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, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 16. 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
Sean O’Sullivan was pummeled for six runs in 4.2 innings for the Halos, punctuated by Jason Bartlett and Carlos Pena home runs. On the other side, Matt Garza allowed six runs in 3.1 innings. Both walked away with no credit and no blame as the victory went to Kevin Jepsen, who in fairness was probably the most valuable pitcher in the game.
O’Sullivan was involved in another slugfest on Sunday against the Birds and Jeremy Guthrie. Any fantasy owners using O’Sullivan in a weekly transactions league trying to take advantage of his two starts watched the strategy blow up in their faces: In this matchup, he yielded six runs in four frames on seven hits, including three homers. Guthrie was touched for seven in 5.2 innings and the Angels won in extra innings, scoring nine off Brian Bass and Matt Albers in the 13th.
Bad luck division
In his first career major league start, Doug Fister tossed six scoreless, but had a one-run lead erased by the carelessness of proven veteran David Aardsma, who blew the save and handed John Danks the victory.
Mark Buehrle and His Royal Highness Felix of Pugetshire traded zeroes for 15 combined frames before handing it over to relievers, who kept the scoreboard clean until 14th when Tony Pena broke up the party. The starters were brilliant with game scores of 72 and 71 respectively. Hernandez struck out 10 South Siders.
Poor Zack Greinke. The Royals did it to him again. This time they pulled it off with the help of Jarrod Washburn, getting shut out and destroying a brilliant start with seven innings of shutout ball. I would say he deserved better, but that Really would be understating the case.
Sean White blew the save when he allowed two inherited runners to score (Luke French sends a thanks-but-no-thanks White’s way), but Russell Branyan and Kenji Johjima each homered and White got an ill-deserved win.
Wes Littleton Award
Who am I to question Mariano Rivera, but when he entered in the ninth inning, he had a three-run lead to protect and Randy Ruiz, Edwin Encarnacion, and Rod Barajas to retire. He ended up yielding a solo shot to Encarnacion, a single to Barajas and still had little difficulty as Joe Inglett was up after Barajas. This was not high leverage. Brian Bruney mowed through a similar collection of hitters in the seventh with a one-run lead.
Please hold the applause
I talk ad nauseam about how much I loathe the three-run save. So in the interest of fairness, I will mention that in the vast majority of cases, the three-run hold is also ridiculous and unnecessary as well. Take the Cardinals for instance. Trever Miller and Jason Motte split the eighth between them, protecting a three-run lead from the likes of Luis Rodriguez, Nick Hundley and Tony K Gwynn.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Andy Pettitte had a bit of a reverse ASADIIFP outing when he struck out 10 of the 24 Mariners he faced. But of the 13 balls he allowed in play, six fell in for hits and two runs scored as the win went to Phil Hughes in relief.
Joe Carter Award
Jose Lopez drove in five runs in 31 at-bats this week, but hit a meager .258/.250/.387.
On a related note, thank you to those who are calling out the RBI-related nonsense in the AL MVP race. It really would be a shame if a flashy counting stat, some media market attention, and the sub-mediocrity that is the non-Mauer/Morneau/Kubel portion of the Twins lineup sabotaged the best player in the American League this year.
Rey Sanchez Award
We have five excellent candidates this week who bear little in common with each other apart from having a very batting average-dependent week.
Pudge Rodriguez has kind of devolved into this kind of a player, hitting .250/.280/.382 this season. This week, he hit .286/.318/.286.
Alex Gonzalez hit .292/.292/.375 in 24 at-bats.
Wes Helms had only 14 at-bats, but could fairly be counted here, having produced a .286/.286/.357 line.
Ryan Zimmerman had a down week in an otherwise good year, at .286/.318/.286.
And finally Travis Hafner hit .286/.286/.333.
Harmon Killebrew Award
It is not quite up to the OBP standards that I usually demand of a Killebrew candidate, but given Dustin Pedroia’s other qualifications, we’ll let him pass. Of his five hits, two were doubles and two were bombs. He also chipped in with a steal and four walks. .208/.321/.542 is not bad at all for a second baseman.
Steve Balboni Award
Casey Blake whiffed 11 times in 21 at-bats on his way to a .095/.269/.190 week.
Elsewhere, Jim Thome struck out eight times in 18 at-bats, soaking the value if his positive contributions (a home run and three walks) and sending him spiraling to a .167/.273/.333 week.
In other Balboni news, Brian Bixler was called back up to Pittsburgh this weekend. The utilityman has struck out a staggering 18 times in 26 at-bats this year. We will see if he can improve on that rate. He has had relatively high strikeout rates in his minor league career, but nothing to indicate that this kind of impotence is his true skill level.
Three true outcomes
Jack Cust had another week in which he flourished in two of the three categories, collecting five walks and six strikeouts in 14 at-bats, but getting blanked on the homer front.
A more well-rounded David Ortiz went deep twice, walked six times, and struck out seven times in 24 at-bats.
This week’s MVP
NL: Adrian Gonzalez was a beast, going off to the tune of .633/.645/1.100.
Really late small sample size warning