Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the games starting Monday, Aug. 15 and ending Sunday, Aug. 21. If you are a new reader, reference 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
Pitching for the Yankees has its benefits, as Ivan Nova demonstrated against the Royals. Nova was shelled in five and a third, getting charged with seven runs on nine hits. He also flung two wild pitches and posted a game score of 23 and a WPA of -.558. He got the win as the Yankee lineup had its way with Danny Duffy.
Porcello had a second bite of the apple this week as he was run from the game on Sunday by Cleveland with five runs in three and two thirds charged to the Detroit hurler. Ubaldo Jimenez was torched for eight in three and a third. Neither can say it was just a bad day for pitchers as the two bullpens combined to allow two runs in 10 frames.
Bad luck division
It actually raised his ERA, but you have to feel for Roy Halladay throwing nine innings, allowing only three runs with 14 strikeouts against only one walk and still getting the loss as the Phillies lineup failed to figure out Josh Collmenter and a trio of relievers.
Colby Lewis and Jered Weaver combined to allow one run in 14 innings on 10 hits and three walks. Lewis was the one that did not allow a run and he was in line for the win until Mike Adams blew the save.
Wes Littleton Award
Alfredo Aceves shut the Royals out for three and two thirds for the save in a game that ended 7-1 for the True Littleton. It was one of the more challenging True Littletons you will find as he was facing a respectable lineup and entered with “only” a four-run cushion.
Joakim Soria made Royal fans sweat as he entered the game up two runs on the Yankees. His inning went as follows: fly out, single, single, walk to load the bases, sac fly, runners advance to second and third on a passed ball, walk, strikeout.
Possibly the only thing standing between Andrew Bailey and a blown save was over-aggressive base running as Blake Davis was thrown out at home to end the game when there would have been two outs and runners on the corners. Bailey had already given up two singles and a double in three consecutive at-bats.
Leo Nunez put a man on base and then allowed a two-run pinch-hit home run to Jason Giambi. He still got the save. This is the beauty of the three-run save. You can do a terrible job and still get credited as if you did something miraculous.
Please hold the applause
In the James Shields game, Jamey Wright entered the game for the Mariners protecting a two-run lead, walked B.J. Upton, then allowed a ground-rule double, an RBI groundout, walked Sam Fold and then walked Desmond Jennings. He was lifted having retired nobody with the bases loaded. He got the hold because Seattle still clung to a one-run lead, though with the bases loaded and nobody out, expecting that lead to survive the inning is foolish. The next batter hit a three-run double off Jeff Gray. Wright would have gotten the hold/loss combo had Shields not allowed Wily Mo Pena to tie the game in the next half-inning.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Joe Carter Award
Juan Pierre drove in six runs in 28 at-bats. That is unlike the Juan Pierre we all know and love. He also bat .286/.286/.393, which is almost exactly the Juan Pierre we all know and love.
Justin Morneau also plated six and he “hit” .174/.231/.217.
Eduardo Nunez collected seven hits in 22 PA. That was muted by the fact that only two of the seven went for extra bases, both being doubles, and he didn’t walk at all. .318/.318/.409 isn’t helping the Yankees.
Pierre’s .286/.286/.393 certainly qualifies.
Juan Rivera went .286/.313/.357. Even in this offensive environment, that is not what you want from a defensively limited corner outfielder.
Harmon Killebrew Award
It isn’t MVP material, but Hunter Pence gave the Phillies a nice .238/.407/.429 with a home run, a double, and six walks.
Steve Balboni Award
Travis Hafner struck out 12 times in 25 at-bats, which goes a long way towards explaining his .160/.250/.280 week.
Copy that with Rick Ankiel, who fanned 11 times in 25 at-bats and went .200/.231/.200.
Baltimore third baseman Josh Bell has now become the other Josh Bell as the Pirates signed the outfield prospect this week. The current other Josh Bell whiffed eight times in 18 at bats and went .222/.333/.222, though that may be seen as a potential sign of progress as the notoriously unselective 24-year-old found a way to walk three times.
Three true outcomes
Dan Uggla smacked two home runs, walked four times, and struck out 10 times in 30 PA.
I don’t think of Russell Martin when I go into researching this category but here he is, going 3-2-9 in 25 PA.
I do think of Mike Stanton, who didn’t disappoint, going 4-4-5 in 25 PA.
Josh Willingham went 3-3-8 in 24 PA.
Have opposing pitchers decided to never throw Jose Bautista a strike ever again? 2-10-3 in 27 PA.
Alex Avila gave the Tigers a 1-6-5 in 25 PA.
Brett Gardner had bad luck on balls in play, posting a .214/.258/.286 line. He gave BABIP a lot of opportunities, going 0-1-0 in 29 PA.
Ichiro Suzuki went 0-0-1 in 28 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: With a hat tip to Joey Bats, who reached base 18 times, this week goes to Avila, who went .526/.640/.947. It bears mentioning that Avila is neck-and-neck with Miguel Cabrera and Jhonny Peralta in the race to be the second most valuable Tiger this year after Justin Verlander, all currently in the 4-5 win range according to both FanGraphs and Baseball Reference.
NL: Nick Hundley joins Avila as catchers having a particularly good week within a good season. Hundley rapped out a dozen hits: four singles, three doubles, four triples, and a home run. Yes, I just said a catcher hit four triples in a week. And yes that is strange, especially since it constitutes 80 percent of his season total and 40 percent of his career’s total. He has 205 PA this year, 1017 in his career and this week had many triples in a career where he just did not hit triples. Novelties aside, .500/.520/1.083 is serious production from a catcher.