Welcome to the awards.
All stats are still for the games starting Monday, May 9 ending Sunday, May 15. If you are a new reader, reference the week one column for category explanations.
This week we cover the season leaders in the pitching categories.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop
Good luck division
Because of Marc Rzepczynski, Jon Lester was off the hook for the loss in the drubbing he took at the hands of Toronto. Lester was charged with five runs in five and a third on seven hits, five strikeouts, and five walks.
Randy Wolf and Tim Stauffer combined to allow 11 runs in eight and two thirds on 21 hits, walking four, striking out eight. They allowed three home runs. Still, because of Kameron Loe, neither starter suffered the loss on his record.
Shaun Marcum was unlucky in that he struck out eight of the 26 batters he faced and still got dinked to death by nine hits on balls in play. He got very lucky by way of allowing five runs in six frames and still walking away with the win.
Jon Niese allowed five runs on seven hits in six and a third. He struck out three, walked two, and two of the hits he allowed were home runs. He still got the win because Ubaldo Jimenez continued his season-long trend of being awful.
Jorge de la Rosa was touched up for five runs on nine hits in five and two thirds. He received the no-decision as Dustin Moseley allowed six runs in four innings and three Padre relievers combined to allow another six.
Aaron Harang and Jhoulys Chacin each received no-decisions in a wild game at Coors Field. Harang allowed seven runs in four and a third. Chacin was tagged for five runs and was in line for the victory until Rafael Betancourt blew the save.
Season: Edinson Volquez has had remarkable run support. He stands at three and one in eight starts with a 5.74 ERA and 33 walks in 42-and-a-third frames. His one loss came in a start where he allowed three runs in five and two thirds. He has a win in a game where gave up four runs in five innings, in one where he allowed four runs in five innings, and no-decisions in games where he allowed six in five and two thirds and five in six.
With a 2-4 record, Javier Vazquez is not getting any love from the wins and losses worshiping set. But given the context, it could be much, much worse. His only two wins were in games where he yielded four runs in six innings (both times, exactly that line), and he has two no-decisions where he allowed nine runs in 10 and two thirds. Vazquez looks beyond done. He is allowing almost two base runners an inning, has struck out four fewer batters than he has walked, and he has provided the Marlins with exactly one quality start in eight attempts.
Yovani Gallardo has been lucky as well. He has only one time all year when he has thrown a solid game and not come away with a win. Meanwhile, he has a win in a game where he allowed four runs in six innings and no-decisions in games where he got pounded for six runs in five frames, and four runs in five.
Bad luck division
The Saturday game where Chad Billingsley took the loss despite allowing only three base runners in eight innings received a lot of attention. He was horribly represented by the Dodgers offense, which got shut out by something named Josh Collmenter and three veteran but forgettable relievers. But what most amuses me is the fact that his lone run illustrates the principle that I still believe the runs that score as a result of an error from the pitcher should still be counted as earned runs since they were still clearly the fault of the pitcher and not a different fielder who botched a routine ground ball or dropped an easy popup.
Josh Beckett and Nick Blackburn engaged in a pitcher’s duel. Beckett threw seven innings of shutout ball, striking out five Twins, walking one, getting dinged for six hits. Blackburn went six and a third, allowing one run on seven hits, three walks, and five strikeouts. Beckett’s bullpen blew the save before Hideki Okajima picked up the win in extra innings.
Jason Vargas and Zach Britton each threw nine inning shutouts. They were both very efficient as well, throwing 101 and 108 pitches respectively, walking only one batter (though given the current state of the Baltimore and Seattle offenses, the lack of walks is likely not a fluke unless you happen to be having Aroldis Chapman-level control issues). They were each pulled at the end of regulation, giving way to relievers that continued putting up zeroes until Seattle scored a run on Jim Johnson and then Brandon League imploded, handing the win to Johnson.
Season: Madison Bumgarner is winless on the year. He is 0-3 in his last four starts despite posting a quality start in each game.
Dustin Moseley went 0-3 in his first five starts of the year, including three games where he threw six plus and allowed one run in each start.
Joakim Soria blew his second save of the year and received his third victory in a game where A.J. Burnett had his own chances at a win squandered by the Yankee bullpen. Burnett allowed one run in seven innings.
Season: Brandon Lyon has three wins out of the pen this year. In all three, he had allowed a run. In two of the three, he has blown the save for the Astros.
Wes Littleton Award
Joel Hanrahan was tasked with protecting a three-run lead against the bottom three spots in the Dodgers lineup, which these days is quite feeble. Tony Gwynn was the pinch hitter for struggling rookie Jerry Sands. Next came Rod Barajas. Then came what is left of pinch hitter Jay Gibbons. Despite an unlikely Barajas single and Hanrahan’s own error which put Gibbons on base, the lead was still secure as the top of the Dodger order consisted of Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles.
Please hold the applause
The first thing Tyler Clippard did upon entering the game is give up a three-run home run to Dan Uggla. Two of the runs were charged to Sean Burnett. But he received a hold because the three runs only made it a 7-6 game.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Colby Lewis is a fun story. But Lewis got lucky, having struck out exactly zero of the 27 Oakland batters he faced in going seven-and-a-third innings, giving up one run (on a ball NOT in play as it was a home run) and five hits.
Sean O’Sullivan has thus far posted better-than-average results in terms of run prevention despite abysmal strikeout rates. This far he has actually walked 16 and struck out 14 in 35 innings. This is a trick that isn’t likely to continue. On Thursday, he and Blake Wood failed to strike out a single Yankee, yet O’Sully got the win.
Joe Carter Award
Ryan Ludwick drove in eight Padres in 26 at-bats. He also got on base seven times, none by way of the walk, leading to a .269/.259/.500 line.
I would poke fun at Casey Kotchman for being a first baseman who batted .304/.333/.348 in 24 PA this week, but that is about as productive as he’s been in several years. And at this point, picking on him feels needlessly mean spirited.
Jeff Baker posted a true Sanchez line of .286/.286/.286 in 14 PA.
And Jerry Hairston went .273/.304/.318 for the Nats.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Carlos Beltran remains a player I root for long after he stopped being a great player and long after he left the Royals. It is unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to stay healthy for long. So it was nice to see him go .222/.333/.778 this week, unless you happen to be a Rockies pitcher.
A side note
The fact that offense has crashed to a point where the average major league hitter is batting .250/.320/.389 has really caused me to consider recalibrating the thresholds I usually look for when determining who to place in the Sanchez and Killebrew categories.
Steve Balboni Award
Freddie Freeman has had some difficulties as a rookie. This week was one of the more difficult as he struck out nine times in 24 plate appearances, leading to a .182/.240/.182 line.
Three true outcomes
Jayson Werth posted two home runs, four walks, and 10 strikeouts in 28 PA.
Kevin Youkilis went 2-3-9 in 28 PA.
Ryan Howard went 2-2-9 in 25 PA.
And Ben Zobrist went 1-7-6 in 25 PA.
Alberto Callaspo went 0-1-1 in 25 PA.
Continuing with the usual suspects, Ichiro Suzuki posted a 0-2-0 in 29 PA.
And Jose Reyes gave the world a 0-2-1 in 28 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: It is Jose Bautista’s world. As long as we are not AL pitchers, he is a merciful God. “JoeyBats19” smacked eight extra base hits. Six of them were home runs. He also walked five times against two strikeouts in 31 PA for a .423/.516/1.192 line.
As great as Bautista was, Victor Martinez was almost as good, going .522/.593/1.000 in 27 PA.
NL: If you were planning on attempting to buy low on Martin Prado after he entered May with a .252/.295/.378 line, you happen to be a couple weeks late. Prado went off to the tune of .462/.517/.846 and is back to a healthy .296/.340/.458 on the season.