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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.