Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for Friday, July 19 through Sunday, July 28. This is a longer sample because I am treating the 10-day window as one long week the same way some weekly format fantasy games do. Please see the week one column for category explanations.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop
Good luck division
Kyle Kendrick allowed six runs in five and two thirds in the first Phillies game after the break. He got the win as the Philly lineup peppered Jeremy Hefner and Greg Burke, giving Kendrick an insurmountable lead to work with.
Dallas Keuchel was torched for six runs in seven and a third on 10 hits and a walk. He allowed home runs to Mark DeRosa, Colby Rasmus and Jose Bautista and walked away with the win because Josh Johnson had a meltdown and allowed seven in five and two-thirds.
CC Sabathia and Ryan Dempster combined to yield 12 runs in 10 and a third on 15 hits and six walks. Dempster was in line to record the win until Junichi Tazawa blew the hold by allowing two inherited base runners to score. Neither starter took the loss.
As far as the official scorer was concerned, it didn’t matter that Martin Perez was smacked around for seven runs in three innings, culminating in an atrocious 18 game score. Joe Smith blew the save and Perez was out of danger when it came to the loss.
Bad luck division
Stephen Strasburg threw seven innings at home against the Dodgers, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk, striking out six. The Nats scored a total of two runs and Strasburg walked away with a no-decision.
In his next start, Strasburg took the loss after limiting the Pirates to one run in eight innings. He struck out 12 and walked none. It isn’t every day that you get the loss in a game in which you post an 86 game score.
Felix Hernandez pitched nine innings, allowing only one run on five hits. He struck out 11 Twins and walked none. His 84 game score wasn’t enough to get the win as the Mariners waited until the 13th inning to score their second run.
Mike Minor pitched all eight innings for Atlanta, posting a 68 game score, allowing three runs on five hits and two walks, striking out eight. He took the loss. The Braves scored one run against Jose Quintana and the White Sox.
Henderson Alvarez and Wily Peralta combined to pitch 15 shutout innings, allowing seven hits, walking three, striking out eight. Neither got the win in the game that ended with the only run being scored in the 13th inning.
When the Snakes failed to score a run off Tyson Ross and Huston Street, Patrick Corbin was left with the loss despite pitching eight innings, allowing one run on six hits, walking none, and striking out eight.
Quintana held the Royals to two runs in seven frames on six hits and one walk, striking out five. He took the loss.
Cole Hamels’ 13th loss of the year came as he held the Tigers to two runs in seven innings on six hits and three walks, striking out six. Doug Fister and Joaquin Benoit held the Phillies to one run in the game.
Jarrod Parker and Jarred Cosart combined for 14 innings, allowing two runs each. Neither got the win. Parker was in line for it until Grant Balfour allowed a Matt Dominguez homer in the ninth inning. As an aside, can we collectively come up with a standard spelling for the name Jarrod or Jarred? At least once a week I have to look up which spelling a player uses.
Wes Littleton Award
In a two-run game, Jim Leyland trusted Drew Smyly to retire Jarrod Dyson, Alex Gordon and Eric Hosmer. Then he tasked Bruce Rondon with facing Billy Butler, Salvador Perez and Lorenzo Cain with that same two-run lead. Then in the ninth inning, he sent out his closer, Joaquin Benoit, freshly expanded three-run lead in hand, to face the two least successful batters in the Royals’ lineup, Mike Moustakas and Alcides Escobar, and Miguel Tejada. The work that Smyly and Rondon did was higher leverage in terms of situation and they faced better batters. But Benoit gets the glory statistic because that’s what a modern manager does.
Fernando Rodney entered the game against Toronto with a three-run lead. He really did walk right up to the line of blowing the save but managed to barely pull it out. The inning went walk, single, RBI double, (all of this leading up to Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion), strikeout, groundout, walk, stolen base, groundout, end of game. He allowed four base runners and two runs, and still got the save despite his seeming inability to retire Blue Jays batters.
Please hold the applause
In among the least impressive holds you are likely to see this year, Tanner Scheppers defended a three-run lead against the Yankees’ seven-eight-nine hitters, who on this day were Eduardo Nunez, Chris Stewart and Luis Cruz. If you look at the on-base and slugging percentages of those three players individually, five of the six figures ended the game below .300. The only exception was Stewart’s OBP, which was .315. Cruz ended the day with a .424 OPS. A pitcher would have had to have been having one of his worst days ever to be a threat to cough up a three-run lead against that portion of the lineup.
In the Alvarez/Peralta duel listed in the bad luck category, six relievers pitched at least one scoreless inning in a game that was a scoreless tie and received no win, save or hold. Chad Qualls and A.J. Ramos combined to pitch three innings in which if they had yielded a run, the game would have been over. Major league baseball has no statistical way to acknowledge them. Win Probability Added and Leverage Index are much more useful than holds in this way.
Brett Cecil entered the game with a two-run lead, two out and a runner on second in the sixth inning. He retired the only batter he faced before coming back for the seventh inning. The Blue Jays had scored three more runs. Cecil proceeded to allow two singles, throw a wild pitch, walk Hanley Ramirez, and walk Andre Ethier, sending a runner home. At that point he was lifted for Dustin McGowan, who immediately allowed a two-run single to Mark Ellis before finishing the inning with a two-run lead. The two relievers allowed three runs in the inning, which set up the Darren Oliverblown save in the next inning. They each were credited with a hold.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Scott Diamond struck out one of the 27 Mariners he faced. Only five balls in play became hits and Diamond made it through six and two thirds with only one run allowed and a no-decision opposite Felix Hernandez, who was pitching a gem.
Joe Carter Award
Since the All-Star break, Alex Rios has driven in nine runs, tied for ninth in the game. He has hit .293/.310/.415 in his 42 plate appearances. That is as many ribbies as Jayson Werth, who slugged .757 in that time, trying to single-handedly keep the flagging Nationals in the playoff race.
Brandon Phillips was our midseason winner in the category and he hasn’t slowed down since then, plating seven runs while hitting an astounding .190/.222/.286.
In the first 28 PA of Henry Urrutia’s major league career, he hit .321/.321/.393.
DJ LeMahieu went .294/.286/.412 for the Rockies.
Rios and his .293/.310/.415 deserve a mention.
Jeff Bianchi posted a .292/.292/.333 line in 24 PA.
Delmon Young did what you expect him to do, giving the Phillies a .290/.290/.355 line in 31 PA.
Dustin Ackley’s .290/.324/.387 isn’t as terrible as Delmon’s performance but it fits here.
Christian Yelich went .280/.308/.320 in his introduction to the bigs.
Jake Elmore is an infielder the Astros grabbed on waivers from the Diamondbacks last year. He hit .286/.318/.381.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Half of Jason Heyward’s four hits were home runs and he drew six walks in his 27 PA, giving Atlanta a .190/.370/.476 line.
Heyward’s teammate Dan Uggla went .212/.333/.485.
Paul Goldschmidt went .216/.362/.432.
Steve Balboni Award
Chris Davis struck out 20 times in 43 PA, which leads me to a question regarding where his true performance level really falls. Before the All-Star break, he had a .315 average despite striking out in 32.1 percent of his plate appearances. That seems unlikely to continue going forward but it also seems likely that he could continue to be a wildly productive player even with a batting average regression based on balls in play. When you have the kind of power he has and an acceptable amount of patience, you can endure a .240 average. That’s what the Killebrew is for. Now his performance since the break is not the way to go if you want to see him continue to be productive. The big slugger “hit” .205/.256/.282.
Jason Castro led the Astros with 17 strikeouts in 39 PA and hit .194/.256/.250.
Juan Francisco went .135/.200/.297 with 19 strikeouts.
And Starling Marte went .143/.234/.238 with 18 strikeouts.
Among other notable batters who struggled with contact and consequently struggled with performance were Chris Carter, Raul Ibanez, Trevor Plouffe, Pedro Alvarez, Justin Smoak, Seth Smith, Rickie Weeks, and Pedro Florimon.
Three true outcomes
Francisco smacked a pair of home runs, walked three times, and struck out 19 times in 40 PA.
Nick Franklin posted a four-three-14 TTO line in 46 PA.
Giancarlo Stanton went three-nine-nine in 43 PA.
Goldschmidt went two-nine-12 in 47 PA.
Ichiro Suzuki didn’t hit a home run or walk in a week and a half and he struck out only once in his 43 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: Wil Myers hit .467/.469/.967 in 32 PA. He shares this with Edwin Encarnacion, who went off with seven extra base hits and seven walks against only one strikeout. He even stole two bases. He produced a .405/.489/.757 in 45 PA.
NL: I mentioned Jayson Werth above as a contrast to Alex Rios. In his 42 PA, he hit .351/.442/.757 with five home runs and five walks. The Yankees, Cardinals and Giants combined to hit four home runs in that time.