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.
Small sample size warning
On this day last season, David Wright had a season line of .266/.376/.342 and hadn’t yet hit a home run. He finished the season at .325/.416/.546 with 30 long balls.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good luck division:
Kenny Rogers gave up six runs in three and a third, getting pelted by the Rangers. He failed to strike out a single batter. But this was a wild game where the Tigers scored 19 runs, 11 of which came off relievers Jamey Wright and Wes Littleton, both of whom also escaped without blame. When the game devolves into a multiple-pitcher-abuse session, there just aren’t enough losses to go around.
As always, I’ll provide an example of an ill-gotten win. On Friday against the Yanks, Paul Byrd allowed four runs in five innings, but Andy Pettitte imploded for five runs in fine innings, and Byrd was the benefactor.
Bad luck division:
John Smoltz went seven innings on Tuesday, striking out 10 and allowing only five baserunners and one run to the Nats. He got the loss with John Lannan and three Washington relievers combining for the shut-out.
Probably the most well-known tough-luck incident of the week was CC Sabathia’s loss on Sunday despite shutting down the Yanks’ offense. His only mistake was allowing a solo home run to Melky Cabrera. Chien-Ming Wang and the Yanks were perfect.
And finally, Chris Young threw seven innings of one-run ball on Thursday, though it’s no great monumental achievement to do so against the Giants. Still, he was shackled with the loss when Tim Lincecum and a trio of relievers shut out the Padres.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Here’s your weekly rundown of pitchers who got credit for a win and a blown save in the same game.
It pains me to say so because he’s one of my favorite pitchers, but Leo Nunez had the most egregious vulture win of the week when he blew the save on Friday, allowing three runs in an inning before being rescued by a six-run Royals eighth inning against the Indians.
Holds suck, too
In Tuesday’s Brewers/Cards matchup, David Riske gave up three runs in two thirds of an inning and still managed to get credit for a hold in Milwaukee’s 9-8 win.
The Joe Carter Award
Xavier Nady had eight RBI in 27 at-bats on the week, but he hit only .296/.286/.444.
Dishonorable mention should be extended to Bobby Abreu, who drove in six but went walkless and produced only two extra-base hits on his way to a .208/.208/.375 week. In a related note, Abreu this season has only seven walks in 96 at-bats. That’s very strange for a player with his long history of being a very patient hitter. We’re talking about a guy who has eight different seasons with more than 100 walks and who has never in his career fallen below a threshold of 1 BB per 10 AB.
Finally, before he went back onto the DL, Nomar Garciaparra drove in five with a .286/.318/.429 line.
Season: Emil Brown is the big “winner” given that he’s tied for fourth in the AL in RBI with 20 while hitting only .289/.315/.434. He has drawn only three walks in 83 at-bats this season.
David Ortiz is the runner-up, but things are getting better for him. He has driven in 20 runs and he’s been pretty good this season, but he’s still weighed down by his early-season bad luck on balls in play to the tune of a .177/.288/.323 line.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Here’s Ortiz again: This week he hit only .238, but with four extra-base hits and four walks to bring him up to .238/.360/.619.
Jacque Jones had a fun week, with a single, a double, a triple and a home run to go with five walks and an odd looking .200/.370/.500 line.
Finally, Nate McLouth continued his trend of hitting for power and drawing walks, smacking three home runs and earning four free passes in 26 at-bats. A line of .192/.300/.538 still leaves a sub-par OBP, but it’s remarkable that he has reached .300 at all.
Season: Nick Johnson is doing well and remains healthy four weeks into the season. That’s nice to see. His secondary skills are helping him out quite a bit as he has hit seven doubles and three bombs and drawn 20 walks against 18 strikeouts for a .216/.392/.432 line.
Paul Konerko has been a part of the White Sox power hitting-ways this season, contributing five homers and walking 15 times in 78 at-bats for a .218/.357/.449 early season.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is All I’ve Got Award
Two Braves share this week’s honor, with Mark Teixeira and Jeff Francoeur being the offenders in question. In 30 at-bats, Teixeira hit .300/.323/.433 while Francoeur went .286/.323/.429 in 28 at-bats.
Nady’s .296/.286/.444 also bears mentioning as he went the week without drawing a walk, which kind of sunk him.
Season: Matt Diaz has just one walk and four extra-base hits in 85 at-bats this season. A line of .294/.302/.388 isn’t going to cut it for a corner outfielder.
Dishonorable mention is reserved for Jose Lopez, who is hitting .314 but with a .315 OBP and a .422 SLG. In 102 at-bats, Lopez has only three walks.
And Julio Lugo joins the party with a .297/.333/.330.
The Steve Balboni Award
There is no shortage of candidates this week. Picking the best of the legion comes down to Mark Reynolds, Carlos Pena and Jason Botts. Reynolds is my choice with 18 strikeouts in 29 at-bats. Normally, somebody with two home runs and two walks in a week would have a reasonable chance of helping his team. But when those are the only positives in a .138/.194/.345 week, you’re not helping much.
For his part, Pena struck out 11 times in 17 at-bats. He posted a .176/.263/.235 line.
Botts went .111/.360/.333 with 10 K. He drew seven walks and hit a double and a homer in 18 at-bats.
Season: Ryan Howard is the clear winner, with his tally of 37 strikeouts in 92 at-bats nuking his two walks, five homers and 17 walks. A line of 174/.300/.359 is pretty weak. Still, like Ortiz, Howard will be alright.
Carlos Pena is getting dangerously close to Balboni territory with his .200/.340/.438. He has 31 strikeouts in 80 at-bats.
Three True Outcomes alert!
Some players had higher gross TTO percentages, but Magglio Ordonez wins because he had a nice balanced week of three homers, five walks and five strikeouts.
Season: Mark Reynolds has seven homers, 12 walks, and 35 strikeouts in 104 plate appearances. That’s 54 percent True Outcomes.
Hey Dubya, don’t get any bright ideas, okay?
This Week’s MVP
AL: I’m granting co-winners this week as Magglio Ordonez hit .400/.484/.840 while Kotchman hit .400/.520/.700. Kotchman drew five walks and didn’t strike out. I’ll have more on him in just a second.
Season: Manny Ramirez retains the title he took over last week as he’s still hitting a sick .347/.413/.643. With 26 strikeouts in 98 at-bats, the batting average is a little bit of a fluke. But he’s hitting for a ton of power and still has a great batting eye.
The runner-up is the aforementioned Kotchman. He’s hitting .337/.404/.584. Given that he’s struck out only five times all season against four doubles, six homers and nine walks, the batting average and OBP might be somewhat sustainable. When some scouts invoked the name of John Olerud back when he was in high school and the lower minors, it probably wasn’t hyperbole. The guy has great hand-eye coordination and a beautiful swing.
NL: Lance Berkman ran away with it, smoking the ball to the tune of .455/.517/1.136 with a double, a triple and four homers to go with a 5/1 BB/K rate in 22 at-bats.
Season: Chase Utley has been ridiculous this season, going for .259/.433/.757. He’s already hit 10 home runs and nine doubles, has drawn 11 walks, and is almost single-handedly keeping at least one fantasy baseball team alive. But he’s not who I really want to talk about.
The hitter I want to talk about is Albert Pujols. He’s drawn more walks than strikeouts every year since 2002, when he was only 22 years old. But he’s taking this thing to an absurd level, with 27 walks to only seven whiffs in 85 at-bats. He carries a .376/.535/.635 line. The last time we saw anything even remotely like this is when Barry Bonds was in his early 2000’s peak, where everybody was walking him out of pure terror, leading to walk figures that were about three to four times higher than his strikeout totals, peaking in 2004 when he had more homers than strikeouts. I’m not saying that Pujols will end up anywhere near that level of production, but it may be time to start discussing whether he or Alex Rodriguez is the dominant hitter of the post-Bonds era.
Least Valuable Player
AL: Ryan Garko did not do well, going .050/.136/.100.
NL: John Bowker hit .111/.111/.148 this week and is at .224/.250/.469 on the season.
That ends this week’s roundup. Tune in next week to see if Bowker’s teammate Brian Bocock can lower his 25 OPS+ even further. It really isn’t his fault. He’s in way over his head as he wasn’t even a league-average player in the California League last season.