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, Sept. 14 through Sunday, Sept. 20. 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
Season: C.C. Sabathia has gone 17-0 in his 20 quality starts this season. He gets 6.1 runs of support when he takes the mound this season. He has been a very good pitcher, but his 18-7 record is as much about the Yankees offense as it is about him. He has had to be awful to lose a game. In his losses, he has allowed more than five runs a game on average and he even won one game in which he did allow that many, and he got off the hook with a no-decision in another.
Bad luck division
Wandy Rodriguez received the loss for going six innings and giving up two runs. I am not mentioning him below because I am talking about only one guy right now, but expect to see Rodriguez as an honorable mention when I do the season review. He is 13-10 with an ERA of 2.77. He has lost four quality starts. He has received only 3.8 runs of support per game.
Adam Wainwright yielded only two runs in seven frames, striking out eight. But Sean West and the Marlins bullpen held the Cards offense to one run in the game and Wainwright got charged with the loss.
Season: Zack Greinke has 10 starts in which he has allowed three runs or fewer and failed to get the win. He has eight starts in which he has allowed two runs or fewer and failed to get the win. He has six starts in which he has allowed one or zero runs and failed to get the win, including two losses. He has lost all four of the games in which he has failed to tally a quality start. The average game score from his no-decisions is 62. His current 14-8 record is a testament to the Royals’ futility.
This has been a remarkable season because Greinke has been a truly transcendent pitcher while his team has been transcendently awful and has betrayed him. Nolan Ryan’s 1987 season can clearly match Greinke’s 2009. But since the creation of the awards three years ago, Greinke’s season is the most egregious example, passing the worst luck of Matt Cain and Ian Snell and Cole Hamels.
Opposing hitters are batting a pathetic .231/.273/.341 this season. His 2.14 ERA would be the lowest since Pedro Martinez put up a 1.74 in 2000, yet a dozen pitchers have more wins. He is a much, much better pitcher than Sabathia this season. He is a much, much better pitcher than Justin Verlander this season. And if he is passed over for the Cy Young Award in their favor because of the collective failings of Mike Jacobs, Miguel Olivo, Jose Guillen, Willie Bloomquist, Jamey Wright and Ron Mahay, it would be a truly reprehensible thing.
Wes Littleton Award
As a longtime Royals fan, I was not surprised to see that Mike MacDougal got lit up for three runs on two hits in one and a third, walking two. As a longtime observer of quirky saves, it also did not surprise me to see that he got a save for his efforts, feeble as they may have been.
Season: Brian Fuentes leads baseball with 43 saves, but he has not been a particularly valuable player. And rightly, he stands in jeopardy of losing his role as closer for the Angels. The thing about being a modern closer is that you can rack up a big number of saves while being just a guy.
Please hold the applause
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Jeff Suppan was charged with the loss, but he was lucky not to take a bigger hit to his WHIP and ERA than he did after striking out only two of the 26 Cubs he faced while walking four. Escaping with only one run against you on three hits when that lone run was scored on a solo home run is a tribute to good BABIP.
Clay Buchholz allowed one run on five hits in six innings with a three to one walk to strikeout ratio. No, I did not get that backwards. It was a walk to strikeout ratio and he was heavy on the walk side and light on the strikeout side. Also, the only run against him was on a Luke Scott solo home run.
Season: J.A. Happ has a league best .241 BABIP, which goes a long way toward explaining how he has a 2.77 ERA while he has struck out just over six batters per nine innings.
Andorra? That seems like a weird choice. Is he a big fan of skiing or is this about tax policy?
Joe Carter Award
Rey Sanchez Award
Oof. Alex Rios hit .286, but without any walks or extra base hits. So he has a symmetrical .286/.286/.286 line. It is a symmetrical line, not a good one. It is an improvement on the rest of his season since coming over from Toronto: He has hit .155/.168/.218 as a member of the Chicago’s AL franchise.
Dustin Pedroia also had a punchless week belied by an otherwise acceptable-looking batting average, going .276/.276/.310.
Harmon Killebrew Award
This may be Ken Griffey Jr’s final appearance in the awards if he retires after this year. Then again, it might be his first appearance. I don’t remember ever talking about him in the column. Anyway, good things happen when you hit two home runs and a double in 13 at-bats and walk four times, even if those were your only three hits: .231/.412/.769 looks weird, but it is valuable.
Carlos Gonzalez’s .240/.345/.520 isn’t as extreme, but it is in a bigger sample. He also was one of only two players in baseball to tally at least one single, double, triple, home run, RBI, run scored, stolen base, caught stealing, walk and strikeout in the span of this week. The other was Carl Crawford
Steve Balboni Award
Ian Stewart had everything I traditionally look for in the Balboni. He struck out 11 times in 16 at-bats, which ruined his batting average and negated some genuinely good things he accomplished. Among the three hits he gave the Rockies, one was a home run. And he walked three times. His .188/.300/.375 line is due primarily to his inability to make contact.
Jay Bruce really didn’t have the positive things going on that you saw with Stewart. He just got dominated with eight whiffs in 14 at-bats and a putrid .214/.267/.214 line.
This week’s dumbest thing ever
Will somebody please stop this from happening? It’s bad enough that TV Land demonstrates how bad the original shows I watched as a kid were and how badly they’ve aged. It’s just another kick the face of my childhood to see even worse movie adaptations. I swear lives will be in danger if they remake Magnum P.I. into a bad movie.
Three true outcomes
It is remarkable that Miguel Olivo had 13 TTO events in 20 plate appearances. It is remarkable that he posted a 1.605 OPS. But what is really remarkable is that he drew three walks when it took him until July 4 to get his third walk or the season. That is a little over 10 times the plate appearances that he got this week. Those three walks are 21 percent of his season total of 14. The four home runs and six strikeouts are par for the course: He has 23 bombs and 120 strikeouts in 107 games this year. The walks are a shock.
Another shock was Kurt Suzuki, who for most of the season has been a very contact-oriented hitter—coming into the week he had only 12 home runs, 21 walks and 49 strikeouts in 542 plate appearances. Nevertheless, he went deep twice, walked four times (one each in four consecutive games), and struck out six times 23 at-bats.
This week’s MVP
AL: Mark Teixeira smacked five singles, four doubles, three triples and two home runs, ending at .520/.500/1.160. Yes, he did in fact have a lower on base percentage than batting average thanks to no walks and a sacrifice fly.
If I hadn’t provided enough statistical weirdness for a night, Teixeira’s teammate Robinson Cano hit .417/.440/.583 in 24 at-bats, yet managed to score only twice and drive in one run. You can’t explain it by saying he was the lone player hitting on the team—the Yankees scored 27 runs and, as mentioned above, Teixeira was a wrecking crew.
NL: Joey Votto hit .435/.536/.696 for the Reds.