Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, July 19 through Sunday, July 25. All season stats are through the 25th. For award definitions, see this year’s primer.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an archaic practice that must stop
Good luck division
The only thing that saved Brad Lincoln from the indignity of a loss was the abuse Pedro Alvarez and friends heaped upon Dave Bush. Lincoln failed to make it out of the third inning, allowing seven runs on nine hits. He still got a no-decision as Bush allowed nine runs in the first and was still left out there for three more frames.
Wandy Rodriguez was beaten up by the Cubs lineup for five runs in six frames. Yet because of Carlos Silva and North Side relievers, by the time Wilton Lopez took over, he was inheriting a five-run lead. Wandy got the win in a game in which he yielded five extra base hits.
Season: When I say that Ubaldo Jimenez has been lucky, that isn’t to say that he hasn’t been really good. It is just to say that he hasn’t had his offense or his bullpen screwing it up for him. He really has only one unlucky loss this season, that being a seven-inning, one-run-allowed performance when the Rockies were shut out by the Dodgers. On the other hand, in his three no-decisions he has allowed 19 runs.
Bad luck division
Felix Hernandez and Gavin Floyd had a very impressive pitcher’s duel, combining for 15 scoreless innings. Of course this game might also count as a vulture win given that Brandon League gave up the first run of the contest, only be bailed out when Bobby Jenks blew the save.
Brett Myers and Ted Lilly have been around long enough to have endured more egregious insults, but that does not negate the fact that they were unfortunate to have faced each other when combining for 14.1 innings while allowing only two runs, striking out 14 and walking three.
In a game that fills both the good luck and bad luck categories, I give top billing to John Lackey’s bad luck. Thanks to Ryan Rowland-Smith’s six-inning, five-run debacle and the soft Seattle lineup, Lackey left the ninth inning to Manny Delcarmen to clean up with a four-run lead. Delcarmen failed to retire a single Mariners batter and combined with Jonathan Papelbon to blow the save, taking Rowland-Smith off the hook for the loss and depriving Lackey of the win.
For Vargas, the Mariners have scored two runs or fewer in 10 of his 19 starts. Every win has been in a game in which he allowed two or fewer runs. This is how you carry an ERA under three and still sit with a 6-5 record and eight no-decisions. He also has gone more than a month without a win, notably his last three starts where he has gone oh and one, allowing a total of four runs in 21 and two-thirds.
For High Royal Highness Felix of Pugetshire, this could end up costing him a chance at the Cy Young Award, given that he is among the league leaders in every pitching category other than wins. He is seven and six with a 2.75 ERA and 142 strikeouts in 153 innings. He has a loss or a no-decision in 11 quality starts this season, including five in which he went at least seven frames and allowed two or fewer runs. He has yet to win a game in which he has allowed three or more runs.
Jhan Martinez’s first career win came in the game in which he recorded his first blown save. He relieved Clay Hensley with two on and two out in the eighth inning with a two-run lead. He proceeded to give up a three run home run to Jonathan Herrera. Donnie Murphy and Huston Street proceeded to hand Martinez the cheap win with a walk off home run.
In the opposite of a vulture, Matt Harrison gave the Rangers four scoreless innings of relief, all in extras. He struck out four and walked four. He got the win and he deserved it. It really was justice after the starters got shelled for five runs each.
Season: It is still Tyler Clippard and will likely remain so for the rest of the season. He hasn’t won a game since June 4, but he remains in a tie for the major league lead in reliever wins with eight. Half of those wins after he blew the save, including three in a span of four days in May.
Wes Littleton Award
Season: Bobby Jenks has 20 saves and a 4.95 ERA. To his credit, he has blown only two chances, but he has made several non-save situations interesting when they did not need to be and he has seemed shaky all season. That’s a contributing factor for Ozzie Guillen’s repeated statements that he might let other pitchers get save chances.
Please hold the applause
Season: Joba Chamberlain has been the setup man equivalent to Bobby Jenks, posting a 5.95 ERA with 20 holds. He has blown three of them and has four losses, including one of the games ithat got him a hold. All in all, the Bronx faithful have little faith in him and for good reason. After allowing opposing batters to hit .274/.363/.439 last season, they are hitting .295/.356/.422 against him in 2010.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
Season: It hurts me to say that C.J. Wilson has been lucky this year. I like the fact that he has been so successful. It is a very cool story. But with a 3.03 ERA and only 93 hits allowed in 127 innings, it bears mentioning that he has a .242 BABIP.
Also note that Carl Pavano’s dramatic comeback has been partially fueled by his .253 BABIP
Joe Carter Award
Ben Zobrist drove in five runs in 25 at-bats. He also happened to bat .160/.276/.360.
Alberto Callaspo got traded, but along the way he too drove in five. .208/.200/.208 definitely qualifies.
And due to the fact that he hit two home runs and two singles and failed to walk or collect any doubles, Ryan Braun ended up with five RBI and a very bad .133/.129/.133 line.
Aaron Miles had a great Sanchez week, smacking five singles in 16 plate appearances and doing nothing else, ending up with a .313/.313/.313.
Jorge Cantu went .286/.318/.333 in 22 PA.
Harmon Killebrew Award
Prince Fielder has been rumored to be on the move at the trade deadline. Going .227/.414/.545 won’t hurt his value.
In an example of Mark Reynolds being Mark Reynolds, the Phoenix third baseman hit .208/.345/.667.
Steve Balboni Award
Jason Bay had some issues making contact, fanning 12 times in 27 PA on his way to a miserable .160/.222/.200 week.
Miguel Olivo had a painful week, going .067/.125/.067 while striking out nine times in 16 PA.
Three true outcomes
Reynolds had an impressive TTO week. That is not surprising. Three home runs, five walks and 12 strikeouts in 27 PA are not out of character.
He is missing a category (home runs), but it is a bit surprising to see Chone Figgins walking seven times and striking out 10 times in 30 PA.
Alberto Callaspo had no TTO events in 25 PA.
Kurt Suzuki has struck out once in his last 53 PA. I just thought I would mention that.
This week’s MVP
AL: Miguel Cabrera punished pitchers to the tune of .500/.516/.929. His team went three and four, but it is hard to blame him.
NL: Justin Upton is a star player on a sinking ship. And he had one of his best weeks of the season, going .444/.559/.852, drawing seven walks to go with his eight extra base hits.
This season’s most valuable pitcher
AL: Cliff Lee leads the league in ERA and WHIP and is second in WAR. The thing that really stands out at this point is how much his command has improved through his career. He has had good walk rates ever since his breakout in 2005. But this is getting ridiculous. He has walked seven batters in 130 innings. He has walked batters at a rate that is less than one every other start. That is just staggering. Just as staggering is the fact that opposing batters are hitting .227/.236/.344 against him. So he is turning the league as a whole into Tony Pena Jr.