Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, Aug. 23 through Sunday, Aug. 29. All season stats are through the 29th. For award definitions, see this year’s primer.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop
Good luck division
Thanks to Cincinnati rookies Travis Wood and Mike Leake, Jonathan Sanchez was able to skate by with a no-decision in a game where he gave up five runs, all but one of which came on the three home runs the Reds slugged off him.
Carsten Charles Sabathia had bad luck on balls in play, given that he struck out nine of 31 Chicago batters, but he did get the win despite being charged with five runs, most of the damage having been done on a pair of two-run shots by Paul Konerko and Andruw Jones.
Bad luck division
After leaving the game having limited the Astros to one run in seven innings, striking out nine while walking none, Joe Blanton’s start was almost immediately ruined by Ryan Madson, who blew the save and stuck Blanton with a no-decision.
Clayton Kershaw would have received the win had Ubaldo Jimenez not waited until the eighth to give up a single, followed by a steal, a walkb and an RBI double, then followed by Matt Belisle giving up a grand slam. But that did not happen and Kershaw had to go home with nothing but the pride that one gets when he throws six very quality innings, allowing one run on five hits, striking out a man per inning.
Doug Fister got stuck with the loss when he allowed one run in seven innings on six hits and two walks, striking out six. He was held back by the flaccid Mariners offense and Nick Blackburn, who shut out said limp lineup.
Matt Garza and Clay Buchholz had a nice pitcher’s duel of their own. The game was decided long after they had hit the showers.
Mat Latos and Roy Oswalt each turned in splendid performances, combining to allow two runs in 15 frames, striking out 12. This happens sometimes when good pitchers face off in San Diego.
This qualifies as both good luck and bad luck, depending on which starter you wish to cite. Derek Lowe was touched up for five runs in three innings. Meanwhile Josh Johnson spun six brilliant innings, allowing only one run on three hits. Lowe was spared the loss and Johnson robbed of a win when Leo Nunez gave up a pair of home runs to blow the lead.
Also qualifying for two categories was Sunday’s Giants/Diamondbacks game. First Santiago Casilla got the hold despite being wildly ineffective. He promptly allowed two runners, one inherited from starter Matt Cain, the other inherited from Javier Lopez to score on a Justin Upton double. He then moved Upton over to third on a wild pitch and walked Kelly Johnson before retiring Chris Young and getting lifted for Jeremy Affeldt. Affeldt then blew the save by giving up his own double, which scored Upton and Johnson. He then proceeded to vulture the win as his teammates beat up Esmerling Vasquez.
Wes Littleton Award
Jon Papelbon needed three outs without yielding three runs to the Mariners, which in itself is enough to get your name here. What made it even less impressive was the fact that he was brought in to face the six through eight hitters, the best of which is Ryan Langerhans. Even after giving up a single to Adam Moore, it only marginally decreased the certainty of the outcome at hand given that the ninth spot would come up with Chris Woodward and his .143/.250/.286 line. Papelbon escaped with a scoreless ninth, not that I really had to clarify.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Sean O’Sullivan fanned one of 29 Tigers batters he faced in seven innings. Not allowing home runs or walks helps you out when you don’t strike batters out. He was still lucky to only allow three runs on seven hits.
Joe Carter Award
Martin Prado slugged .538 this week. He did a reasonable job. He also drove in 10 runs, which was one off of the league lead, set by Carlos Gonzalez, who doubled Prado’s OBP and threw in an extra 826 points of slugging as a bonus.
Jon Jay threw up a .156/.206/.250 in 32 at-bats, but the funny thing about hitting behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday is that you get enough opportunities with men on base that even when you struggle that badly, you still drive in six runs.
I can forgive Billy Butler a bit for his .316/.316/.368 performance because his performance was likely hindered by the sore hand that kept him out of a couple of games and also because I am a shameless Royals homer like that.
I have less forgiveness for Tommy Manzella’s .316/.316/.316, though I do bear some sympathy since it isn’t his fault that the Astros management has put him in a position where he is in way over his head. He has no business being in the majors and he wouldn’t be there if he were in any other organization.
Edwin Encarnacion had a week devoid or power or patience, going .286/.286/.286 in 21 plate appearances.
Encarnacion’s teammate Travis Snider went .294/.294/.412 in 17 PA.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Carlos Pena collected only two hits in 24 PA, but half of those hits went for extra bases and he chipped in six walks for a tidy .222/.440/.444 line.
Wilson Betemit had an extreme version of what this award is about. He hit two home runs, a double, and no singles. He also walked five times. .188/.381/.625 is a strange looking line.
Steve Balboni Award
I find it odd that Josh Bell is the first player with that name to play in the major leagues but he is one of two Josh Bells who signed after being drafted in 2005. Trivia aside, Bell struck out eight times in 20 PA and went .200/.200/.350 as a result.
Ryan Howard went off the rails, fanning 14 times in 26 PA and limping to a .080/.115/.080 catastrophe.
Three true outcomes
I have already mentioned Betemit, whose two home runs, five walks, and six strikeouts in 21 PA are pretty much what you look for here.
Missing a category is Jose Bautista, but he made up for it in spades with the other two, going four-nine-two in 29 PA.
Also missing a category, albeit a different one was Chase Utley at zero-seven-seven in 34 PA.
Jayson Werth went two-three-10 in 32 PA.
Kurt Suzuki went zero-zero-two in 27 PA.
And Elvis Andrus went zero-one-one in 24 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: I’ve already mentioned both of my MVP winners. First is Jose Bautista who was nearly flawless at the plate, hitting .500/.655/1.350. He hit for power. He struck out only twice in 29 PA. He walked nine times
NL: Carlos Gonzalez smashed nine extra base hits including four home runs. His week ended with a .545/.593/1.364 line for the Rox.