Welcome to the awards.
For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.
All weekly stats are for the period of Friday, June 6 through Thursday, June 12. All season totals are through the 12th.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Brian Bannister and Andy Pettitte each got thumped for a combined 15 runs in 10 innings, striking out four, walking four. The Royals bullpen blew two different leads in the game and Mariano Rivera walked away with the win while Bannister and a couple of Royals relievers who did little to distinguish themselves collected no decisions.
Bad Luck Division:
On the same night, the Giants and Rockies engaged in another pitcher’s duel where neither starter was credited with a win. This time it was Tim Lincecum and Ubaldo Jimenez throwing 14 scoreless innings, striking out 12.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
The Wes Littleton Award
Jon Papelbon came in and retired the final batter against the Orioles. On one hand, I don’t mind the usage pattern. It’s too rare these days for managers to bring in their designated closer mid-inning with runners on base, instead relying on theoretically inferior pitchers to get them out of jams and reserving their closers for starting the ninth with no outs and nobody on. On the other hand, he did still throw all of four pitches and was protecting a three-run lead, contributing just .035 WPA.
Please hold the applause
Jesse Crain got a hold in a game where he pitched two-thirds of an inning, allowing two runs (one inherited) in a game where he decreased his team’s chances of victory by 14 percent.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Kenny Rogers struck out one in eight innings of one-run, four-hit ball. By my count, he had a .143 BABIP in the contest.
Hey, did you used to be…
Jeff Kent? Talk about falling off a cliff.
The Joe Carter Award
Phillips: 26AB, .192/.222/.385
Bay: 26AB, .192/.267/.423
Kemp: 20AB, .200/.238/.350
Season: Ryan Howard has 49 RBI in 250 at-bats, but is hitting .201/.306/.436. That’s not really acceptable.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
Endy Chavez hit .304, but of his seven hits, six were singles and the other was a double. He only walked once, and his OPS was a mere .668.
Alex Rios had a very similar week with his .300/.333/.350 line.
Season: Yuniesky Betancourt is hitting .284, but because of his pitiful walk rate (four in 229 AB), his OBP is .294.
Elsewhere, Carlos Gomez has a similar issue in that 10 walks in 261 at-bats isn’t really getting it done, especially out of a leadoff hitter. .276/.308/.398 is proof that he has a lot of work to do.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Mike Lowell’s sample size is smaller than the guys who I’m counting as runners-up, but he had the most extreme ‘Brew line at .200/.400/.667 in 15 at-bats.
Season: Adam Dunn is starting to separate himself from the competition with his .229/.397/.507 line
Please stop running
David DeJesus just isn’t any good at stealing bases and he really shouldn’t try anymore unless he’s basically being given the base by the other team. He has successfully stolen five bases in 11 attempts this season. For his career, he is 34 of 63 for a 54 percent success rate. He’s costing the Royals runs.
The Steve Balboni Award
Adam Dunn this week struck out 13 times in 24 at-bats. So despite collecting a homer, a double and seven walks, he hit .083/.290/.250.
Justin Upton struck out eight times in 16 at-bats for a unique .125/.417/.188 line.
Season: Ryan Howard is probably getting more mentions in the awards this season than anybody else. He’s well qualified for this one as he’s leading baseball in strikeouts. He is dead last in batting average. And despite hitting 15 home runs and drawing 37 walks, he’s only hitting .201/.306/.436.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
Season: Cust is just remarkable in this territory with 11 HR, 51 BB, 70 K in 243 plate appearances. A full 54 percent of his PA have ended with the fielders having nothing to do.
An update to my note about three-pitch innings from last week’s column. Reader John K did some research with Retrosheet data and found six instances in the 2007 season. That gives us a likely gauge on how common it is. It isn’t common by any stretch of the imagination. But it’s probably more common than no-hitters or triple plays. So thanks to John for doing that legwork.
On a very, very serious note, as everybody by the time knows, we’ve had a lot of weather-related tragedy here in the Midwest. In the greater Indianapolis area, we’ve had tornadoes and floods within weeks of each other. Just this week, there was the Boy Scout Camp tornado over in Iowa. I think I speak for everybody here at the Hardball Times when I say that we grieve with those who have lost loved ones or property and urge everybody to give to the Red Cross, be it the Central Indiana chapter, the national organization or your local branch. Donate time, money and/or blood.
Promised, but brief draft coverage
I have one serious commentary and some very unserious awards to hand out.
On the serious note, a lot of attention has been given to the decline in the number of African-American players in the game. But it’s worth noting that the ones who do make it into the game are making an impact. We had last year’s AL Cy Young winner. The winners of the last two NL MVPs. The defending NL Gold Glove winners at second and short. Torii Hunter is a seven-time Gold Glover and was arguably the most sought-after free agent of the offseason. And most topically, with Tim Beckham being picked first overall, four out of the last six number ones have met the description. Hopefully the numbers are starting to rebound and we’ll see more Matt Kemps, Delmon Youngs, and Prince Fielders.
On a completely trivial note, here are some made-up awards for the draft dealing with nothing more important than the player’s name.
The Most Common Name Award
John Smith Division: Steve Smith, RHP, Ouachita Baptist, taken by Cleveland with the 771st pick.
Carlos Hernandez Division: Roberto Perez, C, Lake City CC, also taken by Cleveland, this time with the 1011th pick.
Mickey Mantle Award for Alliteration: The Royals took Mike Montgomery (36), Mauricio Matos (295), Miguel Moctezuma (565), Dale De Schepper (685), Beau Brett (865), and Dieterich Dodridge (895).
Logan Power, OF, Ole Miss, Padres, 765
Devaris Strange-Gordon, Seminole CC, Dodgers, 127
Shooter Hunt, RHP, Tulane, Twins, 31
Kash Kalkowski, RHP, Grand Island HS, Rays, 1451
Bryce Bandilla, LHP, Bella Vista HS, Reds, 839
T.J. Steele, OF, Arizona, Astros, 122
Otto Roberts, RHP, Belleville West HS, Cleveland, 711
This week’s MVP
Season: Milton Bradley hit .294/.500/.647 this week to take the honor away from his teammate Josh Hamilton. He’s hitting .333/.454/.629 this season, which makes his OPS 263 points above his career average.
Still, the player I want to give a brief bit of attention to is Ian Kinsler, who is continuing last year’s good work, hitting .311/.359/.489. He’s even stolen 17 bases without getting caught once all year. His defensive numbers are rough, but I can get past that given his good work at the plate.
NL: Jorge Cantu was on his game with six home runs and four doubles in 31 at-bats for a .452/.469/1.161 week.
With Thursday night’s loss to the Angels, Tampa surpassed 1,000 losses as a franchise.
That’s the awards. Happy Father’s day to all of those for whom the term applies. Join us next weekend.