Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for Monday, April 16th through Sunday, April 22nd. Please see the week one column for award definitions and explanations.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop
Good luck division
Phil Hughes was credited with a win in a game where he yielded six runs in five and a third. Curtis Granderson made a meal out of Minnesota pitching though, and as long as he managed to stay in the contest at least five frames, there was no way for Hughes to avoid the victory.
Freddy Garcia escaped with a no decision in Saturday’s infamous game where the Red Sox bullpen blew a nine run lead. Garcia was the reason the Yankees had that hole to dig out of in the first place, having been shelled for five runs, getting lifted with two out in the second inning.
Drew Hutchison’s first career start ended with him getting credited with a win despite his having allowed five runs to the Royals on eight hits and three walks in five and a third. Two of the eight hits went over the fence. Still, he got the win because Luis Mendoza, Everett Teaford, and Kelvin Herrera were pounded by the Jays lineup.
Bad luck division
The universal truth of pitching duels is that at least one starter always walks away without the win they might have deserved if the win statistic were actually worth acknowledging. In Wednesday’s Giants/Phillies matchup, both starting pitchers walked away without the win. Matt Cain tossed nine shutout innings in only 91 pitches. Cliff Lee did him one better and threw 10 scoreless on 102 pitches, striking out seven, walking none. After Lee was lifted in the 11th, Antonio Bastardo gave up the game ending run and absorbed the loss, giving the win to reliever Clay Hensley, who recorded a grand total of one out on three pitches.
Felix Hernandez tossed eight brilliant innings, shutting out Cleveland, striking out 12, walking one. But he did not get the win as Brandon League got knocked around by the Cleveland lineup and blew the save.
Johnny Cueto and Kyle Lohse combined to throw 14 innings with one run allowed between them. They combined to strike out 11, walking three. Neither got the decision. Lohse was in line for the win, but Mitchell Boggs was unable to hold onto the one run lead.
One of the peculiar charms of pitching for Houston this season is that when you perform well, you still won’t get credit for the win because there will be no win for Houston. Wandy Rodriguez threw seven frames for the Astros, allowed one run. But the Astros were shut out. So Wandy got the loss.
Anibal Sanchez and Stephen Strasburg combined to go 13 frames, allowing two runs on nine hits, walking only one, striking out 14. Neither got the win. Strasburg’s would-be victory was ruined by Brad Lidge’s blown save.
Drew Smyly only allowed eight base runners in six strong innings. One of those base runners was put on first base at the behest of Jim Leyland, Smyly’s only walk of the day. But the Tigers offense waited until Smyly was out of the game before scoring the go ahead run against Bruce Chen. Chen himself had a bit of bad luck, holding a seven to zero strikeout to walk ratio in the game and going seven innings with only six base runners allowed. Chen got the loss. Smyly got a no decision.
But wait there’s more to talk about with Smyly. His second start of the week was one where he held the Rangers potent offense to one run in six innings, but the save was blown. No win for Smyly or for Colby Lewis, who allowed two runs in seven frames.
Yovani Gallardo provided the Brewers with seven innings of one run baseball, striking out eight, walking one. He did not get the win though, as the Brewers offense was held to one run by Jeremy Guthrie and three relievers.
Wes Littleton Award
The batters Jon Papelbon faced in recording his third save of the season were as follows: Emmanuel Burriss, who ended the game with a .304 OBP and .273 slugging percentage; pinch hitter Gregor Blanco, who as I write this on Monday afternoon owns an 84 OPS+ in 853 career plate appearances; leadoff hitter Angel Pagan, who currently has a .281 OBP; and Melky Cabrera. He was protecting a three run lead against a pretty toothless part of the Giants lineup. His WPA in the contest was .02, a number that is only significant if you are standing on the side of the road blowing into a plastic tube.
Please hold the applause
After Jerome Williams tired and allowed a double and a home run in the seventh inning, LaTroy Hawkins was called on with two out and none on to get one out with a three run lead. He induced a groundout from J.J. Hardy to get a hold in a game where he really had very little chance of failure.
The Mets bullpen pulled off a number of remarkable feats against the Giants on Saturday. Mike Pelfrey had given the Queens heroes eight strong innings and was lifted for closer Frank Francisco for the ninth inning because that’s what a manager does in 2012 when his starter doesn’t have a shutout going. Francisco then promptly allows a single, a walk, and an RBI single. He had entered the game with a 4-1 lead with nobody out. He exited with the score 4-2 and runners on first and second. He was lifted for Tim Byrdak and got the hold. Good for him. After Byrdak struck out pinch hitter Hector Sanchez, Byrdak was lifted for setup man Jon Rauch, who allowed Brandon Belt to tie the game. Rauch blew the save. Lovely. After Rauch mercifully ended the half inning by striking out Angel Pagan, the Giants returned the favor by handing Rauch a win by allowing a walk off fielder’s choice/error. So we have a tough luck no decision, a hold going to a guy who was charged with three runs, and the guy that blew the save gets the win.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
You could put any perfect game in this category given that by definition no balls in play fell in for hits. Humber is a strange candidate for a perfect game as he has never been particularly dominant. All games like this involve a healthy dose of luck and a healthy dose of a pitcher just having a great day.
Chris Sale had a nice game, getting the win, allowing three runs in six and a third. But it could have been much better had he possessed better luck on balls in play. Six of the 13 balls in play he allowed found grass. Sale struck out 11 of the 28 Mariners he faced.
Joe Carter Award
Martin Prado drove in seven runs while Matt Kemp drove in six. This happened despite the fact that Kemp outslugged Prado by 482 points in two fewer plate appearances. Prado’s .250/.296/.375 line was not good.
Ryan Doumit batted .227/.217/.364 and still found a way to collect eight ribbies.
Justin Maxwell went .308/.308/.308 in 13 plate appearances for the Astros this week.
Jay Bruce had a rare week with little in the way of secondary skills, posting a .286/.318/.333 line in 22 PA. He only walked once and only one of his six hits went for extra bases, it being a double.
Erick Aybar smacked six singles in 28 at bats, but only two doubles and only one walk, leading to a .286/.310/.357 week.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Carlos Santana only singled twice in 18 at bats, but he chipped in a double, a home run, and five walks to make it a solid .222/.391/.444 week for Cleveland.
It isn’t stellar, but Josh Willingham’s .222/.344/.407 is reasonably productive.
Jose Bautista is still working his way back to dominance after struggling out of the gate in 2012. But eight walks against only two strikeouts in 26 PA is worth recognizing. Bad BABIP luck hurt him. .222/.464/.389 is a weird looking line.
Steve Balboni Award
What the hell is Willie Bloomquist doing striking out 11 times in 22 at bats? .136/.136/.273 is where he ended the week.
Mark Reynolds is still doing Mark Reynolds things, like striking out 11 times in 23 at bats and posting a .087/.222/.174 line.
Clete Thomas also struck out 11 times. He did it in 19 plate appearances and went .167/.211/.222. He’s already been on waivers once this year after being beaten out for a roster spot by Andy Dirks. If he keeps failing this way, nobody will claim him next time.
Hey everybody, it’s Chris Davis again! And he brought 10 strikeouts in 25 at bats and a .240/.269/.320 line with him.
Chone Figgins hit a home run this week, which is notable and good. He also struck out nine times in 24 PA, which is notable and bad.
Three true outcomes
Adam Dunn smacked two home runs, walked five times, and struck out 11 times in 32 PA.
Cody Ross went two-three-nine in 25 PA.
Ben Zobrist posted an impressive one-seven-eight in 28 PA.
Alex Gordon went one-four-eight in 28 PA.
Curtis Granderson went four-five-seven in 34 PA.
And Hanley Ramirez went three-five-seven in 28 PA.
Starlin Castro posted a zero-zero-one in 25 plate appearances, but special mention should be given to the fact that he collected a one in the unofficial fourth true outcome category—hit by pitch.
This week’s MVP
AL: Mike Napoli went .440/.481/1.080 with five home runs. If you are in a weekly points league in fantasy and you have Mike Napoli, you probably won. With Napoli hitting the way he did and Josh Hamilton posting a .462/.516/.808, the Rangers went 8-1 and broke double digits in runs three times.
NL: Freddie Freeman tapped five doubles, three home runs, and three hits to go .470/.481/1.087 for Atlanta.