Welcome fellow vorpies!
For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.
All weekly stats are the previous Monday through Sunday. All season statistics are through Sunday.
This week’s small sample size warning
In Thursday’s game between the Padres and Rockies, which as you probably know went 22 innings, Todd Helton went 1-9 with a walk. The performance dropped his OPS by 77 points to .766. When coupled with his ohfer the night before, he went from a .292/.404/.521 line to a .242/.347/.419 in two days.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good luck division:
Elsewhere, on Wednesday Clay Buchholz and Chien-Ming Wang combined for seven and two third innings, allowing 15 runs on 17 hits and four walks. But they timed their bad days to coincide, saving them a reasonable amount of pride, or at least as much as one can retain in stealing a no decision from a shelling like that.
Bad luck division:
My favorite entry from the category this week is the duo of Jake Peavy and Jeff Francis, who started off the 22 inning marathon with a combined 15 innings of shutout ball, but received no acknowledgement from the scorers. They combined for 18 strikeouts, just seven hits and four walks allowed.
Jose Lopez of the Red Sox achieved one of my favorite statistical anomalies on Saturday, throwing one pitch and getting a win for the effort.
The Wes Littleton Award
And on Monday, George Sherrill of the Orioles allowed a two run home run in the ninth, but still got the save because he entered the game with a three run lead. I suppose some would tell me that that performance constitutes a definite skill because he dealt with the pressure of having to protect a lead late and even though he allowed runs, he buckled down and got his team out of that mess. Bah. He had a poor performance and it’s certainly a weakness of the save statistic that somebody could have an in-game ERA of 18.00 and still get rewarded for his good work the same as if he had come in with two on and nobody out with a one run lead.
Holds suck too
Matt Guerrier got crushed to the tune of five runs in his inning and a third in Monday’s loss I referenced earlier that gave Bonderman the no decision. He struck nobody out and allowed five hits. He even allowed an inherited runner to score. He still got a hold because the Twins scored four runs in the seventh, keeping his team in the lead for the time he was in there. Pat Neshek eventually coughed up the lead and received a blown save and the loss.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Joe Saunders of the Angels has struck out only 12 in 29 1/3 innings, but he has a 2.15 ERA and a 0.886 WHIP.
The Joe Carter Award
David Ortiz drove in nine runs in his 32 at bats. But he hit only .281/.324/.375 for the week.
Season: Bill Hall is in the top 10 in the NL in RBI, but he’s hitting .211/.233/.507. That OBP is a killer.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Carlos Quentin hit only .227, but he hit three home runs and walked five times in 22 at bats for a .227/.393/.682
Honorable mention should be extended to Prince Fielder and Jacoby Ellsbury. Fielder hit .222/.423/.500 thanks to seven walks and three extra base hits in 18 at bats. Ellsbury had seven walks in 27 plate appearances.
Season: Carlos Pena still holds his lead in the category, one he’s dominated this season thanks to his six homers and 11 walks in 63 at bats. At .206/.359/.462, one could say that his batting average is appalling, but he’s been a positive contributor to his team.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
Raul Ibanez went from MVP to the Sanchez Award in one week? That’s a cruel fate. It’s a deserved one though on the merits of his textbook Sanchez week, hitting a perfect .300/.300/.300. That’s nine singles in 30 at bats with no walks and no extra base hits.
I already mentioned David Ortiz’s week in the Carter Award section. But a DH who hits .281/.324/.375 also qualifies for a mention here. It’ll probably be the last time in his career that we see him put up an empty batting average given his skill set. Nine hits, one home run, and one walk in 32 at bats is a recipe for getting here.
Also a formidable candidate is Michael Young, who hit .310/.323/.379 on the week.
Season: Jose Lopez and Emil Brown share the (dis)honor. Lopez is hitting .299/.306/.403. He has two doubles, two home runs, and three walks in 77 at bats. Brown is hitting .292/.309/.415 with three doubles, a triple, a home run, and two walks in 65 at bats. He gets extra credit because he’s a corner outfielder while Lopez is a second baseman.
The reason this column exists
My very own Kansas City Royals are fourth in batting average in the AL, but last in runs scored. Why is that? It’s because they’re 12th in home runs, 13th in walks, and second in times caught stealing. So they’re making too many outs on the basepaths and hitting empty .259.
The Steve Balboni Award
Jose Bautista had some good things going this week, with his two doubles, a home run, and a walk in 22 at bats. But he also struck out nine times, sinking his batting average beyond where his positive contributions could save him. .227/.261/.455 isn’t good.
Season: Jack Cust is a remarkable player. With 16 walks, one would expect him to be an OBP machine. But his 22 strikeouts in 51 at bats have submarined his average to the point where he still only makes it to a .368 OBP. And he hasn’t demonstrated enough power to lift his slugging percentage any higher than .255. .157/.368/.255 isn’t getting it done.
I would also be remiss if I didn’t mention that Carter winner Bill Hall has a .211 batting average primarily because he’s swinging at absolutely anything and everything. He’s struck out 22 times in 71 at bats with only two walks. Please Bill, leave the bat on your shoulder once in a while.
Finally in the category we have Ryan Howard at .168/.318/.386, featuring 27 K in 70 AB. Now I happened upon Baseball Tonight when I came home from work on early Sunday afternoon. I caught what we in the TV business call a “tease” going into the commercial break about John Kruk dissecting why Ryan Howard is striking out so often this season.
Now this struck me as a particularly strange thing to investigate because there’s nothing particularly abnormal about his strikeout rate this season. At 38 percent of his at bats, it’s certainly high, but very few people were wringing their hands last season when he struck out 199 times or 37.9 percent of his at bats. The only reason they’re bring it up is because his batting average on balls in play is .256.while for his career (and everybody else’s for that matter) it’s been much, much higher. He’s a big guy who swings hard at balls that he thinks he can send into orbit. He’s a three true outcomes hitter. He’s going to have stretches where his batting average looks ghastly.
Needless to say, Kruk’s “analysis” of Howard’s current issues dealt with confidence and his mindset rather than just coming out and saying that this is a normal stretch of bad luck that will turn around soon and is magnified by his peculiar set of strengths and weaknesses.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Nick Markakis produced like a three true outcomes superstar with a pair of homers, five walks, and nine whiffs or 53 percent of his 30 plate appearances on the week.
Season: Pat Burrell has taken the crown from Carlos Pena with his six home runs, 15 walks, and 17 strikeouts in 78 plate appearances.
This week’s dumbest thing ever
His starter, John Bale, was getting abused pretty badly by the Mariners offense. But the Royals offense had touched up Seattle starter Miguel Batista enough so that the score was tied when he pulled Bale with one on and nobody out in the bottom of the fourth. The previous two days had seen complete games by Brian Bannister and Zack Greinke. He had a rested bullpen. He had the bullpen that was thus far the best in the majors. He had seven pitchers to pick from, none of whom had been involved since Saturday. He could have brought in anybody.
But with the game tied, he called on Hideo Nomo, who proceeded to allow the game to get out of hand by allowing his one inherited runner to score and then getting charged with four of his own. He walked two and allowed three hits in an inning of work. The Royals lost 11-6 partially because the manager decided to use his worst available option. The most logical reason he called on Nomo would be because Nomo is ostensibly his main “long relief” arm and the most likely to give him three innings of work on that day, where they had six innings left to go. But given the fact that Leo Nunez had been a reasonably effective starter at the end of last season, and that even if you only get one inning out of each reliever, you still have enough arms to go to extra innings, he shouldn’t be the necessary option.
Can I just state for the record that I wouldn’t trust Colin Cowherd as a catsitter. I’m just saying…
This week’s MVP
AL: Manny Ramirez smoked the ball to the tune of .417/.517/.958.
Season: Manny takes the lead here, now that he’s hitting an incredible .342/.415/.712 with 14 extra base hits and eight walks in 73 at bats.
NL: First Manny, now Chipper Jones, who hit .565/.600/1.174 to lead a strong NL field. Is it 1999 again? It’s not that they haven’t been good in the interim, but it just feels like a blast from the past seeing those two in this place.
Season: Rafael Furcal is hitting .409/.500/.682. He edges out a crowded field with Chipper himself posting a .449/.487/.756. Furcal gets a little credit for the difference in defensive value.
Least valuable player
AL: Travis Buck had his second really rough week in three, going .095/.091/.095. In 21 at bats, he had two singles, no walks, nothing for extra bases. Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?
Season: Mike Lamb is an everyday third baseman hitting .145/.186/.218. That should be enough to quell debate here.
NL: James Loney didn’t do well either, hitting .130/.120/.130.
Season: Rich Aurilia has 10 singles on the season. He has no extra base hits in 55 at bats. That’s enough for a crippling .182/.237/.182 line.
Adam LaRoche deserves being mentioned as well, “hitting” .132/.220/.298. One would think that going through this same process last season would have been enough for him to not want to do it all over again. Last season he emerged from a brutal start to end the season with a below average for a first baseman, but still reasonable (if you squint a little bit) .272/.345/.458.
That ends this week’s roundup. Tune in next week to see if Nate McLouth can keep up his eye-opening .375/.444/.638 line. I saw him here in Indy when he was projecting to be a good, versatile fourth outfielder. I have no idea what to make of him now.