Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, May 31 through Sunday, June 6. All season stats are through the 6th. For award definitions, see this year’s primer.
I should mention two things here. One, as you probably noticed, we were off last week for Memorial Day. Two, I had originally intended to announce season leaders in hitting categories this week, but due to computer issues will have to wait a week. I am writing this on my wife’s laptop, which is not set up with my usual resources. I hope things will be closer to normal next week and I will be able to get that out, followed by the pitching season leaders the following week.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic* practice that must stop
*Hat tip to Mark W.
Good luck division
Kevin Correia got the victory despite getting shelled for six runs in as many innings. Hisanori Takahashi and Raul Valdes got shelled even harder, combining for 10 Padres runs in a game inwhich the Dads tallied 18, enabling Correia to get a cheap win.
In Correia’s other start of the week, he was abused by the Phillies for five runs in an inning and two thirds but was bailed out by the San Diego bats and escaped with a no-decision.
Scott Feldman was knocked around for five runs in eight frames, punctuated by a pair of home runs by Paul Konerko. Because of the utter destruction of Gavin Floyd by the Arlington bats, Feldman got an ugly win.
Bad luck division
When John Ely and Dan Haren combined for 15 frames of scoreless baseball, neither of them got credit for the win because the only run of the game was scored off Juan Gutierrez, long after either of the starters was in the game.
Francisco Liriano’s brilliant 10-strikeout, one-run effort was wiped out when Jesse Crain blew the save. But at least he wasn’t Luke Hochevar, who on the same day got the loss for a similar performance against Detroit.
In an example of good luck and bad luck all in he same game, by way of a Kevin Gregg implosion, Brian Tallet’s five scoreless innings and Jeff Niemann’s five-run, six-and-two-thirds disaster were simultaneously deemed irrelevant as far as the wins and losses were concerned.
Hong-Chih Kuo got a win and a blown save in the same game against the Braves. And Francisco Cordero did the same against the gentlemen from the District of Columbia. And finally, Brian Wilson against Pittsburgh.
Vin Mazzaro stepped in and relieved the injured Brett Anderson against Boston, giving the Athletics three and a third innings. They weren’t particularly great innings, as he allowed three runs on nine hits in his time on the mound. But because he was the first reliever in, he was in position to take advantage of Kurt Suzuki’s destruction of Tim Wakefield.
Wes Littleton Award
Please hold the applause
Darren O’Day was lousy. He gave up a single and a stolen base to the second batter he faced. He allowed the third to drive the first in. Then he walked Juan Pierre before getting pulled for Chris Ray, who walked in a second run charged to O’Day. They each were credited with a hold.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
On Jim Joyce and Armando Galarraga
It is easy to bash Jim Joyce. In fact it would be apt to do so. When somebody is horribly wrong and it harms somebody else who had done nothing to deserve it, calling that person out on it is what you do. And as a society we are very good at doing that. We’re actually so good we sometimes make convincing condemnations of people who weren’t wrong.
The flip side is that it is also common for the person being called out to verbally dance around and evade responsibility. It has become something of an art form in this PR-dominated world. We have developed non-apology apologies. We have developed elaborate techniques to explain how the mistake happened and to mitigate by way of explaining that conditions made it a difficult call in real time. Things happen fast, you have to watch three things at the same time. You get your view blocked and see something that wasn’t there.
It is annoying, but I’m not here to throw stones at those who do so. It is common because it is a basic human instinct. We all do it at times. It is easy, especially when you have a job that makes your successes something that fades from memory within moments and your failures something that lasts for days, months, or even years.* We all do it because we don’t want to admit to ourselves that we screwed up. We want our errors to be defensible in the eyes of people we respect. We want to salvage as much respect for ourselves as possible. We say what we want to be true. We obfuscate. We use terms like The Fog of War.
*I don’t remember hearing any apologies for the phantom call on Marcus Camby.
But Jim Joyce did not do that. He did not succumb to that particular human instinct. He was as hard on himself as any of us were on him. He came out and just said that he cost Galarraga a perfect game and that he felt like dirt for doing so and he had no explanation for how it happened. He screwed up and he made no bones about it. And for that, I have more respect for Joyce now than I did before he screwed up the call.
We all make mistakes, regularly. It takes a big man to admit it in front of the world and to not make any excuses. I realize this is a little like congratulating somebody for not cheating on his wife, but the force with which he expressed his disgust and remorse is something that stuck with me.
With that out of the way, let’s just make the statement that it is really remarkable that we are one bad call away from having two perfect games between editions of the awards. And this would have been the third in a month. It would have been the second of the three that would have been pulled off by a pitcher that the majority of casual fans were unfamiliar with (for good reason). I’m not smart enough to offer an explanation for that.
Joe Carter Award
Carl Crawford produced eight RBI and only seven total bases. He also walked only once in 29 plate appearances for a .143/.172/.250 line.
Austin Jackson hit a very empty .300 this week with no walks and only three doubles to boost his slugging percentage in 30 at-bats. With only 15 walks and one home run in 228 at-bats this season, this is not a new thing. If his strikeout rate of one quarter of his plate appearances costs him enough batting average to get him down around .280, he could start looking pretty ordinary.
Jackson’s teammate Brandon Inge hit .304/.333/.304 in 23 at-bats.
Adam Dunn had a strange week, overcoming 13 strikeouts to bat .276, but he walked twice and failed to hit a homer, leading to a very un-Dunn .276/.323/.379.
Unlike Dunn, we’re used to Scott Podsednik hitting .269/.296/.269.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Ian Stewart had a short week, with only 17 at-bats. And in those 17, he only collected only three hits. But with three walks and a home run, he posted a perfectly respectable .214/.353/.429 line.
Steve Balboni Award
Derrek Lee fanned nine times in 16 at-bats, which pretty much killed any chance of him having a reasonably productive week. He posted a harmless .188/.278/.250 line.
Three true outcomes
Paul Konerko went yard three times, walked five times, and struck out three times in 21 plate appearances.
David Ortiz went one-six-six in 25 plate appearances.
Pedro Feliz did not homer or strike out and walked only once in 27 plate appearances.
This week’s MVP
AL: Kevin Youkilis produced 12 hits in six games. Half of those went for extra bases. He also chipped in a couple of walks in 29 plate appearances for a .462/.517/.846 line.
NL: Chris Coghlan filled every statistical category, throwing out 10 singles, four doubles, one triple, one home run, one steal and two walks in 32 plate appearances.