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 Monday, April 27 though Sunday, May 3. All season stats are through the third.
This Week’s Proof That Assigning Wins and Losses to a Pitcher is an Idiotic Practice that Must Stop
Good Luck Division:
Shairon Martis and Joe Blanton were simply awful. They joined together to allow 15 runs in 9.1 innings. They walked more than they struck out. They gave up four bombs. Neither of them were held responsible by the statistical record.
Season: Jamie Moyer has one quality start in five tries and stands at 3-1.
Bad Luck Division
Courtesy of reader “Jake”, Wakefield and Cliff Lee dueled for a combined 15 innings of scoreless baseball. Both received no decision. On the same day, Johnny Cueto and Roy Oswalt combined for 14 innings and allowed one run each and walked away empty handed.
Dan Haren has pitched no less than six innings in any start this year. He has allowed no more than two runs in any start. He leads the NL in strikeouts, WHIP, and innings pitched. He has a 3-3 record to show for it.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Merkin Valdez turned a one-run lead into a one-run deficit against the Dodgers, but Ronald Belisario gave that lead back in the eighth and Valdez got the W. Joe Nathan blew a save and got a win in the same game too. As did Jonathan Broxton.
The Wes Littleton Award
Francisco Cordero inherited a three-run lead at the top of the ninth inning with Kazuo Matsui, Michael Bourn, and Miguel Tejada up to bat. He made quick work of that crew, as he very well should have.
Brian Wilson entered with two on and two out in the eighth up by four runs. He got the one out, and then the Giants scored a pair of insurance runs in the top of the ninth. Wilson allowed a run in the bottom of the ninth and he still got a save in a game his team won by five runs.
Please Hold the Applause
Jamey Wright yielded two runs in two innings, both on an Adam Lind home run he still received a hold. Actually this is not as bad as that sounds. He did get the Royals out of a jam of Ron Mahay’s making, but he did enter with a four run lead, had a 9.00 ERA in the game and still got a hold.
Any Sufficiently Advanced Defense is Indistinguishable from Pitching
Season: Kevin Millwood is striking out 5.21 batters per nine innings pitched. But batters are hitting just .210/.253/.333 against him courtesy of a .207 BABIP.
Statistical Oddity Department
It isn’t every day that you see a reliever throw 108 pitches. But that kind of thing happens when you go 15 innings.
The Joe Carter Award
It’s nice to see that Jeff Francoeur is making more contact this season, boasting a strikeouts in just 8 percent of his plate appearances. However, he still is not drawing walks. This week he drove in five runs, but hit .261/.269/.435.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
Marlon Byrd and Miguel Tejada had identical .280/.280/.360 weeks for the two Texas based squads.
Season: It is hard to say, but Ichiro Suzuki has earned this spot by hitting .304/.321/.392. A right fielder can not have OBP/SLG numbers that low and be productive. It does not help that he is only three of five on the bases.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Scott Hairston’s only two hits on the week were double and a home run. He also walked three times. .154/.353/.462 in 13 at-bats is pretty extreme.
Season: Prince Fielder and Carlos Quentin seem like the two best candidates at this point. Ten of Fielder’s 21 hits have gone for extra bases. He has also drawn 21 walks for a .247/.405/.471 season. Quentin has collected eight bombs and has walked 10 times in 86 at-bats. .244/.359/.535 will do the job.
The Steve Balboni Award
Brian Bixler needs a hug. In his first Major League exposure of the season, he struck out nine times in 12 at-bats while “hitting” .167/.167/.250. He was dramatically overmatched.
Elsewhere this week, Matt Kemp hit .190/.320/.333. The story here was nine strikeouts in 21 at-bats.
Season: Chris Davis has five him runs, which would be pretty valuable. But he has struck out 37 times in 80 at bats, choking off his batting average and by extension his on-base percentage. .200/.281/.413.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
Welcome back Andruw Jones. In nine at-bats this week Andruw hit a home run, walked five times, and struck out four times.
In a bigger sample, Jason Bay posted one home run, six walks and nine strikeouts in 22 at-bats.
Season: Carlos Pena is leading the majors in home runs with 11, is third in strikeouts with 29, and is tied for 40th in walks with 13.
This Week’s MVP
AL: I am opting for teammates again. This time it is Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena of the Devil Rays.* All Longoria did was hit .379/.438/.724 in 29 at-bats. Pena hit .346/.452/.808 with three home runs and four walks in 26 at-bats.
*You’ll never take me alive, Sternberg!
Season: Kevin Youkilis is dominating pitchers to the tune of .407/.519/.744 with as many walks (16) as strikeouts. In 86 at-bats, he has belted six bombs and is playing his usual stellar defense at first base.
NL: Ryan Zimmerman is starting to get some press for his 21-game hit streak. It has not been all singles. This week he was generally on fire as he hit .375/.444/.875. He hit three doubles, three home runs, and he walked three times. Symmetry is your friend, or at least it seems to be Zimmerman’s this week.
Season: Albert Pujols is still here and hitting .356/.468/.724. Ho hum.
Let’s talk about Raul Ibanez, who I might not get the chance to talk about again this season. He is sprinting out of the gate in 2009 with eight home runs after hitting only 23 in 2008. He is hitting .360/.424/.733 and leading baseball in WPA.
Small Sample Size Warning
At the time of the first pitch on Wednesday, Billy Butler was hitting .193/.324/.246. A mere three hours later, he was up to .242/.356/.403. When you can add 189 points of OPS in a single game, you’re still well within the confines of small sample size hell.
Most Valuable Pitcher
NL: Johan Santana has been similar to Greinke this year, posting a 1.10 ERA and limiting batters to .185/.238/.277.
This Week’s Comments Question
Which surprise player is going to keep on performing at a high level instead of regressing to the mean this season? I suppose you could ask the question as “What breakthrough is for real?”