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June 17, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Turnover Time

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Braves
38-28
4-2
.583
Up
Changing of the Guard: The Braves cling to the NL East lead and take over the top spot here, but the big news is made by Chipper Jones. Still battling a finger injury which has sapped his production, he hints at retirement at season's end despite having two years and $26 million still remaining on his contract. Though hitting just .234/.378/.366, he does snap out of a 2-for-24 slump with a double and a homer. Meanwhile, Brooks Conrad drives in two of the Braves' three runs against the Twins in Jones' stead; he and the team's other fill-ins are hitting .338/.404/.500 while manning the hot corner.

2


Padres
38-28
4-4
.574
Down
Polar Pitchers: Backed by Aaron Cunningham's grand slam in his first start as a Padre, Mat Latos cages the Blue Jays. Since compiling a 6.20 ERA through his first four starts, he's rolled to a 2.15 ERA via eight quality starts out of nine, and now ranks third on the team and 16th in the league with a .593 SNWP. Moving in the opposite direction is Jon Garland; done with his ace impersonation (1.88 ERA through eight starts), he's been roughed up at a 4.62 ERA clip over his last six.

3


Giants
37-28
5-2
.574
Up
No Standing Pat: Pat Burrell homers twice for the week, matching his total with the Rays prior to being DFA'd in mid-May. He's hitting .355/.400/.645 since being pulled off the scrap heap, compared to .202/.292/.333 with Tampa Bay. Aubrey Huff bops four homers himself, including two in one game to help the Giants sweep the A's in the Bay Bridge Series. The Giants have more or less turned over half their lineup this month, with Burrell, Huff (.305/.396/.541), and Andres Torres (.293/.395/.479) comprising their new outfield, and with Buster Posey (.344/.382/.484) starting at first base; they're averaging 4.8 runs per game this month compared to 4.2 prior, and they continue to fog up the mirrors of the other NL West contenders.

4


Cardinals
36-30
3-3
.570
Down
Did You Get a Free Bowl of Supp With That Pitcher? The Cardinals hit the waiver wire to patch their rotation, reuniting Jeff Suppan with pitching coach Dave Duncan, under whose tutelage he put together the best stretch of his career from 2004-06 (3.95 ERA, compared to 4.95 elsewhere), perhaps via the black arts, but more likely thanks to good defense (.292 BABIP versus .304 elsewhere). Bludgeoned for a 7.84 ERA this year with the Brewers, Suppan allows just one run in four frames-his longest outing since April 29-during his return to red, though the timing of manager Tony La Russa's hook makes for a headscratcher.

5


Rockies
33-32
3-3
.552
Flat
Resistance Is Futile: Ryan Spilborghs goes 7-for-12 with two doubles, a triple, and three three homers in a three-game sweep of the Blue Jays, helping the Rox rebound from losing three out of four to the Astros. Spilborgh's .280/.374/.523 production in part-time duty has earned him increased playing time in a left-field platoon with Seth Smith, with Carlos Gonzalez (who homers twice against Toronto himself) manning center, and struggling Dexter Fowler cooling his heels at Triple-A since the calendar flipped. The 'Borghs' .290 True Average is third on the team behind Miguel Olivo (.301) and Troy Tulowitzki (.295).

6


Dodgers
38-27
2-3
.548
Down
Racking Up the Frustrations: Taking a page from the Paul O'Neill playbook, Andre Ethier remodels a bat rack amid an 0-for-10 slump. He still leads the league in True Average, batting average, and slugging percentage, but his outage coincides with an 0-for-17 skid from Matt Kemp as the Dodgers are swept by the Angels in the Chavez Ravine leg of the Freeway Series. Accompanied by an all-too-appropriate mass scream-bemoaning the lack of V-Energy, perhaps-the sweep halts a 28-10 run by the Dodgers and sees the team lose Chad Billingsley to a groin strain after he's shelled.

7


Mets
37-28
6-1
.538
Up
Nice Niese, Scuffling Santana: Jon Niese tosses a one-hit shutout against the Padres in his second of three strong starts since returning from a hamstring injury; he's allowed just four runs in 23 frames with a 15/4 K/BB ratio in that span. Less impressively, Johan Santana grinds through a pair of starts, yielding eight runs in 13.2 frames with a 2/6 K/BB ratio. Santana's K rate is down to 5.8 per nine, a situation pitching coach Dan Warthen believes is the result of mechanical changes made during his injury-marred 2009, affecting command of his fastball and changeup; no word if he accuses Santana of being a habitual liar. He's 11th in the league with a .609 SNWP, though his 4.59 SIERA suggests his results are far outstripping his peripherals.

8


Reds
36-30
2-4
.523
Down
Leakey: Rookie sensation Mike Leake gets a rude awakening via a pair of starts in which he's cuffed for 20 hits, 10 runs, seven walks, and three homers in 10 1/3 innings, or for more runs than he'd yielded in his previous seven starts combined. The Reds nonetheless manage to maintain their ground in the NL Central race, but they get a scare when Brandon Phillips sits with a hamstring injury. He's back after missing only one game, but his 15-game hitting streak-tied for the third-longest of the season-comes to an end. He batted .463/.486/.627 with 31 hits in that span.

9


Phillies
33-30
2-4
.518
Down
Still Aw-Phil: After yielding just three homers in his first 13 starts, Roy Halladay is pounded for three more by the Yankees as the Phillies' phutility continues. They've been outscored 109-57 while losing 15 out of 22, as Chase Utley (.175/.272/.225), Jayson Werth (.179/.286/.313, 32.5 K%) and Ryan Howard (.225/.311/.399) continue to stink up the joint. The good news is that Jimmy Rollins is on a rehab assignment and could be back by next week. He's been limited to just 12 games this season; the team is 24-27 without him.

10


Marlins
31-34
3-3
.508
Up
Vital Cog: Chris Coghlan collects four hits and scores four times as the Marlins rout their cross-state rivals, taking two out of three in St. Pete. After failing to collect an extra-base hit in any of his first 27 games this year, Coghlan's gotten 18 of 'em in his past 33 games while hitting .328/.393/.530. Mike Stanton collects his first two extra-base hits in that same game, along with three strikeouts. He's hitting .259/.333/.370 thus far, albeit with 11 whiffs in 30 PA.

11


Cubs
29-36
2-4
.482
Down
Not Quite Hippo Vaughn: On a night when his opposite number tosses 6 2/3 no-hit innings, Ted Lilly takes a no-no into the ninth before yielding a single to Juan Pierre and settling for a combined one-hit shutout. Lilly's now given the Cubs seven straight quality starts in a row, a span during which he has a 2.10 ERA, and his .597 SNWP ranks 14th in the league.

12


Nationals
31-35
2-4
.468
Down
Take Two: Stephen Strasburg doesn't quite dominate the Indians the way he did the Pirates in his MLB debut, but he does miss plenty of bats ( 5.1 2 1 1 5 8), and winds up tying Cliff Melton (1937 Giants) for the second-highest number of strikeouts in his first two big-league starts, with his 22 trailing only the 27 of Karl Spooner (1954 Dodgers). Meanwhile, the Nats' most experienced starter, Livan Hernandez, is finally hit hard, though he still has 10 quality starts out of 13 and ranks ninth in the league with a .631 SNWP.

13


Brewers
28-38
4-3
.431
Up
Where Have You Gone, Jason Kendall? Rookie Jonathan Lucroy goes 5-for-9 across a two-start stretch, and manager Ken Macha announces that he'll get "the brunt of the work" behind the plate going forward. The Brewers' catching situation is a mess in the wake of Gregg Zaun's season-ending and perhaps career-ending torn labrum. Backup George Kottaras has thrown out just 1 of 27 would-be base thieves while hitting an uneven .206/.370/.443, a line inflated by his batting in front of the pitcher most of the time. Lucroy, a 2007 third-rounder who came into the year as the team's sixth-best prospect, is the catcher of the future, particularly with former four-star prospect Angel Salome (a 5-foot-7, 200-pound fireplug) requesting a move to the outfield after taking a six-week leave of absence to attend to personal issues.

14


Diamondbacks
26-40
2-4
.409
Up
Gimme Some Skin: Locked in the NL West cellar, the Snakes trade Conor Jackson to the A's, the first of several likely maneuvers as they shed their increasingly expensive veterans; only Justin Upton is truly untouchable. Jackson's hitting an unproductive .237/.324/.329 in his return from Valley Fever, but offense is hardly the main problem of a team allowing an MLB-worst 5.8 runs per game. Things may be looking up on that front, as embattled manager A.J. Hinch finally ditches "closer" Chad Qualls (10.32 FRA, -1.9 WXRL) in favor of Aaron Heilman (2.96 FRA, 0.5 WXRL), and Brandon Webb throws off a mound for the first time since Arizona achieved statehood.

15


Astros
26-40
2-4
.341
Down
Hard Times in Houston: The Astros drop four in a row by a combined score of 37-18 as a couple players who'd been doing well as of late take their lumps. Felipe Paulino is rocked for 10 runs (eight earned) by the Royals after yielding just seven in his previous five starts; seven of the runs come after he gets two outs in the fifth inning while holding a 6-3 lead. Meanwhile Lance Berkman endures a 2-for-27 slump after hitting .352/.444/.519 over his previous 14 games. He's hitting just .235/.343/.388 overall and has just one homer in his past 21 games.

16


Pirates
23-42
0-6
.303
Down
Here Comes the Cavalry: Following the wave of promotions that's brought Strasburg, Stanton, Posey, and Carlos Santana-four of the top nine on our Top 101 Prospects list-the Pirates recall Pedro Alvarez from Triple-A Indianapolis. He goes 0-for-2 with a strikeout, a walk, a run scored and an error in the Pirates' 10th straight loss-a stretch that has manager John Russell on the hot seat, but another fresh face, Jose Tabata, hits his first big-league homer. The new guys-a class that includes Brad Lincoln, who's carrying a 7.50 ERA through two starts and tops out as a third starter-won't turn the franchise around this year, but in conjunction with a stellar draft class, they could mean a real change in direction for the Pirates' ship, at least if they can pony up the dough.


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

Related Content:  The Who,  Four Homers,  Year Of The Injury,  Hot Starts

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