Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for Monday, April 23rd through Sunday, April 29th. 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
Clay Buchholz was lucky to struggle on a day where the Red Sox lineup destroyed Liam Hendriks. Buchholz yielded five runs on 10 hits and three walks in five and a third. But Hendriks was shelled for seven runs and Buchholz got the win.
I don’t honestly remember hearing the name Chris Schwinden before seeing that he had been charged with six runs in four innings on seven hits and no strikeouts, yet still walked away with a no-decision.
Teaford and Pavano shouldn’t feel too bad about their poor performances. On the same day, Justin Verlander and Ivan Nova turned in similar performances and also escaped with no decisions. They combined for 11 and a third frames, 11 runs, 18 hits, and three walks.
Matt Latos was touched up for five runs in six and a third against Houston. But the Astros pitching staff couldn’t make that stick and he ended up with a no-decision.
Bad luck division
Jake Peavy’s return to stardom took an unfortunate turn as he picked up his first loss of the year despite turning in a complete game with only one run allowed on four hits and one walk, striking out seven. Lester and the embattled Boston bullpen shut out the south siders. On a happier note, Alfredo Aceves’ ERA is down to an even 12.
Gavin Floyd went seven and a third, allowing only one run on two hits and two walks, striking out six. But the White Sox lineup was shut out by Tom Milone and Grant Balfour, resulting in a loss for Floyd.
Juan Nicasio and Jason McDonald combined to go 13 and two thirds, allowing two runs between them on 10 hits and four walks, striking out 13. The win went to reliever Matt Reynolds, who threw all of five pitches.
Chris Sale and Jarrod Parker were pretty good, but neither got the win. Parker was in line for the victory until Balfour blew the save. Sale pitched more innings, but the White Sox offense couldn’t muster enough firepower to hand him the win despite five strikeouts and no walks allowed.
Bartolo Colon continued pitching well for Oakland, tossing eight and a third. He hadn’t allowed a run until the bottom of the ninth when he yielded a pair of infield singles and turned the ball over to Balfour, who allowed a double and a home run to end the game. Colon got a no-decision and the two earned runs that he had left for Balfour to clean up.
Because of a Carlos Gonzalez home run and the base runner inherited from Jason Grilli, it only took Tony Watson three pitches to blow the lead he was charged with protecting. The thing is that the Pirates offense then immediately turned Watson into a winner as they charged back against Matt Belisle.
Wes Littleton Award
The very next day following League’s True Littleton, the Red Sox gave Junichi Tazawa a chance to earn a True Littleton of his own, throwing three scoreless against the White Sox after Phil Humber was tagged with nine runs. In principle, I fully support using a bullpen this way. Longer stints by relievers who have the ability, especially in blowouts like this game where the final score was 10-3. But it is kind of ridiculous to get a save in a game where you enter with a six run lead, regardless of how many innings you pitch. Tazawa’s WPA was .02, which to be fair was the highest in the game for a pitcher, but wasn’t what you look for in the save statistic.
Brandon League was summoned from the Mariners bullpen to protect a three run lead against the Tigers. The Tigers are a dangerous team to opposing relievers in general, but League did not come in to face Miguel Cabrera and Prince Fielder. He faced four batters. He walked pinch hitter Don Kelly before retiring Ramon Santiago, Austin Jackson, and Brennan Boesch. Jackson is off to a good start and doesn’t look like the out machine he was in his previous Major League experience. But when you’re in possession of a three run cushion, that’s a soft group of hitters to have to face.
Please hold the applause
Manny Parra entered the game against Astros with one out in the top of the eighth. He inherited a four run lead with runners on first and second. He faced two batters, allowed two inherited base runners to score, one on a sacrifice fly and one on a single. He was pulled, and Francisco Rodriguez mercifully ended the inning before any further damage was done. Parra ended up tarnishing Kameron Loe’s ERA, endangering a lead with two runs in five pitches, and walking away without getting charged with any runs of his own, and he got a hold for his own ineffective performance.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Paul Maholm only struck out one of the 24 Phillies he faced, but the only run he yielded was on a Ty Wigginton solo home run that reminded baseball fans across the country of the fact that Ty Wigginton still draws a weekly paycheck for playing baseball.
Joe Carter Award
Ryan Doumit collected a very robust five RBI in only 18 at bats despite ending the week with a .278/.263/.389 line.
Jordan Schafer also drove in five. He went .250/.250/.393 in 28 at bats.
The biggest thing that keeps Alfonso Soriano from being a regular in the Sanchez Award is that his batting average is rarely good enough to qualify. He is a ludicrously bad baseball player who seems like he has no idea what exactly he’s doing despite having nearly 7,000 major league plate appearances under his belt. He has no plan at the plate, no idea what is a ball or a strike, no pitch identification skills, no idea how to read a ball off the bat in the field, no idea how to make a clear break on a fly ball, no idea when he should try to advance another base. When he was young and had freakish speed and hand-eye coordination, he could get by and even excel despite being generally clueless as to the basic skills that almost every other player has to learn to get to the major leagues. But now that he isn’t faster than a speeding bullet or able to hit a curveball when he is looking fastball, he’s generally useless. .300/.286/.350 in 21 plate appearances this week and .243/.284/.441 in 584 plate appearances since opening day of last year back me up.
Speaking of rapidly aging players losing well-established skill sets, Juan Pierre went .300/.333/.300 with a caught stealing in his only attempt on the week. An Ichiro Suzuki gave us a .296/.296/.333 in 27 PA.
Robinson Cano rapped out seven singles in 25 at bats. On the other hand, he only provided one extra base hit, a double, and he did not walk all week. His line ended the week at .320/.308/.360.
Daniel Murphy threw up a .294/.306/.324 in 35 PA.
Unlike Soriano, Ichiro, or Pierre, Brandon Crawford never could hit. He’s just enough of a glove to make it work. .294/.294/.353 in 17 PA.
Kurt Suzuki went .286/.286/.381 in 21 PA for Oakland.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Our old friend Adam Dunn continued to have a productive follow up season, going an incredible .190/.414/524 in 28 AB.
Steve Balboni Award
Shelley Duncan struck out 11 times in 21 plate appearances and consequently ended the week batting .150/.174/.150.
Chase Headley fanned nine times in 21 at bats and the Padres third baseman needed four walks to even get to .143/.280/.143.
Carlos Pena has these weeks. He struck out 11 times in 23 at bats. .174/.240/.304.
Three true outcomes
Here’s Dunn again with two home runs, seven walks, and 10 strikeouts in his 28 PA.
Bryan LaHair went two-three-10 in 22 PA.
Curtis Granderson posted a two-five-seven in 25 PA.
Ichiro went 27 plate appearances without a home run, walk, or strikeout.
Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur went zero-one-one in 27 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: Paul Konerko went off this week with six of his 10 hits going for extra bases. His 1.457 led all AL bats with at least 25 PA in OPS by 230 points. .435/.500/.957 is very nice.
Gonzalez posted a .391/.481/.913 line with four home runs, four walks, and a two for two mark on the base paths.
LaRoche went .435/.500/.826 with three doubles, two home runs, and three walks.
Altuve posted a .481/.500/.778 line for the Astros with a two for two mark on the bases to go with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. The young, undersized second baseman had quite the week.