Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for Monday, April 30th through Sunday, May sixth. 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
Drew Hutchison yielded six runs on seven hits and two walks, striking out six. The Rangers blew the save, taking him off the hook and setting the table for Francisco Cordero to get a blown save/win combo in the ninth inning.
Ricky Romero admirably lasted eight innings, but less admirably allowed eight runs to the Rangers of Arlington. He still got the win as Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, and Edwin Encarnacion punished Matt Harrison and Scott Feldman.
When you write this column and you’re watching the ticker at the bottom of the screen on ESPN or the MLB Network and you see a final score of 15-13, you know you’re going to be talking about it in one capacity or another. Well, Wednesday’s Atlanta/Philly tilt had a lot of notable things. Roy Halladay was shelled for eight runs but still managed to stay in the game for five and a third. Tommy Hanson didn’t make it out of the fourth, allowing four on eight hits and two walks. Neither starter got the loss as the teams traded blown saves. 12 relievers took the mound and only one hold was recorded compared to a win, a loss, and two blown saves. Three relievers gave up a combined to give up nine runs and because the score was so lopsided at that point, they didn’t get a blown save.
Lost in the “Hey look, two position players pitched! Crazy game! 17 innings!” excitement was the fact that the starters allowed 10 runs in eight innings but neither Tommy Hunter nor Clay Buchholz got the loss.
Bad luck division
I don’t usually put seven inning, two run allowed performances here, in order to keep the column from taking an hour and half to read through. But Matt Cain held the Brewers lineup to those two runs in seven innings, striking out 10 Milwaukee batters along the way, walking only one, yielding only six hits. But the Giants pen blew the save and he walked away with nothing despite a 66 game score.
Chad Qualls blew the save in spectacular fashion. With a three run lead, Antonio Bastardo induced a groundout from David DeJesus, then walked Tony Campana. Qualls entered the game with one on and Campana on first. Campana stole second. Then Starlin Castro singled, plating Campana as an inherited runner. Then Bryan LaHair homered to tie the game. He allowed another single sandwiched between outs from the impotent Alfonso Soriano and the forgettable Blake Dewitt to end the inning. Jimmy Rollins, Placido Polanco, Juan Pierre, Scott Maine, and Rafael Dolis all worked to make Qualls a winner, and it happened. Qualls was terrible, blew the save, still got the win.
Wes Littleton Award
Chris Perez was protecting a three run lead in the ninth inning for Cleveland. He faced Alex Rios, Dayan Viciedo, and Kosuke Fukudome. Viciedo and Fukudome have done nothing but struggle this season and while Rios has hit fairly well this year, I trust him to start a rally about as far as I can throw Bartolo Colon. I don’t even care if that analogy made sense. Rios is reliably unreliable and Colon is the shape of the fat suits they use for the sumo wrestling between inning promotional contests during minor league games.
Cristhian Martinez entered the game with some leverage. There was only one out, the bases were loaded in Denver. Tyler Colvin and Marco Scutaro were due to come up. There was a four run lead, but Colvin has some pop. Martinez allowed one inherited runner to score on a groundball out before ending the frame, then proceeded to throw two scoreless before ending the game with a final score of seven to two for Atlanta.
As funny as it is to see a save in a 7-2 final score, the more ridiculous might just be Edward Mujica’s second save of the season against the Padres. With a three run lead, the three batters he retired were John Baker, Andy Parrino, and Nick Hundley, the seven-eight-nine spots in the Padres lineup.
Please hold the applause
Wesley Wright entered the game against the Mets with two out, nobody on in the bottom of the eighth, protecting a three run lead. He induced a grounder from Davis that was turned into the third out. He was lifted for closer Brett Myers at the top of the ninth. He threw one pitch with a three run lead against a hitter who held a .548 OPS at the end of the game. And he got credit for a hold. In order to get a hold or a save, you should at least have some combination of batters faced and base runners inherited sufficient enough to tie the game.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Ricky Nolasco struck out only one Giants batter out of the 30 he faced and his only run allowed was to a solo home run. Only six balls in play found pasture in seven and a third and Nolasco got the victory.
That’s just stupid
Can we just reflect for a moment how stupid it was that Wilson Betemit got caught stealing in the top of the 17th inning of Sunday’s marathon game with Boston? Darnell McDonald was on the mound for the Sox. That’s corner outfielder Darnell McDonald. That’s Darnell McDonald who walked Betemit in six pitches, all of them clocked between 81 and 84 miles per hour by Pitch f/x to lead off the inning. This is the Darnell McDonald who yielded a double on the very next pitch after Betemit failed to take second base. McDonald ended up allowing three runs in the inning to take the loss.
When the guy on the mound isn’t a serious pitcher, playing conservative station-to-station baseball is the best move. I don’t know whether Betemit just decided that McDonald being on the mound would amount to an easy steal so he took off on his own, or if the order came from the Orioles dugout, but it was a stupid idea. When the guy on the mound is busy demonstrating that he can’t get hitters out, don’t ask the fielders to do his work for him. Let his terrible pitching hand you easy runs instead of tempting fate. It worked out in the end for the Orioles as McDonald’s novice pitching gave the Orioles a win while Chris Davis’ novice pitching sealed the game (really, that guy can pitch a little bit), but it doesn’t erase the idiocy of getting caught stealing when the guy on the mound is an outfielder screwing around with stuff weak enough that Pitch f/x doesn’t classify anything he throws as a fastball because it’s slow enough that it looks like a changeup or a cutter.
Joe Carter Award
I’ll open this up for debate. Which one is the best illustration of the Carter?
Mike Aviles drove in six, but hit .219/.242/.375 with two caught stealing in two attempts for a .617 OPS.
Hanley Ramirez drove in one more than Aviles, but was successful in his two steal attempts and hit a little better at .250/.294/.438 for a .732 OPS.
Mike Cuddyer drove in six, hit slightly better than Hanley at .261/.320/.435, didn’t have the bad judgment to attempt a steal, but plays a corner outfield spot and was at Coors Field all week.
So how do you weigh the extra RBI, the positional adjustment, the overall suckiness of the batting line, and the stolen bases or failure thereof? As the dude would say, this is a complicated case. There are a lot of ins, a lot of outs, a lot of what-have-you’s, a lot of strands to keep in my head, man.
Will Rhymes put up an ideal Sanchez line of .294/.294/.294 in 17 plate appearances.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Matt Joyce only collected six hits in 29 plate appearances, but one of those was a triple, another was a home run, and he chipped in three walks to bring him up to .231/.355/.423.
Jason Heyward was even more extreme in 20 PA. He went .231/.500/.462 with seven walks. He also got caught stealing twice so that means that he isn’t the best example.
Andre Ethier went .238/.370/.429 in 26 PA.
His teammate Matt Kemp went .222/.375/.500 in 23 PA.
Going .208/.406/.375 with a home run and eight walks in 32 PA is just what Carlos Pena does. It’s his thing.
Nobody’s going to throw parades for a .775 OPS, but with third base being in the state that it is in, David Freese’s high degree of difficultly .190/.346/.429 has some value.
Steve Balboni Award
Michael Saunders struck out 12 times in 27 PA, which is informative when you hear about his .115/.148/.231 line this week. Also note this amusing Saunders moment from this week.
Saunders’ teammate Brendan Ryan fanned 10 times in 17 PA, which is atrocious. Also atrocious is his .188/.211/.188 line.
Adam Lind walked three times, smacked a home run, and still had one of the worst performances in the league this week. How did he do that? Well eight whiffs in 21 at bats are a good start. .095/.208/.238.
Colby Rasmus had a similar week with a .143/.217/.143 line and eight strikeouts in 23 PA.
Hey, Andruw Jones is still doing Andruw Jones things! .267/.313/.267 with seven strikeouts in 16 PA.
Three true outcomes
Jose Bautista is having a bad year thus far. But with two home runs, three walks, and nine strikeouts in 28 PA, at least he has this.
Kelly Johnson went two-three-nine in 30 PA.
Giancarlo Stanton has a lot of TTO potential. This week he went four-five-nine in 32 PA.
Did you expect to not see Adam Dunn here? Four-three-eight in 25 PA gets you on the list.
Carlos Gonzalez gave the Rockies some nice performances. He gave the rest of us a three-four-seven in 27 PA week.
Carlos Pena is as much an expected sight here as Dunn. One-eight-five in 32 PA qualifies.
Heyward went one-seven-two in 20 PA.
For the second week in a row, somebody posted a zero-zero-zero. This week it was Angel Pagan in 24 PA.
Michael Brantley posted a zero-zero-two in 25 PA.
Scutaro went zero-one-one in 25 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: Jason Kipnis smacked 10 hits in 26 PA this week. Half of those hits went for extra bases. He also walked four times, only struck out twice, and went two for two on the bases. .455/.538/.909.
NL: I put Jed Lowrie on here not just because he and Kipnis are on my fantasy team, but because he had a similar week to Kipnis, going .476/.560/.857 in 25 PA with 10 hits and four walks.