Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the games starting Monday, May 23 ending Sunday, May 29. 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
Neither Wade Davis nor Justin Verlander had a good day. They combined to allow 11 runs in 12 frames on 17 hits, three of which were home runs. They had the good fortune to implode in the same game and both walked away with no blame from the official scorer.
Colby Lewis managed to allow six runs on seven hits and two walks and was the better of the two starting pitchers. Nathan Adcock was absolutely demolished by the Rangers lineup to the tune of seven runs in two and two thirds. Neither starter got the loss in a game that went 14 innings. The Royals bullpen went the entire rest of the game without yielding a run. The Rangers pen allowed only one run until Dave Bush imploded and the Royals smacked three home runs in a single frame.
Bad luck division
Most 1-0 games have at least one starter who gets the raw end of the deal. Saturday’s Minnesota versus the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Coachella, Temecula, and Cathedral City was a unique one in that the two starters tossed 17 combined scoreless innings. They allowed only three hits between the two of them. Jered Weaver and Anthony Swarzak were brilliant. Neither was a winner.
Dustin Moseley gave the Padres seven good innings, yielding only one run on five hits and three walks, striking out three. This was against the Cards, who are currently leading baseball in runs scored. He received a no-decision.
Ryan Vogelsong threw eight innings, allowing only one run to the Fish. Anibal Sanchez was better, shutting out the anemic Giants lineup. If you ask me which is more impressive, allowing one run in eight innings against the Marlins or shutting out a Posey-less Giants, I’ll side with the guy who held down the lineup with Logan Morrison, Mike Stanton, and Gaby Sanchez, even though Hanley Ramirez was sitting out with a foot injury.
Scott Baker was absolutely betrayed by his bullpen. Baker shut out the Angels lineup for seven innings, striking out six, walking nobody. When he left, the Twins had a five-run lead. Six consecutive Halos reached base and a seventh was both the first out recorded by a Twins reliever and the batter that tied the game courtesy of a sac fly.
Ricky Romero threw seven solid innings, shutting down the Yankee lineup, allowing only one run. Three relievers allowed four runs while retiring five batters, ending with a Mark Teixeira walkoff single. And Romero walked away with no win.
For the first time ever, I am including a reliever in a category normally reserved for starters. In the 19-inning marathon, Danys Baez threw five scoreless innings for the Phillies. He was matched out for out by Carlos Fisher. Then when he leaves the game, Fisher gives up a run that hands the win to Wilson Valdez, a second baseman.
Drew Storen ruined John Lannan’s day. Lannan threw seven and two thirds scoreless innings. Only four Padre batters found their way on base during Lannan’s time on the mound. Storen blew the save, but when Mike Adams allowed a solo shot to Mike Morse, it made Storen the winner.
Phil Humber and Brandon Morrow threw up 14 and two thirds innings, allowing one run each on a combined 10 hits and three walks, striking out eight. The win went to Jesse Crain, who got one out and walked a batter.
Wes Littleton Award
Yoshinori Tateyama’s first career save was a True Littleton. Because Sean O’Sullivan allowed five homers in his five and two thirds, Tateyama inherited a 10-run advantage. He got a three-inning save when he finished the game. If I remember correctly, this is the first True Littleton of the season.
Jordan Walden retired the seven-eight-nine batters in order to record his ninth save of the season. This is the bottom of the order for a team that is averaging 3.65 runs per game. And he has a three-run cushion with which to work.
Two nights later, Walden had a similar situation, again defending a three-run lead against the bottom of the Oakland lineup. This time he had Landon Powell, Mark Ellis, and Conor Jackson up. Jackson reached base, but behind him was Cliff Pennington. The White Elephants were never really a threat.
Please hold the applause
Joe Nathan inherited a three-run lead when he came it at the start of the eighth inning, relieving Carl Pavano. He started out by striking out Carlos Peguero, but followed up with a single, wild pitch, safe on an error, and RBI single. Matt Capps came in to bail him out of a jam with runners on the corners. Nathan got the hold. He also got another run charged to him when Capps failed to keep Ichiro Suzuki from driving in Jack Wilson. Nathan looked bad enough in the game that he was quickly shuffled off to the disabled list.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Joe Carter Award
Aaron Hill drove in seven runs. To his credit he collected three extra-base hits in his 31 plate appearances. However the rest of the story is that his batting average and the lack of walks put his line at .233/.258/.400.
Xavier Nady had five RBIs in 17 plate appearances. The problem is that he reached base safely only five times and had only six total bases.
I mentioned Nady. His .294/.294/.353 is a classic example of a Sanchezian performance.
New Chicago folk hero Darwin Barney posted a particularly anemic .304/.292/.304 in 24 PA.
Former Chicago folk hero Ryan Theriot went .318/.318/.364 in 22 PA. No walks, one extra-base hit.
Justin Morneau rapped out eight hits in 27 plate appearances. Unfortunately all eight were singles and he did not record a walk, giving him a .296/.296/.296 line.
You might say that offense is down
As a whole, American League catchers are hitting .229/.298/.370. That’s 53 points of OPS lower than it was just two years ago. That isn’t just a result of Joe Mauer being hurt and Jorge Posada getting very old very fast. AL first basemen are down 44 points.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Carlos Quentin only collected five hits in 28 PA. Four of those five hits were home runs and walked four times for a nice .208/.345/.708 line.
Steve Balboni Award
Drew Stubbs had a lot of at-bats, 40 of them. He struck out 16 times, resulting in a .200/.200/.250 line.
B.J. Upton had a strange week, with nine strikeouts in 21 PA. He walked six times and stole three bases with no unsuccessful attempts. But the lack of contact doomed him to a .133/.381/.133 line. Thanks to the walks it is far from the worst performance of the week, but it should at least be mentioned.
Jerry Sands fanned nine times as well, in 20 PA. His .063/.250/.250 line was unhelpful for either the Dodgers or your fantasy team.
Three true outcomes
Adam Dunn smacked one home run, walked six times, and struck out 11 times in 28 PA.
Sands went one-four-nine in 20 PA.
Nelson Cruz is missing a category, yet three-zero-nine is still top shelf in 27 PA.
Darwin Barney went zero-zero-one in 24 PA.
Omar Infante went zero-one-one in 24 PA.
Jose Reyes went zero-one-zero in 28 PA.
Justin Morneau went zero-zero-two in 27 PA.
And Troy Tulowitzki posted a zero-two-zero in 25 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: At the risk of being called out for having an east coast bias, I’ll let a pair of outfielders, one from Boston and one from the Bronx split the honor this week. Consider it my job application for the WWL. Carl Crawford made anybody who sold low on him in their fantasy leagues want to kick themselves in the shin by smoking 11 hits in 27 PA. Four were singles, two were doubles, two were triples, and three went over the fence. .432/.464/1.000 is impressive.
Yankee Curtis Granderson didn’t slug quite as much as Crawford, but he did provide four singles, five doubles, and a triple to go with five walks for a .417/.533/.708 clinic.
NL: In a tough week for Mets fans (are there any other kind?), Jose Reyes went .519/.536/.778.