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May 13, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Blowing Up

by Jay Jaffe

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RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Padres
21-12
4-2
.629
Up
Good Things Come in Threes: With the pre-season PECOTA projections discarded, the Pad squad's strong week pushes them to the top of the heap. Starters Mat Latos, Jon Garland, and Tim Stauffer combine to throw 20 innings of shutout ball across three straight games against the Astros, almost certainly setting some standard of success record for guys with three-lettered first names in the process. For Garland it's his fifth straight game allowing one earned run or less; his 1.71 ERA is sixth in the league, but logic and his 4.85 SIERA suggests that phenomenon will be short-lived. As for Stauffer, he takes the ball to fill in for the bereaved Kevin Correia, then reveals a heretofore unknown talent for medical self-diagnosis, in this case an appendicitis-an unkind cut for a guy with a 0.39 ERA.

2


Giants
18-14
3-4
.616
Down
I Got a Broken Face: Aaron Rowand's two-run eighth-inning homer helps the Giants take a series in New York and complete a 4-2 East Coast swing. Back from a surprisingly short stint on the DL due to a fractured cheekbone and a concussion, Rowand is sluggier (.275/.326/.575) than he was before he went down (.304/.333/.457). The Giants like having his hard head around; they're 11-8 and averaging 5.1 runs per game with him in the lineup, 7-6 and averaging 3.7 per game without.

3


Cardinals
20-14
2-5
.604
Down
Off Their Perch Losers of six out of eight, the Cardinals are suddenly feeling the heat in the NL Central race; last week's five-game lead is down to one. With the team suddenly scrounging for runs (4.1 per game in May, down from 4.6 in April), Tony La Russa pulls Skip Schumaker ( .218/.301/.277) out of the leadoff spot in favor of Colby Rasmus (.292/.415/.573). The move lasts all of one game, as the latter goes 0-for-4 in a loss, then sits against lefty Wandy Rodriguez-as if Skippy can hit southpaws (.210/.278/.226 from 2007-2009). Regarding Rasmus, one has to be impressed with the second-year center fielder, who ranks 16th in the league with a .328 True Average, just eight points behind Albert Pujols.

4


Phillies
20-13
5-2
.596
Up
Ye Olde Hurler: Jamie Moyer spins a shutout against the Braves, at age 47 becoming the oldest pitcher ever to do so, and it's a nifty two-hitter at that. The outing lowers his ERA to 4.38, though it's just his second quality start out of six. He's the only ERA qualifier in the majors to have more homers allowed (seven) than walks (five), but for the moment at least, he's staving off the distinction of displacing the late Robin Roberts as the all-time home run king.

5


Rockies
16-17
3-3
.560
Up
Slumpbusters Welcome: Miguel Olivo caps a 5-for-5 day with a showy walk-off homer in the 10th inning against the Philllies. Miggy's big day breaks him out of a 2-for-28 slump, but elsewhere in the lineup, Todd Helton can't shake his season-long cold spell. He's got one hit and seven strikeouts in his last 15 at-bats and is now hitting .252/.355/.291 without a homer. His 31-game homerless streak dating back to last year is seven off the longest drought of his career.

6


Braves
16-18
5-3
.520
Up
Mr. May: Troy Glaus homers in back-to-back games against the Brewers, continuing the hot streak he's been on since the calendar flipped. After hitting just .194/.310/.292 in April, he's at .386/.440/.568 this month. Though they're sharing the NL East cellar, the Braves are 7-4 this month with a +27 run differential after their worst April (9-14) since 1990 under Bobby Cox's predecessor, Russ Nixon.

7


Mets
18-16
3-4
.520
Up
Hot Rod: Making Mets fans grateful that the team didn't sign Bengie Molina over the winter, Rod Barajas is simply en fuego. He hits a walk-off homer agains the Giants, his second blast of the game and one of six in a span of eight starts across which he hits .375/.375/1.031 to lift his overall line to a lopsided .247/.272/.567. Also homering twice in that Giants game is Likable Ike Davis, who's been everything the Mets could have hoped for; he's hitting .290/.405/.478 and turning somersaults afield; the Mets are 14-7 with him in the lineup.

8


Dodgers
17-17
6-2
.508
Up
Dr. Dre is In: With Clayton Kershaw and John Ely leading the way, the shaky pitching situation takes a turn for the better, with that unlikely duo outdueling Ubaldo Jimenez and Dan Haren, respectively. Meanwhile, Andre Ethier is simply crushing it with a .478/.510/.978 May, including four three-hit games, a walk-off grand slam and an are-you-effing-kidding-me intentional walk in front of Manny Ramirez (.393/.507/589 for the year) setting up a game-breaking bases-clearing double, a sweep of the Diamondbacks, and a return to .500.

9


Reds
19-15
6-1
.499
Up
Blankety-Blank: Winners of five games in a row and four series out of their last five, the Reds are suddenly breathing down the Cardinals' necks in the NL Central. Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey hurl back-to-back shutouts against the Pirates. No need to call the Pitcher Abuse Police either, as Cueto yields just one hit and throws 103 pitches while lowering his ERA from 5.18, Bailey four hits and 90 pitches while deflating his ERA from 7.24. Elsewhere among the young hurlers, Mike Leake continues to roll; he's given the Reds five quality starts out of six and has a 20/5 K/BB ratio over his last four starts (27 innings).

10


Nationals
19-15
5-3
.494
Up
The Vulture: An 8-4 run carries the Nats into second place in the NL East. Claiming three of those wins is reliever Tyler Clippard, who at one point runs his record to 6-0 with an 0.76 ERA, but a closer look shows that four of his W's, including three in four days, come via blown saves. He's allowed 12 out of 20 inherited baserunners to score, and his reliever stats (0.3 WXRL, 3.37 Fair Run Average) are respectable but not nearly so eye-popping as his traditional stats. More impressive is his 30/12 K/BB ratio in 24 innings, a product of his unorthodox delivery.

11


Cubs
15-20
2-6
.490
Down
A Star Is Born? Starlin Castro bops a three-run homer in his first major league at-bat, adds a triple, and finishes with an MLB-record six RBI in his major league debut. Alas, the 20-year-old's Herculean effort helps the team to its only win in an eight-game stretch, and the further attention he calls to himself isn't so flattering, as he commits three errors in his Wrigley Field debut. While he's looking green, Aramis Ramirez is apparently old beyond his years, hitting a bare .159/.227/.254; given such struggles, it wouldn't be a bad idea for Lou Piniella to spot displaced second baseman Mike Fontenot at the hot corner.

12


Marlins
16-18
3-5
.486
Down
Getting Warmer Cody Ross' second homer of the year helps the Marlins take a series from the Cubs, just their second series win out of their last seven. Ross' homer comes four weeks after his first one, but he's heating up, hitting .300/.364/.500 in May after a .262/.295/.367 April. Showing somewhat less convincing signs of life is Chris Coghlan; a day after collecting three hits, he notches his first extra-base hit of the season, 114 plate appearances in-this from a hitter who slugged .460 with 46 extra base hits after his May call-up last year.

13


Brewers
15-19
4-4
.476
Flat
Mighty Casey and the Not-So-Mighty Prince: The Brewers continue their up-and-down ways, but don't blame Casey McGehee; he's 10-for-19 with 18 total bases and 10 RBI over his last five games and is now hitting .323/.399/.565 with a team-high seven home runs, one more than Ryan Braun and three more than Prince Fielder. Braun's not exactly struggling with the stick (.359/.443/.594), though he does miss a pair of games due to a bruised elbow. As for Fielder, he's merely tepid, hitting .273/.360/.432 this month after a .244/.381/.360 April. Lefties are particularly bedeviling him (.186/.300/.349 ) compared to a relatively respectable .263/.341/.490 showing from 2007-2009.

14


Diamondbacks
14-21
1-7
.415
Down
The Tipping Point: Losers of six straight by a combined score of 52-15, the Diamondbacks slide into the NL West basement. No less than 20 of the runs come in the eighth or ninth inning, part of a season-long problem; they've played opponents close through seven (155 runs scored, 159 runs allowed) but have been outscored 56-23 in the eighth or ninth. While the banged-up rotation is 1.7 wins above replacement level (via SNLVAR) with a 5.31 Fair Run Average, the bullpen is 2.6 is below ground (via WXRL) with an 8.37 FRA, a situation so dire it leads manager A.J. Hinch into Wile E. Coyote territory: walking Andre Ethier to have struggling Edwin Jackson (7.43 ERA) face Manny Ramirez with the bases loaded as he nears the 120-pitch mark. KABOOM!

15


Astros
12-21
4-3
.325
Down
Hitless, Walkless Wonders: Hunter Pence's double and homer help the Astros overcome a three-run deficit and break a 1-11 freefall. The team simply isn't hitting; they score more than two runs just twice amid that skid and are averaging just 3.0 runs per game, with a .211 True Average that's hell and gone from the other 29 teams; the club's 4.9 percent walk rate is more than 50 percent worse than the next-worst club, the Marlins (7.7 percent). The problems start with the big bats; Pence (.221), Carlos Lee (.179), and Lance Berkman (.240) have all been awful, and the latter is now willing to waive his no-trade clause for a ticket out of town.

16


Pirates
14-20
3-5
.291
Down
Weak Links: The Pirates cap a streak in which they lose five out of six and score just 10 runs with back-to-back shutouts, the first time that's happened since, oh, three weeks ago. The offense's .242 True Average is the second-worst in the league; half the lineup is under the replacement level .230 mark: Jeff Clement (.186), Akinori Iwamura (.202), Lastings Millege (.228), and Ronnie Cedeno (.230). In happier news, the team is at least getting better pitching; Charlie Morton's ERA is down to single digits after three quality starts in a row (albeit the first involved three unearned runs), Ross Ohlendorf is back from the DL, and the staff's ERA this month is 4.08, down from April's 6.71.


The Prospectus Hit List rankings are derived from Won-Loss records and several measurements pertaining to run differentials, both actual and adjusted, from Baseball Prospectus Adjusted Standings through the close of play on every Thursday.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

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