THT Awards

Welcome to the awards.

All stats are for the period of Monday, April 12 through Sunday, April 18. All season stats are through the 18th. For award definitions, see this year’s primer.

This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an arcane practice that must stop

Good luck division

Kyle Kendrick and Craig Stammen walked away from their game with an ERA that was north of 15. That was their season ERA, not in-game. The better of their two performances was Kendrick’s, who was obliterated by Adam Dunn and friends for six runs in one and two thirds. Stammen gave up seven while retiring one fewer batter. Relievers caught both sides of the decision in this 14-7 slugfest.

Luke Hochevar was peppered for five runs on six hits and three walks in five innings. But the Max Scherzer, Brad Thomas and the defense behind them yielded 10 runs and handed Hochevar a win.

Ryan Dempster was the benefactor of Doug Davis’ largesse, walking away with the W despite giving up five runs in six and a third.

Jake Peavy and Brian Tallet combined for 13 runs on 16 hits in 11 and two-thirds and because of Jason Frasor and the weird form of accounting that is pitcher wins and losses, they each recorded no-decision on a night when they were truly overmatched.

Nate Robertson and Bronson Arroyo also walked away with unblemished records despite 11 runs in 11 frames.

Bad luck division

Matt Harrison received some good luck on balls in play, striking out three men in seven innings and still getting dinged for only five hits. On the other hand while I dislike “unearned” versus “earned” runs, the left side of his infield committed three errors and he was held responsible for only one of the three runs the Indians scored. He ended the day with one more loss than he started with. I think he got the short end of that particular stick.

Johan Santana and Jaime Garcia and 14 relievers put zeroes on the board (not counting Mike Pelfrey, who got the save) and none of them got the win. That went to Francisco Rodriguez, who blew the save in the 19th and then lucked into the win as outfielder Joe Mather couldn’t put up a second scoreless inning. Santana and Garcia combined for 14 scoreless innings and got nothing.

Cole Hamels wasn’t perfect, but when you go eight solid innings, giving up two runs with an eight to zero strikeout to walk ratio, you would usually expect to get the win or at least a no-decision. Somehow Nate Robertson and the Marlins held the Phillies scoreless. This is the same Nate Robertson who got assaulted by the Reds and the same Phillies that beat Craig Stammen badly enough that they had to take dental impressions. Baseball is a funny game.

Vulture Award

Jeff Gray put a serious dent in the Cubs’ chances of beating the Brewers, giving up back-to-back RBI triples to put his team down three. Nevertheless LaTroy Hawkins gave up back-to back two-run singles (which itself has a high degree of difficulty) the next half inning, handing the Cubs and Gray a win.

Evan Meek allowed the tying run to score upon inheriting that baserunner, stationed at first by Paul Maholm with nobody out. He received the win after Garrett Jones drove in the go-ahead run. Despite Octavio Dotel giving up a two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth, the lead held up. I could have also listed this game a few lines lower in the column thanks to Dotel’s save.

Chris Narveson blew the save and got the win for the Brewers. Dotel did the same for the Pirates against the Reds. And Brandon League against the Tigers.

Wes Littleton Award

Rafael Soriano entered the game against Baltimore protecting a three-run lead. The three hitters he was scheduled to face were Nolan Reimold, Garret Atkins and Ty Wigginton with Julio Lugo up after that. He gave up a solo shot to Wigginton, and still was never really in danger. He was actually the Rays pitcher with the LOWEST leverage index. Lance Cormier was given a much more difficult task.

Ryan Franklin also entered with a three-run cushion and almost squandered it with a double from Gary Matthews Jr, a single from Frank Catalanotto and an RBI groundout from Jose Reyes. I’m noe sure how you can have an in-game RA/9 of 18 and seriously say you “saved” your team from anything other than your own best efforts to fail. By the way, I can’t be the only person who just now noticed that Catalanotto was still on a major league roster.

Please hold the applause

It isn’t Matt Guerrier’s fault that Ron Gardenhire used him to protect a three-run lead which ballooned into an eight-run lead thanks to Robinson Tejeda and Juan Cruz. But he did get credit for a hold when there really wasn’t a lot at stake.

Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching

Livan Hernandez struck out a batter every three innings in his shutout of the Brewers.

Barry Zito struck out only one of the 26 Pirates he faced. Not only did he only get charged for three runs on five hits, he also got the win. Anytime you win a game walk three times as many men as you strike out, your defense really made you look good.

Mitch Talbot struck out two in a 6-2 complete game victory over the White Sox.

Renaming awards

In the comments section of last week’s column, there was an active discussion regarding the merits of the Joe Carter Award’s being named after Joe Carter. I like this. I always want suggestions, comments and corrections. The concept for this feature as I conceived of it a few years ago involved a lot of reader participation and input.

The Carter was originally the Rico Brogna Award. I named it after the retired Philly first baseman because his name stood out in my mind from the early days of my participation in fantasy and rotisserie baseball. It was in recognition of his horrifyingly mediocre 1998 season, in which he drove in 104 runs while hitting .265/.319/.446.

I changed the name to “honor” Carter for a number of reasons. The first is that I thought Carter was a more widely recognizable symbol of what the award represents. Carter was a better player than Brogna, but he had more years that more clearly demonstrated the ideals of the bizarrely exaggerated value placed on ribbies. I also really, really like Brogna as a guy. In all of the interviews I’ve seen and read he comes across as a smart guy, really relatable, and at least somewhat open to sabermetric viewpoints. I give a guy credit for these things (not to say that Joe Carter is a heel or anything, just saying that Brogna is in the top 50 players of recent vintage I would like to talk baseball with).

With that being said, there is one award that I want to actively solicit input on for a possible name change. The nomenclature of the Rey Sanchez Award dates back to a time when I was not the internationally renowned author and scholar that you see today. Ten years ago I was a commenter among the crowds at ESPN’s baseball message boards. Many of my fellow Royals fans actively defended the team’s reliance on Rey Sanchez and refused to acknowledge that it was a horrible idea to use him in the two hole in the lineup, which Tony Muser did frequently.

In three seasons with the Royals, Sanchez hit .289/.321/.351. In his 5,246 PA career, he hit .272/.308/.334. He was nothing special as a baserunner. And while he was a good glove, it really never made up for his weak bat enough for him to be anything better than a poor second division starter or a decent first division reserve.

So having had the same name for a while, here is my request for a potential replacement for Sanchez as the eponym for the award citing empty batting average, somebody who does little else and isn’t good enough at hitting for average to make him a genuine asset.

Joe Carter Award

Carlos Quentin drove in seven runs in 26 at-bats while rapping out only three hits and batting .115/.148/.269.

Bobby Abreu drove in six while hitting .174/.208/.348.

Rey Sanchez Award

In short duty Gabe Gross hit .308/.308/.308. If you were curious, that is four singles and no walks in 13 at-bats.

Ryan Theriot helped many a fantasy team with his four stolen bases, but didn’t help the Cubs much with his .286/.310/.308 week.

Strangest of all was Ryan Howard, possibly the least likely Sanchez nominee in the history of the awards. He deserves it, though, with a .259/.259/.333 week.

Harmon Killebrew Award

Justin Maxwell got only seven at-bats, but in that small window of playing time he pushed the boundaries of what is possible in the Killebrew by hitting .143/.364/.571.

In a larger role, Nick Johnson rode seven walks to a .188/.458/.438 line.

And David Wright hit .227/.452/.545. More on Wright and Johnson in a moment.

Three true outcomes

Wright smacked two home runs, walked nine times, and struck out 10 times in 22 at-bats.

In addition to Johnson’s seven walks, he also homered and struck out seven times in 16 at-bats.

Chase Utley belted five balls over the wall, walked a half dozen times and struck out four times in 21 at-bats.

Finally, Rick Ankiel went two-two-nine in 20 at-bats.

The anti-TTO

How weird is it that Howard failed to homer and failed to walk while striking out only two times in 27 at-bats?

Jason Kendall had identical TTO numbers as Howard. He isn’t as much of a surprise at this stage in his career.

Kevin Kouzmanoff and Lastings Milledge each went zero-one-two in 24 and 25 at-bats respectively.

Neither here nor there

I bought the Royals Bullpen Toaster, but every time I use it, it sets the bread on fire

On Ubaldo’s no-no

I don’t have much to add about that performance. He is the kind of pitcher you would expect to be a candidate for a no-hitter. He is very good and he strikes out a ton of batters.

As an odd side note, when I heard somebody mention that it was the Rockies’ first no-hitter, I was convinced that that was not true. It turns out I was merely thinking of Jose Jimenez, but he recorded his no-no with the Cardinals. He was primarily a closer in Denver. That was one of the strangest n- hitters I can think of since he posted a 5.85 ERA that season, struck out 6.2 per nine and pitched his last major league game two days before his 31st birthday. Only Bud Smith can really say “That’s nothing.”

This week’s MVP

AL: Jose Guillen ruled the week. That is quite possibly the strangest looking sentence I have ever typed on this computer. But what are you going to do? He hit .462/.500/.885.

NL: Chase Utley- Now that’s more like it. It feels more natural to have Utley in this part of the column, especially as he hit .333/.481/1.048.

References & Resources
Thanks to Phil Evans, who is more clever with Royals humor than this author ever will be.

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  1. Noah Schmutter said...

    What about Freddy Sanchez?  You would retain the “Sanchez” part of the award, or even call it the “Dirty Sanchez” Award!

    Freddy’s career line of .299/.334/.417 is quite empty, as is his career 97 OPS+.  Even in the year when he won the batting title, he hit a relatively empty .344/.378/.473.

  2. Jacob Rothberg said...

    If he fails this year I would think Delmon Young looks like a great candidate for this award. I’m not really that into naming it after defensive guys who also manage to hit for a decent AVG. If average is your only ‘skill,’ and its empty, then you are deserving.

    Mind you, I started the Joe Carter hullabaloo and I stick by that as well.

  3. John M Barten said...

    Noah: Freddy is a solid idea. He’s a threat every year for the category. He fits the prototype of the guy who can put up Sanchez-like years (no pun intended). But I’m not sure he’s my first choice. He seems more like the guy who is overrated because of his batting average rather than useless despite his batting average. .299/.334/.417 is useful from a second baseman with a reasonable glove, even if it is likely to be overrated. Garrett Anderson fits that mold as well.

    Jacob: I think Delmon did win it in a past year, though it may have been the Carter. I forget which one because he has been on the leaderboard of both. If he keeps going the way he has in past years, I might have to look at renaming it for him because .289/.321/.417 is his career line. it’s a little early in his career for that though. I would at least wait until he enters what theoretically should be his career peak.

    Also, I would never ask you to apologize for starting the Carter thing. I enjoyed the discussion and I think others did too. The offer stands that if you run into a better example or even close, I’ll look at changing it. That is still on the table and always will be.

  4. Jacob Rothberg said...

    John: Thanks for the nice words, but I really didn’t think there was any apology asked for or offered. Mostly I was just glad to have the opportunity to type ‘hullabaloo.’

  5. Yeti Monster said...

    I would offer Nefi Perez as a replacement for Rey Sanchez.  Their career triple slash lines are similar (see below) and both kept getting at bats to the dismay of fans everywhere.

    Sanchez- 272/308/334
    Perez- 267/297/375

  6. Peter Gentleman said...

    Rey Sanchez is a pretty excellent embodiment of the award already, though. Best other example I could think of was Yuniesky Betancourt with .276/.299/.392 and horrible defense on top of that. Plus “Yuniesky Betancourt” is already synonymous with “awful baseball player”, which probably helps convey the meaning of the award.

  7. Paul said...

    Not to break up the joy that is empty batting averages, but a couple of notes on the 20 innning marathon:

    1. Joe Mather did not pitch a scoreless inning.  Lopez did in the 18th.  Mather gave up a run in the 19th, the Cards tied it off K-Rod, then Mather gave up another run in the 20th.

    2. While it is easy to dump on K-Rod, the man had thrown over 100 pitches in the bullpen so he does have an excuse.  Jerry Manuel kept warming him up in hope of a Save Situation and the arm was just a bit tired by the 19th.  How about a “Jerry Manuel Will Break Your Arm” Award?

  8. MVD said...

    I’d nom Alex Gonzalez too maybe, but his Avg is probably also too low. I know… its a guy who is punchless and doesnt get on outside of his hitting, but still hits a little.

  9. John M Barten said...

    Yuni, Neifi? Maybe we could try coming up with somebody that DOESN’T make me want to jump off a bridge? </Royalfan> CPat isn’t a bad choice.

    Paul: My mistake on #1. I misremembered that detail.

    #2 I wasn’t trying to be hard on him. But he can’t say he deserved the win given that he was the only Mets pitcher who gave up a run. That’s a minor injustice though.

  10. Mark said...

    I was going to suggest something like scanning baseball reference for the person w/ the funniest name among those w/ the most narrow range of “slash” lines… but, instead, I think I’ll just agree w/ Peter’s prior comment—if Yuniesky wasn’t already synonymous w/ awful, the poor guy is now!

  11. James said...

    I have two suggestions; Matty Alou and Manny Mota. Alou’s career line of .307/.345/.381 was quite one dimensional, and Mota’s was only slightly better at .304/.355/.389. Both men played in the All Star game and both received Hall of Fame votes (not many, of corse, but some!)

    If I had to chose one I’d take Mota. Alou padded (or is it un-padded?) his numbers late in his career, but he had four straight seasons in his prime where his BA staid above .330, which is valuable even without much to go with it. Mota cranked out the Sanchez years far more consistently. Plus Mota is still round the game to enjoy the honor.

  12. Paul said...

    Oh, I perfectly understand on K-Rod. It is amazing that in a game that was scoreless for 18 innings that the winning pitcher gave up a run, the losing pitcher is not really a pitcher, and the Save went to a starter.  But what I find more interesting is to what ridiculous lengths Jerry Manuel went to get his closer a Save.  If this is not the low point of absurdity on the Save Situation Obsession, I’m not sure I want to know how it could get worse.

    The renaming of the Rey Sanchez has me intrigued.  I did a bit of statistical analysis and I should have something to post tomorrow.

  13. Paul said...

    Rey Sanchez’s career numbers were 272/308/334 for a 69 OPS+ over 5246 PAs.  So he really does make sense as the poster boy for the empty batting average award.  It’s the 22nd worse career OPS+ in history for anyone with over 4000 PAs, 12th worst over 5000 PAs, and most of the worse guys bat well below 270.  The man was special.  But if you want alternatives, I figured I’d do this all scientific like with some statistical analysis.  I’ll try to focus on recent players, preferably with some name recognition.  I’ll break up the studies into separate posts for convenience.

    First Study: 4000+ PAs, 260+ AVG, sub-80 OPS+

    The query comes up with 25 guys, but I am not going to list them all.  The worst is someone named Ski Melillo (1926-1937, 260/306/340, 63 OPS+, 5536 PAs).  Never heard of him, though he has some potential for snow-related puns.  Next worse in OPS+ is Neifi Perez (267/297/375, 64, 5510) and since I would prefer that you continue to do this column without wincing, I’ll move on without further comment.  Rey Sanchez is #3.  Tied with Rey is someone interesting: Ozzie Guillen (264/287/338, 69, 7133).  Also of recent vintage are Larry Bowa (#6, 260/300/320, 71), Joe Girardi (T#7, 267/315/350), Tony Womack (T#7, 273/317/356, 72), Tom Goodwin (T#10, 268/332/339, 73), and Jose Vizcaino (T#13, 270/318/346, 75).  Bobby Richardson (T#16, 266/299/335, 77) would be a great choice for the award if the Intertubes were really popular in the 60s.

  14. Paul said...

    Second Study: 1000+ PAs, 270+ AVG, sub-80 OPS+

    Ah, perhaps delving into shorter careers will reveal a diamond, or in this case a cubic zirconium.  38 guys, Rey tied at 4th worst OPS+ with two guys whose careers ended in 1930.  Tom Carey (1935-1946, 275/308/348, 64) is the worst, whoever he is.  Willy Taveras is still active at #3 (274/302/339, 66).  He gets bonus points for batting 320 in 2007, but still being a below average hitter (89 OPS+).  Tied for #7, Jason Tyner is interesting (275/314/323, 70, 1467) considering he was a corner outfielder with an arm that made Johnny Damon look like Jesse Barfield in comparison.  Tyner may have had the weakest outfield arm I have ever seen.  It is like he had shoulder surgery between innings.  He may be the only player who had his bobblehead night cancelled because he had been sent down to the minors.  Also present is stathead horror show Homer Bush (285/324/358, 75, 1377, tied #13).  Some other recent names are Mike Caruso, Endy Chavez, Wilton Guerrero, Otis Nixon (actually he was in the first study too), Doug Glanville, Quinton McCraken, and Cristian Guzman.  Yuniesky Betancourt is accounted for, but he actually has a higher OPS+ than everyone else I previously mentioned and has a similar career offensive value to Omar Vizquel, though that comparison is flawed in more ways than a movie about robotic chickens starring Paris Hilton and RuPaul.

  15. Paul said...

    Third Study: 1000+ PAs, 290+ AVG, sub-100 OPS+

    57 players in all.  The worst is Walter French (1923-1929, 303/336/379, 81, 1071), an outfielder for Connie Mack.  Then you have two really good candidates at #2 and #3: Juan Pierre (301/348/372, 85, 6064) and Doc Cramer (296/340/375, 87, 9933).  Pierre is, of course, Pierre.  Doc Cramer was a 5 time all-star and managed to get 6% of the Hall of Fame vote in 1964 pretty much based entirely on his batting average and defense.  Doc was a very good defensive center fielder, and Pierre… not so much.  Another CF Alex Sanchez is #4 (296/330/372, 88, 1651).  There is not much after that.  The next worse recent player is Mark Grudzielanek; a second baseman with a career 91 OPS+ is pretty good, regardless if he has a relatively empty 290 average.  Some other players of some interest are Jeff Frye (who?), Luis Castillo, Delmon Young, and Charlie Grimm (first baseman, 290/341/397, 94, 8745).  Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner gets honorable mention (316/353/393, 99, 8326).

  16. Paul said...

    Finally, while I utterly despise the proposed name “Dirty Sanchez” (squick), there is merit to the idea that “Sanchez” is synonymous with empty batting averages.  There are only three men with that last name and at least 500 career PAs: Rey, Alex, and Freddy (299/334/417, 97, 2946).  Freddy’s a pretty good hitter for a middle infielder, but the batting average does make him look a lot better than he really is.  It almost makes you think they were related.  Maybe it is the Molina Effect playing tricks on me.  But, seriously, admit it, if you met a guy with the last name Molina and he wasn’t a catcher or at least a hockey goalie, that would seem strange, wouldn’t it?

    That’s all, folks.  I can do more studies upon request.

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