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
Dan Haren has pitched well enough this season to earn a lucky win from time to time. He's appeared in the bad luck division more than once. I do not resent his win over the Yankees on Sunday despite his allowing five runs in five and a third. The A's offense owed him one.
Bad Luck Division
Scott Baker doesn't have the same kind of surplus karma as Haren, but I'm not sure he deserved a loss. Haren got the win in the night game, but earlier in the afternoon, the AL saw Baker throw eight innings of one run ball and still get the loss because Jeremy Bonderman was even better. Baker's only run given up was on a Marcus Thames solo shot. He only allowed 3 hits and a walk.
Just like last week we have two prime examples of the vulture. The first comes from reader Dan Nathanson, who points out that Ryan Bukvich got lucky on Saturday, stealing his first win since 2003. He threw a grand total of one pitch. That's it. John Danks throws 8 wonderful innings, allowing only one run (solo home run to professional lefty-killer Emil Brown) and he gets nothing. Bukvich walks in, throws a single pitch and gets the statistical gold star. It just ain't right.
The second is Akinori Otsuka, who blew a three run lead in the 8th inning on Tuesday night. He still got the W because Marlon Byrd and Ramon Vazquez saved his bacon.
The Rico Brogna Award
You know, I haven't heard much this season from the week's winner of the Brogna. Ben Molina hit .269/.269/.423, but drove in 6 runs.
Season to Date: Sammy Sosa is tied for 5th in baseball with 63 RBI, but he's really overextended as an everyday player, with a meager .255/.308/.476 line. He really should be most valuable as a platoon DH instead. He's been that way for several years (even the ones he did play), as he struggles against RHP, going .225/.277/.431 against normal people and .362/.457/.6938 against southpaws.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Ryan Howard was just bizarre this week. In 24 at bats, he only collected one single, but he walked 7 times and hit 3 bombs for a .167/.355/.542 line.
Season as a whole: Lance Berkman getting his power stroke back as he hit 4 home runs this week, almost half of the ten he had coming into the week. Still, his numbers now stand at .267/.391/.451 on the season. He has 53 walks in 277 at bats.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I've Got Award
Derek Jeter hit a respectable .280, but none of his 7 hits went for extra bases and he failed to draw a walk, making his line a paltry .280/.308/.280.
Season: Fellow shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt has hit .282 on the year, but the number of times he has grounded into a double play (7) almost matches the number of walks he's drawn (9). A .282/.304/.385 line doesn't help his team much.
The Steve Balboni Award
Andruw Jones demonstrated the same kind of form he's been in all season, hitting 2 home runs and drawing 2 walks, but striking out 7 times on his way to a .192/.250/.423 line. He can do a lot better than this.
Leader: Andruw takes the season's lead as well, thanks to 81K in 297 AB. He's hit 13 home runs and he's drawn 39 walks on the season, but the batting average is dragging everything else down to the tune of .199/.297/.384.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
I mentioned Ryan Howard in the Killebrew Award section, but let's look at his overall TTO ability. 3 HR, 7 BB, 14 K adds up to 24 plays where the defense was involved and 7 where they had a job to do. That's crazy. Somewhere Rob Deer is smiling.
Leader: Alex Rodriguez isn't usually seen as a three true outcomes hitter, but he's currently leading the Major Leagues in home runs with 28, is 30th in strikeouts with 64, and is 17th in walks with 45.
This Week's Dumbest Thing Ever
Christijan Albers. Just a dumb, dumb move that resulted in a dangerous situation.
This Week's MVP's
AL: I really don't know what to make of Shannon Stewart's dream .485/.500/.788 week. Honestly it's kind of freaking me out. So the less said, the better.
Season: Alex Rodriguez is still king of the hill at .322/.420/.671. He's been outstanding this season and I'm running out of ways to say that.
NL: Check out this line from Chase Utley: 25 AB, .400/.480/.880, 1 2B, 1 3B, 3 HR, 5 BB, 4 K, 2 SB, 0 CS
Season: Which brings us to the fact that he's been the most valuable player in the National League this season and he's more than earned his place in the All Star game. He is the logical successor to Jeff Kent.
Least Valuable Player
AL: Carl Crawford hit a miserable .120/.120/.120. That's 3 singles in 25 at bats with no walks, no extra base hits.
Season: Jason Kendall still trumps everybody, but Julio Lugo actually has the worst OPS in the Majors at .541. I can't put him below Kendall because he remains a passable defensive shortstop and he's 20 of 21 stealing bases on the season. Still, he needs to pick it up or else Jed Lowrie is going to start looking like a tempting solution to Red Sox management.
NL: Adrian Gonzalez and Brian Giles had almost identical weeks, but Gonzalez gets the nod as he's a first baseman who is theoretically supposed to hit better than the second baseman. Gonzalez has a nice glove, but it really doesn't matter much when you hit .087/.222/.174. Ugh.
Season: Omar Vizquel's OPS is significantly worse, but let's face it, Juan Pierre's been brutal. .276/.308/.323 doesn't get it done for an outfielder. Yet still, the Dodgers are suicidally batting him first or second in the lineup. I don't care how fast he is. The guy doesn't get on base and doesn't hit for power. He's an albatross.
This is the Place in the Article Where I Nitpick the All Star Selections
For the most part, the fans, players, and managers did a commendable job. I don't have too much to argue about. I'm not going to argue much about certain selections because of the rules that somebody has to represent every team. That makes Michael Young's selection understandable. There are really only a couple of selections that stand out to me as clearly erroneous. One is that Pudge Rodriguez really isn't one of the three best catchers in the AL anymore. His selection by the fans is a combination of his being one of the more visible symbols of the Tigers, who happen to be one of the 2 or 3 best teams in baseball, and the lifetime achievement award factor. Pudge is hitting a Sanchezeriffic .280/.293/.444. Victor Martinez is clearly much better at this point in his career. If he were healthy for most of the season, I would have made a fuss about Joe Mauer being excluded. As it is, I can't really make that claim.
The other flawed selection is pointed out by Joe Sheehan, who makes the logical case that one of the Pittsburgh pitchers (Ian Snell or Tom Gorzelanny) should be the token Pirate instead of the inescapably flawed Freddy Sanchez. Sanchez is clearly inferior to Hanley Ramirez, who may end up being the best player sitting at home watching the game. Sanchez is the one player that sticks out like a sore thumb.
I could also quibble with a few other selections, but that's getting deep into nitpicking. I'd prefer to see Chris Young on the NL roster over Trevor Hoffman, given the added value of his extra innings. In the same spirit, I probably would have rewarded Jeff Francis's commendable work in a tough environment over his closer teammate Brian Fuentes, who actually lost his job as closer yesterday, but since Matt Holliday was on the squad as a Rox representative, I'm at a bit of a loss why he's there at all.
This Week's Completely Made-Up Award
The Rearranging Deckchairs Award goes to the Reds. I think that Jerry Narron did a pretty lousy job of managing, but firing him is pointless grandstanding done for the sake of blame shifting. It's Wayne Krivsky that is to blame for this ridiculous team, not the manager. And until the Reds fire Krivsky, they can make all of the managerial changes in the world and it won't make a difference. Sparky Anderson isn't walking through that door. Blame the guy who traded a pair of good bats for middle relievers. Managers almost always receive too much of the blame when a team fails and too much of the credit when a team succeeds.
And on the topic of managerial changes, but on a less acerbic note, I think I speak for everybody when I say that I hope Mike Hargrove the best. The thing that makes me nervous is that this "loss of passion" makes me wonder about the unpublicized other things that may be going on in his life that makes this game seem (and rightfully so) trivial. Coaches and managers don't usually leave teams that are playing well due to lack of interest in the middle of the season without something major demanding his attention, be it family or health. I hope neither of those concerns is accurate and that he merely hates the travel schedule and the stress.
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.