THT Awards Week 5

Coming to you from the temporary center of the universe, Indianapolis, welcome to the awards.

For award definitions and background on the column itself, please consult the Primer.

All weekly stats are the previous Monday through Sunday. All season statistics are through Sunday.

This week’s proof that assigning wins and losses to a pitcher is an idiotic practice that must stop

Good Luck Division:

Jason Jennings spared Brett Tomko the indignity of a loss by getting trounced by a weak Royals offense on Tuesday. Tomko recorded no decision despite giving up five runs on seven hits and three walks in three and a third.

In a battle of two pitchers who are getting their heads handed to them, somebody’s going to escape official blame from the scorer. This was the case Saturday, when Matt Chico allowed five runs to score in four and a third but Paul Maholm allowed seven in five frames and there’s only one loss to assign.

Season: Jon Garland is 4-3, but batters are hitting .309/.359/.497 against him. He can now turn around and thank Casey Kotchman and the Halos offense for having his back.

Bad Luck Division

In Tuesday’s Red Sox/Blue Jays matchup, John Lester got a no decision despite eight scoreless frames and Roy Halladay went eight and two thirds, allowing only a single run on a Kevin Youkilis walkoff single. Despite a 3-4 record, he has four complete games. That’s 17 percent of all of baseball’s complete games this season. That’s one guy with almost a fifth of the complete games that have been recorded in five weeks. And there are 104 pitchers who qualify for the ERA title.

Thanks to reader “Jake,” who wrote me about the Halladay incident.

Mark Buehrle gave the White Sox a complete game, striking out seven in eight innings, allowing only two runs. He got the loss at the hands of, ironically enough, the Jays because Shaun Marcum and four of his closest friends collaborated on a shutout.

I don’t usually cover minor league games in this column, but it bears mentioning that Matthew Zaleski and the Winston-Salem Warthogs no-hit the Potomac Nationals on Tuesday night, but lost 3-2 courtesy of an error, six walks, and a weak offensive performance.

Zack Greinke deserved better than what he got on Thursday afternoon, going seven innings, striking out nine and walking nobody. His only sin was giving up a pair of solo home runs. But the Royals’ bats were silenced by Sidney Ponson. Yes, Sidney Ponson. They scored one run in support of a guy who spun a brilliant game.

Season: I already mentioned Harry Leroy Halladay. But Johan Santana and Shaun Marcum (who appeared above) have claims as well; they have cumulative lines against them of .203/.259/.372 and .167/.244/.326 respectively and ERAs of 2.91 and 2.70. Yet they’re a combined 6-4.

Vulture alert! Vulture alert!

Using Recurrent Neural Networks to Predict Player Performance
Technology is rapidly advancing possibilities in decision-making.

Royce Ring threw one pitch on Sunday and was credited with a win when Josh Fogg got blitzed by the Braves offense. Fogg and Braves starter Tom Glavine both are good candidates for the lucky dog category above, combining for 11 runs.

And thank you THT editor extraordinaire Joe Distelheim for pointing out that Brewers reliever Brian Shouse got a win in Thursday’s game against the Cubs when he threw only one pitch, and didn’t even retire a batter on that one, lonely pitch. He picked Kosuke Fukudome off first base to end the eighth inning and once Kerry Wood blew the lead, Shouse was in line to get his second victory of the season.

Holds suck, too

On Thursday, Jesse Carlson of the Jays got a hold in a game in which he threw three pitches and got David Ortiz out to end the eighth inning with the bases empty and a three-run lead.

The Wes Littleton Award

Monday, Mariano Rivera entered the game with a three-run lead over Cleveland at the top of the ninth inning. He had to retire the numbers eight and nine hitters and the leadoff man. Franklin Gutierrez, Jason Michaels and David Dellucci went down in order.

Any sufficiently advanced defense is indistinguishable from pitching

Jeremy Bonderman and Clay Rapada (who has a great name, by the way) combined for nine innings in which they gave up two runs on five hits in Wednesday’s win over the Yankees despite striking out only two batters.

Even better, Garland and Francisco Rodriguez combined for nine innings and two runs with only two strikouts. They gave up only three hits.

The Joe Carter Award

James Loney drove in nine runs this week. He hit a double, a triple and a homer. But he hit only .174/.208/.435.

Josh Hamilton and his teammate David Murphy each drove in six. They hit .160/.160/.320 and .130/.160/.391 respectively.

Season: Emil Brown still owns this category, with 26 RBI in 118 at bats, despite hitting a paltry .271/.296/.398. He has only eight extra base hits and four walks.

The Harmon Killebrew Batting Average is for Wussies Award

Eric Hinske managed only a .222 batting average, but half his hits went for extra bases and he drew seven walks on his way to a .222/.440/.444 line. He even had a 1-0 record on stolen base attempts.

Adrian Beltre had a similar story as he hit .238, but two of his hits were home runs, he drew five free passes, and he was 1-0 on the bases. .238/.385/.524 is a nifty line.

Season: Nick Johnson remains here courtesy of his .211/.390/.422 line. The primary motivator in that is the 23 walks he’s coaxed from NL pitchers.

This week’s dumbest thing ever

This is a dumb thing to do when you’re a very established major league player who has little to worry about in the way of job security. It’s a monumentally stupid thing to do when you don’t have a contract that guarantees you money next season, you’re easily replaceable, and your early season performance has been only slightly better than what would be expected if we brought back Lima Time.

Oh, and doesn’t anybody listen to Crash Davis’ advice anymore? Always punch with your glove hand, not your pitching hand!

The Rey Sanchez Batting Average Is All I’ve Got Award

Randy Winn hit .292, but with only one double to show his power and only one walk in 24 at bats. .292/.320/.333 isn’t going to get it done.

Season: Erick Aybar looks like a good long-term candidate to stay in contention for this spot. In the minors he rarely walked and he doesn’t look like somebody who will hit for anything more than marginal power. .298/.308/.375 isn’t that great. In 104 at bats, he has only two walks, and six extra base hits against 25 singles. And he’s even doing poorly on the basepaths at five stolen bases against two caught stealing.

The Steve Balboni Award

Ryan Howard walked four times and hit a home run and a double. But he struck out eight times on his way to a .136/.269/.318 line.

Season: Mark Reynolds and Carlos Pena share this week. Reynolds has struck out 43 times in 110 AB with a .236/.320/.464 line being dragged down by the batting average you get when you whiff in 39 percent of your at bats. And Pena has struck out 35 times in 107 AB and sits at .215/.323/.422.

Three true outcomes alert!!!

Grady Sizemore smacked two bombs, walked five times, and struck out five times in 23 plate appearances. All told, 52 percent of his plate appearances did not involve the opposing team’s defense.

Season: At this point, Ryan Howard is a category unto himself. 136 PA, 6 HR, 21 BB, 45 K, 53 percent TTO

Please stop doing that

Hanley Ramirez stole one base this week, but was caught three times. He was caught twice on Tuesday alone by Russ Martin. Overall he’s the owner of a 74 percent success rate this season and a close to acceptable 77 percent for his career. He had an awful week though.


This won’t end well.

In other news, I’m not going to accuse the World Wide Leader of stealing other people’s ideas. But if I see a new weekly feature where they hand out made-up awards after retired players in an effort to point out some absurdities of the archaic system of scoring we have in baseball, then I’ll be suspicious. And flattered. And maybe a bit hurt.

This week’s MVP

AL: I’ve got to hand it to Jack Cust. When he’s on, he’s really, really, really on. After a few weeks of people knocking dirt onto his grave, he pulls off a week where he hits .500, collects a double and three home runs, and draws five walks, leaving his season line at a suddenly acceptable .244/.426/.427. Speaking of which, he also gets the Small Sample Size Warning designation because at this time last week, he was hitting .161/.373/.242.

Season: This is really quite frustrating. There are some AL players who are hitting well, but nobody is doing anything to separate himself from the pack. There are upwards of a half a dozen NL players who are better candidates than anybody the AL is offering. I guess I’m going to hand it to Manny Ramirez, who is hitting .317/.397/.567.

NL: Geovany Soto doesn’t have Cust’s narrative, but he did hit .391/.481/.870.

Also of note was Jose Reyes, who hit .444/.560/.833 with four steals, three triples and six walks. I decided to go with Soto.

Season: Chase Utley is still the man to beat with his 10 doubles, 13 home runs, 13 walks and .357/.432/.762 line. He’s a great player who is out of his mind right now.

Least Valuable Player

Teammates Morgan Ensberg and Jason Giambi hit .167/.200/.167 and .056/.240/.056 and played their part in handicapping the Yankees offense. Not a single extra base hit was had between the two of them.

Season: Jose Guillen and Andruw Jones are killing their teams right now and both teams could use a nice offensive boost. Jones is hitting .163/.274/.255 and has struck out 34 times in 98 at bats. Guillen isn’t striking out quite that often, but he’s not hitting for power and he’s drawn only five walks in 117 at bats.

Franchise Milestones

Congratulations are in order for Cubs fans. A lot of fun is had at their expense. The organization is now the second team in professional sports history to win 10,000 games, joining the Giants. I mentioned this impending milestone last year. I also mentioned a list of teams that were relatively close to large, round numbers. I’ll do that again right now. The Rangers are only five losses away from 4,000. That’s the next likely one, as it could happen as early as this week if they do particularly poorly against the Mariners and A’s. After them, we have the Rays, who are standing at 987 losses and the Dodgers, who are 14 away from 9,000 losses.

We won’t see anybody pass 10,000 wins or losses for quite some time; the closest to the mark in wins is the Dodgers, at 9,893 and in losses, it’s the Braves at 9,732.

That ends this week’s roundup. Tune in next week to see if somebody, anybody can assert himself worthy of being the AL MVP and possibly to offer condolences to Rangers fans everywhere.

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