In light of Monday's tragic events in Virginia, Beyond the Boxscore sends condolences to all of the families affected and to the VaTech family as a whole, including but not limited to our SportsBlogs Nation brethren at Blacksburg Beacon. Words fail me. We're all Hokies today.
If you are new to the awards, see last week's column to see the award definitions.
This Week's Small Sample Size Warning
I'm not sure exactly how to feel about living in a world where Kyle Lohse is second in the National League in strikeouts. He has 19 punchouts in 21 innings and a 19/2 K/BB ratio. His career rates are 5.72 K/9 and 2.04 K's for every walk. This season he's at 8.02 K's per 9. We're still at a point in the season where one bad start or one good one can have a dramatic influence on your stat line. In this case, the Cubs got hack-happy on Sunday afternoon and whiffed 12 times against Lohse while only walking once.
This Week's Proof That Assigning Wins and Losses to a Pitcher is a Silly Practice that Must Stop
Good Luck Division:
Roy Ozwalt was bailed out on Friday night. There's no other way to put it. The guy is a great pitcher, but he just didn't have it. How are we supposed to take pitcher wins and losses serious when Ozwalt gives up 6 runs in 5 innings, walks 6 batters, and still comes away with a win? That's ridiculous.
Leader in the clubhouse: Scott Olsen of the Marlins. 3 starts, 0 quality starts, 2 wins, 6.92 ERA.
Vulture alert! Vulture alert!
Wil Ledezma is a pitcher I like. I like him a lot actually. He should probably have a higher profile job somewhere, be it in somebody's rotation or as a closer or primary setup man. On Saturday though, he vultured a win even though he really didn't do his job very well. Ledezma entered the Jays/Tigers game in the 8th inning, relieving Jason Grilli. The score was tied and he gave up a leadoff homer to Lyle Overbay before retiring the Jays 6-7-8 hitters to end the inning. He was on the hook for the loss, but BJ Ryan literally and figuratively self-destructed, giving up 4 runs in 2/3 of an inning before heading off to Dr James Andrews to see if he gets a new Ulnar Collateral Ligament as a late Easter present. Ledezma gets rewarded for others misfortune. So he gets the scavenger of the week award.
Your leader in the clubhouse is Aaron Fultz of the Indians, who has collected 2 of Cleveland's 6 wins despite having thrown a grand total of 57 pitches all season. In Thursday's win over the Angels he got the win courtesy of Scott Shields blowing the save. Fultz threw only 3 pitches in that game. This all being said, Fultz has been good during those 57 pitches and he's been pitching in high leverage situations. Still, he has 2 wins and 3 innings pitched on the season.
Bad Luck Division:
Let's compare Ozwalt's outing to that of Jeremy Bonderman. Bonderman gave up a leadoff home run to Alex Rios to start the game and then allowed only 5 additional baserunners while throwing 9 innings of work. 9 innings, 6 hits allowed, no walks, 1 run. Still he came away with a no decision. Put this one in the vault. Having a day like that and losing is just bad luck. Roy Halladay is a freak of nature and the Tigers loss was in no way a reflection on Bonderman's work. As you might have seen, Halladay threw a 10 inning complete game, allowing 1 earned run on a Magglio Ordonez solo home run. Fernando Rodney got the loss and well deserved. Any just God would have provided 2 wins, one to give to each of these starters.
If you need an injustice that is larger than a no decision, then I'll present to you John Smoltz on Thursday night. Smoltz gave up 2 runs (both earned) to the Nats in 8 innings and took the loss mainly because the Braves offense only managed 2 hits all night against Jason Bergmann, Jesus Colome, John Rauch, and Chad Cordero. The Braves were shut out by the Nats, who came into the game never actually holding a lead for a single pitch all season. Bergmann's decent, but not THAT good stuff baffled the Johnny Bravos. Still, I have a little less sympathy for Smoltz than I have for Bonderman. Allowing 1 run to a good Blue Jay lineup is simply more impressive than allowing 2 runs in 8 innings to the train wreck that is the 2007 Nats. So Bonderman's no decision is a bigger outrage to me than Smoltz's merely good outing wasted by a clueless offense.
Your leader in the clubhouse is Justin Verlander, who has 2 starts this season, 13 innings pitched, no earned runs allowed, one unearned run allowed, 0 wins. He has no losses of course, but no wins to show for it either. Bonus points: in his first start Ledezma got the W.
Random Off Topic Note
Consider this my plea for the SportsBlogs Nation powers that be to get a Formula 1 blog up and running. The world must hear about its forthcoming domination by Lewis Hamilton. This is his planet. The rest of us are just a blur. This needs to happen. I'm willing to be a part of it, but I'm just not smart enough and I don't have enough hours in the day to be the headliner.
The Rico Brogna Award
Lyle Overbay drove in 5 runs this week, but he didn't manage to do much else. He hit 2 doubles and a homer, but a low batting average and the fact that he didn't take a walk made him a net negative for the Jays. .231/.231/.423 out of a first baseman just doesn't get it done. He's better than this though. Don't expect to see him here again next week.
Your leader for the season: Mark Ellis, who has 9 RBIs despite an unspeakably bad .216/.279/.270 in 37 at bats.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Grady Sizemore had a wonderful week despite a less than ideal .231 batting average. He tied for the ML lead in walks on the week with 6, hit 2 doubles and a home run (only 1 solitary single), played his usual stellar defense in center field, and went 3 for 3 on the basepaths. That's what this award is about.
Season as a whole: Rickie Weeks, who is hitting .268/.375/.659 in 41 at bats with a double, 3 triples, 3 home runs, and 5 walks.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I've Got Award
Jose Lopez gets this ignominious honor. He hit .294/.333/.294. No extra base hits. One walk. 17 at bats.
Season: Normar Garciaparra, who is hitting .289/.320/.378 in 45 at bats. He's produced 4 doubles, no homers, and 3 walks while batting third and playing first base the whole time. James Loney could do better than this.
The Steve Balboni Award
What's going on with Ichiro? 7 strikeouts this week? A home run? .238/.304/.381?
Clubhouse: This isn't what we expected from Wily Taveras when he went to the crisp, clean Colorado air. He struck out 11 times in 34 at bats while "hitting" .147/.237/.176. If you're a contact hitter who isn't going to pound out many home runs, you have to put the ball in play a lot. You just can't strike out in almost a third of your plate appearances. It just doesn't work that way.
I don't mind strikeouts, but they really got in the way for David Ross this week. He whiffed 7 times and collected no walks in 12 at bats. .083/.077/.083 looks more like what I'd do than what a trained professional should do. The difference between the Balboni Award and "Hacktastic!!!!" is that with the Balboni award, the guy is doing other things that make a team successful. Balboni hit for power. So did Dave Kingman. Some players are like Adam Dunn and walk a ton AND strike out a ton, leaving them with odd lines that look like .240/.390/.585. But Ross did nothing this week. Just did nothing at all besides add to the already abundant winds that sweep across the Midwest.
Season: I'm naming both Adam LaRoche and Craig Monroe as co-leaders. They're tied for the ML lead with 15 K's. Monroe has a .214/.227/.429 line with only 1 walk in his 42 at bats. Meanwhile LaRoche has been awful, hitting .088/.205/.206, but he has 5 walks in his 34 at bats. I really can't decide between the two.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
ARod. The guy had a smoking week, hitting .364/.448/.864, but here's the best part. In only 22 at bats, he hit 3 home runs, walked 5 times, and struck out 7 times. Naturally all of those hits aren't going to continue to fall between outfielders. He was very hit-lucky, but let's face it he's just damned good.
Special recognition goes Lance Berkman, who only had 11 at bats because of rainouts on Wednesday in Chicago and Sunday in Philly, but in those 11 at bats, he struck out 6 times and walked 6 times. That's 17 plate appearances, 12 of which the defense never touched the ball.
Leader: No surprise here as Jim Thome has built his entire career on walking, striking out, and hitting them into the cheap seats. This year is no different. 34 AB, 2 HR, 10 BB, 13K, .294/.455/.529
This Week's Dumbest Thing Ever
Can somebody please explain to me the reason why Alfonso Soriano is still batting leadoff at this stage in his career? Yes I know he steals a lot of bases, but that still doesn't mean he's a #1 hitter. His most valuable asset is his ability to hit for power and that ability is wasted when he's hitting behind Cesar Izturis and the pitcher. That's how he hit 46 home runs last year and only managed 95 runs batted in. I hate RBI's as a stat for valuing the contribution of players, but that's because they're context dependent. If you get 550 at bats a season while hitting in the 4 or 5 spot in a league average offense, you're more than likely going to collect 100 RBI. Therefore you put your best power hitters in those spots.
With that being said, has anybody else noticed how right handed the Cubs lineup is at this point? Every bat who has any business being in a Major League lineup hits from the right side. I'd say that it's understandable that the Cubs don't want to put Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez, and Soriano back to back to back, but then I noticed that the only alternative to doing so is to use what you could charitably call inferior players.
The Seattle Mariners At Bat Count
When we checked in with the Mariners last week, they had a grand total of 89 at bats as a team thanks to snow in Cleveland. They're up to 263 at bats after playing all but one of their 6 scheduled games this week (a rainout in Boston on Thursday being the lone lost game). That's still 39 less than Cleveland, who shared that lost weekend, 63 fewer than Houston, who as I mentioned has a couple of rainouts, and a staggering 187 fewer than the MLB leading A's. Unfortunately for baseball fans in the Pacific Northwest, they also haven't done much with the at bats they're got. .236/.286/.399 smells like the dumpster behind the Pike Place Fish Market.
This Week's MVP's
AL: You probably expect it to be Alex Rodriguez, but it's not. No, Ian Kinsler takes the title this week thanks to a .476/.542/1.095 line while playing second base. Between that and the above note on the Mariners offensive ineptitude, I may have just caused friend of BTB Jeff Sullivan to go into convulsions. If we don't hear from him for a few days, we'll know why.
NL: I'm going against the grain on this one too and giving it to Russ Martin. It's one thing to bat .429/.500/.476 in 21 at bats. It's another thing entirely when we're talking about a catcher who gets massive amounts of praise for his defense AND who stole 3 bases while not getting caught once.
AL: This is where I'll put ARod. He's hitting .372/.453/.977
NL: Jimmy Rollins, who evidently got jealous at all of the attention that Chase Utley was getting last season. He's hitting .298/.411/.766 while playing shortstop. As a Rollins owner in a keeper league, I'm enjoying this while it lasts.
This Week's Completely Made-Up Award
I'm going to give Ryan Church the "Part Timer My Ass!" award since he's well on his way towards claiming a permanent job in the Major Leagues as he's hitting like there's no tomorrow, .357/.426/.714. No word yet on whether he's called up Frank Robinson to tell the old grump that he might have had a run like this last season if he'd only had an opportunity.
Here's Where I Ask For Your Ideas
I need your help. Please drop me a line at JMBarten@gmail.com nominating 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.