THT Awards

Welcome to the awards.

All stats are for the games starting Monday, May 16 ending Sunday, May 22. If you are a new reader, please 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

Jon Lester was abused by the Cubs lineup to the tune of five runs in six innings on 12 hits and two walks. But the Red Sox lineup gave him more than enough support and he walked away with a very ugly win.

David Price had a rare bad game, yielding five runs to the Yankees on six hits in five innings. A.J. Burnett struggled more, getting charged with six runs in five and two thirds. Burnett really imploded in the sixth inning, allowing two-run home runs to Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton and an RBI single to Matt Joyce. Price got a no-decision. He would have been in line for the win had he managed to stay in the game an inning longer than he had.

Daisuke Matsuzaka benefited from the Orioles bullpen and their inability to hold a lead after he was pelted for five runs on five hits and seven walks in four and a third.

Ryan Dempster and Ricky Nolasco combined to allow 10 runs in 11 frames on 17 hits and four walks, striking out eight. Because each starter contributed the five of the 10 runs, neither received the loss. The two bullpens allowed only two runs in seven innings combined so it wasn’t just a good day for hitting.

Jason Marquis was shelled for five runs in four frames on eight hits and three walks. Jake Arrieta was worse and Marquis escaped with a no-decision.

Sean O’Sullivan’s luck on balls in play predictably crashed and burned. He was bashed for seven runs in four and a third, allowing eight hits and walking four. A dramatic comeback by the Royals offense took him off the hook for the loss.

Bad luck division

Justin Masterson received the loss despite holding the White Sox to one run on five hits and two walks in eight innings. Masterson struck out a batter per inning. Jake Peavy shut out Cleveland.

Not only was Derek Holland betrayed by Neftali Feliz in that Feliz blew the save, the run that Feliz allowed was the only one charged to Holland in the game. Holland had thrown eight shutout innings, besting Luke Hochevar, who was a tough luck no-decision himself having allowed one run in eight and two thirds on six hits and two walks. But Feliz allowed the run and it wiped out Holland’s chance at the win, which went to Greg Holland, who is of course no relation.

Poor Jo-Jo Reyes. He was in line for his first win since 2008, having thrown seven scoreless, striking out seven Astros. But Jon Rauch blew the save and Reyes remains winless.

When Max Scherzer left the game at the end of the seventh inning, the game was tied one all. He received a no-decision as Kyle Drabek and a pair of relievers held the Tigers offense in check.

Phil Coke and Clay Buchholz threw 14 shutout innings between the two of them, striking out 11, walking two. The wins and losses fell to the bullpen.

Not only did Livan Hernandez get the loss when he allowed one run in seven innings, he struck out seven Mets in the process.

Wandy Rodriguez limited the Braves to five hits in eight scoreless innings. Derek Lowe tossed seven innings with only one run against him. When Mark Melancon allowed solo home run Brian McCann, it ensured that both pitchers would receive no-decisions.

Jaime Garcia received a no-decision when he allowed one run in eight innings on five hits and a walk, striking out five.

Bartolo Colon and Zach Britton combined to allow one run on nine hits and four walks in 15 frames, striking out 11. No decisions all around.

Dan Haren and Doug Fister allowed two runs on nine hits in 16 innings. Neither starter was credited with the win.

Chris Narveson and Aaron Harang threw 15-and-a-third scoreless innings. No win for them.

Vulture Award

Cole Kimball received his first career win as a result of his first career blown save. Kimball allowed an inherited run to score on an Andrew McCutchen triple. Danny Espinosa’s two-run shot during the next half-inning gave the Nats a lead that they would maintain.

Brian Wilson also blew the save and got the win. His victory was courtesy of Dodgers reliever Lance Cormier, who allowed a Cody Ross three-run homer.

Wes Littleton Award

I appreciate the Padres using Mike Adams for more than an inning when he got the save. And it is true that he had two men on base in the eighth when he entered the game, but he was protecting a four-run lead against a lineup that pinch hit with Kelly Johnson’s 561 OPS, had Chris Young’s .272 OBP leading off, and the desiccated remains of Melvin Mora batting second.

Please hold the applause

Jeremy Accardo entered the game with one out, runners on first and second, and a four-run lead to protect. He got Dustin Pedroia to fly out for out number two. So far so good. He followed up by allowing a single and a double, yielding two three runs, the two inherited and one of his own. He got credit for the hold.

Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching

Mike Pelfrey struck out one Marlins batter in seven innings. He only allowed five hits on balls in play.

Nick Blackburn generated one strikeout and only three swinging strikes against Oakland in seven innings. He was dinged with one run on five hits on his way to the victory.

What the?

You will have to do a lot of research to find more than one or two games with a sequence of base running blunders as egregious as what the Royals gave the world on Wednesday. The first batter Neftali Feliz faced upon entering the game in the bottom of the ninth was megarookie Eric Hosmer, who promptly tied the game with a solo home run. The second was Jeff Francoeur, who Feliz walked. Ned Yost called upon Jarrod Dyson as a pinch runner. Dyson then succeeded in getting picked off for out number one, an ugly blown play where he broke early for second and was a sitting duck when Feliz threw to first. After that Feliz walked Billy Butler walked on four pitches. So clearly Feliz is struggling mightily. Yost subbed in Mike Aviles as his second pinch runner of the inning. Butler is notoriously slow so this is a reasonable idea, one that has been executed often this season. But Aviles repeats Dyson’s mistake and is out number two on the second pitch of Wilson Betemit’s at-bat. Betemit strikes out looking at the end of a seven pitch at-bat.

I don’t honestly remember a more self-destructive inning of base running. In a game where a run will win the game and the pitcher is having a hard time doing anything right, you push things and not only hand the other team two outs, but erase two base runners. The Royals would have probably won the game in that inning if they had just avoided doing anything stupid. With runners on first and second and no outs, you score a run more than 60 percent of the time. Given that the pitcher you are facing has given up a home run and two walks, the standard run expectancy matrix is likely on the low side of your chances. When your opponent is trying to hand you the win, don’t stand in his way.

Joe Carter Award

Kelly Johnson drove in seven runs in 28 at-bats. The underlying performance was abysmal. Johnson struck out in a third of his at-bats, failed to walk even once, and ended the week at .214/.241/.393.

J.J. Hardy collected six ribbies and went .111/.167/.222 for the Orioles.

Sanchez Award

Alex Gonzalez was truly impressive this week, going .269/.296/.269 in 27 PA. That is seven singles, no extra-base hits, and one walk.

Alfonso Soriano was .273/.304/.318 in 23 PA.

Adrian Beltre provided a lot of hits this week, but not much in the way of power or patience. Adding to his six singles in 31 plate appearances were only three extra-base hits, all doubles, and one walk. He ended up at .300/.323/.400.

Justin Morneau hit .276/.300/.414 in 30 PA.

You might say that offense is down

Of the 186 batters who qualify, 16 have an OPS over .900. Just two years ago in 2009, that number was 27. In 2001 there were 13 batters who qualified with an OPS over 1.000.

Meanwhile there are 25 qualifying pitchers who have an ERA under three. In 2009 that figure was 11. In 2001 that group was made up of only Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling.

Harmon Killebrew Award

Firstly, let’s just point out that it was very sad week with the passing of Harmon Killebrew. I was too young to have seen him play. I wish I could have. He was a great player and one of the forefathers of the current offensive philosophies in the game today. He was a great power hitter in an era where it was tough to be a hitter of any variety. Best wishes to him, his family, and the Twins organization.

Lance Berkman had an odd week and I feel it is appropriate to mention him here even though he did not hit for power, which is normally a prerequisite for the honor. Nevertheless, the Big Puma had two hits in 16 plate appearances this week and managed to help his team. He did that by drawing seven walks.

Steve Balboni Award

Adam Dunn had made more appearances here than normal this season. This week he fanned 12 times in 29 PA, ending up at .120/.233/.160 for the White Sox. As an aside, does anybody have the context of his caught stealing from this week? I didn’t happen to notice it until I started looking at stat lines from the week and noticed he was 0-for-1 on the bases. I wondered if he really was sent on an attempt to steal or if it was a blown hit and run or something of that sort. Ozzie is crazy, but is he really that crazy?

Three true outcomes

Ryan Howard smacked a home run, walked four times, and struck out nine times in 27 PA.

Miguel Olivo went one-six-eight in 25 PA.

Mike Stanton was three-two-seven in 24 PA.

The anti-TTO

Juan Pierre went 27 PA with no true outcomes.

This week’s MVP

AL: Kevin Youkilis not only had hits in half of his at-bats, more than half of his hits went for extra bases. He also walked in 18.5 percent of his plate appearances and two and a half times more often than he struck out. .500/.593/.950 is a good week, even if what I saw of his glove work was unimpressive.

NL: How fun is it that Yadier Molina was the best offensive player in the NL this week? That was a rhetorical question. Molina rapped out 13 hits in 26 PA. On Sunday alone he walked and came a home run shy of the cycle. .565/.615/.783.

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Comments

  1. Jim said...

    “I don’t honestly remember a more self-destructive inning of base running.”

    Well, I do.  But you have to go back to 1983, when the Orioles’ Tippy Martinez picked off the side against the Blue Jays in extra innings.  That, of course, was the inning in which shortstop Lenn Sakata was catching for the first time in his life (including Little League).

  2. Paul G. said...

    The gold standard for self-destructive baserunning is the infamous “Lenn Sakata game” on August 24, 1983.  The Blue Jays managed to get 3 players picked off first base in the same inning in succession.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198308240.shtml

    Now, which is worse is open to debate.  The Royals probably would have won the game if they had played station-to-station baseball while the Blue Jays, despite their gaffes, still had an 80% chance of winning the game after their blunders.  On the other hand, the Blue Jays were trying to steal off emergency catcher Lenn Sakata, who was making his first and only appearance behind the plate in his major league career, and they did not really need a good jump to take advantage of him.  Plus, Toronto lost when Lenn went walk-off on them in the bottom half of the inning.

  3. Anon said...

    Dunn is hideously slow but it’s worth pointing out that he has been a reasonably successful base-stealer over his career going 59 for 81 which is a decent 72.8%. That’s only a tick behind Juan Pierre’s 74.6% for example.

    I saw his last SB in 2008 when he was with the DBacks and the pitcher wasn’t even looking over at all. He must have gotten 3 steps before the pitcher even made a move to the plate and stole it without a throw.

  4. Dave said...

    Jim speaks the truth.  August 24, 1983.

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/BAL/BAL198308240.shtml

    Cliff Johnson hit a HR in the top of the 10th to give the Jays a lead.

    Then they go: single/pickoff, walk/pickoff, single pickoff.  (I would assume hoping to take advantage of Sakata catching)

    Cal Ripken hits a HR to tie it again, leading off the bottom of the 10th…

    O’s get a couple more guys on…

    Then Sakata hit a 3 run walkoff bomb!

    what a game!

  5. Jim G. said...

    John,

    What do you think about the Royals’ contention that Feliz’s pickoff move should be called a balk? Or is that just a cop out?

  6. Mitch said...

    Don’t you guys know that running into outs is how you PLAY THE GAME THE RIGHT WAY!

    On another note, Adam Dunn’s line vs. LHP this year: .000/.118/.000. That’s 1 walk in 31 PA.

  7. Mitch said...

    Oops, I was wrong on Dunn’s walks and PA – it’s actually 4 in 34. I’ll show myself out.

  8. John M Barten said...

    Interesting stuff with the Lenn Sakata game. Thanks for that.

    Also thanks for the Dunn background.

    One of my favorite things about Dunn is that he really used to be an athletic guy. He passed up a full ride to Texas where he would have been a football/baseball two sport guy. If I remember correctly he was a quarterback who was very well thought of by scouts. Then he was a reasonably good baserunner when he was in the minors and early as a major leaguer. He’s obviously not a good runner at this point though. It’s kind of fun that if his current season’s numbers hold, it will be his third consecutive year where he was oh for one.

    Jim: I have no opinion on the balk issue because I really don’t have any grasp of what is and is not a balk. At best it seems inconsistently enforced. They might be right in that he might have been making a motion that usually ends up being called a balk. He might not have. If I were a manager or player, I probably wouldn’t COUNT on anything short of a pitcher actually doing the drop and drive and then after the front foot hits the ground 3 feet in front of the rubber coming to a complete halt and throwing back to the first baseman actually being called a balk. I’ve seen nearly imperceptible motions being called balk and I’ve seen really ugly halted motions not get the call.

  9. Paul G. said...

    Back on the bad running favorites, I remember reading about a conventional double steal (runners on first and second trying to take third and second respectively) where both baserunners were thrown out, which if I can confirm it is an absolutely amazing example of ineptitude.  Or being extremely slow.  Or both.

    There have also been two triple plays in baseball history where a batter struck out and two runners were thrown out on the bases.  The latest was this game:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/TBA/TBA200609020.shtml

    I present your typical 2-6-2 triple play.  It was a botched attempt of the first and third delayed steal of home play. 

    The other one was on May, 20 1880 (Chicago vs. Cleveland) and was scored 2-3, which sounds like the strikeout, caught stealing of home, and either pickoff or caught stealing of the runner on first scenario.  I imagine the runner on first getting all excited watching the steal of home and wandering just a bit too far away from first followed by an “Oh Crap” moment.  (I have no idea what really happened, but that’s what I’ll put in the screenplay).

  10. MikeS said...

    I believe Dunn’s CS was a blown hit and run but as a White Sox fan I am currently trying to block all things Adam Dunn from my mind and hope that big left handed slugger they signed in the off season arrives and starts hitting the ball to rescue this miserable offense.  Can’t remember that guy’s name but I hear he hits 40 homers a year like clockwork.  What were we talking about?

  11. Paul G. said...

    I’m still looking for that the straight standard double steal that turned into a double play.  I thought it was in one of my volumes of the “Hall of Shame” series, but no luck tracking it down yet.

    In the process I found this one:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/MIN/MIN198205290.shtml

    We have a triple play on a strike out and standard double steal.  However, both runners tried to retreat which undid both of them.  You can find a rundown of it here:

    http://www.retrosheet.org/strange.htm

    You can find it quicker if you search for “second base coach”.  (Yes, it is one of *those*).

  12. Dave said...

    How about some kind of award for Matt LaPorta?  He had 5 rbi for the week – 4 in the 19-1 game, all of them after they were already ahead 8-0; the other in the 9th inning of a game they were losing 8-1 at the time.

  13. John M Barten said...

    That’s good stuff, Paul.

    I’m not sure what the award would be Dave, but that is amusing. Certainly a couple of low leverage situations.

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