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. 31 through Sunday, Sept. 6. 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
Brett Cecil was on the winning end of a wild game. When the opposing pitcher (in this case Derek Holland) gives up 10 runs in three innings, you stand a good chance of picking up the win as long as you make it through five innings. Cecil did just that, but barely. He yielded seven runs to the Rangers on nine hits, including a Nelson Cruz three-run bomb.
Adam Wainwright gave up six runs in five innings, getting knocked around by the Pirates for nine hits and two walks. He got the win because the Cards offense beat up on Kevin Hart, Denny Bautista and Phil Dumatrait.
Gio Gonzalez and Luke Hochevar each had horrific games against terrible offenses. However, only one of them could get the loss. So Gonzalez was the lucky one, with a no-decision in a game in which he was torched for five runs in five innings.
A.J. Burnett and David Hernandez “dueled” to see who could get the loss and neither of them succeeded. They combined to allow 11 runs in 10 and a third, giving up five home runs and eight walks. Hernandez was actually in line for the win until Chris Ray imploded, allowing an inherited run to score in the sixth and then allowed back-to-back homers in the seventh, turning a one-run lead into a three-run deficit for the Orioles.
Bad luck division
Between the incompetence of their bats and the incompetence of their gloves, the Royals make it so that Zack Greinke doesn’t have much of a chance unless he strikes 27 guys out. He is a ridiculously good pitcher on a ridiculously bad team.
Jonathan Sanchez took a very tough loss at the hands of Cole Hamels, who shut out the Giants. Sanchez did his part, allowing only one run in eight innings. He struck out eight and allowed only six baserunners.
Ronald Belisario blew the save against the Diamondbacks in the sixth inning, completed that inning and the seventh and then finished with the win as Andre Ethier subsequently walked with the bases loaded, driving in Matt Kemp.
Wes Littleton Award
It has been a while since we’ve seen a three-inning save in a blowout. But here we are with Micah Owings,who entered the game with a five-run lead in the seventh. He threw three innings and finished the game, so he got a save despite the final score of 11-5. Also note that Reds starter Justin Lehr won the game despite walking five guys and striking out only two in six innings of work.
Let it be noted that the three batters Carlos Marmol retired to pick up his seventh save of the year are currently batting .242/.291/.333, .225/.310/.321 and .259/.330/.388 respectively. It seems unlikely that that group would pose a threat to a three-run lead.
Compare that to Frank Francisco’s 21st, in which he retired batters currently hitting .215/.297/.354, .222/.311/.377 and .273/.293/.371. Keep in mind that the first and second of those lines were the Blue Jays’ designated hitter and left fielder. The three-run save is a joke.
Please hold the applause
In the Brett Cecil game above, Jesse Carlson picked up a hold when he entered the game in relief of Casey Janssen. He allowed one of the runners he inherited from Janssen to score. Then, in the next inning, he allowed a run of his own before being lifted.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Joel Pineiro failed to strike out even one of the 29 Brewers he faced while getting the win. I suppose a 16-5 ground ball/fly ball ratio is a mark in his favor, but I really do hope he gets something for his infielders this season because they may have made him a very wealthy man given his impending free agent status.
Joe Carter Award
Pat Burrell drove in seven while hitting just .208/.276/.375.
Elsewhere, Brandon Inge drove in six with a sickly .115/.148/.346. Two of his three hits were home runs.
Scott Hairston joined in with six while going .160/.192/.280.
Rey Sanchez Award
Mark Ellis tagged seven hits in 25 at-bats. The only extra base hits were a pair of doubles. And his two walks were only enough to raise his OBP to adequate; .280/.321/.360 doesn’t help the A’s much.
He still was better than Kazuo Matsui, who hit a very empty .273/.273/.318.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Cliff Pennington has not been particularly productive this season, hitting .252/.310/.370. He did well this week though, hitting .238/.407/.429. Good things happen when you walk six times in 27 plate appearances.
Steve Balboni Award
Brandon Allen can be forgiven for struggling as he is new to this major league thing. Still, it is pretty easy to trace his .105/.190/.421 week back to the fact that he struck out 10 times in 19 at-bats.
Raul Ibanez struck out in exactly half of his 16 a- bats and went .188/.235/.188 because of it.
And Brad Hawpe’s eight Ks in 15 at-bats is a big part of explaining why he is struggling so badly and ended the week at .067/.222/.133. Since the start of August, he is hitting .232/.323/.429 and has struck out 47 times in 112 at bats.
Three true outcomes
Well, Brandon Allen added a pair of home runs and chipped in with a couple of walks to the 10 strikeouts I mentioned above.
Derek Lee had a short week with only 17 at-bats, but when he was in, he was racking up the TTO. He went deep four times, walked three times and struck out five times.
This week’s MVP
AL: The Rays had a bad week, going 2-4 against the Tigers and Red Sox, but you can’t blame Evan Longoria. The Rays third baseman hit .467/.467/.933. He smoked five doubles and three home runs in 30 at bats.
NL: With Brad Hawpe struggling so badly, it is a relief to the Rockies that Seth Smith is going off like this. Smith hit like there was no tomorrow, with five doubles, four home runs and four singles. He also walked four times and ended the week at .542/.607/1.250.