I apologize for not getting you guys a prospect profile this weekend. I spent Saturday at Indy 500 qualifications and working in the yard. I also have another project that I'm doing research for, watching a lot of video, which is taking up more of my free time than I expected. Sunday morning I was running on fumes. I even took a nap after getting off work at noon instead of working on this column because I'm still a little spent. I hope to get you a double dose later this week.
If you are new to the awards, see Week 1's column to see the award definitions.
This Week's Small Sample Size Warning
24% of Torii Hunter's season total in RBI and 25% of his HR total came in Sunday night's game.
This Week's Proof That Assigning Wins and Losses to a Pitcher is a Silly Practice that Must Stop
Good Luck Division:
Daniel Cabrera got shelled for 6 runs (all earned) in 6 innings against the Rays on Thursday. Fortunately for him, Casey Fossum is awful and the Tampa defense made things worse.
Major League Leader: Aaron Harang has won 5 games this season and only lost 1. 3 of his wins have been very shaky: 6 2/3, 5 runs; 8 innings, 5 runs; 5 2/3 5 runs. He also escaped with a no decision in a game where he threw 4 innings, allowing 5 runs. Add to that the fact that these 4 starts have come against the Pirates (twice), the Astros, and the Cubs. None of these teams are offensive dynamos.
On Monday, Brandon Lyon blew the save for the Diamondbacks and got credit for the win thanks to Antonio Alfonseca, Eric "Montgomery" Byrnes, and Carlos Quentin.
Honorable mention goes to Brad Lidge, who threw 5 pitches on Tuesday and got the win because of some guy named Brad Salmon. Getting 1 batter out gives this guy the title of game winner? Bah.
Bad Luck Division:
On Wednesday, Danny Haren and Gil Meche combined for 12 innings, 4 runs allowed, 3 of which were earned, 14 strikeouts, 5 walks, 9 hits, and they had matching no decisions. Normally this would garner an award. But on the same night James Shields of the Rays and Eric Bedard of the Birds threw even more impressive lines, combining for 16 scoreless innings. Both of them had no role outcome as far as the traditional measurement of pitcher worthiness is concerned.
Current Season Leader: Dan Haren has 8 starts, only one of which is of the non-quality variety. Most of them are of the dominant variety, including his 2 most recent, a 6 inning, 2 run, 7 K, 1 BB, 6 H no decision in KC and a 7 inning, 2 R, 9 K, 0 BB, 4 H, no decision in Tampa. Haren has a 1.89 ERA with 40 strikeouts and 10 walks in 52 innings and has a pedestrian 3 and 2 record.
This is madness.
The Rico Brogna Award
Andruw Jones collected 7 RBI while hitting a tepid .231/.310/.423
Season to Date: When did Michael Young turn into a hacker? He only has 3 walks on the season in 148 at bats. More to the point of this category though, he's tied for 37th in baseball with 22 RBI while putting up a .236/.257/.392 line. Bleh.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
I like Curtis Granderson. He walked 4 times this week to go along with 4 extra base hits and a lone, solitary single (is that a double redundancy? A triple redundancy?) for a .250/.375/.600 line. Tasty.
Season as a whole: Granderson sweeps this category! .269/.333/.567 is a nice line for a good center fielder. He has 12 doubles, 5 triples, and 6 homers with 5 stolen bases while failing to get caught even once. He's contributing everywhere other than team batting average.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I've Got Award
Derek Lee was the anti-Granderson, hitting .280/.280/.280 for the Cubbies.
Season: Juan Pierre is a favorite whipping boy for the sabermetric crowd for a good reason. The guy has a superficially appealing .290 batting average, but an allergy to walks and a massive inability to pose more of a danger to the opposing team than a sharply stung single results in a .318 OBP and a .321 SLG. To add to the net negative, he's hanging out right at the break-even point on stolen bases, stealing 15 of them and getting nabbed 5 times.
The Steve Balboni Award
I like Travis Hafner almost as much as Curtis Granderson, but a 8 whiffs in 22 at bats gets you to .182/.308/.318. Batting average ain't everything, but it's not nothing. What is it with me and redundant phrases today?
Leader in the Clubhouse: This is what I've expected to see in the event of Joe Borchard getting regular run in a ML lineup. .200/.286/.336 with 44K, 14 BB, 5 2B, and 4 HR in 125 AB.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
I'm really happy for Jack Cust and Billy Beane. It's about time they got together and worked towards the goal of making Cust a homeless man's Adam Dunn. The guy did well this week, slugging 5 longballs, drawing 4 walks, and striking out 10 times in 23 at bats.
Your Fearless Leader: It almost feels like cheating to have Adam Dunn here. It really does. Nevertheless, he's leading baseball in K's with 49, is tied for second in home runs with 11, and is tied for 22nd in walks with 20.
This Week's Dumbest Thing Ever
I just want to announce that we've reached a new low in sports broadcasting. No I'm not talking about the standard crap that the awards above and below are meant to lampoon. Slowly but surely that stuff is correcting itself as more and more fans latch onto the ideas that batting average and RBI's aren't everything for hitters and wins aren't everything for starters. The progress is arduous, but it's pretty steady. I'm talking about the erosion of actual analysis on the radio, in print, and on TV. Less and less words are being dedicated to who is and who is not producing and more and more words are being dedicated to journalism that veers from borderline In Touch Magazine journalism and Dr Phil hack psychology. It's ridiculous and this week was the peak of this kind of mindless, content-free drivel. First we had the pointless drama on sports talk radio and SportsCenter (two of the main culprits in this revolution of the retarded) over what Roger Clemens's new teammates would think of his special arrangement where he could go fishing with his kids on days where he didn't have a scheduled start. Will they be jealous? Will he throw off the fragile team chemistry that has developed? Will Jason Giambi ask permission to go eat hot dogs in the stands between innings? Does it really matter and do we really care? I really, really don't. Then David Wells threw gasoline on that fire with a public comment about it. Why would we care what David Well had to say about the matter? Did anybody go interview Casey Stengel's headstone? How about a séance to conger the Bambino's ghost? It has to have some sort of opinion on this vital issue. Somebody have Helen Thomas get the White House's reaction!
Next we had the equally pointless and equally contrived controversy about whether Curt Schilling `dissed Barry Bonds and whether Barry was going to fight Curt in the parking lot after school.
Lastly we have this gem . We all figured out for ourselves that the "debates" on SportsCenter and Baseball Tonight were more contrived drama for the sake of the camera rather than to inform the audience. Now we have confirmation from somebody who is clearly too dumb to make something like that up. Please producers, I implore you to just let me have the damned highlights. I just want to see how badly my Royals got abused and maybe see if Lance Berkman did anything worth noting. If John Kruk AND Steve Phillips both think the Brewers are going to win the central, then just let them both tell us that instead of assigning somebody to make a ridiculous, nonsensical, devil's advocate defense of the horrid Pirates.
As a minor point, why is it that the people who usually sneer at anybody who knows what EQA means or who knows how to use excel, demanding that they get out of their mother's basement and go watch a game are the ones who are devoting so much time and effort to talking about off-field issues while the ones who are the target for such criticism devote the majority of their time to talking about the actual results of what has happened on the field? Does this strike anybody else as odd? I really just wish we would lose the amateur shrinks and go back to talking about who can actually hit, field, and pitch instead of talking about how great a guy Derek Jeter is.
This Week's MVP's
AL: Cust's teammate Dan Johnson has been a wrecking ball since coming off the DL. This week he threw up a .545/.630/1.091 line with 5 walks, 1 K, 3 2B, and 3 HR.
NL: Chris Young put in a nice week's work for the Diamondbacks, with a .522/.520/.957 week. Coming out of a brilliant defensive player who makes the league minimum, that's a path to a division title.
AL: Vlad, who I talked about last week in ARod's stead, took over for the Yankee thirdbaseman, possessing a .352/.467/.664 batting line on the season with 25 walks against only 13 K's.
NL: Barry still holds court as king of the NL with a .307/.512/.727 performance. 37 walks, 14 K, 11 HR in 88 at bats.
Least Valuable Player
AL: Rocco Baldelli is starting to worry some people. In his 24 at bats this week, he had a single, a walk, and he fanned nine times for a brutal .042/.148/.042.
NL: It wasn't as bad as Rocco's week, but Morgan Ensberg would appreciate it if everybody would forget the week ever happened after having a double, no walks, and seven K's in his 18 at bats. .056/.056/.111.
Most Valuable Pitcher
AL: It's really fun for everybody who isn't a Yankee fan to see Tim Wakefield having such a successful start to the season. He's currently leading the AL in VORP for starting pitchers with 18.3. He even has a "normal" walk rate (19 in 45 IP) on his way to a dazzling 1.79 ERA. Knucklers are great.
NL: Tim Hudson leads all of ML starters in VORP with 22.7. He's doing it by not walking anybody (12 in 59 IP) and by inducing tons of worm burners (99/44 GB/FB). He's allowed less than an extra base hit per START.
Least Valuable Pitcher
NL: I can already tell that one of the difficulties facing this category is that pitchers who suck enough to get here don't hold onto their jobs for very long. Of last week's "winners", Mike Pelfrey got sent to New Orleans and Jeff Weaver was mercifully put on the DL. This week's NL nominee, Tony Armas Jr. is already in danger as the Pirates have made mention that he's close to losing his rotation spot. He's the not-so-proud owner of a negative 11.2 VORP. Not good.
This Week's Completely Made-Up Award
The "I didn't see that coming" award goes to Fred Lewis. In his young ML career, he had never hit a triple OR a homer. He may have hit 11 and 12 of them respectively last season in Fresno, but holy crap. You just don't see that kind of thing every day. On the other hand, Lewis is mildly interesting as somebody who projects as either a good 4th outfielder or a bad starting center fielder. He showed a decent walk rate and some growth in his power hitting last season. The future is now. If Lewis going to make something of himself, it has to happen soon. He's already 26.
Here's Where You Come In
I need your help. Please drop me a line nominate players for awards maybe entire team for awards. Make up your own award. Point out something stupid that your local color commentator said during a recent game. I can only watch so much baseball in a week, even with the miracle of MLB.TV. I have to use you as a crutch