THT Awards

Welcome to the awards.

All stats are for the period of Monday, May 17 through Sunday, May 23. All season stats are through the 23rd. 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

Cliff Lee got bombed, giving up eight runs in six and a third to the Padres. Wade LeBlanc’s start was worse though, letting eight Seattle baserunners to score. Cesar Ramos compounded the San Diego misery by giving up seven more runs in one inning of work, pushing his ERA to 21.21. Lee got one of the ugliest wins you will ever see.

Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson yielded 14 runs in nine frames. Their combined strikeout total outpaced their total home runs allowed by only one. They hardly can blame it on it just being a great day for bats as eight relievers threw eight innings and gave up only one run on five hits. Both starters simply stunk and both escaped statistical blame for their poor performance.

Tommy Hanson’s eight-run disaster start was given a pass when a series of errors, an implosion by Mike Lincoln and a Brooks Conrad walk-off three-run home run gave Atlanta a come-from-behind victory.

David Price got the victory when his St. Petersburg hitters overcame the five runs he allowed in five innings to the offense that ranks a distant last place in all of baseball in runs scored.

Daisuke Matsuzaka and Phil Hughes were abused on Monday, combining for 12 runs on 15 hits and four walks in nine and two thirds. The combined efforts of Boone Logan, Chan Ho Park and Jonathan Papelbon took both of the starters out of the equation when it comes to the win and loss that would be assigned

Rodrigo Lopez and Tim Lincecum were thrashed for 11 runs in 10 innings. They were facing each other, though, and relievers absorbed both the win and loss.

Bad luck division

Matt Cain moved to 2-4 despite a 2.88 ERA when he was tagged with the loss across the bay. Cain allowed seven base runners and only one extra base hit. The only run scored in the entire game came in an inning in which Oakland didn’t get a hit. Adam Rosales was hit by a pitch. Then he advanced on an error by Aubrey Huff. Then he advanced to third on a sacrifice. Then he scored on a Coco Crisp sacrifice fly.

Zack Greinke gave up two solo home runs to Luke Scott, but left in line for the victory having given his team seven innings. The very next half inning, Blake Wood, who has been pitching pretty well since being called up, gave up a solo home run of his own, this one to Corey Patterson, handing Greinke another no-decision. Greinke struck out six and walked only one.

Greinke’s teammate Kyle Davies lost a tough one when he allowed one run in six innings. Jeff Francis and three relievers tossed a shutout.

Marco Estrada threw four innings of one-run relief for starter Manny Parra, who had the same number of innings pitched and runs. Estrada was in line for the victory, well earned as far as I am concerned, but the continuing meltdown of the great Trevor Hoffman claimed Estrada’s victory as a victim.

In his first major league start, Hisanori Takahashi gave the Mets six innings of shutout baseball, striking out six men from the Bronx. No decision.

Roy Halladay tossed his fourth complete game of the year, yielding two runs. Zach Duke and three Steel City relievers shut down the Philly bats, only allowing one run.

Duke had things turned around on him when he tossed seven frames with only one run allowed, and that runner reached base on a throwing error by Ronny Cedeno. Duke received a no-decision.

Vulture Award

The day before Hanson’s start, Billy Wagner got his fourth win of the season when he blew the lead by allowing a solo home run to pinch-hitter Chris Heisey. He got the win when Nick Masset promptly gave up a walk-off double to Jason Heyward.

Wes Littleton Award

Brian Wilson demonstrated exactly how badly you can perform in a game where you inherit a three-run lead and still get credit for the save. Not only did he allow Chris Denorfia and Yorvit Torrealba to reach base, but he allowed David Eckstein to smack a double, driving them in. He eventually pieced together enough outs to escape the jam he got himself into.

In protecting a three-run lead, the four batters Jonathan Broxton faced were Jerry Hairston, who was left with a .230/.274/.278 line at the end of the game, .333/.333/.333 Chris Denorfia, .205/.255/.284 Everth Cabrera and .167/.235/.233 Matt Stairs.

Please hold the applause

Matt Albers entered in the sixth inning and allowed an inherited run to score on an RBI ground out after walking Josh Willingham before he escaped the inning. Then in the seventh, he allowed a double, a home run and a walk before being replaced by Will Ohman, who got him out of the inning, stranding a runner left behind by Albers. Albers was credited with a hold for that bit of work.

Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching

Tim Wakefield has been known to do this from time to time. When the knuckler is dancing the right way, he sometimes will goad the opposing hitters into hitting a lot of weak grounders and pop-ups. In this case, he tossed eight shutout innings while striking out one Phillies hitter (Ryan Howard if you were curious).

Mark Buehrle struck out three of the 29 Miami batters he faced in eight shutout innings. Only three balls in play found grass waiting for them.

Josh Johnson didn’t strike out any of the 26 White Sox batters he faced in six scoreless innings.

I find this interesting

It almost seems as if the best pitchers in baseball all got together and decided that they would remind everybody how hard it is to be excellent all the time. Within a four-day span, both reigning Cy Young winners got torched. I mentioned Lincecum’s atrocity in the good luck section. Greinke followed suit on Sunday by getting lit up for eight runs by the Rockies. The Royals being the Royals, Greinke did not escape with a no-decision.

Adding to the carnage were Hanson and Lee. Given how well he has pitched this year, you can probably add Jered Weaver to the list of premium starters who got brutalized. At the same time Greinke was getting roughed up, the ever-able Halladay was giving up seven runs to the Red Sox. I suppose sometimes you just don’t have your A game and no matter how good you are, these hitters will punish you for it. Sometimes they punish you when you have your best stuff.

Joe Carter Award

Ty Wigginton, David Wright, Jason Kubel, Ben Zobrist and Delmon Young drove in seven runs each this week. Zobrist was a beast. The other four were varying degrees of awful.

Wigginton hit .194/.242/.290. Wright was a very flat .167/.160/.250. Kubel drew five walks, but collected only four total bases for a .167/.313/.167 line. Young was the best of the bunch with a .240/.276/.400 week.

Zobrist? He put on a clinic, not just hitting .500/.571/.786 with six walks and a pair of doubles and home runs, but also stealing three bases in four attempts.

Sanchez Award

I hesitate to bring up Yuniesky Betancourt because .310/.310/.414 is actually the upper range of what you can reasonably expect from him and it isn’t his fault that the Royals keep putting him out there to look ridiculous in the field and impotent at the plate.

Back when I wrote about prospects on my own blog, Michael Bourn was one of the players I was most irrationally exuberant about.* After his 2004 season in which he posted a .431 OBP in his first full season assignment and stole 58 bases in 64 attempts, I was buying what he was selling. He still hasn’t had a bad career, but you would have thought he was Tim Raines from listening to me.

*Don’t ask about Ben Hendrickson. Please.

Bourn hit .292/.320/.292 this week.

Erick Aybar’s week was very similar to Bourn’s: He hit .290/.313/.290.

Finally, Garrett Jones went .286/.333/.286, which isn’t like the Garrett Jones we’re all used to.

Harmon Killebrew Award

Dan Uggla found a way to single only once all week. Fortunately for Marlins fans, he doubled twice, homered three times, and walked six times for a gaudy .240/.375/.680 line.

Chris Snyder collected only 14 at-bats this week. In those at-bats, he got a hit only three times. Fortunately, two of those went for extra bases and he chipped in five walks to bring his line up to .214/.421/.500.

Finally, Felipe Lopez went .240/.345/.560 thanks to a triple, two homers and four bases on balls.

Steve Balboni Award

Austin Kearns has been a nice story this year, coming back from the dead to hit .304/.377/.487 for Cleveland. But striking out nine times in 22 plate appearances is a prescription for a .190/.261/.286 week.

Three true outcomes

Uggla got the Killebrew this week in large part because he racked up the TTO events. He homered three times, walked six times and struck out 12 times in 31 plate appearances.

Mark Reynolds went one-two-13 in 25 PA.

Reynolds’ teammate Kelly Johnson went one-eight-seven in 28 PA.

Neither Edwin Encarnacion nor Kevin Youkilis struck out very often, but they each hit for power and walked. Encarnacion went six-two-two in 21 PA, punctuated by three solo shots in a loss to the Diamondbacks. Youkilis went four-five-three in 27 PA.

The anti-TTO

Miguel Tejada went zero-one-zero in 33 PA.

Neither here, nor there

With the death of Jose Lima, the world is a less entertaining place. When it comes to pitching, sometimes he was very good and sometimes he was very bad. But not once is his life, and especially in his baseball career, was he ever boring or predictable. It is too bad he never had a chance to write a book about his life and his career. I guarantee that would have been a fascinating read. Here’s hoping that wherever he is today has a great meringue band and his fastball and change-up are working.

This week’s MVP

AL: Justin Morneau was a hitting machine with six singles, five doubles, two home runs and six walks for a .481/.576/.889 line.

NL: It was a good week for first basemen. My runner-up for the AL was Youkilis and my MVP for the NL is Adrian Gonzalez, who went .444/.559/.778. Second place was Phoenix first baseman Adam LaRoche.

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Comments

  1. MikeS said...

    Mark Buehrle has kind of made a career out of “any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching”  and he’s done it on some not so good defensive teams.  I know people have tried to prove whether or not that is a repeatable skill and come up empty but it makes you wonder.  There will always be outliers and he seems to be one.  The amazing thing is that a pitcher like that has a perfect game, a no hitter and has faced 27 batters in a complete game 3 or 4 times in his career.

  2. fjs said...

    So what are the suggested alternatives to assigning wins and losses to pitchers? You know Joe Public will never embrace anything that isn’t easily quantified and understood—not that people are stupid, but the casual fan doesn’t want to work that hard.

  3. John Barten said...

    Mike: I do think there tend to be some outliers. Buehrle does have a career ERA that is three tenths of a run lower than his FIP and four tenths lower than his xFIP. So he might be one of them. What is funny though is that so far this year (small samples size warning), he’s actually underperforming his FIP. His ERA is higher than his FIP. And even if we grant the idea that he outperforms his expected results given standard BABIP data, 3.375 K/9 in eight shutout is a pretty huge outlier.

    fjs: The world is not wanting for alternatives to won/loss records. ERA is flawed, but combined with quality starts, it gives you a better idea. Then you have dozens of advanced stats like FIP, WAR, SNWL, and VORP depending on your preference of websites.

    Gilbert: My mistake. I had forgotten that it was a granny somehow. I blame it on working at 4AM for a week and a half at my day job. Sleep deprivation is a killer.

  4. Mark W said...

    John, I absolutely love this column (from your hands to every BBWAA scribe’s ear…), but in this line:

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

    … I think you mean archaic, not arcane. 

    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/arcane

    There’s nothing at all arcane about assigning wins and losses to pitchers.  Which is exactly why every dinosaur baseball writer can get his pea-brain around the concept, and why it persists.

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