Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for Monday, June 11th through Sunday, June 17th. Please see the week one column for award definitions and explanations.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop
Good luck division
Cole Hamels knows how to win. And by that I mean he won Wednesday’s game in Minnesota despite giving up seven runs in six innings on eight hits and two walks. Didn’t you know that getting his friends Jim Thome, Hunter Pence, and Carlos Ruiz to smash the Twins pitching staff about the head and neck and dance around the bases is a skill?
Bartolo Colon allowed five runs in five innings on nine hits and three walks, striking out four in Coors Field. Given how Coors has played in recent weeks, that likely isn’t as bad a performance as it looks. But that doesn’t make it a good performance and Jeremy Guthrie was absolutely gutted by the White Elephants, allowing seven runs in five frames, giving Colon a win despite an ugly line. It also bears mentioning that the two bullpens combined to allow one run in eight innings after the starters hit the showers.
At the same time Matt Cain was posting his 101 game score perfect game, Tom Milone and Josh Outman were throwing baseballs and posting game scores that add up to 54. Outman was in line for the win despite allowing five runs in five innings until Rafael Betancourt gave up three runs and blew the save.
Bruce Chen was hammered for six runs in an inning and two-thirds on seven hits. He failed to strike out any of the 12 Cardinals he faced and gave up home runs to Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday. But he avoided the loss in a wild game that I will talk more about in the holds category.
Bad luck division
Zack Greinke threw seven frames against his former team. He struck out eight, walked none. The only run he gave up was one an Alex Gordon solo home run. But the Brewers offense was stymied by Luis Mendoza and the Royals bullpen and Greinke walked away with a no-decision.
Mike Minor has not had many solid performances this year. Lady luck has not blessed him with exceptional results on balls in play. And he has not pitched well. So it was likely very frustrating to watch Jonny Venters blow the lead that he had inherited from Minor. Minor had allowed only one run to the vaunted Yankee lineup, striking out four, walking one.
Jake Peavy tossed seven frames with only one run allowed on a Carlos Beltran home run. He struck out six Cardinals and posted a 69 game score, but got the loss as that solo home run was the only run scored in the game.
Hector Noesi gave up only one run, that being a solo home run from Yonder Alonzo in seven innings of work. He struck out five, walked three and yielded five hits. But the Mariners were shut out at home by the Padres and Noesi got the loss.
Ian Kennedy held the Angels to two runs in an eight inning complete game. By my saying that he threw eight innings and was the only pitcher the Diamondbacks used in the game, you know already that he received the loss. Kennedy posted a 68 game score, striking out six, walking none.
Madison Bumgarner held the Mariners to one run in eight innings on three hits and a walk. He struck out four and posted a 75 game score but received a no-decision. His opponent, Felix Hernandez, who I haven’t talked about much this season, threw seven frames, allowed one run on six hits, walked one, struck out seven, got a no-decision.
Jonathan Broxton blew the lead in the 14th in St Louis. Then in the next half inning, Yuniesky Betancourt launched a two run home run and Broxton successfully defended the lead to ensure that he himself got the win.
Wes Littleton Award
Chris Perez recorded his 21st save of the season pitching the ninth inning, protecting a two run lead. The three batters he faced were Casey McGehee, Pedro Alvarez, and Jose Tabata. Now keep in mind that Pittsburgh as a team is averaging only 3.42 runs per game. At the end of the game, the three batters in question possessed season lines of .235/.329/.348, .189/.254/.373, and .230/.291/.340 respectively. And had they defied the odds and put somebody on base, the next two batters up were Rod Barajas (.228/.288/.396) and Josh Harrison (.225/.296/.393). So the chances of digging their way out of even a two run lead with only three outs to play with seem pretty remote. It should surprise nobody that the Pirates were shut out in that game and managed only eight base runners in nine frames.
When Evan Scribner entered the game in the seventh, he inherited a seven run lead. Because of the three inning clause of the save rule, he got his first career save and was then sent back to Sacramento. The Padres have only scored seven or more runs in five games this season in nine or more innings. I’m not sure what would have to happen for them to score seven in three innings.
Please hold the applause
In the Bruce Chen game on Saturday, we had Sam Freeman get a hold for the Cardinals despite allowing two runs in an inning and walking two. We also had Tim Collins get a hold and a loss as the base runner he had left for Greg Holland who scored ended up putting the Royals down to stay. Holland gets the blown save. Collins gets the hold but also gets the loss.
The same day that Collins posts the hold/loss combo for the Royals, Thatcher does the same for the Padres against the A’s in the Sean Doolittle game mentioned in the Vulture Award.
Clay Rapada entered the game against the Braves Monday up by three runs with no outs in the ninth. He retired Martin Prado via strikeout and was immediately pulled for lefty Boone Logan. Rapada got the hold despite the lack of any danger given that he was brought in to face one batter with only three outs available to the opponent and a three run lead.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Normally this is the point where I say that all perfect games and no hitters have a healthy dose of luck involved and they do. But when Cain strikes out 14 and only 10 balls are in play outs, I don’t have much to talk about. That was truly a masterful performance against an overmatched opponent. I will say that I find it amusing that because the Giants lineup tortured J.A. Happ early and often, Cain’s dominance only amounted to a .10 WPA, less than that of either Melky Cabrera or Brandon Belt.
Joe Carter Award
Jay Bruce collected seven RBI this week while batting .100/.231/.400. For some perspective, that is the same number of ribbies possessed by Trevor Plouffe, who smacked five home runs and Brandon Belt, who tossed up a 1.400 OPS. In fact, Bruce’s .631 OPS was the lowest by a batter with seven RBI by a margin of 405 points.
Also deserving mention here are Alex Rodriguez, Brandon Inge, and Desmond Jennings. That particular threesome each drove in six and ended the week with lines of .182/.250/.364, .231/.286/.462, and .115/.148/.154. Jennings managed to find a way to drive in six runs during a week where he had only four total bases.
As offensive numbers have declined in the past few years, it gets harder to bash a player like Ben Revere who this week smacked 10 hits in 30 plate appearances with no walks and no extra base hits. .333/.333/.333 is a better line than it was during the offensive boom of the previous decade and a half. I still submit this note for your consideration though.
On a similar, but inferior scale, Justin Upton went .320/.320/.320 in 25 PA.
Twins shortstop Brian Dozier collected seven hits in 23 PA, which is good. Not as good is the fact that only one of those seven went for extra bases and he took no walks, leading to a .304/.304/.348.
Brian Roberts posted a .318/.304/.318 in 23 PA in his welcome return from concussion.
Roberts’ teammate J.J. Hardy went .308/.308/.346.
Kelly Johnson went .292/.292/.292 in 24 PA. That translates to seven singles and nothing else.
Derek Jeter went .290/.290/.355 in 31 PA.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Two sluggers bated .235 this week and still posted very impressive lines. Adam Dunn belted three home runs and walked five times for a nice .235/.409/.765 line in 22 PA. Jose Bautista sent two balls over the fence, chipped in a double, and walked eight times against just one strikeout and ended the week at .235/.480/.647.
Steve Balboni Award
It’s actually a minor miracle that Bryan LaHair managed to post a .143/.250/.214 line given that he fanned 10 times in 16 plate appearances. That is not a typo. He really did strike out in almost two thirds of his plate appearances.
Despite a home run and two walks, it seems fair to say that Cody Ransom got dominated by pitchers this week given that he struck out 11 times in 26 PA and closed the week at .125/.192/.250.
Justin Maxwell fanned 10 times in 25 PA, leading to a .222/.263/.444 line.
Giancarlo Stanton, Dan Uggla, Omar Infante, Jed Lowrie, Shin-Soo Choo, Josh Willingham, and Jason Castro are some of the other notable players who struck out at unhealthy rates and subsequently had subpar weeks.
Three true outcomes
Brandon Moss smoked five home runs, walked twice, and struck out 10 times in 25 PA this week for Oakland. I did not see that coming.
Dunn, the patron saint of the TTO, went three-five-eight in 22 PA.
Lowrie posted a one-three-eight in 23 PA.
Austin Jackson went one-seven-eight in 29 PA.
Curtis Granderson: three-five-seven in 31 PA.
Norichika Aoki went zero-one-zero for the Brewers in 31 PA, though he did have two of the secret fourth true outcome, HBP.
If you are a stickler about such things, Ichiro Suzuki went zero-zero-one in 27 PA.
Ben Revere went zero-zero-two in 30 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: You know it has been a weird week in the AL when you are contemplating Plouffe and Moss. Trevor Plouffe and Brandon Moss? Yes. Plouffe rapped out three singles, a double, and five home runs. He walked five times and posted a .391/.500/1.087. Moss was the headliner in TTO. All eight of his hits were extra base hits. He walked twice, and ended at .348/.400/1.130.
NL: Joey Votto is a more conventional choice. Votto smoked six singles, two doubles, and two home runs. He walked six times, and had a .467/.607/.857 line.