Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, May 10 through Sunday, May 16. All season stats are through the 16th. 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
Bad luck division
You could put Thursday’s game in Baltimore in both the good luck and bad luck column because of the implosion of Brandon League. League’s five run shelling simultaneously bailed Kevin Millwood out of the hole he dug by yielding five runs in six and two thirds and denied Felix Hernandez the win in a game in which he went seven solid frames, allowing one run while striking out seven Orioles.
Mat Latos was just short of perfection, allowing one baserunner all day on an infield single. The losing end of the game ended up being Jonathan Sanchez, who provided the Giants with a steady eight innings, allowing only one run on three hits, only one of which went for extra bases. Sanchez struck out five and stands at 2-3 despite a 2.66 ERA.
Ben Sheets and C.J. Wilson allowed one run each, Sheets in six frames, Wilson in seven. Since they did this facing each other, the decision was put off until extra innings and neither starter got the win.
Another pitcher’s duel in which both starters walked away empty-handed was the Queens versus Miami Gardens match-up in which Johan Santana and Josh Johnson battled to a stalemate. The starters combined for two runs allowed in 14 innings, striking out 12, walking only one with only one extra base hit.
There have been more flagrant examples, but I feel for Roy Oswalt, who was very good against the Giants, tossing seven innings, giving up two runs, both on a Juan Uribe home run. Oswalt struck out seven while he walked nobody. He got the loss.
Wes Littleton Award
Bobby Jenks has been unimpressive this season. He wasn’t especially sharp on Tuesday, giving up a double to Jim Thome and uncorking* a wild pitch. But he was protecting a three-run lead and he retired the unimpressive duo of Delmon Young and Nick Punto before Denard Span (who actually is good) ended the threat. It shouldn’t have been as interesting as it was. Jenks has six saves on the season, but he might lose his job sometime in the near future or might have lost it already.
*As an aside, why is it that the only practical uses of the word uncorking deal with wine or a wild pitch? How did that particular word get inextricably linked with the action of throwing one to the backstop? Sometimes our linguistic traditions are odd.
Please hold the applause
To Joel Zumaya’s credit, he did get the Tigers out of a jam in the sixth inning with one out and runners on the corners in a two-run game. And he did pitch a perfect seventh against Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher and Mark Teixeira. So I will list this example with an asterisk. Jim Leyland left Zumaya in a little too long: He ran into trouble in the eighth and left Phil Coke with a jam of his own to deal with. The final numbers look ugly: Zumaya was charged with a pair of runs on three hits and two walks in one and two thirds innings. What gave him a hold was Brennan Boesch’s RBI triple.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
In a weird reversal of the ASADIIFP tradition, Dan Haren had really bad luck on balls in play when he struck out 10 of the 31 Dodgers he faced. But he was touched up for 10 hits, including four doubles that fell into play. Four runs were charged to him and he ended up taking the loss in a game in which he had a 10-1 strikeout to walk ratio.
Small sample size theater
24 percent of Hunter Pence’s hits this season have come in the last seven days.
Joe Carter Award
Miguel Tejada drove in five runs, but hit .250/.280/.333.
Kendry Morales plated six and went .231/.231/.462.
John Jaso hit a very symmetrical .308/.308/.308 in 13 at-bats.
Pudge Rodriguez posted a classic Sanchez line of .286/.286/.333 in 21 at-bats.
Darnell McDonald collected five singles, but only one extra base hit and no walks on his way to .300/.300/.350.
Ian Stewart isn’t a likely candidate for the category, but this week was an exception as he put up an empty .292 batting average with a .667 OPS.
And finally Aubrey Huff’s line was .273/.304/.318.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Lyle Overbay isn’t the name that comes to mind when you think of players who overcome mediocre batting averages by hitting for power and drawing walks, but here he is this week, smacking only five hits, but three of them going for extra bases and mixing in three walks for a solid .238/.360/.476 week.
Maybe Nate McLouth is finally getting in gear: .227/.346/.500 is a good start for his comeback.
Steve Balboni Award
We went through this last season with B.J. Upton when his 152 strikeouts were a significant factor in his disappointing .241/.313/.373 season. To live with that kind of a strikeout rate, you have to both draw a ton of walks and hit for a ton of power. He doesn’t do either one. This week he fanned eight times in 19 plate appearances.
Elsewhere, I hope that the early season power surge isn’t convincing Kelly Johnson to try to sell out for power at the cost of everything else, especially his selectivity at the plate. Eight whiffs in 22 plate appearances is a good way to go .227/.227/.500. Don’t be Tony Batista.
Three true outcomes
He failed to strike out, but hey, Mike Sweeney smacked three home runs and walked once in 12 plate appearances. I am including him as much for the shock value as anything else.
Russ Branyan is less of a shock, going yard four times, walking once, and fanning eight times in 19 PA.
Mike Aviles isn’t the patient kind. He has 22 walks in 152 career games. Down on the farm he walked in 5.8 percent of his plate appearances. It really wasn’t a big surprise when he hit no home runs, did not walk, and struck out twice in 25 plate appearances this week.
Fellow AL Central infielder Asdrubal Cabrera also went zero-zero-two in 27 PA.
Neither here nor there
Can somebody who watched the game tell me why Tony LaRussa triple switched Colby Rasmus out of this game? I realize we are talking about TLR and he does some strange things and has a habit of overmanaging, but that seems like a bizarre move to make when Rasmus’ lineup spot is coming up and he is hitting the way he is hitting this season.
Also note that on the eighth of this month, Dallas Braden had never posted a complete game in 52 career starts. He now has two in a row.
Finally I don’t think I have ever mentioned it, but the Pat Burrell for Hank Blalock exchange in Tampa this week brought up the memory that when I was in a long term keeper league between 1999 and 2005 or 2006 my first draft pick ever was Eric Chavez and he was the first in a series of third basemen on that squad that included Hank Blalock and Alex Gordon. I paid a very high price for all of them when they were still very young. Obviously I passed on some kind of strange curse and for that I apologize to fans of the Athletics, Rangers and Royals. If it is of any comfort, I never did very well in that league.
This week’s MVP
AL: In a season in which we have had weekly MVP-such as an undead Vernon Wells and Jose Guillen, along with Kelly Johnson and Yadier Molina, Brennan Boesch might be the most random so far. He smoked 13 hits in 27 at bats including two doubles, two triples, and a home run. The rookie might be better than we had expected coming into the year, but .481/.500/.815 is crazy.
NL: Keeping with the theme of guys coming out of nowhere to put up a huge week, I present Troy Glaus, whose .417/.500/.833 week brought his season line up from .675 to .799.