate appearances have been from one of the first two spots in the order.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Jorge Posada isn’t in a stage of his career where you can expect him to leg out infield hits, not that there really ever was a time when that was a common occurrence. Still, half of his four hits this week went over the fence. He also chipped in six walks for a nice .222/.400/.556 line.
Austin Kearns joined Posada with only two singles. He smacked three homers and walked six times in 29 plate appearances for a .217/379/.609 week.
Joey Votto didn’t have the slugging percentage that Kearns and Posada had, but seven walks against two strikeouts will go a long way toward a productive sample. .208/406/.458 is odd looking but effective.
Season: Where did this version of Jose Bautista come from? He already has passed his career high for home runs with 18. He has 60 percent of his current career high in walks. He is overcoming a .223 BABIP to post a .232/.360/.555. I simply don’t know what to think about this.
Steve Balboni Award
Going back to his days as a Longhorn, I have worried about Drew Stubbs’ ability to consistently make contact. This week’s 13 strikeouts in 24 plate appearances is a good embodiment of that fear. He is striking out in 28 percent of his plate appearances this season. This week he hit .217/.240/.391. He stands at .238/.315/.410 for the season, neither of which should be a surprise given his contact rates.
Season: Carlos Pena has had a nice comeback of late, but for much of the season even his power and patience haven’t been enough to cover for his strikeouts and the batting average hit he takes for them. Even after the red-hot week that you will read about later in the column, a week that boosted his OPS by 40 points, he is still hitting a meager .193/.305/.431.
Promising young ‘un Justin Upton came into the year as a hot property for fantasy owners. But his league-leading 87 strikeouts in 236 at-bats this season have sabotaged things and he is killing a lot of those fantasy owners with his .242/.318/.424.
Three true outcomes
Posada had a big TTO week with two bombs, six walks and seven strikeouts in 24 plate appearances.
Mark Reynolds had a week that was representative of his skill set, going three-four-10 in 29 PA.
Season: Bautista seems logical here as he has 18, 41 and 56 in 267 PA.
With 15, 32 and 86 in 259 PA, Mark Reynolds is very close to the rates that saw him become a fixture in the category.
Scott Podsednik went zero-one-one in 26 PA.
Super rookie Buster Posey had one TTO in each category in 28 PA.
Season: Pedro Feliz has popped two home runs, has walked seven times and has struck out 20 times in 220 PA.
A.J. Pierzynski has decided to put everything in play this year and is at four-six-12 in 204.
Neither here, nor there
Sunday was a preposterously good sports day with the World Cup in full swing*, some good interleague rivalries, the NCAA baseball playoffs, and the Canadian Grand Prix. If there were a team I could feel comfortable rooting for in the NBA playoffs, I wouldn’t have known what to do with myself.
*I especially liked watching Germany’s demolition of Australia and the exacting perfection it demonstrated. Every pass was well placed, no Aussies went unchecked, no Germans recklessly dribbled into trouble. It wasn’t the improvisational brilliance that we are likely to see from Brazil and Argentina, but it was something I greatly enjoyed. Then again, I probably shouldn’t pretend to know the first thing about soccer. Then again it has never stopped me in regards to baseball.
This week’s MVP
AL: Let’s make Rays teammates Carlos Pena and Sean Rodriguez co-MVPs for the week. Pena launched six home runs on his way to a .333/.385/1.083 week. Rodriguez simply hit everything in sight with six singles, three doubles and two home runs. He also chipped in a walk and two steals in two attempts. His line was .478/.520/.870.
Season: The fact that Justin Morneau’s OPS+ is 53 points higher than it was in his “MVP” 2006 season tells you several things. It tells you that beat writers in 2006 overvalued his 130 RBI in what was a very good, but not great season. It tells you that he is destroying the ball this season. And it tells you that he probably has a bit of regression in store for him even given the fact that I think the improvement is largely a result of positive improvement in his game.
Morneau stands at .350/.460/.636, or a 193 OPS+. He leads the majors in WAR at 4.1. And he is helping pick up the slack for the Twins’ continued inability to get reasonable offensive contributions from shortstop and third base, and for the sudden vanishing of Joe Mauer’s ability to hit a home run.
NL: Brandon Phillips had a week that was similar to Rodriguez’ with 10 singles, two doubles, a triple, a home run, a walk and a final line of .538/.556/.808.
Season: Ubaldo Jimenez not only has a no-hitter and a league-leading 1.16 ERA while pitching five games in Coors Field*. He also has 13 quality starts in 13 attempts. His worst start is his most recent one, in which he still allowed only three runs in six innings against a very hot Toronto lineup. Aaron Hill smacked only the third home run Ubaldo has given up this year. Roy Halladay and Ryan Zimmerman aren’t far behind, but I’ll go with the guy who hasn’t had a bad start all year.
*Before you say that it hasn’t been your older cousin’s Coors Field since the humidor showed up, the park has given a 12 percent bump in run scoring over league average this season, which is still nothing to dismiss out of hand.