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May 27, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Blanking Out

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Padres
28-18
4-2
.603
Down
Four Friars: Clayton Richard, Mat Latos, Jon Garland, Kevin Correia and the Padres bullpen combine to allow just three runs in four games against the Mariners and Cardinals. Such strong work is nothing new for this Pad Squad; their starters have combined for a 2.66 ERA and 16 quality starts out of 23 this month. Headed by Latos' .616 mark, the first three of that aforementioned quartet are all in the league's top 20 in Support Neutral Winning Percentage, and the team leads the league in both SNLVAR and WXRL.

2


Phillies
26-19
2-4
.572
Down
Sign O' The Times? Though they remain atop the NL East, the Phillies are shut out three times in a four-day span after being blanked just once prior; they haven't plated a run since Sunday, when they scored three as an afterthought in the ninth inning while down by eight runs. Since being accused of stealing signs by Rockies manager Jim Tracy, the team is hitting just .256/.325/.401 and scoring 4.1 runs per game, while going 6-7. Roy Halladay has received just seven runs over the course of his three starts in that span, with the Phillies losing all three.

3


Cardinals
26-21
3-3
.566
Down
Moody May: The frustrations are mounting over the Cardinals' mediocre month. Brad Penny hits a grand slam but leaves a game in the fourth inning due to a strained lat, angering manager Tony La Russa because he concealed the injury. Meanwhile, Albert Pujols exchanges unpleasantries with the skipper as well. Pujols has been struggling against lefties all season (.195/.250/.390 in 44 PA), and he remains stuck on one homer this month; the Cards have been outhomered 23-12 since the calendar turned.

4


Rockies
24-22
5-1
.549
Up
Bomb.com: Taking advantage of interleague play to get his cuts in as DH, Jason Giambi goes 5-for-14 against the Royals, capped by a three-run homer off Zack Greinke. It's his second jack of the year, one more than Todd Helton, but it's apparently not enough to undo the sting of a bad Internet investment. Meanwhile, after homering just once in the season's first 40 games, Troy Tulowitzki goes yard four times in five games, all of them Rockies wins.

5


Dodgers
26-20
4-2
.540
Up
Yeah, That's the Ticket: The Dodgers sue comedian Jon Lovitz for his failure to pay for some $95,000 worth of season tickets, perhaps because they're having a hard time finding the scratch to afford the addition of Roy Oswalt to their rotation via trade. Even without Oswalt, the rotation is on a roll, with a 2.64 ERA, 8.1 K/9 and 0.5 HR/9 since May 9. Clayton Kershaw and Chad Billingsley have combined to yield nine runs in 53.1 innings during that span, while John Ely faces 89 hitters without yielding a walk. All that good work has helped the Dodgers compile an MLB-best 17-6 record since the beginning of the month.

6


Reds
27-20
4-3
.539
Up
Leake-ing: The Reds maintain the NL Central lead, but their bullpen wastes a pair of strong starts by Mike Leake, the first by blowing a six-run ninth-inning lead culminating in Francisco Cordero serving up a walkoff grand slam to the Braves' Brooks Conrad, the second when Nick Masset yields a ninth-inning solo homer to Ryan Doumit. Leake has given the Reds six quality starts in a row and ranks 21st in the league in Support Neutral Winning Percentage. The Reds' bullpen is just 11th in the league in WXRL and is sporting an ugly 5.19 Fair Run Average.

7


Giants
23-22
1-5
.539
Down
Toppling Giants: With five losses in a row and seven in their last nine games, the Jints fall to fourth place in the NL West. The skid is highlighted by a three-game sweep in Oakland where the Giants are held to a single run, part of a larger problem in which the team is averaging just 3.5 runs per game this month, threatening their viability in the NL West race. Aaron Rowand (.213/.253/.415 in May) and Pablo Sandoval (.200/.255/.278) are the most egregious offenders as the Giants' True Average is down to .251, 14th in the league.

8


Braves
24-22
4-2
.534
Down
Comeback Special: Down 8-0 in the second inning and 9-3 going into the bottom of the ninth, the Braves score seven runs to beat the Reds, capped by Brooks Conrad's walk-off grand slam, which takes the pinch-hitter by surprise. The victory is part of a five-game winning streak which carries the Braves back over .500, not to mention a 15-8 month, second-best in the NL. Eric Hinske (.383/.444/.787) and Jason Heyward (.349/.475/.619) are leading the charge for a team that's outscoring opponents 128-86 in May, but alas, not everyone has been quite so chipper.

9


Marlins
24-23
2-4
.531
Down
No K's but OK: Josh Johnson runs his scoreless streak to 18 innings and combines with three pitchers to shut out the White Sox. That's no great challenge given Chicago's offensive woes; what's interesting is that Johnson doesn't strike out a single hitter in his six innings. That combination of at least six innings without a strikeout or a run allowed has happened just 22 times since the beginning of the 2000 season, rarely by a high-strikeout pitcher such as Johnson, who ranks sixth in the league in K's and is still whiffing exactly one batter per inning.

10


Mets
24-23
5-1
.512
Up
Pitching Patches: Despite the Mets' myriad woes, Mike Pelfrey and Johan Santana pitch the team past the reeling Yankees in the CitiField leg of the Subway Series, preserving embattled skipper Jerry Manuel's job for the moment. Pelfrey outduels Phil Hughes for his sixth quality start out of nine; he ranks 16th in the league with a .604 SNWP, with Santana 12th at .607. Meanwhile, rotation patches R.A. Dickey and Hisanori Takahashi throw six shutout innings apiece in back-to-back starts against the Phillies, helping the Mets escape the NL East cellar; the duo has yielded just two runs in 24 innings over their four starts.

11


Cubs
22-25
3-3
.504
Up
Who Are You and What Have You Done With the Real Sori? Alfonso Soriano bops two-run homers on back-to-back days against the Rangers to help the Cubs to a pair of 5-4 wins. Sori's hitting a searing .315/.380/.611, and ranks ninth in the league with a .327 True Average. He's walking in 9.0 percent of his plate appearances, very close to his career high of 9.2 percent set with Washington in 2005.

12


Nationals
24-23
3-3
.488
Up
Beltin' in the Beltway: Josh Willingham's 10th-inning walk-off homer gives the Nationals a series win over the Orioles in the DC leg of the Beltway Series. It's the second homer in as many days for Willingham, who's hitting a robust .277/.434/.511 and leading the leagues in walks and OBP while ranking fifth in True Average at .338.

13


Brewers
18-28
3-3
.424
Down
Try Back Tuesday? With the Brewers' skid extending to 11 losses in 12 games-including a 15-3 pounding by the Twins in which David Bush is torched for seven runs while retiring just one hitter, owner Mark Attanasio denies he'll fire manager Ken Macha on Monday, and claims GM Doug Melvin's job is "very, very secure." The former's resorting to words like "poppycock" in frustration, while the latter's probably talking a bluer streak given that his winter blueprint to rebuild the pitching staff hasn't panned out; the Brew Crew's 5.33 ERA is 14th in the league, and they're second-to-last in combined win expectancy (SNLVAR + WXRL) at 0.6.

14


Diamondbacks
20-27
3-3
.422
Down
Gopher Troubles: Dan Haren drives in three runs while grinding out eight innings of four-run ball to beat the Blue Jays. Haren is 12-for-29 with five doubles this year, but his pitching hasn't been up to his usual standard; he's carrying a 4.79 ERA and has just a .444 SNWP. While his 70/15 K/BB is stellar, he's yielded a league-high 12 homers, one of three Snakes in double digits (Ian Kennedy and Edwin Jackson being the others). The team leads the league with 58 dingers, but they've allowed 78, also a league lead.

15


Astros
16-30
2-4
.322
Down
Bottoming Out: Continued offensive ineptitude nearly earns the Astros a spot in the Hit List basement. In the latest installment of Disastropiece Theater, they're scoring just 2.8 runs a game this month on .224/.275/.320 hitting. The team ditches Kazuo Matsui, off to a .141/.197/.155/.082 TAv start, turning the position over to Jeff Keppinger, whose .264 TAv is actually third on the team. That still leaves them with half a lineup carrying True Averages below .200 in Carlos Lee (.195), Pedro Feliz (.191), Tommy Manzella (.177) and Humberto Quintero (.183). As a team, the Astros are at a dead-in-the-water .217.

16


Pirates
20-27
2-5
.321
Flat
The Cardiac Catcher: Ryan Doumit hits a pair of game-winning homers in a three-day span to give the Bucs their only wins in a seven-game stretch, the first a 10th-inning walk-off blast against the Braves, the second a ninth-inning solo shot against the Reds. All five of Doumit's homers this year have come in the eighth inning or later; only Paul Konerko has more. The Buc backstop's .301 True Average has him back where he was before last year's injury-wracked season.


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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Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Scott ... (05/27)
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