Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, May 4 through Sunday, May 9. All season stats are through the 9th. 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
Daisuke Matsuzaka was fortunate that Scott Kazmir was pummeled by the Boston bats. If it weren’t for Kazmir’s seven runs, Daisuke never would have won a game in which he allowed five runs in five and a third.
Kyle Davies made Atilano’s shelling look effective by comparison. Davies gave up nine runs on nine hits in four frames. The Royals inexplicably came back to take the lead in one of the wildest games you will find this season. Strange is an understatement when Yuniesky Betancourt draws two walks, Scott Podsednik hits an upper deck home run and Joakim Soria gives up back-to-back homers.
Season: Kevin Correia hasn’t been bad this season. His ERA is under four, his OPS against is .653, and he is striking out a career high 7.94 per nine innings. But as good as he has been his bullpen and the Padres lineup have given him a ton of cover. He hasn’t made it out of the sixth inning in any of his victories and his relievers have not blown any saves on his behalf.
Derek Lowe has a 4-3 record and a 6.16 ERA. He has given his team only one quality start and batters are hitting .293/.371/.453 against him. He has been horrible in all of his losses and also very bad in two of his wins.
Bad luck division
Adam Wainwright and Cole Hamels held the Philly and Cardinal offenses in check, combining for 16 innings of work with only two runs allowed. They struck out 14, walking four. And they each got no decision.
Ervin Santana gave the Orange County Angels seven innings of one-run ball against Boston, racking up a strikeout per inning and yielding only eight baserunners. He got a no-decision because Jon Lester was brilliant.
Season: I said most of what I needed to say about Zack Greinke’s season last week. After this week’s abomination in which an appalling Yuniesky Betancourt popup and only one run of support made him a four-time loser despite being very close to the same Zack Greinke who walked away with the Cy Young award, he carries an 0-4 record in seven starts, five of which has been quality starts. He has no-decisions in games in which he has posted game scores of 70, 72 and 57 and lost a game with a game score of 76. In the seven games he has started, his teammates have scored 17 runs.
Batters this year have hit .233/.277/.352 off him. Last year he allowed them to hit .230/.276/.336. He is within shouting distance of repeating his 2009 season, which happened to be the best performance a pitcher has put up in a decade. But he sits at 0-4. Words fail me.
Jonathan Broxton blew the save and got the win over the Brewers. Ryan Franklin figured out a way to do it against the anemic Pittsburgh offense. And Francisco Rodriguez can thank Rod Barajas for covering his butt when he was a big pile of fail against the Giants. Then on Sunday, the Sergio Romo had a small reversal of fortune as he was a Giants reliever gifted with a cheap win when the Queens bullpen coughed up the lead.
Season: While Greinke obviously ran over karma’s dog, Tyler Clippard must have spent the last few off seasons rescuing kittens from trees and helping elderly women cross the street. He shares the NL lead in wins with two guys named Roy Halladay and Ubaldo Jimenez. If you add their ERAs together in seven starts apiece, it still is 2.38. Clippard hasn’t damaged himself with runs, being charged with only two all year, both earned. But via one of those runs and some inherited runs, he has blown four saves and has wins in all of them, three of them happened this week. Joe Pawlikowski beat me to the punch with a nice article on Clippard.
Wes Littleton Award
Season: Octavio Dotel has been brutal this season, allowing batters to hit .239/.340/.425 off of him. His ERA is over eight. Still he has converted three quarters of his eight save opportunities.
Please hold the applause
Season: Hideki Okajima has four holds. He has allowed a run in half of them. And in only one of them has he pitched a full inning.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Season: I know I have mentioned him at least thrice this year, including above, so it is hardly a surprise that Livan is walking away with this one so far, with a .181 BABIP going a long way toward explaining his 1.04 ERA and .569 OPS against. He has struck out only 14 batters all season.
On the other side of the coin, Hamels had a high .321 BABIP last year, but this year the .358 that he has given up on balls in play has killed him. He is fourth in the majors with 49 strikeouts, but he has a 4.53 ERA.
Small sample size theater
Six comments on Dallas Braden
1. Between Braden’s perfect game and Jamie Moyer’s shutout, it was a great week to be a lefty who couldn’t beat Betty White on a carnival speed pitch game. Actually that’s probably a little unfair to Braden. He has a below average fastball, velocity-wise. But at 87 mph, his heater is practically blazing compared to Moyer’s 81 mph average. (Thank you, Fangraphs!)
2. It is going to take a while for me to get used to the idea that Braden is one of only 19 pitchers in history to have a perfect game.
3. It almost certainly doesn’t mean anything, but it seems like a weird coincidence that lefties have thrown five of the last six perfect games going back to Kenny Rogers in 1994.
4. If they haven’t already, somebody should do a study and a series of papers on the best lineups to be the victim of a perfect game, no-hitter, and one-hit shutout. St. Petersburg is a pretty solid hitting club, currently second in the AL in runs behind the Yankees. The Rays were also perfect gamed by Mark Buehrle last year despite being seventh in baseball in runs scored.
5. It is worth noting that Braden was a 24th-round pick out of college. I have a project sitting on the back burner in which I talk about players who have taken unconventional paths to being major league players of significance. Braden just forced his way into that project.
6 Finally, I haven’t commented on the Alex Rodriguez mound imposition. This is because I have absolutely no opinion on the topic. I had never heard of that particular unwritten rule before it happened.
Joe Carter Award
Roger Bernadina hit .333/.333/.389, which outside of a double is almost a perfect Sanchez line.
What is going on with Ben Zobrist? .286/.304/.333 brings him to .259/.331/.353 for the year. Where is the power?
Harmon Killebrew Award
Teixeira collected only six hits in 24 at-bats, but half of those hits were home runs that buried the Red Sox on Saturday. He also chipped in a double and four walks to go .250/.357/.667.
Three of Scott Hairston’s four hits were for extra bases and he walked three times in 19 at-bats. .211/.375/.579 is a funny looking line, but an effective one.
Steve Balboni Award
Jim Edmonds struck out 11 times in 19 at-bats. The strikeouts overruled the home run and two walks he contributed to the Milwaukee offense and dragged his line all the way to .105/.190/.263.
Tommy Manzella is a walking, talking representation of the concept of replacement level. As such, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that he whiffed in 11 of his 19 at-bats on his way to a .105/.150/.263 abomination of a week.
Amazingly, Russ Branyan struck out eight times in 12 plate appearances. You don’t need me to tell you that that doesn’t end well. .100/.250/.100.
Three true outcomes
Well, he was missing a category as he didn’t homer, but Branyan’s eight strikeouts and two walks qualify him for a citation. Gordon Beckham also failed to homer, but he walked eight times and struck out seven in 19 at-bats.
Chris Snyder hit one home run, walked eight times, and struck out six times in 16 at-bats.
David Wright went two-three-twelve in 24 at-bats.
Adam Lind went one-five-nine in 26 at-bats.
Rookie Ike Davis went two-six-eight in 21 at-bats.
And it always feels strange when I don’t include Adam Dunn in the category that seems tailor made for his name one day. Two-five-five in 18 at-bats.
Neither here nor there
With a .254/.357/.390 line, Mitch Maier is playing like a serviceable, but ordinary player this year. In his major league career, he is a .250/.332/.331 hitter. I don’t think there is anything else that is typical about him. He was drafted in the first round as a catcher with a polished, advanced bat. Then it took him until his age 27 season to see any significant amount of major league playing time, by which time he had inexplicably become a speedy center fielder with a decent glove and questionable bat. Along the way he had a brief, disastrous stopover at third base.
Also odd is the way he has suddenly learned to walk, something he failed to do in the minors. In his minor league career, he walked in 6.7 percent of his plate appearances. In the big leagues, that figure is 9.8 percent. I have no idea how often this happens, but it can’t be very often. The catcher turned average or better defensive outfielder is not unprecedented since I watched Jayson Werth play for Syracuse back when he was splitting time at catcher with Josh Phelps. But I can’t think of anybody who improved his walk rate that significantly almost immediately upon finding himself in the Show.
This week’s MVP
AL: One name I didn’t mention in TTO was Kevin Youkilis, who rapped out nine hits, four for extra bases, and walked nine times in 31 plate appearances. Alex Rios, who smacked 13 hits, outslugged Youkilis by 200 points, but I favor the 178 point advantage that the Greek God of Walks boasts in OBP thanks to the free passes.
NL: The Cardinals may have lost four of their seven games this past week, but I have a hard time blaming Yadier Molina, given that the catcher hit .500/.560/.636 and was two for two on the basepaths.