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 proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good luck division:
Neither Clay Buchholz or Armando Galarraga received official blame from the scorer despite combining for nine and a third innings of 10-run baseball, giving up 19 base runners in their time on the bump.
Bad luck division:
Javier Vazquez went seven and a third, and put up one of his best efforts this season. The righty struck out nine, walked one, and only allowed one run all night, that coming on a solo home run by Matt Stairs. He still got the loss because Dustin McGowan shut down the South Side bats.
On Monday while Vazquez was striking out Blue Jays left and right, the Royals were squandering a rare brilliant performance by Brett Tomko. He didn’t get the loss as he didn’t allow a run in his own seven innings of work. But he got a no decision because Ervin Santana spun a complete game shutout.
Another Monday game without justice was the Orioles/A’s matchup where Dana Eveland went seven scoreless and Garrett Olson allowed one lonely run to cross the plate. Eveland actually left the game in a position to collect the W, but Huston Street blew the save.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Santiago Casilla did the same when he allowed an inherited baserunner to score, blowing a narrow lead. The A’s offense lit up the Rangers bullpen on their way to a 12-6 win and Casilla was the receiver of the gift wrapped win.
The Wes Littleton Award
I won’t even mention the fact that Brian Shouse only needed to throw four pitches to get a save on Sunday. Actually, I just did mention it but it’s not the main point. The main argument for his inclusion here is the fact that he entered the game protecting a three run lead with Yadier Molina and Adam Kennedy at bat and on deck respectively. He inherited two baserunners, one of which he allowed to score when Molina singled in Troy Glaus. That reduced the lead to two runs. He would have had to have been unfathomably bad to have blown a three run lead with two outs in the ninth, even if he had two runners on base. The idea of rewarding him with a save for getting over such a low hurdle is a little ridiculous.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Daisuke Matsuzaka won despite walking eight batters and striking out only one in five innings. This is a nice twofer. You could probably stick him up in the lucky dog division for getting the win. But he’s here because he struck out one of 25 batters he faced and he came away with two hits against him and one run. That’s simply insane.
In a kind of reverse of the premise, AJ Burnett allowed nine hits in six innings despite striking out 10 of the 27 Rays he faced. By my count, he had a .563 batting average on balls in play against him in the game.
Holds suck too
I would beat up on Franquelis Osoria for getting a hold in a game where he threw four pitches, but the guy has a 6.17 ERA and it would seem like I’m kicking a man when he’s down. And he got two outs with those four pitches. So I’ll just say that he has a really cool name.
The Joe Carter Award
David Wright drove in five runs while hitting .208/.321/.250.
Also, Ryan Howard drove in five while posting a nine to one K/BB ratio and hitting .192/.214/.385.
Season: Emil Brown is still public enemy number one, batting .283/.307/.414. The defensively challenged corner outfielder is fourth in the Majors in RBI with 33. He has only drawn five walks and has a mere 10 extra-base hits in 145 at bats. “On pace” numbers are always gimmicky, but it’s illustrative to point out that he’s “on pace” to drive in 143 while posting a batting line that could have come straight out of Jose Castillo’s career.
This week’s dumbest thing ever
I’m speechless. This has to be the worst casting decision since somebody came to the conclusion that Denise Richards would be believable as a nuclear physicist.
Oh, and then there’s this piece of very astute management.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Brandon Boggs of the Rangers hit .269/.367/.500 with a double, a triple, and a home run in 26 at bats. I usually cite sub-.250 averages in this category, but the field was weak and the Boggs line was a good illustration of the kind of stuff that you see from guys with merely pedestrian batting averages, but who contribute quite a bit to their teams, which is a small change from the usual freaks and geeks assembly of three true outcomes guys that dominate the category.
Season: Carlos Beltran has 12 singles, 12 doubles, two triples, and three home runs to go with his 27 walks. The lack of singles brings his average down to .240, but everything else I mentioned takes his line up to .240/.376/.446.
Jim Thome is another good candidate, hitting .218, but with seven homers and 22 walks in 119 at bats for a .218/.350/.445 line.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
Justin Morneau doesn’t look like the kind of player I picture winning this award, even on a fluke week. But the guy collected seven singles and a walk in 24 at bats and nothing else. .292/.320/.292 will win you this thing most weeks.
Season: Erick Aybar is still winning this thing at .291/.305/.386. But he has some strong competition coming up on him in the form of Jose Lopez, who is at .303/.302/.408, Carl Crawford at .289/.318/.403, and Randy Winn with his own .288/.328/.368. Lopez’s impatience at the plate has really gotten to be ridiculous as he’s drawn three walks in 152 at bats. Crawford has had a bit of a power outage and his walk rate always has made him a guy whose OBP relied on him batting .300 or better. And Winn is just isn’t doing anything on offense that would point to him as a particularly dangerous player.
The Steve Balboni Award
David Murphy hit a home run, a double, and drew three walks in 25 at bats. Under normal circumstances, that would have made for a pretty decent week. But Murphy struck out nine times and hit .200/.267/.360.
Season: Ryan Howard has K’d in 38.6 percent of his at bats and is still struggling to the tune of .171/.280/.357.
On a happier note, BJ Upton, whose strikeout rate last season made me think that he was a future candidate for this category once his BABIP came back down close to normal, has cut his strikeout rate considerably and he’s down to 25.2 percent of his at bats ending with him sidling back to the dugout with his bat still in his hand. Last season’s BABIP was unsustainable as he hit .300 while whiffing in 32.5 percent of the time. Granted his isolated slugging is down, but this is showing an adaptability in his batting approach. Hopefully he can learn to hit for both power and average simultaneously.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Dan Uggla hit four home runs, drew three walks, and struck out eight times in 25 plate appearances.
Season: Uggla for the season has 11 homers, 16 walks, and 39 strikeouts in 156 plate appearances for a 42.3 percent TTO rate.
When was somebody going to mention to me that Chan Ho Park was back in the Major Leagues? There are a certain number of names you don’t expect to see again in a Major League box score. He’s a good example.
And why was it ever a good idea to hold the biggest race of the season, a race which can not be held in the wet, during the second rainiest month of the year? This has bugged me ever since I first moved here.
This week’s MVP
AL: Kevin Youkilis had eight extra base hits in 32 at bats for a .375/.394/.938 line.
Season: Carlos Quentin leads the AL in OPS, but I’m going with Youkilis here because of defensive value and his extra 25 plate appearances. This is all something I’m doing begrudgingly. One of the more remarkable statistical quirks this season has been the complete absence of AL superstar performances. Youkilis is hitting a very tasty .322/.400/.596, but he and Quentin, who is hitting .298/.414/.587 are the only two American League representatives in the top 15 in OPS. Opening it up to the top 20 only nets you Milton Bradley. Every hitter in the American League is being outhit by Geovany Soto and Rafael Furcal. Aaron Rowand and Xavier Nady would comfortably be in the AL top 10.
NL: Lance Berkman is absolutely out of his mind right now. This week he hit .682/.471/1.136 with four doubles, two home runs, five walks and one strikeout. He even stole two bases and didn’t get caught once.
Season: Berkman’s torrid week vaults him to the top of the NL pecking order, past last week’s winner Chase Utley. He has 15 doubles, 12 home runs, and 22 walks in 136 at bats for a ridiculous .382/.463/.772 line
Oh, and a fun note, last year at this time, Berkman was slugging .420.
Most Valuable Pitcher
AL: Let’s check in with the guys who throw the ball for a living. In the AL, I have no explanation for Cliff Lee. I’m like just about everybody else in that I had pretty much left him for dead after his mediocre 2006 and his nightmare 2007. But the guy has been amazing. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know here, so I’ll shut up and tell you that “hitters” are going .163/.173/.209 against him this season. Last year, they hit .284/.352/.489 when he was on the mound. And he’s allowed just two walks and one home run in 44 and two thirds.
Runner up: Zach Greinke, who is no slouch himself, as he’s allowing 1.98 runs per nine innings and batters are hitting .213/.262/.355 against him.
NL: It’s no big surprise to see Carlos Zambrano near the top of the heap in the NL since he’s been one of the better pitchers in baseball since he was 22 years old. He’s allowing 1.80 runs per nine and a .234/.287/.343 line against.
Runner up: Edinson Volquez, who has a .190/.308/.238 line against. He’s been great and his strikeout rate is very impressive at almost 11 per nine innings, but this kind of success isn’t sustainable, especially if he doesn’t improve his walk rate, which stands at five for every nine innings pitched.