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, May 25 though Sunday, May 31. All season stats are through Sunday.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Fausto Carmona was torched for five runs in an inning and a third and was followed in the game by Jensen Lewis, who yielded another five runs himself in an inning and two thirds. They each escaped blame as the Tampa bullpen squandered the significant advantage it was given.
Bad Luck Division
I don’t think I have mentioned either Sean West or Mike Pelphrey in this column this season. Nevertheless, they each belong here after each spinning seven innings of 0ne-run baseball. But they were locked with each other and the credit ended up going to reliever Pedro Feliciano, who retired one lone batter before Omir Santos ended the game in the 11th.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Andrew Bailey owes Michael Wuertz something. I have no idea what the accepted gift is for screwing up someone else’s lead by allowing a pair of inherited base runners to score, but donuts would probably be a good start. Protocol aside, Bailey really made out pretty well, getting a blown save, but then the win on an exceptionally unlikely solo home run by Adam Kennedy off of Frank Francisco.
Wes Littleton Award
Please hold the applause
Miguel Batista was charged with four runs in a third of an inning, but three of them scored as inherited runners as Mark Lowe was peppered until it was his own runners that were in question. Batista, who is more infamous as a win vulture than as an undeserving hold machine, ended with a hold and a loss in the contest.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Andy Pettitte somehow managed to limit Cleveland to one run on six hits while striking out one and walking five in six frames. In keeping with above category of tough luck losses, Pettitte’s opponent, Cliff Lee, has seven quality starts this season in which he has taken a loss or a no-decision.
Jason Berken took the loss in Sunday’s matchup with the Tigers. He was unlucky inasmuch as he allowed only one run. But he was terribly lucky in that he struck out two batters in seven innings and still managed to get enough defensive help to be able to say that he was dinged for only four hits and one of those was a solo home run. So on 22 balls in play, he had to worry about only three hits. And, if you are curious, none of them went for extra bases.
Joe Carter Award
Season: Two catchers have 32 RBI on the season. One of them is Joe Mauer, who missed the start of the year with a back injury, but is on fire, hitting .414/.500/.838 in 99 at-bats. The other is Ben Molina, who is hitting for some power with eight home runs and eight doubles. But he has drawn only two walks in 181 at bats leading to his current .254/.265/.442 line.
Rey Sanchez Award
Vernon Wells hit .304/.333/.391.
Season: Josh Anderson is hitting .277/.320/.351 for the Tigers.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Jason Varitek takes home this honor as he rapped out only one single all week in 17 at bats, but he coupled that with two home runs and four walks for a bizarre .176/.333/.529 line. He is having a very odd age 37 season, as he has 19 extra base hits and only 14 singles.
Season: Another catcher, Chris Iannetta, has 104 at-bats on the year with five doubles, eight home runs and 18 walks, overcoming a lack of singles for a .231/.350/.510 line.
Steve Balboni Award
I am going to feature a quartet of young bats. Chris Davis, Jordan Shafer, Delmon Young and B.J. Upton all had major problems with contact. Davis struck out 13 times in 18 a- bats on his way to a .111/.158/.444 line. Shafer struck out 12 times in 25 at-bats for a .160/.192/.160 week. Delmon Young whiffed 12 times in 22 at-bats for .136/.174/.136. And finally Upton walked back to the dugout bat in hand 11 times in 27 at-bats.
Season: By no means am I done with any of these miscreants. Davis is on a historic pace. If he keeps playing regularly and keeps up his current rate, he will shatter the record for most strikeouts in a season with well over 250 of them. He has struck out 77 times in 165 at-bats this year. In 128 career games, including his late-season audition last year, he has 165 K in 128 games for a 162-game average of 209. This all leads to his current stat line of .194/.253/.436.
His supporting cast in this category has also been having a lot of issues putting the bat on the ball. However, Davis can say something that none of the others can. He is hitting for massive amounts of power. He is having a traditional Balboni season. He is either corkscrewing himself into the ground swinging at a pitch he cannot hit or he is sending an unsuspecting baseball halfway to Tulsa.
Shafer has 63 strikeouts in 167 at-bats and is scuffling to the tune of .204/.313/.287.
With Young, before this year his one redeeming offensive trait was that he made enough steady contact to post a reasonable batting average. You can’t say that in 2009 as he simply has no upside early on, with 37 strikeouts in 109 at-bats and a putrid .239/.282/.275 line with no power, little patience and little idea how to get anything accomplished.
Upton is getting owned by major league pitchers this season with 60 K in 186 at-bats and a .204/.297/.290 line.
An inability to make consistent contact has been a primary factor in all of these appalling seasons.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Kevin Youkilis slugged a pair of home runs, drew five walks and struck out 10 times in 24 at-bats.
Season: Carlos Pena currently ranks second in all of baseball with 17 home runs, fourth in walks with 38 and third in strikeouts with 66.
This week’s MVP
AL: Ichiro Suzuki had a week that was mostly batting average driven, which should surprise few. But when you produce a double-digit number of singles, a batting average heavy week will still be a very, very good one. In 26 at-bats, he produced 10 singles, four doubles, a home run and two walks while not striking out once for an astonishing .577/.607/.846 line.
Season: Kevin Youkilis and Justin Morneau each have a legitimate claim on this. Youkilis has almost 100 points of OPS on the big Canuck. On the other hand, Morneau has an additional 65 at-bats on the Greek God of Walks. I will go with Morneau, who was a bad choice for the one MVP he was awarded by the BBWAA. But with a .342/.419/.643 line this season, he has a legitimate claim on this one for now.
NL: Adrian Gonzalez hit .333/500/1.000 with four home runs, six walks and two singles. That is a good week.
Season: It should surprise nobody that I’m going to say that Albert Pujols is the leader in the clubhouse this week with his .339/.468/.679 line.
Small sample size warning
When one of your friends is explaining to you that we have played enough this season to make firm decisions based on this year’s stats, tell him or her that Russell Branyan is batting .323. That is 96 points above his career rate. He is also 199 points of OPS above his rates from a 2,158 a- bat career.