Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for Monday, July second through Sunday, July eighth. 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
Carlos Zambrano and Zack Greinke allowed five runs each in six innings of work. But as they were pitching in the same game, neither of them saw their record tarnished. The two bullpens combined to allow one run in five innings.
Anibal Sanchez was the primary benefactor of meltdowns by Jose Veras, Kameron Loe, and Francisco Rodriguez. The inept trio took him off the hook for the loss after he allowed six runs in five frames on 11 hits.
Nick Blackburn yielded six runs in four frames on eight hits. Two hits were home runs that drove in three of the six runs. His Tigers counterpart was Duane Below, who didn’t even make it out of the third inning, allowing five runs having only faced 14 batters. Neither took the loss.
Lucas Harrell and A.J. Burnett each scuffled for five innings. Harrell was touched up for five runs on nine hits. Believe it or not, he was in line for the win until Brandon Lyon blew the save as Burnett had given up six runs on 12 hits and two walks.
Three runs in three and two thirds doesn’t sound so bad compared to the ugly implosions you usually see in this category, but given that he posted a game score of 24, I submit to you Rick Porcello’s performance at home against the Twins for consideration. 12 hits allowed and no loss? Lucky.
R.A. Dickey can be forgiven for having an off day given how brilliant he’s been all season. Yet forgiving doesn’t preclude us from pointing out that a Jonathan Papelbon blown save took him off the hook after he was touched up for five runs in seven frames.
Brett Cecil was hammered for seven runs in four and a third. He allowed six hits, including a home run. He walked three and hit Alejandro De Aza with a pitch. But Dylan Axelrod was worse, having allowed seven in three frames. He was followed by Brian Omogrosso, who allowed another pair of runs in two and a third and Cecil eked out the no-decision.
Bad luck division
Wei-Yin Chen handed off a 4-1 lead to Pedro Strop with a runner on second and one out in the eighth inning. He had struck out nine and walked none. Strop took over with the next scheduled batters being Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, John Jaso, and Ichiro Suzuki. Strop allowed the inherited runner to score, along with two of his own and Chen was thus excluded from the results despite pitching brilliantly.
Matt Harrison went eight innings, allowing only two runs to the White Sox, striking out five, walking two. He took the loss as Jose Quintana and Addison Reed combined to hold the Rangers to one run in the contest.
Michael Fiers held the Marlins to two runs in seven and a third on seven hits, striking out nine and posting a 64 game score. But Mark Buehrle and three relievers shut out the Brewers and Fiers took the loss.
Mat Latos and Edinson Volquez combined to allow one run in 14 innings on nine hits and five walks, striking out 18 along the way. A Sean Marshall blown save ensured that neither starter would receive a decision.
Kyle Kendrick went seven innings, shutting out the Braves on four hits and one walk, striking out five and posting a 73 game score. He got a no-decision as Tim Hudson and two Atlanta relievers shut out the Phillies.
Tommy Milone and Kevin Millwood combined to go 14 frames, allowing one run on nine hits, walking three, striking out 16. Neither of them got the win as the game went into extra innings following a Tom Wilhelmsen blown save.
Wes Littleton Award
Scott Downs recorded his eighth save of 2012 by retiring Steve Pearce, J.J. Hardy, and Chris Davis. All three have power, but all three are OBP challenged this season. They ended the game with OBP’s of .319, .265, and .312 respectively. And the Angels were in possession of a three run cushion so the Orioles needed base runners. That was unlikely with that part of the lineup.
Please hold the applause
Kyle Farnsworth inherited a two run lead at the top of the eighth inning. No outs, nobody on, he walked Eric Chavez, struck out Derek Jeter, walked Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez. The final walk plated a run, so he now bequeathed a one run lead and the bases loaded with one out to Jake McGee, who allowed two of the three runners to score before mercifully ending the inning. Farnsworth had entered and left the game with the lead still intact. But the run that put the Rays behind to stay were charged to him. As a result he got the seemingly conflicting, but all too possible hold/loss combination.
Ronald Belisario inherited a two run lead in Cincinnati at the top of the eighth. The three batters he was tasked with facing were Chris Heisey, Zack Cozart, and Drew Stubbs. Those three batters ended the game with OBP’s of .303, .297, and .289 respectively.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
In a record third mention, the Lucas Harrell in the wild runfest listed twice above struck out nine of the 24 Pirates he faced but somehow allowed five runs on nine hits. He walked none and one of the hits was a home run. That means you can break it down thusly. Of the 24 batters he faced, 10 resulted in no ball in play. That leaves 14 batters. Eight of those reached via hit and four of them scored thereafter. That is some rotten luck on balls in play.
Joe Carter Award
Matt Wieters drove in six Orioles this week despite hitting a relatively paltry .231/.286/.346.
David DeJesus collected five hits in 16 plate appearances. That is a pretty nice average. The thing is, none of the five went for extra bases and he didn’t take a walk all week. That led to a .313/.313/.313 line.
Ryan Theriot went .300/.286/.350.
Jordan Pacheco posted a .294/.316/.353 line in 18 PA.
Willie Bloomquist was fairly harmless with a .286/.318/.286 line in 22 PA.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Albert Pujols wouldn’t have qualified here if he had experienced some better luck on balls in play. He only struck out once in 27 PA but still only managed five hits. The thing is, two of the five hits were home runs, he walked five times, and he was two for two stealing bases. .227/.370/.500 is a nice line.
Josh Hamilton posted a .211/.375/.526 with two home runs and four walks in 23 PA.
Carlos Pena isn’t a perfect candidate for this given his low OBP, but I’ll take the tradeoff of OBP for some slugging. .214/.313/.536. Four of his six hits went for extra bases.
Mark Reynolds rounds out the category with a very strange looking .188/.350/.438 line in 18 PA.
Steve Balboni Award
Jarrod Saltalamacchia fanned 13 times in 27 PA and not even two home runs and two walks could save his line from looking preposterously inept. .080/.148/.320.
Wilson Betemit fanned 10 times in 24 PA and predictably ended the week at .087/.125/.130.
Brooks Conrad struck out an absurd eight times in 13 PA, ending the week with an only slightly less absurd .083/.154/.167 line.
Carlos Gomez struck out 11 times in 14 PA and went .174/.208/.391.
Brian Bogusevic whiffed nine times in 23 PA and went .200/.333/.200.
Carlos Gonzalez, Drew Stubbs, Brandon Inge, Cody Ransom, Miguel Olivo, John Buck, Eric Hosmer, and Chris Davis highlight the extensive list of other players whose struggles to make contact this week underpinned their struggles to post acceptable offensive numbers.
Three true outcomes
Saltalamacchia blasted two home runs, walked twice, and struck out 13 times in 27 PA as mentioned above.
Carlos Pena ended with two homers, three walks, and 11 K’s in 31 PA.
Jason Kubel went three-three-nine in 25 PA.
Adam Dunn went one-four-eight in 21 PA.
Justin Ruggiano posted an impressive four-two-eight in 30 PA.
B.J. Upton went two-two-10 in 30 PA.
Luis Valbuena did not hit a home run all week. He did not walk. He only struck out once in 27 PA. Zero-zero-one in 27 PA is Ichiroian. And yes, I did just invent that adjective.
Adrian Gonzalez went zero-zero-two in 27 PA.
Michael Young went zero-one-one in 26 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: It is unlikely to make New Englanders happy, but Kevin Youkilis had a spectacular week, smacking three hits including a double, a triple, and three home runs. He also walked five times and posted a .481/.563/.926 line.
NL: Hats off to a pair of Pirates who pummeled baseballs for the past seven days. Andrew McCutchen ripped 15 hits in 31 PA. Like Youkilis, among the hits were a double, a triple, and three homers. He also walked twice on his way to .517/.548/.931.
Neil Walker is a player I have never owned on a fantasy team partially because I saw a lot of him when he was an Indianapolis Indian. I really didn’t see much there there. He was a struggling third baseman who looked clumsy and looked like nothing special on offense. His AAA line was .259/.307/.448 in 1198 PA. I would beg Walker’s forgiveness for doubting that his success in the Major Leagues was something of a mirage until he had posted two full seasons of better than average results. But here we are. Walker’s .481/.548/.926 in 31 PA featured six doubles and two home runs to go with four walks. You can’t predict ball.
The week of the All Star Game is always a short one with every team playing only a handful of games. As this is the case, I plan on continuing my tradition of making next week’s column an update on the season awards.