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, June 1 though Sunday, June 7. All season stats are through the 7th.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Braden Looper escaped with a no decision when he was charged with five runs in four and two thirds. If he somehow would have lucked into one more out when he imploded in the fifth, he would have been given the win. I hope he didn’t say that out loud at any point. It would have made him look greedy when he really deserved a loss.
Tim Wakefield has enjoyed 9.51 runs of support per game this season. Overall it hasn’t been a bad year for him with a 4.50 ERA. But he is 7-3 and has won a pair of games where he has allowed five runs.
Kevin Slowey is another pitcher who has done reasonably well for himself with a 4.21 ERA. But in no way does 4.21 equal 8-2. He has a no decision in a game where he allowed five runs in five and a third and wins in games where he allowed five runs in five innings and six innings respectively.
Bad Luck Division
Jarrod Washburn went seven, allowing one run and taking the loss. He was lucky on balls in play, striking out only three of the 28 batters he faced. But in the end, when you get that kind of luck, you hope you don’t get screwed over by the run support gnomes.
Season: Dan Haren is 4-4. But he has produced seven quality starts where he has either taken the loss or received no decision for his efforts. Opposing hitters are batting .198/.227/.334 against him.
Cliff Lee is 3-6 with luck almost as bad as Haren’s. He likewise has seven quality starts with losses or no decision and he had a streak of four suck starts in a row from April 22 to May 8. He has 10 total quality starts in 12 tries.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Justin Speier screwed over two teammates at the same time when he entered the game and the Blue Jays proceeded to go walk, single, line out, sacrifice fly. When Lyle Overbay scored on the sac fly, Darren Oliver got charged with the run. It also tied the game, wiping out John Lackey’s ability to get a win in exchange for his seven innings of work where he allowed two runs. Speier got a blown save and a win when the Halos scored in the ninth to take back the lead.
Season: Jonathan Broxton has blown two saves all year and he has been gifted a win in both of them and he leads all relievers with six wins.
Wes Littleton Award
If I can be allowed to pick on Trevor Hoffman a bit, the fact that Martin Prado and Matt Diaz were the first two hitters he faced when he was protecting a three run lead tells you that it was not a life or death situation and could have been handled adequately by anybody better than Horacio Ramirez.
Season: Brad Lidge has saved 13 games, which taken out of context sounds great. But he has blown six and a gave up runs in six consecutive appearances between May 5 and May 24. Opposing hitters are batting .306/.387/.583 against him.
Please hold the applause
J.J. Putz is out for a while with an elbow problem, but before he hit the disabled list, he did some damage to the Mets despite his 10 holds. He has holds in three different games where he has given up runs, has two blown saves (which means blown holds by extension), and has another five games where he has given up runs and hasn’t been charged with a blown save or granted a hold. He is allowing a .257/.358/.381 line to opposing hitters.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Brad Thompson struck nobody out in five innings of work yet yielded only two runs on five hits. Cardinal pitchers in total struck out only one batter while the Reds struck out nine St. Louis hitters. The Reds yielded five runs, all charged to starter Bronson Arroyo.
John Lannan probably takes the cake here for going nine, striking out two and winning with the help of some awful base running on the part of the Mets. The boys from Long Island only managed four hits in Lannan’s complete game.
Season: On one hand we have Scott Feldman, who has a 5-0 record and a 4.01 ERA despite only striking out 33 batters in 60.2 innings. The Rangers defense is limiting opposing hitters to a .228 batting average on balls in play while Feldman is on the bump.
On the other hand is Jon Lester, who is suffering under a .330 BABIP while striking out 10.29 per nine.
Joe Carter Award
Rey Sanchez Award
Brendan Ryan rapped out six singles, but failed to walk and only hit one double on his way to a .304/.304/.347 week.
Matt Kemp hit .292/.320/.333. Ben Molina ended at .286/.273/.389. And Pudge Rodriguez hit only singles in 18 at-bats, with a .278/.278/.278 line.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Ben Zobrist only had one single all week, but he augmented that with four doubles, a home run, and four walks on his way to a nice .235/.381/.882 week.
Adam Dunn did pretty well for himself as well with one single, one double, a home run, and five walks for a .211/.375/.421 week.
Steve Balboni Award
I have already mentioned Cust. He struck out eight times in 21 at-bats, going a long way towards negating his two home runs and his four walks.
Jarrod Saltalamacchia whiffed eight times in 15 at-bats and hit a meager .133/.133/.133.
And Carlos Pena struck out eight times in 16 at-bats for a disappointing .125/.300/.188 week.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Ryan Howard is one of the usual suspects for the category. This week was no break from that protocol with three home runs, four walks, and 10 strikeouts in 28 at bats.
This week’s MVP
NL: There are a certain number of weeks in every season where a random decent everyday player absolutely goes off. This week it was Ian Stewart, who smoked the ball to the tune of a staggering .480/.500/1.080. He went for extra bases seven times in 25 at bats.
A word on 300
In the noise of Randy Johnson’s 300th win this week, there was a resilient drumbeat of media personalities questioning whether there would ever be another 300 game winner. Many of those who broached the topic seemed to think that it was a real possibility that we wouldn’t see another one. This is absurd. We just finished a run of four players in six years passing the milestone. Before that the most recent was Nolan Ryan in 1990. At that time, you probably would have heard the same kinds of doubts. Nolan Ryan was a freak of nature. The game had changed. Pitchers weren’t starting as many games per year as they had previously and were pitching fewer innings per start. We would be lucky to see one again. Well, there were four young hurlers who were in the majors at that very moment who would get there. There is almost certainly one or more freaks of nature who are pitching now who will get there. The trouble is that we do not know who that is yet because we don’t know how the contenders will age.
The points covering the advent of the five man rotation and lower inning per start rates are valid. On the other hand because of medical science, players are physically able to overcome injuries that would have otherwise sabotaged their chances of continuing their quests. I say that even before pointing out that there will always be outliers that we can’t anticipate, guys who end up with weird career paths, guys who go on as good pitchers for what seems like multiple lifetimes.
As I said before, there is almost certainly somebody who is an active player who will see 300 victories. We don’t know who that is yet and nobody out there stands out as a really good bet. But we’re not dealing with one individual player. We’re betting on the field.
Rule 4 Draft
With today being draft day, I sincerely wish that all of your favorite teams get that high ceiling, low risk, stud closer, ace starter, five tool, slick fielding, once in a generation slugging gem that you’re hoping for. Watch for the same kind of offbeat coverage that you expect from the awards.