Welcome to a new THT weekly feature. The weekly awards ran last season over at Beyond the Boxscore. They’re designed to be an irreverent look at statistical freaks good and bad, highlight some oddities, preach to the converted on the pointlessness and limitations of traditional metrics, and when I have the time and inspiration, maybe go off topic for a dig at somebody or something.
The original inspiration for the column was Gregg Easterbrook’s Tuesday Morning Quarterback, where he has a range of pet theories and corollaries. Well, with baseball’s archaic scoring system, we have a range of things that make saber-friendly fans grind their teeth and pull at their hair. Hopefully this column is and will be a healthy outlet for that.
A helpful list of definitions for the awards after the jump.
Keep in mind that not every award will be handed out every week.
This Week’s Small Sample Size Warning
This is generally an early season category. It also happens to be self-explanatory. Small sample sizes provide obvious flukes, yet often the press and many fans get caught up in the moment and forget everything they’ve learned about a player or a team.
This Week’s Proof That Assigning Wins and Losses to a Pitcher is an Idiotic Practice that Must Stop
This is a set of 3 awards, whose names and premises should be obvious.
Good Luck Division
Bad Luck Division
The Wes Littleton Award
Any Sufficiently Advanced Defense is Indistinguishable from Pitching
New award! Also known as Voros McCracken ain’t the Boss of Me.
The Joe Carter Award
In 2007, this was known as the Rico Brogna Award. It’s given to the hitter whose high RBI total gives the most misleading picture of his actual contributions to the offense. Basically the premise is that any decent ML hitter can at least come close to driving in 100 runs provided he’s durable and has a manager willing to put him in the heart of the order daily. Last year’s winner was Jeff Francoeur, who may be a good breakout candidate, but nevertheless he drove in 105 runs while batting .293/.338/.444 as a right fielder.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Harmon Killebrew had a long, productive career that led him to the Hall of Fame. He hit 573 home runs, walked 1559 times, and won the 1969 AL MVP award. He also has a career batting average of .256 and never hit .300 unless you count the season where he was an 18 year old rookie and had 13 at bats. Still, batting average isn’t everything and the Killebrew award demonstrates that you can be valuable while not posting a gaudy batting average.
2007’s winner was Jack Cust, whose .256/.408/.504 line gives a good indication of what we’re looking for here.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I’ve Got Award
Rey Sanchez was a lousy hitter, but while he was with the Royals nobody ever seemed willing to admit that he was a lousy hitter courtesy of him having a superficially attractive batting average. There’s always a Rey Sanchez around who puts up a batting average just good enough to make everybody forget about the extra base hits he isn’t collecting and the walks he isn’t drawing. Secondary skills are important.
Melvin Mora hit .276/.290/.310 to claim the 2007 Sanchez.
The Steve Balboni Award
Think of this as the antidote for the Sanchez Award. While batting average isn’t everything and you can be a lousy hitter with a decent batting average, you can only go so far with the no batting average thing before it drags you down. Steve Balboni had a couple of good, not great seasons for my Royals in the mid-80’s, but his inability to get hit batting average up over .245 made it hard for him to be a real asset most seasons. It’s possible to be a good hitter while batting .230, but you have to draw one heck of a lot of walks and hit one heck of a lot of home runs.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
Another award that is obvious from the name. If this column survives long enough to see the retirement of Adam Dunn, it is going to be named after him. Write it down.
This Week’s Dumbest Thing Ever
This can be a baseball-related criticism, or it can veer into pop culture, other sports, or anything else that is getting on my nerves.
This Week’s Completely Made-Up Award
To paraphrase the late Supreme Court justice Potter Stewart, I can’t tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it.
The Every Given Tuesday Award
This is a new award for 2008, inspired by the fact that football always gets the credit, but baseball has more than its fair share of unpredictable results.
I also regularly hand out This Week’s MVP, Least Valuable Player, and Most Valuable Pitcher.
If you have any suggestions for new awards, award names, nominations for awards, or any comments or criticisms, let me know. This is 546 times easier and better with your participation because I assure you that you’re more clever and observant than I am. How do I know this? Well, thanks to THT stat department, we’ve isolated these metrics. It’s quite complicated and I don’t really understand the math so don’t ask, just suggest something. Please and thank you.