For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the THT Primer
All weekly stats are the previous Monday through Sunday. All season statistics are through Sunday.
This Week’s Small Sample Size Warning
There are eight teams with a collective OPS under .700. The last time any team went an entire season with an OPS under .700 was 2003.
The Diamondbacks have a team OPS of .877. The highest team OPS of this century was Boston’s .851 in 2003.
This Week’s Proof That Assigning Wins and Losses to a Pitcher is an Idiotic Practice that Must Stop
Good Luck Division:
In Tuesday’s win over the Rays, Erik Bedard gave up five runs on five hits and four walks. But Matt Garza and the Rays pitching staff wasn’t able to hold the Mariners bats in check and Bedard got a gift horse.
Bad Luck Division:
Jonathan Sanchez and Justin Germano combined for 13 innings of shutout ball. They struck out 13 (Sanchez was responsible for 10 of those), walked three, and allowed only seven hits. They each got a no decision on Wednesday.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Here’s a rundown of some relievers who blew leads, only to be given credit for wins.
My favorite this week is Jorge Sosa, who threw one pitch against the Phillies, luring Pedro Feliz into a fielder’s choice in the top of the 12th. He received a win because Angel Pagan drove in Jose Reyes off of Tom Gordon in the bottom of that inning.
The Wes Littleton Award
Brian Wilson got an odd save. He came in with a four-\ run lead and lured Adam Kennedy into a fielder’s choice and struck out pinch hitter Rico Washington to end the game. He got the save because of the two men on base, both of which were catchers.
Any Sufficiently Advanced Defense is Indistinguishable from Pitching
Aaron Cook and two relievers combined for nine innings, allowing only one run in the Rockies’ win over the Braves on Monday. They struck out only two men. The Colorado defense is good, but that’s an awful lot of balls in play that were turned into outs.
Random Unrelated Pitching Note
Trevor Hoffman has four saves this season, but an ERA of 9.54. It isn’t statistically significant given the extremely small sample size involved and the fact that only one of those saves was what would be a Littleton nominee. But I thought it was worth mentioning.
The Joe Carter Award
Rick Ankiel collected five RBI, but hit a very pedestrian .231/.286/.423. I know it’s a weaker example than normal, but I take what is given to me. This is probably the weakest Carter winner since the column started. This was a fluky week.
Season: Aubrey Huff hasn’t been bad per se. But he hasn’t been as good as his RBI total would have you believe. Eleven RBI in two weeks have him on pace for approximately 140 in a full season. That isn’t a true representation of the value of a designated hitter with a .244/.320/.467 line.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Carlos Pena hit .200 on the week, but his secondary skills bumped him up to .200/.355/.680.
Season: Pena has won the first two weeks, and neither has been a close contest: .209/.370/.628 in 43 at bats will get the job done. We’ll have more on him later. And if you’re an avid reader of the awards, you might be able to guess where that will be based on the qualities necessary to be a productive player while edging close to the Mendoza Line.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
Ryan Freel hit .333 on the week, but a lack of Carlos Pena-like qualities doomed him to a .333/.313/.400 line. It’s always fun to see somebody with a lower OBP than batting average.
Season: .298/.320/.426 is only barely acceptable for a corner infielder. It’s even less so for a corner infielder who plays his home games in Coors Field. Congrats to Garrett Atkins, who is the leader on the year courtesy of having only one home run and one walk to his name.
The Steve Balboni Award
Jack Cust produced five walks and a double in 22 plate appearances, which is nice. He also struck out nine times, holding down his batting average and subsequently his overall line to .059/.273/.118.
Honorable mention for Hunter Pence, or I guess you could say dishonorable mention. Pence had 21 plate appearances with a double, a triple and two walks, but struck out eight times for a .158/.238/.316. That ain’t gonna work.
Three True Outcomes Alert!!!
A certain first baseman had 31 plate appearances, in which he had four home runs, five walks and 10 strikeouts. That’s 61.3 percent if you’re scoring at home, which I don’t believe you are. I have no delusions of grandeur.
Season: Guess who has 43 at bats, six home runs, eight walks, and 17 strikeouts. That’s right.
This Week’s Completely Made-Up Award
I think I’ll use this space as a general stepping off point to discuss something brought up on one of my favorite team blogs. Royal Review’s affiliate profiles are magnificent. In talking about Enid, Okla., the odd conundrum that is the concept of a small city/large town is brought up. The question is whether people from small cities identify more with people from larger cities or with those from smaller rural areas. The Midwest is full of these in-between sized towns and if you go to college here, you’re bound to run into them.
In fact, one could make an argument that while places like Chicago, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Detroit, and St Louis tend to be the face of the region, the real reasons for the region’s uniqueness is bound up in places like Decatur, Appleton, and Findlay. The people from there tend to be equally comfortable with either extreme, they themselves having one foot in each side of the great American cultural divide that is urban versus rural.
Speaking as somebody who grew up in an undoubtedly rural small town, I think there’s a kind of hierarchy going on with city size that you might not notice if you grow up in an urban or semi-urban area. When somebody asks where you grew up, you mention the town, in my example, Hoopeston. When the other person inevitably shoots you a blank stare, you ask if they know where Danville is. If there’s another blank stare, you move up to Champaign/Urbana. If they’re still shrugging their shoulders, you say 100 miles directly south of Chicago and find the nod and smile.
I’m not sure if this section really went anywhere, but I got to plug a good blog and mention my hometown in one fell swoop. I hope you weren’t too bored during the ride.
The Every Given Tuesday Award
The Tigers came into Wednesday’s game against Boston at 0-7 and proceeded to beat the defending champion Red Sox.
This Week’s MVP
Raul Ibanez hit .370/.469/1.000. He smacked three doubles, a triple and four home runs while drawing five walks.
Season: Albert Pujols is punishing fantasy owners who held off on drafting him for injury concerns. He has a 226 OPS+. He has 13 walks to only four strikeouts and is hitting .390/.537/.707 in 54 plate appearances. Yeah, that’s pretty valuable.
Least Valuable Player
Jose Guillen hit .080/.080/.120 and tried to ruin my week by killing the Kansas City offense. On the other hand, I will report that Kauffman Stadium is going to be wonderful once the current remodeling effort is finished.
Season: Guillen is a pretty strong competitor at .122/.157/.163 and a 12/2 K/BB ratio. But this award has to go to Tony Pena Jr., who was benched for the weekend for hitting .033/.063/.033. His only contributions in 30 at bats have been a single, a walkand a steal. That redefines anemic.