Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the games starting Monday, May 30 ending Sunday, June 5. 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
Derek Holland was charged with five runs in five and two thirds, four of which came on a pair of home runs in the sixth. His Ranger teammates gifted him an undeserved win as they pummeled Wade Davis into submission to the tune of seven runs in fewer than three frames.
Aneury Rodriguez and Rodrigo Lopez combined to throw eight and two thirds of an inning. In that time they allowed 12 runs in 17 hits, walking two, striking out eight. Because they did this in the same game, the loss went to Jeff Samardzija instead of a starter.
Paul Maholm and Mike Pelfrey combined to allow 14 runs in 10 and two thirds. Maholm was actually on track for the win until Chris Resop blew the save, though admittedly it was by allowing one of Maholm’s own base runners to score.
Nick Blackburn and Brad Penny had identical five-run, six-inning appearances. Well, they were almost identical. Blackburn allowed seven hits, walked one, struck out three. Penny allowed 10 hits, one walk, and struck out two. Neither ended up with the loss.
Anibal Sanchez ended the week by getting smacked around by the Brewers to the tune of five runs in five frames. He covered pretty much all of the bad pitching performance classics. He allowed eight hits, tossed a wild pitch, hit a batter, allowed a home run, and balked. All he needed to complete the set was to get a base stolen while he was on the mound. Oh yeah that’s right, I almost forgot to mention that he didn’t get the loss.
Bad luck division
Michael Pineda gave the Mariners seven solid frames, allowing one run on six hits, walking one, striking out seven. His teammates’ anemic bats ruined it for him, and he walked away with a no-decision as Brian Matusz and three Orioles relievers held Seattle to one run and did not allow a walk or an extra-base hit in the entire game.
Carlos Zambrano and Chris Carpenter each tossed a good game. Zambrano only allowed one run in seven innings on five hits. Carpenter allowed two runs, but he tossed nine innings. The game was won on an Albert Pujols walk-off home run in the 10th. It really was a bad week to be a Cubs fan.
J.J. Putz blew his first save of the year on the first day of June. That first blown save of the season turned into his first win of the season as his teammates rallied for a walk-off victory against the Fish.
Going from a former Mariners reliever to a current Mariners reliever, Jamey Wright (yep, he’s still pitching) blew the save in a really ugly way, allowing three runs in an inning on four hits, two of which were doubles. J.P. Howell’s own meltdown handed him an undeserved win.
Wes Littleton Award
The batters Mark Melancon faced in the course of receiving his fifth save of the year were rookie Blake Tekotte, catcher Kyle Phillips, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and washed up pinch hitter Jorge Cantu. Their OBP’s in order were .333, .286, .182, and .233. He was protecting a three run lead.
Please hold the applause
With the help of the always-shaky Brian Fuentes, Joey Devine achieved the feat of getting credit for a hold and a loss in the same game. He inherited a one-run lead, loaded the bases, and then when he was pulled for Fuentes, Fuentes allowed two of the three base runners to come home on a Carl Crawford single. Thus he left with the lead intact, but the losing run was charged to him.
If you want to, you can also include starters Josh Outman and Clay Buchholz from the same game in the good luck category. They combined to allow 11 runs in seven and a third but were forgotten in the bullpen chaos that followed.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Joe Carter Award
Freddy Sanchez drove in six Giants in 29 at-bats. He smacked three extra-base hits, but the idea of getting on base was out of the question as he failed to walk even once and his bad luck on balls in play gave him a .241/.241/.414 line.
Jeff Francoeur, who has cooled off significantly since his Ruthian first month, also drove in six. His final line for the week was .259/.233/.417 in 27 AB.
And Colby Rasmus collected six RBIs but hit .130/.231/.348 in 23 AB.
Aaron Miles smacked seven hits in 25 plate appearances. Only two hits went for extra bases and he did not reach base via any other method, ending with a .292/.280/.375 line. That is our second line today with a lower OBP than batting average. Cool stuff.
Aaron Hill went .286/.318/.286 in 23 PA.
Felix Pie gave us a Perfect Sanchez, going .286/.286/.286 in 14 PA on the week.
Parity is here
In some circles, parity is seen as a moral issue where it is evil to have very good teams and very bad teams. Those people should be very happy with the way this season is playing out. At the start of June, there are only two teams that are more than 10 games out and only two teams are on pace to win more than 95 games. There are no teams on pace to win 100. There are only four teams on pace to win fewer than 70 games. Only the Twins, who have had basically everything go wrong that could possibly go wrong short of a We Are Marshall scenario, are on pace to win fewer than 60.
In 2007, baseball had no teams who either won or lost 100 games. We could very well match that this season.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Miguel Montero only reached safely by way of a hit five times in 25 plate appearances. But two of those hits were doubles and one was a home run. He also walked three times, leading to a .227/.346/.455 week, which looks awfully good for a catcher this season.
Speaking of catchers, John Buck went .222/.364/.444 in 22 PA.
Jack Cust isn’t a catcher, but he went .211/.375/.474. His stat line featured five walks, a home run, and a triple, which is something I have a hilarious mental image of, and will have to go look for the highlight so I can see how well it matches the reality.
Justin Smoak went .208/.345/.625 thanks to five walks and three home runs in his 29 plate appearances.
Steve Balboni Award
Yesterday I watched Adam Dunn barely miss a home run down the line. It just scraped foul by a few inches. Close but no cigar. And it still wouldn’t have made his .167/.318/.167 week look GOOD. His nine strikeouts in 18 at-bats make it hard to salvage in one swing of the bat.
Delmon Young does not have the secondary skills to make up for nine whiffs in 30 PA. He also does not have the speed or approach to turn that contact rate into a consistently acceptable batting average, even if it were only a hollow average. .207/.233/.207.
Three true outcomes
Drew Stubbs hit a home run, walked twice, and struck out 12 times in 26 PA.
Kelly Johnson went 4-7-9 in 32 PA.
Albert Pujols is missing a category, but 5-5-2 in 32 PA is a nice welcome back postcard to NL pitchers everywhere.
Carlos Quentin went 1-5-6 in 24 PA.
And Matt Kemp posted a 4-5-5 in 27 PA.
Alcides Escobar went 0-0-1 in 26 PA. Yet even with that contact rate, he only hit .080/.115/.080.
Adrian Beltre went 0-1-1 in 33 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: Miguel Cabrera is simply a great hitter. He smoked four home runs, walked seven times, and ended the week batting .300/.481/.900.
NL: With Miguel Cabrera in the AL and Albert Pujols going off on the NL, it feels like old times here. Pujols certainly performed well in high leverage situations this week. But everything about his week was exceptional. He rapped out 12 hits, seven of them for extra bases. He walked five times. And he stole a couple of bags. He only struck out twice. And his line was .444/.545/1.074.