Welcome to the awards.

All stats are for Monday, May 6 through Sunday, May 12. Please see the week one column for category explanations.

**This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop**

**Good luck division**

Phil Hughes got the win in a game in which he was punished to the tune of six runs in five and two thirds by the Royals. But Wade Davis was crushed by Lyle Overbay and the Yankees, giving Hughes the easy path to victory.

Mark Buehrle was hammered for seven runs in six innings on nine hits and two walks. Six of the seven runs came on home runs by Evan Longoria and Luke Scott. Longoria’s was a grand slam. Buehrle avoided the loss when Fernando Rodney and the Rays bullpen allowed five runs in four innings and blew the lead.

Pedro Hernandez avoided the loss despite making it through only two innings for the Twins. Hernandez allowed six runs on seven hits and a walk. The loss went to Red Sox starter Allen Webster, who was shelled for eight runs. Felix Doubront chipped in with another six runs allowed in his five and a third. Hernandez made it out of there with a no-decision.

Dan Haren allowed four runs in six innings on nine hits and a walk, striking out three. But Doug Fister was touched up for five runs in three and Haren got the win.

Mat Latos was hammered for seven runs in six innings on nine hits and three walks. He got the win as the Reds lineup took Hiram Burgos behind the woodshed for 12 runs in three innings.

Jason Vargas avoided the loss despite allowing five runs in five and two thirds on 10 hits and two walks. Hector Ambriz blew the hold for the Astros.

Barry Enright didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, yielding five runs on four hits and two walks, striking out two. But the Angels bullpen took it the rest of the way and Dylan Axelrod allowed six runs in his six innings and Enright avoided the loss.

Jason Hammel allowed six runs in four frames on eight hits and two walks. The Orioles bullpen threw six scoreless innings against the Twins and the Baltimore lineup forced extra innings before eventually winning the game.

Burch Smith and Jeremy Hellickson combined to allow 12 runs in seven and two thirds. The majority of those innings were thrown by Hellickson as Smith failed to record an out in the second before he was sent to the showers. Neither took the loss.

Vance Worley got the win for the Twins despite yielding five runs in five and a third to the Orioles.

**Bad luck division**

Matt Harvey pitched nine scoreless innings, allowing only one hit, walking nobody, striking out 12. He didn’t get the win. Hector Santiago was the opposing starter. He shut out the Mets for the first seven frames, allowing four hits, walking two, striking out eight. You probably can figure out for yourself that he joined Harvey in the no decision club.

As I write this, James Shields has a 2-3 record with a 2.48 ERA. He pitched in two games this week. On Monday he threw eight scoreless innings, allowing only two hits and two walks, striking out nine. He was lifted for closer Greg Holland, who allowed a run to the White Sox, ensuring that Shields would not receive the win. He posted an 85 game score and didn’t get the win because the Royals lineup tallied only one run and because of his bullpen, which generally is one of the better ones in the American League.

Then, on Saturday, Shields pitched eight innings against the Yankees, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks. He took the loss as the Kansas City lineup scored two runs. All three of his losses this season have come in quality starts. In eight trips to the mound this season he only has one start that doesn’t count as a quality one.

In the Monday Shields start, opposing starter Chris Sale went seven and a third, allowing just one run to the Royals on six hits, walking none, striking out five. He was in line for the loss when Holland blew the lead and ensured that he would only take a no-decision in the contest.

In Harvey’s second start, he threw seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks, striking out four Pirates. He failed to get the win.

Tommy Milone gave the A’s seven innings, allowing one run on five hits, walking none, striking out five. He took the loss as Zach McAllister and a pair of Cleveland relievers shut out the white elephants.

Craig Kimbrel’s third blown save of the season wiped out Kris Medlen’s chance of getting the win after the Atlanta starter threw seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits, walking two, striking out six.

Lance Lynn pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits, walking one, striking out eight. He took his first loss of the 2013 campaign as Travis Wood and the Cubs held the Cardinals to one run.

Hiroki Kuroda went seven innings, gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk in Coors Field. He took the loss.

A.J. Burnett also pitched seven, allowing two runs. He posted a game score of 70 with two hits allowed, walking four, striking out nine. He took the loss, as Felix Hernandez is good at baseballing.

Ricky Nolasco took the loss in a game that ended 1-0. So despite Nolasco’s seven innings, yielding one run on four hits and one walk, striking out nine, he had no chance at the win.

Barry Zito lost the win when Sergio Romo blew the save. Zito had pitched seven innings, had allowed one run on four hits and no walks to the Phillies.

Ian Kennedy stuck with the theme of this category and threw seven innings. He allowed two runs on six hits and three walks. The lineup didn’t score enough runs early enough to get Kennedy the win, which went to reliever Tony Sipp after the Phillies bullpen allowed a run and the Diamondbacks pen did not.

Courtesy of a Drew Storen blown hold, Gio Gonzalez’s seven scoreless innings went to waste. Gio allowed only two hits and one walk, striking out six.

Brandon McCarthy and Kyle Kendrick combined to allow two runs in 15 innings on 13 hits, walking none, striking out nine. McCarthy was on track for the win until Heath Bell blew the save.

After Buehrle threw an awful game and didn’t take the loss, he pitched a very good one and didn’t get the win. On Saturday, he combined with Clay Buchholz to throw 15 innings, allowing three runs on 11 hits and five walks, striking out nine. Neither got the victory.

** Vulture Award**

In the Buehrle/Buchholz game, Darren Oliver blew the lead only to watch as an Adam Lind home run in the next half inning made him a winning pitcher.

Justin Wilson blew the lead for the Pirates and walked away with the win over the Mets.

**Wes Littleton Award**

In protecting a three run lead in extra innings, Jim Johnson faced Ryan Doumit, Oswaldo Arcia, Chris Parmelee and Wilkin Ramirez.

**Please hold the applause**

Upon entering the game with a three-run lead, Jake McGee proceeded to allow a double and a home run before settling down against the murderer’s row that is Maicer Izturis, Mark DeRosa and Brett Lawrie and ending the inning. McGee got the hold.

Preston Claiborne recorded two outs and allowed three to reach base. He was credited with a hold.

**Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching**

Most of the time I use this category to highlight pitchers who are abnormally lucky on batted balls but from time to time I feel it necessary to run counter to that and highlight a game where a pitcher saw abnormally bad luck on batted balls. You will have to try very hard to find a performance more fitting than Alex Cobb’s this week. If you were paying attention at all, you already know he struck out 13 while going only four and two thirds. You know he allowed a run in an inning in which he struck out four batters. I will add to that the fact that he didn’t record a fly ball out and he allowed two home runs.

He allowed only seven fair balls and five of them, including the two home runs, were hits.

Only 10 batters he faced didn’t strike out. Two of those plate appearances were the home runs. Two were walkso. Cobb hit another batter with a pitch. Two others grounded out. The other three all reached base via single.

So he was preposterously unlucky on fly balls and unlucky on balls in play. He compounded that by throwing a wild pitch, by balking, and by hitting Nick Hundley with a pitch. That is just insane even without the historical weirdness documented elsewhere on the net.

Getting back to the conventional theme of the category, Jason Marquis struck out only one of the 28 Marlins he faced. But he was fortunate, as out of all of those balls in play, only five managed to find open pasture and Marquis ended up with the win] after eight innings of shutout baseball.

Hiroki Kuroda struck out one of the 30 Royals he faced on Sunday and still managed to avoid a lot of damage, watching only six batted balls in seven and two thirds land in play for hits. He took the win.

**Joe Carter Award**

Mark Trumbo and Ian Desmond each drove in six runs this week. Trumbo did it while hitting .200/.231/.360 with two extra base hits and one walk in 26 plate appearances. Desmond did it while hitting .389/.450/.833 with four extra base hits and two walks in 20 PA.

Jonny Gomes received only 14 PA and managed to drive in five runs. Upping the degree of difficulty even more is the fact that he hit .083/.143/.333 in those 14 appearances. Indeed, four of the five runs came on a grand slam and the other was the result of a sacrifice fly in the same game, a game the Red Sox lost handily.

Jimmy Rollins and Lyle Overbay each plated five. Rollins ended the week with a .267/.273/.433 line while Overbay went .261/.292/.478.

**Sanchez Award**

Salvador Perez struck out only twice in 24 PA, which tells you that the seven hits he collected were no fluke. Unfortunately only two of those hits went for extra bases and he did not walk, leading to an empty .292/.292/.375.

Andre Ethier batted a limp .273/.292/.364 in 23 PA.

**Harmon Killebrew Award**

Shin-Soo Choo reached via hit only four times in 27 PA. On the other hand, three of those four hits were for extra bases and two of those were home runs. He also walked six times for an improbable .193/.393/.524.

Dan Uggla did what Dan Uggla has been known to do and smashed, walked, and flailed his way to a .240/.345/.560 week.

Uggla’s teammate Justin Upton went .227/.393/.364. He reached base by way of a hit five times in 28 PA and by way of base on balls six times.

Prince Fielder posted a .211/.348/.474 in 22 PA.

**Steve Balboni Award**

Ryan Howard struck out 13 times in 29 PA and that resulted in a .148/.207/.259 week.

Brandon Moss fanned 12 times in 28 PA and batted .148/.179/.296.

B.J. Upton, Colby Rasmus, and Derek Norris each struck out 11 times. They ended the week batting .150/.320/.150/, .150/.292/.450, and .200/.273/.400 respectively.

In the battle to decide which Astro could strike out the most this week, J.D. Martinez did yeoman’s work in whiffing in eight of his 14 plate appearances but was outmatched by Jimmy Paredes, who was called out on strikes 10 times in 23 PA. Oh, and since you are probably wondering how they did with those strikeout rates in mind, they ended the week at .071/.071/.143 and .182/.217/.318 respectively.

Alfonso Soriano fanned nine times in 21 PA. He lacks the secondary skills to make that work most of the time. .250/.286/.350.

Drew Stubbs fanned nine times in 21 PA and went .143/.143/.143.

Oh, and Adam Dunn had a rough week, batting .071/.188/.071 with seven strikeouts in 16 PA.

Among other notable batters who struggled with high strikeout rates and associated poor overall lines were Yonder Alonso, Ike Davis, Michael Morse, Josh Willingham, John Buck, and Dexter Fowler.

**Three true outcomes**

Choo TTO’ed his way into the Killebrew category above. He smacked two home runs, walked six times, and struck out seven times in his 27 PA.

Jason Kipnis posted a two-three-eight TTO line in 33 PA this week.

Uggla and Mark Reynolds each went two-four-nine. Uggla did it in 29 PA, Reynolds in 23.

B.J. Upton failed to homer, but zero-five-11 in 25 PA is impressive. His brother went zero-six-seven in 28 PA.

Rasmus gave the Blue Jays a two-four-11 in 24 PA.

**The anti-TTO**

Michael Brantley posted a zero-one-one in 27 PA.

And Marco Scutaro posted a very rare one-zero-zero in 30 PA.

**This week’s MVP**

AL: Joe Mauer reached base 21 times this week in 35 PA. He collected 16 hits and six walks. His .533/.600/.833 monster of a week improved his 2013 line from .286/.364/.400 to .341/.418/.496.

Also of note, Longoria went .464/.531/.964 with five singles, five doubles, and three home runs in 32 PA.

NL: Scutaro rode a contact-heavy approach to a brilliant week, going .467/.467/.767 with eight singles, four doubles, a triple, and a home run in 30 PA.

Dan Rosenbaum said...

I read your column every week and really enjoy it, but generally take issue with your section called “Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching.” My sense is the “pure” version of the original theory that pitchers can only control the TTOs has been discredited. But especially when you call a pitcher who allowed two home runs, hit a batter, threw a wild pitch, balked, and got knocked out in the fifth “unlucky” the premise seems silly. Unless you were watching the game, how do you know he was “preposterously unlucky on fly balls and unlucky on balls in play”? Are you sure there weren’t screaming liners for singles and the homers weren’t bombs off mistake pitches? I think the theory carries weight over the course of a season and a career, but it doesn’t pass the “smell test” to say Cobb was unlucky the other day.

John Barten said...

Dan: On one hand, that’s fair. It isn’t as simple as we thought it was a half decade ago. And especially within the sample size of a game, there can be a lot of times where weak contact results in easy outs that had a lot to do with a particular deception the pitcher had going on. And in the long term, there is a certain population of pitchers who over the long term demonstrate that they have influence over results on batted balls. And you are also right that I don’t actually get to watch all of the games I cite week to week, or even a majority of them.

On the other hand, when you get to the kind of games I tend to cite in the category, even for the most extreme weak contact kind of pitchers, they are the outlier games. Many of them ARE in fact games where balls found gloves. And even over the course of a season, a particular pitcher can and sometimes will enjoy the advantage of a particularly good defensive squad behind him and/or some luck in how hard hit balls found gloves more often than anybody would have the right to expect.

I think I will keep the category for now, but the objection is well stated and noted and I might at some point add a disclaimer in the award intro or drop it altogether.

Thanks,

JMB

Dan Rosenbaum said...

I appreciate your taking the time to consider my comment.

Mitch said...

I vote to keep the category. I’ve always read it assuming it is written with a little tongue-in-cheek. Even the title suggests a playfully absurd (but theoretically possible) image of super-outfielders robbing home runs with elongated arms and the like.

John Barten said...

Thanks for the input, guys.