Welcome to the awards.
For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.
All weekly stats are for the period of Friday, August 15, through Thursday, August 21. All season totals are through the 21st.
This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop
Good Luck Division:
Livan Hernandez got the win against the Nationals when he allowed six runs in six innings. I could say something snotty about the achievement of finding a way to actually allow six runs to the Nationals lineup, but I’m not that cruel. Oh wait, maybe I am.
Ryan Rowland-Smith was dominated by the Twins for five innings, getting charged with five runs on ten hits, striking out one batter along the way while walking two. But Scott Baker and the Twins bullpen let him off the hook for a no-decision.
Bad Luck Division
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Leo Nunez hasn’t been very good since he returned from the disabled list in late July. In August, he has an ERA pushing eight. On Friday, he blew the save only to get bailed out by the Royals offense. Salomon Torres can identify. So can Jose Arredondo and Brian Wilson and Saul Rivera.
The Wes Littleton Award
Please hold the applause
Ramon Ramirez tested out how bad you can be and still actually get credit for a hold, allowing two runs in a third of an inning. What good is a stat when you can have an in-game ERA of 54.00 and still be deemed a success?
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
The Joe Carter Award
Jason Giambi drove in five runs on the week, most of them coming on a grand slam he hit off Jeff Fulchino. Outside of that at-bat, though, he didn’t do much, ending the week with a line of .143/.174/.286.
Season: Mark Reynolds has 84 RBI this season, but a line of .245/.324/.484 isn’t really that exceptional for a corner infielder playing in Arizona.
Jose Guillen has 79 ribbies but a very subpar .251/.286/.429 line.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is All I’ve Got Award
Omar Infante hit .273/.304/.318, primarily as a leftfielder this week. Not good.
Season: Alex Rios has had a problem with secondary offensive skills this season, collecting only nine home runs and 35 walks in 499 at-bats. He’s currently at .289/.334/.441.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Mark Ellis hit .227, but a pair of home runs and four walks brings his line up to .227/.346/.545.
Brandon Boggs similarly had a nice week even without the help of singles. His seven walks did the most damage in his .211/.423/.421 week.
Season: Adam Dunn and Carlos Pena are my choices here. Dunn is hitting .238/.386/.533 or, in other words, just being Adam Dunn. Pena is hitting .238/.355/.487 with 25 home runs and 62 walks in 378 at-bats.
Please stop running
Ryan Theriot is performing well offensively on a general level, as he’s hitting .315/.394/.371. But he has been successful only 18 of 34 times that he has attempted to steal a base this season. He really should stop that. It’s not helping.
The Steve Balboni Award
Ryan Howard has had another tough streak, which has taken his batting average for a ride down the ski slope. He hit .095/.208/.143 with 12 strikeouts in his 21 at-bats.
Season: Howard’s bad week drops his line to .229/.317/.474. The OBP just isn’t cutting it. If you aren’t maintaining an Adam Dunn walk rate, striking out 167 times in 481 at-bats will doom you to an unacceptable OBP.
Three True Outcomes alert!!!
Dunn and Jack Cust are no strangers here. Dunn had two home runs, 11 walks(!) and three strikeouts in 26 plate appearances. Cust had two, four and 10 in 25 PA.
Season: I’ve already mentioned Howard’s 167 strikeouts. He also has 33 homers and 61 walks in 549 plate appearances.
This Week’s MVP
AL: Carlos Quentin is a trendy pick for AL MVP this season courtesy of his .294/.398/.585 performance thus far. He didn’t do anything to discourage those calls this week, rapping a pair of doubles and three home runs and drawing eight walks in 20 at-bats for a line of .500/.643/1.050.
On the subject of Kinsler, last week I mentioned that he was benefiting from a very friendly home park. Well, a poster named t ball from Lone Star Ball emailed me to correct that misperception on my part. He cited numbers from ESPN and Baseball Reference indicating that Ameriquest Field or the Ballpark in Arlington or Rangers Ballpark in Arlington or whatever they’re choosing to call it these days has played roughly as a neutral park over the last two or three seasons. I hadn’t looked at the park effect numbers before making the statement and I stand corrected. Kinsler himself has a pretty mild home/road split this season. The numbers really do seem to indicate that the Rangers now play in a reasonable run scoring environment. It’s something that has largely escaped press attention.
This stands as a point of reinforcement to what I’ve been saying all along, this column (and I) need you and your input. Your feedback generates lively topics and makes up for my own fallibility.
On the topic of Kinsler himself, if this is the end of the line for him in 2008, then it is a shame. He seems to have graduated from the legion of the pretty good to the ranks of the potential MVP candidates. If he is done, he ends the year at .319/.375/.517.
NL: Randy Winn hasn’t had the same kind of press clippings this season, but his .520/.536/.920 in 25 at-bats this week were pretty good. He was a stat sheet stuffer with two doubles, a triple, two home runs and two walks.
Season: Last week I smugly (since Lance Berkman has been one of my favorite players for almost as long as he has been in the majors) asked for help with Lance Berkman anecdotes, nicknames or tidbits of any kind that I could use as fodder for this spot in the awards. Well, with a .455/.500/.864 week, Albert Pujols has rendered that request moot. Pujols is currently hitting an astounding .348/.456/.613 for the Cards and leading baseball in OPS. His walk-to-strikeout ratio is what most consistently impresses me: This season he has 82 walks against 44 whiffs, bringing his career totals to 674 and 496. He’s just completely dominant. I may not need those Big Puma anecdotes for the rest of 2008. Still send them in because I’m a big fan of a good yarn and Berkman seems like a jovial character who would supply good stories. But Pujols is a baseball destroying machine.
See you next week. At least then I will not be sleep-deprived from waking up before six in the morning to watch the US Olympic Baseball Team lose.