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. 28 through Sunday, Oct. 4. 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
Jason Berken didn’t do much to merit a statistical pat on the back. He actually got roughed up by the Blue Jays, allowing four runs on five innings which probably should have been more given that he struck out only one Toronto batter. Still, he and his 41 game score got the win.
Bad luck division
Nick Blackburn and Rick Porcello each did a very good job of holding the rival lineup in check, allowing one run each in a combined 13.1 innings. It’s fair to point out that Porcello continued his trend of not striking out hitters and getting away with it: He got one Twin on strikes.
Jon Rauch squandered the lead to the Royals when he allowed an inherited run to score. Michael Cuddyer gift wrapped the win for Rauch by homering off of Juan Cruz to hand the lead back to Rauch. So Rauch was charged with a blown save and credited with a win.
Wes Littleton Award
Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t control how he is used by Terry Francona. So it isn’t his fault that he was kind of wasted (not in the college frat party sense) coming in to protect a three-run lead against Michael Brantley, Jamey Carroll and Jhonny Peralta. The highest slugging percentage among them is a .375.
As questionable as the assemblage of bats that Papelbon had to overcome, they look like Murderer’s Row in comparison to the crew that Frank Francisco faced. Protecting a three-run lead, he easily retired .217/.250/.391 hitting Adam Moore, .221/.258/.279 hitting Michael Saunders and .219/.279/.333 hitting Josh Wilson
Please hold the applause
Matt Daley inherited a three-run lead when he relieved Ubaldo Jimenez. He proceeded to allow a leadoff home run to Russell Martin, get Orlando Hudson to ground out, walk Doug Mientkiewicz, and allow a single to Rafael Furcal before being lifted for Joe Beimel. He got the hold.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Joe Carter Award
Ryan Ludwick drove in five runs when in 20 at-bats he accumulated a mere four total bases for a .150/.227/.200 line.
I also mention Michael Aubrey, who drove in six. Normally I wouldn’t bring up a player with a .214/.241/.464 line primarily because his only sin was a little bit of bad luck on balls in play, given that he struck out three times in 29 plate appearances. But I will use this as an excuse to briefly talk about Aubrey in a more general sense. If he works out and becomes a productive everyday player, he would make an excellent profile subject for SI or ESPN the Magazine, the kind of piece that talks about what kind of hardships a player has had to go through and how it is a testament to his character that he hasn’t decided to become a CPA.
If you aren’t either a Cleveland fan or a prospect watcher, you may not know that Aubrey was a big deal at Tulane, where he did nothing but hit. He was enough of a prospect that I thought he was a serious bargain when he was taken 11th overall in the 2003 draft. He got off to a roaring start in the minors, tearing up the Sally League after signing and making it to Double-A in 2004.But then he became the minor league version of Nick Johnson, hitting when he was healthy, but rarely matching that description. In seven years, he has averaged 63 minor league games per season. On the other hand, he has a .294/.353/.469 career line down there in 1,670 at-bats.
I count myself as a fan, and hope the injuries (chronic back and hamstring problems) have not eroded the promise he had. When he was drafted, he was a plus glove at first base with solid plate discipline and a beautiful line drive swing. I suppose that the injury issues weren’t the only thing he had in common with Nick Johnson. Anyway, with a .289/.326/.500 line in a 30-game audition, it will be interesting to see if an Orioles team trying to find its way back to relevance with a roster built around a young core of outfielders will give Aubrey a longer audition in 2010.
Rey Sanchez Award
Jorge Cantu hit .316/.318/.368 for the Marlins as he walks away with this thing for the week.
Taylor Teagarden smacked five hits in 17 at-bats. Unfortunately he didn’t walk and only two of those five hits were of the extra base variety. He ended the week at .294/.294/.412. Similarly, Jose Lopez hit .292/.292/.417 in 24 at-bats.
Brayan Pena hit .308/.308/.308.
Harmon Killebrew Award
For the second time in three weeks, I can talk about Ken Griffey Jr. If this was his last week as a major league player, he went out with a bang with three home runs and three walks in 17 at-bats. .235/.350/.765 is classic Killebrew Award fodder.
Another familiar name, Scott Rolen, makes an appearance in the season’s final week, making his five hits in 21 at-bats matter by portioning them out as two singles, a double, a triple and a home run for a .238/.385/.524 line.
Teammates Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira qualify. Each had a short week with only 14 at-bats. All three of Swisher’s hits were for extra bases. Two were homers, one was a double. Teixeira produced only a pair of singles and a home run. Their lines were .214/.389/.714 and .214/.353/.429.
Steve Balboni Award
Next week’s column will cover the final season awards. Surprisingly, I will not be talking about Mark Reynolds, at least not for this category. He shattered the record for strikeouts in a season by fanning 223 times, but due to a healthy walk rate, a good (one might say lucky) BABIP, and tons of power, he overcame that strikeout rate to hit .260/.349/.543. He did not help himself this week though, riding 12 Ks in 22 at-bats to a .136/.200/.182 whimper of a final week.
Reynolds’ teammate Justin Upton whiffed 10 times in 21 at-bats, dragging him down to .143/.143/.286.
Three true outcomes
Griffey qualifies here, producing three bombs, three walks and seven strikeouts in his 17 at-bats. So does Randy Ruiz, who went three-two-four in the TTO categories in 17 at-bats. Nate McLouth went two-eight-nine in 30-AB.
He didn’t slug any home runs, but Adrian Gonzalez deserves to be mentioned simply for walking nine times and striking out five times in 21 plate appearances, which produced a very odd looking .333/.619/.333 line.
This week’s MVP
AL: I traditionally don’t take leverage into consideration when looking at the weekly MVP award. It adds a bit more work and a lot more subjective argument into the equation, while normally we’re just pointing out who had a real outlier of a week. Nevertheless, Jason Kubel and Delmon Young didn’t put up the absolute best stats in the AL this week, but they were close when it was desperately needed. Kubel hit .423/.414/.846 and Young hit .448/.452/.793. If they hadn’t gone off the way they did against the Royals, their team would be at home today instead of playing the Tigers. That counts for something.
The man with the best batting line of the week was Ben Zobrist, who capped off his breakout year (which I never saw coming) by hitting .481/.517/1.000 with eight extra base hits in 27 at-bats.
NL: Ryan Braun hit .393/.433/.786 in 28 at-bats and even stole three bases for the Brewers. He ends the season at a very nice .320/.386/.551.
Next week we will delve into who gets the big honors for the season.