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May 28, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Coming Around

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Rays
33-15
3-4
.655
Down
Swept and Stung in St. Pete: The Rays maintain the top spot despite suffering their second three-game losing streak of the year, this time a sweep at home by the Red Sox in which their offense manages just four runs in the series. B.J. Upton and Carlos Peņa continue to sputter, with the former now hitting .154/.214/.256 this month, the latter .129/.235/.271; Jason Bartlett's .198/.324/.302 from the leadoff spot isn't helping much, either. Meanwhile, Sean Rodriguez becomes the first player in franchise history to be stung by a ray; he's okay, if by okay you mean "inexorably sliding below the Mendoza Line."

2


Yankees
28-19
3-3
.618
Down
Core Four Three to the Rescue: After losing six out of eight to various rivals, the battered Yankees limp into Minnesota, where they promptly take two games in one day. The old guard leads the way, as Derek Jeter homers to provide the lone run in the resumption of a game suspended the night before due to rain, making a run-saving jump-throw a half-inning later. In the nightcap, Andy Pettitte pitches eight strong innings (he's third in the league in SNWP) and Mariano Rivera notches the save in both games, the sixth time he's done so in his career-though technically, the one from the suspended game goes down as happening on May 25, not May 26.

3


Twins
27-20
3-3
.583
Up
Twin Killing: Jason Kubel homers twice-the first Twins homers in nine games-and drives in five runs to help the Twins avoid being swept by the Yankees at home. Kubel's hitting just .233/.350/.383, but three of his five homers, including a grand slam off Mariano Rivera, have come at the Yankees' expense. Nonetheless, the team hasn't won a series with the Yankees since August 2008, and has lost 11 of 13 regular-season games and 45 of 61 (or 54 out of 72 including the postseason) during the Gardenhire era.

4


Blue Jays
27-22
2-4
.560
Down
Bad Birdies: Losers of five out of seven, the Blue Jays briefly slip into fourth place in the AL East for the first time in four weeks. As good as Shaun Marcum, Ricky Romero, and Brett Cecil have been thus far, the rotation's back end-Brandon Morrow (6.66 ERA, .377 SNWP) and Dana Eveland (6.45 ERA, .422 SNWP)-has been dreadful; the former's unsightly walk rate (5.8 BB/9) is negating his league-leading strikeout rate (11.7 K/9), while the latter's been torched for a 9.69 ERA while compiling a 12/20 K/BB ratio over his last six starts. His third straight disasterpiece triggers his DFA; he may be bound for his sixth team in as many years.

5


Red Sox
27-22
5-2
.559
Up
It's About Time: Carrying a 7.89 ERA into his start, Daisuke Matsusaka takes a no-hitter into the eighth against the Phillies before settling on a combined one-hitter. Three days later, Jon Lester and friends one-hit the Rays. Lester's allowed just nine runs in his last 49 2/3 IP, holding opponents to two runs or less in six out of seven starts in that span. Boston's 9-1 run pushes them a season-high six games above .500; between the returns of Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury and the fact that they've held opponents to just 3.8 runs per game and a .243 BABIP over the last two weeks, it appears their much-derided run prevention plan is starting to come together.

6


Tigers
25-21
1-4
.540
Down
No More Bomberman? Though their otherwise reliable bullpen lets one slip away as the Tigers go into a bit of a slump, Jeremy Bonderman's starting to pitch like his old self. Rocked for a 6.97 ERA through his first four starts-not to mention a 4.96 ERA from 2007-09-he's allowed just six runs in 27 innings over his last four turns (plus a one-inning relief appearance), with a 26/7 K/BB ratio and no homers to boot. Even so, the Tigers' rotation ranks last in the league in SNLVAR, with Rick Porcello (5.58 ERA, .394 SNWP) and Max Scherzer (7.29 ERA, .327 SNWP) failing to pull their weight.

7


Rangers
26-21
2-3
.526
Down
Impaling Again: The franchise sale may be a Texas-sized mess which could prevent the Rangers from acquiring Roy Oswalt, but at least the money they're spending on Vlad Guerrero is going to good use. The Impaler knocks five homers in a seven-game span, including a pair against the Royals which are almost overshadowed by a double on a pitch he has no business hitting. His .339/.369/.583 performance has fourth in the AL in batting average, slugging percentage and homers (12).

8


Athletics
25-23
5-1
.491
Up
Stingy Starters: Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez, Ben Sheets, and the A's bullpen combine to hold the Giants to one run in their three-game Bay Bridge series in San Francisco, highlighted by Gonzalez's eight-inning, two-hit shutout effort while squaring off against Matt Cain. Rocked for a 6.24 ERA in 2008-2009, Gonzalez appears to have turned a corner; he's got a 3.46 ERA after lowering his astronomical homer and walk rates to 0.5 and 4.0 per nine, respectively. He and Dallas Braden are both in the league's top 20 in SNWP, but there's trouble in Bradenia due to a sprained ankle and a lack of run support; the A's have gotten him just two runs in his three starts since his perfect game.

9


White Sox
20-27
4-3
.448
Flat
Don't Give Me No Lip, Child: Mark Buerhle and Ozzie Guillen are tossed by Cowboy Joe West for arguing over a pair of balks. Ozzie could face suspension, but so could the insufferable umpire. Elsewhere in the rotation, tired-armed Jake Peavy is knocked around for six runs by the Indians, the fifth time in 10 starts he's given up at least six. Peavy's got a 6.05 ERA, and while his strikeout and walk rates are at their worst since 2003, the real problem is his home run rate (1.4 HR/9); he's tied for second in the league with 10 homers allowed.

10


Royals
20-28
3-3
.445
Up
Zack Attacked: After getting just 26 runs of support in his previous nine starts, Zack Greinke gets a season-high seven from the Royals' lineup. Alas, they pick the wrong day to bother, as their ace is tagged for eight runs in just 3 1/3 innings in his worst start since July 18, 2008. Aside from the pathetic support he's received, Greinke's troubles owe something to the long ball. His homer rate this year is 2.6 times what it was last year; he's yielded eight already, compared to 11 in 2009.

11


Mariners
18-28
3-2
.430
Up
Milk Makes You Strong: Clubhouse enforcer Mike Sweeney homers twice and drives in six of the Mariners' season-high 15 runs as they thrash the Padres, then bookends his week by hitting a two-run eighth-inning shot amid a decisive rally against the Tigers. Sweeney's hitting .309/.377/.603 and now has a team-high six dingers in just 77 PA, the same number that Casey Kotchman, Milton Bradley, Ken Griffey Jr., and Chone Figgins have combined for in 577 PA.

12


Angels
23-26
3-3
.420
Up
The Lonely Catcher: Mike Napoli goes on a homer binge, hitting five in eight games, though three of them come in losses. After failing to connect for a homer last month, Napoli's got seven this month while hitting .320/.386/.720 (albeit with an ugly 30/3 K/BB ratio). Alas, the rest of his teammates are batting a combined .232/.292/.343 in May, while the pitching staff is surrendering 5.1 runs per game. In other words, the Angels can blame the absent Jeff Mathis for all of this, right?

13


Indians
17-28
2-4
.389
Flat
Master(son) of Disaster: For all the question marks in Cleveland's rotation coming into the year-Jake Westbrook coming back from Tommy John surgery, Fausto Carmona from two years of mechanical woes, David Huff from a replacement-level season, and Mitch Talbot from a system where he may not have ranked among the team's top 10 pitching prospects-few expected the weak link in the Tribe's starting five to be Justin Masterson. While his 0-5 record is the product of craptastic run support (2.7 per game), he's been raked for a 6.13 ERA thanks to a .401 BABIP and a 5.0 BB/9, a recipe for trouble if there ever was one, and his .360 SNWP is the worst of the bunch.

14


Orioles
15-33
2-4
.366
Flat
The Closer Curse: Not that they've had many leads to protect or that they've been all that successful at doing so, but the Orioles can't keep a closer healthy this year. First Mike Gonzalez goes down, then Jim Johnson needs surgery, and now Alfredo Simon, who saves six out of seven before straining a hamstring and hitting the DL; joining him there is the presumptive next pitcher in line for the job, Koji Uehara. In the annals of obviousness, the O's are last in the league in WXRL.


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

3 comments have been left for this article.

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