Welcome to the awards.
All stats are for the period of Monday, Aug. 2 through Sunday, Aug. 8. All season stats are through the eighth. 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
Before he tossed one of the best performances of the year, Brandon Morrow was abused by the Yankees on Monday. Morrow gave up five runs in five and a third. Notable was the fact that he allowed two bombs off Nick Swisher’s bat.
Bad luck division
Andy Sonnanstine picked a tough game to make his first start of the year. His five and a third, one-run, one-strikeout, three-walk, three-hit performance wasn’t the best bad luck loss this week, but given that Morrow threw his 17-strikeout massacre of the Rays offense, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Sonnastine is a fourth starter on most teams, stable but not noteworthy. He can’t keep up with what Morrow did on his best day. Then again, I probably would have said that Morrow was incapable of keeping up going into the game if a different pitcher had shut down the Jays offense the way he busted up the Rays.
As an aside, how strange is a game where the two teams can match up on consecutive days and play a 17-11 slugfest one night and a one-zero pitcher’s duel the next.
Scott Baker and David Price combined for 15 innings and allowed only one run during the front half of a game that went 13 frames. The two struck out 14, walked three and yielded only eight hits. Baker was in line for the win, but new Twin Matt Capps blew the save in the eighth inning and both starters received no decision.
Matt Garza is a little less sympathetic than most would be when losing having thrown eight innings in which he gave up two runs, neither earned. He pitched well, but one of the two runs, and the one that made it a 2-1 game, which is how it ended, was made possible by his own throwing error. It was partially his own fault, but I will throw him up for your consideration here because at some point you would expect the Rays lineup to score more than one run. I also bring it up because I have long advocated counting runs scored on pitcher errors as being earned since it was the pitcher’s fault.
Cole Hamels ended up on the losing side of a Johan Santana masterpiece. As Santana and Francisco Rodriguez spun a shutout of the Phillies, Hamels worked seven innings, striking out 11, allowing only a Jeff Francoeur solo home run in the scoring column.
John Danks and Brad Bergesen combined to throw 14 innings with two runs allowed between them, 10 strikeouts and 11 hits. Matching up against each other was a handicap: They each walked away empty-handed.
Jason Berken blew the save against the Halos before watching the Orioles offense rally and hand him a cheap win. Chris Perez also got the win/blown save combo as he ruined Jeanmar Gomez’s third career start. Aaron Heilman gave up two home runs and blew the save, taking Clayton Richard off the hook when Richard had allowed five runs in three and a third. Heilman got the win when Luke Gregerson allowed a run before recording an out.
When Sean Gallagher entered the game in the 10th inning, it was tied. He promptly gave up a single and a two-run Todd Helton home run. He was soon bailed out when Pedro Alvarez hit his three-run walk off home run off Huston Street.
Wes Littleton Award
You could say that Trevor Hoffman got the save when he faced the one, two, three batters and walk away somewhat impressed. If I then add that it was the Astros and the one, two, three hitters were Jason Bourgeois, Angel Sanchez and Hunter Pence, and he was protecting a three-run lead, you would be considerably less impressed.
Please hold the applause
Francisco Cordero was in trouble, having walked Blake DeWitt, Mike Fontenot and Kosuke Fukudome to load the bases. Then he hit Starlin Castro with a pitch to bring in a run. Nick Massett struck out two and walked one (scoring another run charged to Cordero) to bring the game to a close. Cordero got the hold in a game he very nearly blew.
Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching
In a reversal, Roy Halladay struck out a third of the 30 Mets he faced, walking one. But he had terrible luck on balls in play and he was charged with five runs on nine hits. Don’t weep for him though. He got the win.
Neither here nor there
I don’t care about Alex Rodriguez’s 600th home run. That isn’t a particularly unique statement to be putting out there, but the reasons surrounding the sentiment are ones I haven’t seen much of since we started talking about this particular milestone. And it is one that predates this event.
The reason I don’t care is not because of steroids, although I don’t condone that kind of thing. The reason is because raw counting stats aren’t really very useful when they are removed from the context in which they are generated. I don’t really care about the fact that Barry Bonds has the home run titles for both an individual season and for a career for the same reason.
I find it interesting that we as a people care about home run records being “devalued” by an era that makes previously held milestones and records obsolete but we don’t care about the fact that other records, such as virtually every pitching record in the book, were set in an era in which the numbers that people put up are currently unimaginable. It is funny that we are offended by the fact that it would have been impossible for Willie Mays to hit 70 home runs in a season yet we accept that it is impossible to bat .440 or break Cy Young’s all time wins record unless something very remarkable happens to the sport. All counting stats have contextual backgrounds that need to be factored in for them to mean much of anything, whether you are a pitcher in the 1960s or 1900s or a hitter in the 1930s or 1990s.
So no asterisks are needed, just a more general understanding of what went on at any particular time in our history.
Joe Carter Award
Michael Young drove in five runs in 25 at-bats. He did most of his damage on Wednesday, with a grand slam off Garrett Olson. Outside of that game, he did practically nothing, going one for 19 with one walk and no extra base hits. Counting Wednesday, he still posted a meager .120/.148/.240 line.
Jose Lopez went .316/.316/.316 in 19 plate appearances. Broken down, that is six hits, all singles, and no walks, no hit by pitch.
Alberto Callaspo will have weeks like this given how much of his value is locked up in batting average. .286/.318/.333
Harmon Killebrew Award
Lyle Overbay had a nice week despite collecting only four hits in 17 at-bats. Three of the four went for extra bases and he walked three times against only one strikeout for a .235/.350/.529 line.
Steve Balboni Award
In his first full week as a member of the Braves, Rick Ankiel struck out 11 times in 25 at-bats, leading to a fairly ugly .200/.259/.280 line.
Marlins teammates Wes Helms and Ronny Paulino saw part time action this week and both reminded us why they are part time players, striking out seven times each in 19 and 18 at-bats respectively for .053/.143/.053 and .167/.211/.278 weeks.
Three true outcomes
Adam Dunn had a very Adam Dunn week, launching five home runs, walking twice and striking out nice times in 30 plate appearances.
I mentioned Callaspo before. I’ve always seen Callaspo as a kind of a younger Placido Polanco. I still like that comp and not just because of a one-week sample. Nevertheless, Polanco produced no home runs, walked once and went the entire week without striking out in 27 PA while Callaspo went zero-one-one in 22 PA
Like Callaspo, Chone Figgins went zero-one-one, though he did it in 24 PA.
This week’s MVP
AL: Joe Mauer didn’t hit for power this week. He hasn’t hit for much power all year with a .151 ISO and only six home runs. But he is still a good defensive catcher who is hitting for average and getting on base. This week he hit .455/.567/.545 with seven walks against just three strikeouts.
NL: It is nice to have Troy Tulowitzki back, especially as he hit .500/.519/.708 in 26 PA.