I hope everybody had a great Memorial Day weekend with cookouts and great weather. It's a great time of year to be an Indianapolis resident, when for a day we're the center of attention no matter who wins. The rain was an odd development since this was one of the driest Mays on record. At least the race was completed.
I dedicate this column to the auto save feature in Microsoft Word. It saved my bacon.
If you are new to the awards, see Week 1's column to see the award definitions.
This Week's Proof That Assigning Wins and Losses to a Pitcher is a Silly Practice that Must Stop
Good Luck Division:
On Thursday Jae Seo allowed 7 runs (6 earned) on 13 hits and a walk in 5 innings. He only struck out one batter. Yet somehow the Mariners pitching staff managed to be less competent. Seo got the win.
Season Leader: Dontrelle Willis has been a very mediocre pitcher this season, with a 4.80 ERA. He's probably been a bit unlucky with hitters finding gaps in the defense, but he just hasn't been good enough to justify a 6-3 record in a just world.
Friday night Aaron Heilman blew the save for the Mets by allowing a run in the 8th inning vs. the Marlins. Reyniel Pinto allowed 4 runs immediately thereafter, allowing Heilman to vulture the win. Heilman leads baseball with 5 wins out of the pen, despite the fact that he's been charged with 12 runs (9 earned) in 22 innings of work. That's the same number of W's as Dan Haren has on the season and he's been arguably the best pitcher in the AL this season (spoiler alert).
Bad Luck Division
Livan Hernandez probably had the most alarmingly unrewarding start of the week, going 8 innings, allowing a single run and coming out with a no decision in the home loss to Colorado on Tuesday. If you just have to have a loss to look at in this spot, his teammate Doug Davis went 7 innings allowing 2 runs the next day and he got the L as Jeff Francis and a pair of relievers shut out the Snakes.
Current Season Leader: Andy Pettitte has 5 quality starts this season where he either took the loss or came away with a no decision. That's how you end up with a 3-3 record despite a 2.66 ERA. Remind me again why win total pretty much decides at least one CY Young every season.
The Rico Brogna Award
Gerald Laird logged 7 RBI on the week and managed a meager .250 OBP this week. He slugged .474, but when you only get on base 5 times in 20 plate appearances, it's a hollow victory because you aren't helping your team much.
Season to Date: Andruw Jones has 32 RBI on the season and a .218/.343/.414 line.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Ken Griffey Jr. had a .259 batting average in 27 at bats on the week, which is pretty forgettable. He had 3 home runs and drew 5 walks along the way for a .375 OBP and a .593 SLG.
Season as a whole: Adam Dunn has 23 singles and 23 extra base hits. He also has 29 walks. .261/.369/.563 is not bad at all. It's actually on the high end of his expected batting average with 68 K's in his 176 at bats. Bonus points: he's 7 for 7 stealing bases, already duplicating last season's total in that category. I never thought of Dunn as a base stealer, which is natural based on the fact that he's a freaking giant. Still, he's a better athlete than people probably give him credit for.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I've Got Award
Bobby Crosby hit .292/.320/.292 in 24 at bats. 7 singles and a walk were his only offensive contributions.
Season: Nomah has hit .283/.333/.353 in 183 at bats. Congratulations LA, your first baseman has hit exactly 1 home run this season.
The Steve Balboni Award
Craig Monroe has a .233/.295/.421 batting line on the season. He's above the break-even mark on walks (18 in 163 AB). He's hitting for mid-range power (6 2B, 8 HR). But he's struck out 46 times. He isn't Adam Dunn. He doesn't have the power or patience to get away with striking out once per game. He has to make consistent contact and find the gap between the shortstop of the third baseman more often to be a decent player. If he doesn't bat .280, he isn't an asset.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
Dunn drew 6 walks, struck out 8 times, and hit 3 homers on the week. This was in 22 at bats. That's 17 TTO plays in 28 plate appearances. All hail the lord of the TTO.
Your Fearless Leader: I've already mentioned Dunn twice above, so let's shine a light on Travis Hafner, who isn't hitting for the power we usually associate with him. But he's drawn 44 walks and struck out 40 times to go with his 9 homers in 165 at bats. That's a pretty good ratio.
This Week's Dumbest Thing Ever
I spent an hour, maybe an hour and a half at the auto dealership on Friday afternoon, reading a book while waiting for my car to get out of the shop. It was just routine service, but I was a captive audience for a while. During my stay there, the waiting area had one of the cable news channels on. There was a 747 that had an engine flame out shortly after takeoff. They decided to return to Dulles and change planes. I won't say which network was on because it really doesn't matter much. They all are equally guilty of hyping these non-emergencies hoping that they end up with some good footage to show for it.
The thing is there was extremely minimal danger involved. A 747 can easily land or even take off with half of its quartet of engines out of commission. It can do the job (it's admittedly tricky) with just one. The biggest effect to the best of my understanding is in its range. You can't fly as high or as fast and you run into more air resistance because of it. You can't go as far on the same amount of fuel. The networks own aviation correspondent repeatedly told the anchor that this was entirely routine and there was virtually no risk to the passengers. But here we were, for over and hour, talking about something that wasn't really even notable. It really was the dumbest thing I ran into during the course of my week. The most common complaint you hear about the news networks and the ancient over-the-air network news outfits is with bias. That isn't my biggest concern. My concern is that they're too dumb to know that nobody needs more than a 2 minute heads-up on this and even those people are mostly constrained to a couple of local markets, the area where the plane took off, and the area where the plane is scheduled to land.
This Week's MVP's
AL: Casey Blake was on fire, hitting .348/.483/1.087. All 8 of his hits were for extra bases (3 2B, 1 3B, 4 HR) and he drew 8 walks. Where did that come from?
Season: Magglio Ordonez has passed ARod and Vlad Guerrero to take the AL lead. He's hitting .356/.430/.689. He has more doubles (24) and walks (25) than strikeouts (20).
NL: Jason Bay hit .500/.571/.950 in his 20 at bats. That is pretty good.
Season: Bonds is still out in front with a .275/.494/.608 season. If the batting average sinks much lower, he'll probably qualify for the Killebrew. He's been a bit unlucky with singles though. But let's not talk about him right now. What is there left to say?
Let's talk about somebody who isn't winning this award, but is on the ballot. Ken Griffey Jr. is now 7th in the NL in OPS. He only drew 39 walks all of last season. He's up to 30 already. His strikeout rate is down. The guy is batting .290/.399/.542. This is a renaissance.
Least Valuable Player
AL: Jason Kubel isn't hitting very well this season, standing at .243/.295/.347, but this week, he struggled to the tune of .136/.240/.182. In the midst of a 4 way fight in the AL Central, the Twins can't afford much more of this from their starting left fielder.
Season: Jason Kendall has nothing left. He's hit .185/.231/.198 on the season. Here's another contender who can't afford to punt this lineup spot. Kurt Suzuki is hitting .276/.351/.376 for Sacramento. It's not great, but coupled with Mike Piazza (when he comes off the DL), it's a much better situation than trying to get by with the husk that is Kendall's remaining skill.
NL: Derrek Lee is an outstanding hitter who had a rough week. We'll forgive him for batting .154/.185/.231 on the week. Also, it's standard for me to ask for a standard spelling of this first name any time Derrek's name comes up. Derick, Derek, Deryk? Can we just settle on a spelling so I don't have to look up how every individual is spelled? This is ridiculous.
Season: Omar Vizquel might just be the shortstop version of Kendall. He's a player who has had many great years, but his .223/.273/.279 line has to make you wonder whether he's sputtering out like a car that is running out of fuel, leaving the Giants on the side of the road.
Most Valuable Pitcher
AL: I let you in on this right off the top, but here's Dan Haren, pride of the East Bay. He's allowed 68 baserunners (H, BB, HBP) in 74 innings. His peripherals don't quite support a 1.70 ERA (he does have 6 unearned runs), but he's still been practically unhittable.
NL: Jake Peavy plays against inferior competition, what with the NL being subservient these days, but his numbers are breathtaking. He's allowed 1 home run all year. He's allowed 70 baserunners in 73 innings. Opposing hitters are batting an anemic .185/.248/.228 against him. Digest that for a minute. The average hitter going against him is posting an OPS under .500.
This Week's Completely Made-Up Award
I can't decide on the name of this one. I'm torn between "Better Late than Never" and "The Learning Curve is not Banked." For the first month and a half, Alex Gordon and Kevin Kouzmanoff absolutely tortured KC and SD fans and fantasy owners alike. They just couldn't hit ML pitching. Well, if the last couple weeks are any clue, they've caught up to the competition. Gordon hit .286/.375/.571 this week and his OPS is STILL down at .609. Kouzmanoff was batting .115/.175/.207 as late as May 12. Last week he hit .316/.381/.842 to bring his line "up" to .205/.276/.378. There's a long way to go, but I'd like to think that both of them have made the adjustments needed to succeed long term. Maybe I should just call this "John Ignores his own Sample Size Warnings".
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.