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
Bad Luck Division
Greg Maddux and Micah Owings had a nice duel going on Wednesday. They combined for 14 innings of 11 hit ball, allowing only 2 runs and only one walk. They got matching no decisions for their trouble.
Good Luck Division
Scott Kazmir had run support that Owings and Maddux could only dream about on Thursday. He let 5 Orioles score (remember that this is the same squad that got no-hit this week...more on that in a moment) in 5 innings, but he got the W because Jeremy Guthrie got absolutely blitzed for 6 runs in 6 frames.
Huston Street blew a 2 run lead on Friday night against the Tigers, but Joel Zumaya bailed him out by allowing a run of his own.
They Call that a Save?
Brad Hennessey of the Giants got the 3 run, 1 inning save against the Rox on Monday. Even with Todd Helton and Garrett Atkins coming up at the top of the 9th, there still wasn't much of a danger to "save" the boys by the bay from. He only contributed 3.8% to the Giants win probability that night, but he still gets the big S next to his name.
As an aside, what was Yorvit Torrealba doing batting 6th, ahead of Brad Hawpe? What kind of insanity is that anyways?
Oh, also I'm looking for a better name for this award. If you have a suggestion, contact me.
The Rico Brogna Award
Tori Hunter drove in 5 despite hitting a measly .148/.172/.296.
Season to Date: Garrett Atkins has 95 RBI on the season, good for 15th in the Majors. He's hitting .281/.348/.466, which isn't bad, but for a third baseman playing in Coors (which has returned to being a friendly place for hitters), it isn't great either. It's about average. This is what happens when you spend all season batting behind Matt Holiday's .397 OBP and Todd Helton's .424.
The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award
Kevin Youkilis had this great line: .235/.500/.588 this week. That's what a couple of home runs and seven walks will do for you.
Season as a whole: Pat Burrell is up to .262/.401/.504.
The Rey Sanchez Batting Average is all I've Got Award
Juan Pierre is one of my favorite targets. His tendency to hit the way he did this week, with a .308/.308/.346 line is the primary reason why.
Season: Delmon Young won last week and at .296/.326/.412, he still has a nice little margin built up. But let's take a moment to appreciate the brilliance of Sean Casey's .283/.339/.378 and Shannon Stewart's .283/.345/.385.
The Steve Balboni Award
Akinori Iwamura hit a pair of doubles, a triple, a home run, and he drew 4 walks in 27 at bats, but his 10 K's doomed his batting average, leading to a .185/.281/.444 week.
Leader: Brandon Inge is another repeat winner with his 137K and .234/.314/.376 season. But also worth mentioning is Bill Hall, who has always been a serious free swinger, but his 107 whiffs in 403 at bats has dragged him down to .258/.320/.432, which would be disappointing but not a killer if he was still playing primarily second and short. But when he's taking up an outfield spot, which just isn't acceptable.
3 True Outcomes Alert!!!
Carlos Pena homered 4 times, walked 8 times, and struck out 7 times in 36 plate appearances.
Leader: Ryan Howard hasn't run away with it, but he's been on top of the charts for quite some time now as he's tied for second in the NL in HR with 36, tied for 5th in walks with 83, and leading the Senior Circuit in K with 165.
This Week's Completely Made Up Award
In lieu of an actual award, I'm taking the opportunity for some commentary on Clay Buchholz's no hitter. It was a very well pitched game, but there were some things in here to keep in mind. First, while this game ranks very high among the best pitched games of the season, it only ranks 5th best in game score at 93. It is tied with Scott Baker's 1 hitter from the day before. As an aside, the best game score of the year doesn't actually belong to any of the three no-no's that we've seen or Johan Santana's brilliant 17 K gem against the Rangers. It's Erik Bedard's 15K shutout of the Rangers on July 7th, which garnered a 98.
The other thing to think about is that this was a lineup that was vulnerable to this kind of thing. Let's run down the order.
2B Brian Roberts, who is a good hitter, hitting .304/.392/.453 on the season, but he bat .257/.351/.398 in August.
CF Corey Patterson has no business as a starting outfielder, hitting an anemic .272/.308/.387 on the season. Could somebody tell me what he was doing batting second? It will be interesting to see where he latches on in the off season. With speed and defense, he could be very interesting for some teams, but they need to minimize the damage he does with his weak bat.
SS Nick Markakis is hitting .294/.360/.467 in 523 at bats in 2007. No argument here, but he's solid, not spectacular and not my idea of a #3 hitter.
SS Miguel Tejada is hitting .306/.363/.471. He was the most likely one to get a hit, but everybody has some oh-fers.
DH Kevin Millar: .261/.373/.430. He's drawn some walks this season, but at this point in his career that's just about all he has and that's not a ringing endorsement for a DH.
1B Aubrey Huff: If you hadn't noticed by now, this piece could alternately be named "Why the Orioles Are Where They Are". Huff was one of the Orioles key acquisitions and he's hitting .271/.320/.435.
3B Scott Moore was playing his first ML game this season after hitting .265/.373/.526 in Des Moines. Now I like the trade that the Orioles made to get him, giving up Steve Trachsel for Moore and another player. He'll be an asset to the club with his lefty pop. I think he could be one of the better "4 corners" supersubs in the game. But his weaknesses, mostly contact and the associated batting average issues, perfectly align with being no-hit.
C JR House only had 15 ML at bats on the season for Baltimore and he had hit .200/.250/.400, but that's not statistically significant. He hit .298/.365/.463 for Norfolk in a much more robust 419 at bats. Actually, I like him too as a pinch hitter, backup catcher, and backup first baseman/DH. But this is another backup level bat.
LF Jay Payton: I'm kind of stunned that he can still buy his way onto a ML roster, let alone have a team voluntarily pay him to play. At least the Orioles had the smarts to bat a guy who is sporting a .259/.298/.368 line 9th in the order.
To review, that's a lineup that isn't really going to threaten many good pitchers. You're immediately forfeiting two spots in the lineup by playing Patterson and Payton. Huff and Millar are well past their sell by date. Markakis is a good young player that I like and he makes for a solid start to a lineup with Tejada and Roberts, but three guys does not a lineup make. I like Moore and House going forward, but more in the way that I'm looking forward to seeing how a good, smart manager can put them to good use rather than waiting to see what they can do with 500 at bats in a season.
This Week's Dumbest Thing Ever
There were no shortages of candidates in this race. The world abounds with people and events that qualify. Adam Dunn missed third base on his way home, costing his team in a situation where they would have been assured to have scored at least two runs, and maybe would have scored more as it would have been 2 on, 2 out. Joey Gathright attempted to bunt in the first inning of a game against the Tigers even though Andrew Miller had allowed the first 7 hitters in the game to reach base, and managed to strike out after he was unsuccessful with the bunt. But having watched my friend Jeff Sullivan's descent into madness during the Mariners recent losing streak, I thought it might be an appropriate occasion to give him the floor and let him get some things off his chest. So I asked him if he would like to have the floor for a minute. In the first ever guest spot on the Weekly Awards, here's Jeff's nomination of John McLaren for Dumbest Thing Ever.
A lot of new managers are given a little grace period during which they're free from criticism while they familiarize themselves with their job and their players. For John McLaren, though, a dugout veteran of more than 20 years, there is no excusing the mess he's made of the Mariners' recent losing streak.
Now, I'm not going to sit here and blame McLaren for the skid. More than anything else, it's the players who have to perform up to their abilities. But John McLaren did not handle the whole thing very well, and it all kind of boiled over in last Thursday's latest Cleveland makeup game. Let's recap:
-Started Jose Vidro - arguably the worst defensive infielder in baseball - instead of Jose Lopez or Willie Bloomquist at second base with groundballer Horacio Ramirez on the mound
-Batted Raul Ibanez cleanup against a left-handed starter
-With men on first and second with none out in the ninth inning of a one-run game against Joe Borowski, had Adam Jones bunt on a 3-1 count
-Relieved Eric O'Flaherty with two on and one out in the bottom of the ninth with Rick White, even though JJ Putz hadn't pitched since the 24th
Put all these things together and you've got yourself a 6-5 loss and a six-game losing streak. During those six games, Putz made zero appearances, while White made four - in a tie game against Texas, in a one-run game against Los Angeles, in a tie game against Cleveland, and in a blowout. Three high-leverage appearances given to a 38 year old nobody who couldn't even get hitters out in Houston before getting released. White was predictably terrible, and it cost the team severely. That's what happens when you make far and away the worst pitcher in your bullpen throw important pitches.
It's like the team didn't learn at all from the failed John Parrish experiment before. For whatever reason McLaren falls in love with crappy veterans who've "been through wars", and for whatever reason Bill Bavasi allows him to indulge in his weird little fantasies rather than build the idiot-proof bullpen we thought we had before. It's a dangerous combination, and God only knows how much it's already cost us.
John McLaren doesn't know anything about groundball/flyball profiles, he doesn't know anything about platoon splits, he doesn't know anything about when to yank certain pitchers, and he doesn't know anything about how to run a Major League bullpen. The sabermetric principle that field managers have little impact on a team's final record falls short here, because McLaren occupies his own little world of stupid, and with more than 20 years' dugout experience under his belt, it's hard to see him evolving in the role. John McLaren: major tool. That the Mariners are somehow still in playoff contention is nothing short of a Christmas miracle.
This Week's MVP
AL: It's a tough choice between Carlos Pena, who smacked 4 long balls and drew 8 walks in his .296/.444/.852 week and Curtis Granderson, who hit a pair of bombs to go with 4 doubles and a steal in going .531/.519/.923. I think I'll go with Pena because he had an extra 9 plate appearances for his rate stats.
Season: Alex Alowishus Devadander Abercrombie Rodriguez.
NL: Jimmy Rollins had the best week in baseball, going .515/.556/.909. He was the ultimate stat sheet stuffer with a pair of doubles, a triple, three homers, three steals (caught once), and three walks. It bears mentioning that I never saw this mid-career power spike coming. There was no warning. He had hit 14 home runs in 2001 and 2004, but he hit 25 last season and he has 25 right now. He went from having a career high in isolated slugging of .166 to going for .201 last season and .237 this season. He's hitting .299/.350/.536 and he's become quite a valuable little player, more than making his 5 year, $40 million contract a bargain. There were some doubts about giving that much money over that amount of time to him.
Season: Jake Peavy spun a pair of spectacular starts this week, combining for 14 innings of 1 run baseball, allowing only 5 HITS, striking out 19, walking 4. That brought his ERA down to its current 2.10. It's certainly aided by his home park, but an ERA+ of 196 is hard to mitigate through park effects alone. Batters are now hitting an impotent .202/.268/.282 against him. That's simply insane.
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.