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 22 though Sunday, June 28. 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:
Evidently it wasn’t enough for Matt Palmer to demonstrate the principle of “Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching” when it is working (as opposed to the examples a few paragraphs from now). He also had to win the game while allowing six runs in five frames. And if you feel the urge to look for the highlights of this game, do yourself a favor and go do anything else with your time. It is just about the ugliest game you will ever have the displeasure of watching.
Bad Luck Division
Well at least this time Cliff Lee could blame his own oh-for-three performance at the plate for his quality start no-decision outing. Of course outside of Victor Martinez, nobody else seemed very intent on helping the Cleveland ace.
John Lackey and Doug Davis did good work against bad offenses, combining for 14 combined innings and each allowing one run. Lackey struck out nine, walking three; Davis struck out eight and walked three. Neither starter factored into the decision.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Trevor Hoffman entered a tied game in the ninth, went single, single, single, sac fly, intentional walk, sac fly, can of corn. Despite making a 4-4 game into a 6-4 game, he got the win because Price Fielder and his friends saved the day for southeastern Wisconsin.
Wes Littleton Award
Kerry Wood allowed an RBI single, an RBI double and two walks, let Andrew McCutchen steal a base, retired only two of the six batters he faced, and still walked away from the game with a save. Can we now close the books on three-run saves being an actual accomplishment to be praised? Can we agree that you can be bad at your job for that day and still walk away successful?
Box score of the year
There are many here who might not pay close attention to California League box scores. Those of us who do ran across a game on Monday morning that made us spit coffee all over our monitors. If you ever wondered what it would look like if we played baseball in a small back yard in Lima, Peru, then wonder no more. You know it is a wild game when a starter who gives up 11 runs still gets a no-decision. Nine pitchers were charged with at least three runs.
But the craziest thing is that the batter who led the Cal League in RBI was not involved in the High Desert massacre. No, that was lightly regarded Stockton Ports third baseman Matt Smith, who drove in seven on his third and fourth home runs of the season and bumped his slugging percentage up to .386 in a 18-2 blowout of Lancaster.
Minor league baseball is the best value in sports. And if you’re willing to brave a windstorm in 100-degree weather in California, then you stand a good chance of seeing something you have never seen before.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
It really doesn’t meet my usual standards in terms of low strikeout rate in a game, but I need to mention somewhere when you win a game while walking walk three and a half times as many batters as you strike out. Sorry, Homer.
Joe Carter Award
Brendan Harris drove in an amazing eight runs while going without an extra base hit in 26 at-bats. A .269/.241/.269 line is not impressive, especially in comparison to Jermaine Dye, who drove in six while slugging 1.042. Remember kids, if you’re going decide to get a hit, make sure you tell your teammates so they can get on base ahead of you. That’s what they call playing baseball the right way.
The infielder Harris was traded for a year and a half ago, Jason Bartlett also had a week in which he was lucky enough to time his hits when men were on base. Bartlett can at least brag about a pair of extra base hits, but he was still only hitting .292/.292/.375.
Rey Sanchez Award
We won’t have Adrian Beltre to kick around for six to eight weeks after he went to have the bone chips taken out of his shoulder. But meanwhile, we can give him a farewell by recognizing his .292/.320/.375 week for the Mariners.
Elsewhere, Carlos Lee had a .286/.348/.333 power outage in 21 at-bats.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Placido Polanco seems an unlikely candidate here, but strange things happen in small samples. Polanco hit .222/.364/.500 in 18 at-bats.
Steve Balboni Award
Jack Cust went a mighty .174/.240/.174 with 12 strikeouts in 23 at-bats. With four hits on 11 balls in play, he actually had a very reasonable .364 batting average on balls in play. Contact matters.
Milton Bradley whiffed nine times in 16 at bats for a .063/.318/.063 week.
Three true outcomes alert!!!
Andre Ethier hit three home runs, drew four walks, and struck out five times in 18 at-bats.
This week’s MVP
AL: Jermaine Dye had a spectacular week, with five singles and seven extra base hits on his way to a .500/.520/1.042 line.
NL: Pablo Sandoval always makes me think of Arturo Sandoval, but with the good work he is doing with his bat this year, his name will soon be pretty famous in its own right. The portly Venezuelan is hitting .337/.389/.570 this season and went off this week to the tune of (See what I did there? Yeah, you did.) .364/.440/.909. Coupled with Nate Schierholtz and his .500/.520/.792, it is a bit of a puzzle how the Giants only won half of their six games.