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June 25, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Streaks and Swoons

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Yankees
45-27
4-2
.631
Down
The Hughes Rules: Phil Hughes halts the Mets' eight-game winning streak and becomes the second AL pitcher to reach 10 wins (David Price was first), but the Yankee brass decides to skip his next turn as part of their effort to keep him around 170 innings for the regular season. Hughes has been nothing short of outstanding thus far, with a 3.17 ERA, 8.6 K/9, and .594 SNWP, good for 10th in the league. Not so outstanding lately: A.J. Burnett, cuffed for a 10.35 ERA over his last four starts while allowing nine homers in 20 innings, a slump coinciding with the absence of pitching coach Dave Eiland.

2


Rays
43-29
2-4
.601
Down
Not Exactly Shining: As owner Stuart Sternberg bemoans the fate of baseball in downtown St. Petersburg (only the Rolling Stones are willing to stick around), the Rays lose six out of seven, threatening their hold on second place in the AL East. This isn't a new slump, either; they're 11-17 since May 23, the fourth-worst record in the AL. They're allowing 5.0 runs per game in that span, with James Shields (6.93 ERA), Wade Davis (7.28), and Matt Garza (7.59) routinely raked over the coals while Jeremy Hellickson bides his time at Triple-A (2.33 ERA, 90/21 K/BB in 88 2/3 IP). Garza at least atones for a seven-run pounding with an eight-inning effort against the Padres, just his second quality start in his last six turns.

3


Red Sox
44-30
4-2
.593
Up
Beltin': Dustin Pedroia's 5-for-5, three-homer night helps the Red Sox avoid being swept by the Rockies in a 2007 World Series rematch. Also homering in that game is Adrian Beltre, who's homered nine times while hitting .373/.418/.672 over the past 35 games as Boston has gone 25-10 while averaging 5.9 runs a game. Victor Martinez (.380/.423/.640), Kevin Youkilis (.299/.402/.617), and David Ortiz (.269/.400./565) have been pounding it as well, with the latter duo contributing eight homers apiece.

4


Rangers
44-28
6-0
.589
Up
Hammy: One game after collecting five hits, Josh Hamilton hits his 17th homer and runs his hitting streak to 17 games while helping the Rangers to their ninth of 11 straight wins. Hamilton is batting .500/.526/.972 during what's now an 18-game streak, and he now ranks third in the league in batting average (.345), and second in slugging percentage (.622). The Rangers' winning streak is the franchise's longest since 1991, and it's about to force a dye job on GM Jon Daniels-a nice way to divert attention from the bankruptcy woes which may hinder the team's efforts to fortify itself at the trading deadline.

5


Twins
40-32
2-4
.558
Down
He's a Lumberjack and He's OK: Jim Thome's two-run pinch-homer kicks off a five-run ninth-inning rally in a game where the Twins down the Phillies 13-10 in 11 innings; they overcome an early 8-0 deficit by scoring nine runs in the ninth through 11th frames. Thome is hitting .245/.382/.500 with six homers, pushing him to 11th on the all-time list, three jacks behind Twins legend Harmon Killebrew. Thome has just 131 PA however, and interleague play isn't helping, but manager Ron Gardenhire is trying to create space in the lineup once intraleague play resumes by playing Jason Kubel in right and re-auditioniong Michael Cuddyer at third base, a position he last played regularly in 2005. If that doesn't work, Gardenhire could always skip the middleman and return Thome to his original position, last played in 1996. Yeah, that'd work...

6


Blue Jays
39-34
3-3
.543
Flat
Cooling Off: Jose Bautista snaps a 2-for-41 slump with a pair of two-hit games, the second of which breaks a 13-game homerless drought via a pair of homers as he reclaims his unlikely league lead. Alas, the Blue Jays have lost three straight and are just 8-12 this month with an offense that's averaging just 3.4 runs per game. They demote Edwin Encarnacion to Triple-A after he passes through waivers; he was hitting .200/.298/.467, but his .271 TAv is much better than those of fellow regulars Lyle Overbay (.253), Aaron Hill (.234) and Adam Lind (.224).

7


Tigers
39-32
3-3
.539
Down
Retooling in Toledo: After narrowly missing his third consecutive disaster start, Rick Porcello is demoted to Triple-A, a surprising but hardly unmerited turn of events for the 21-year-old soph. He's been torched for a 6.14 ERA, which happens when you struggle with your secondary pitches and pile a .345 BABIP atop 4.2 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9. Hopefully he'll get as well-sorted at Toledo as Max Scherzer has; he's been excellent (3.48 ERA, 41/11 K/BB ratio in 31 IP) since his return. The Tigers certainly need the help, as they're chasing the Twins while ranking 12th in the league in SNLVAR.

8


White Sox
37-34
6-0
.504
Up
Sox Shape Up: Winners of nine straight and 12 out of 13, the White Sox shake free of the soap opera plotlines, climbing above .500 and into the AL Central race as some key players hit their strides. Gavin Floyd spins his third straight one-run start, finally coming out on the right end when he outduels Stephen Stasburg in front of President Barack Obama. Jake Peavy tosses a three-hit shutout and his third straight quality start after his turn is pushed back due to shoulder soreness. And Carlos Quentin homers three times in a two-game span. Though he's only hitting .225/.318/.437 overall, Quentin is at .316/.366/.711 over the last two weeks.

9


Angels
41-34
4-2
.487
Up
Stepping Up: While the rest of the Angels' infield has been scrambled by injuries, Howie Kendrick's been The Man. He's hitting .326/.354/.511 this month while helping the Halos to a 15-7 record, and has taken over the leadoff chores since Erick Aybar went down. Kendrick homers in back-to-back games against the Cubs, the latter a 12-0 rout in which Jered Weaver strikes out 11 while yielding just two hits over seven innings. Weaver, who came into the year having whiffed a respectable 7.3 per nine in his career, leads the league in both strikeouts (107) and strikeout rate (10.2 per nine) thanks to the addition of a two-seam fastball to his repertoire.

10


Athletics
34-40
1-5
.476
Down
K-Hill: Just 6-16 this month while allowing 4.8 runs per game, the Athletics may yet challenge the Mariners for last place in the AL West. They've lost 10 of 12, with the two exceptions coming in Trevor Cahill's starts. In his latest, he holds the Cardinals to two runs, both on solo homers, while striking out seven. He's added more than a full K per nine to last year's rate of 4.5, helping him to a 3.21 ERA, and he's whiffed 22 in his last 25.2 innings. His .585 SNWP would rank 13th in the league if he had enough innings to qualify.

11


Royals
30-43
1-5
.445
Down
Banner Day: Brian Bannister rebounds from a pair of disaster starts and outduels Stephen Strasburg as the Royals hand the phenom his first major-league loss and snap a five-game losing streak. It's been a rough campaign for Bannister; his GB% has fallen from 51.6 to 45.1 while his HR/FB rate has spiked from 11.1 percent to 18.8 percent. He's still third on the team with a .470 SNWP behind Zack Greinke (.506) and-improbably enough-Bruce Chen (.507).

12


Mariners
30-42
5-1
.431
Up
Beautiful-Lee Done: As the trade rumors swirl, Cliff Lee continues to push his asking price higher. He shuts out the Reds, then goes the distance against the Cubs as well, holding the latter to just one run. As impressive as his AL-best .667 SNWP and 2.39 ERA are, his 76/4 K/BB ratio is absolutely off the charts; he hasn't walked a hitter since June 2, a span of 37 innings, and his 0.42 BB/9 is a whisker ahead of 2005-model Carlos Silva's record-setting rate (0.43). Whatever Lee is doing, it's contagious, as the Mariners allow just three runs and nine walks over the course of a six-game winning streak.

13


Indians
26-45
1-5
.389
Down
Troubled Tribe: Carlos Santana falls a triple short of a cycle, while the Indians are simply several sandwiches short of a picnic, having lost nine out of 10. Santana is having no trouble with major-league pitching thus far, batting .316/.438/.632 through his first 12 games. Then again, he's not seeing a whole lot of it given the Tribe's 5.94 ERA during that skid. As if winning weren't already hard enough, Kerry Wood blows just his second save opportunity of the past two weeks via Jimmy Rollins' walk-off homer. Wood has got a 9.08 Fair Run Average and a league-worst -1.4 WXRL.

14


Orioles
20-52
2-4
.325
Up
The Big Three Killed My Baby: As the Orioles look towards the future by courting Buck Showalter to be their next manager, their rotation's nascent big three takes some serious lumps. Chris Tillman is pulled from the rotation and sent to Triple-A with an 8.40 ERA, Jake Arrieta is KO'd by the Padres after three frames while failing to strike out a hitter, and Brian Matusz blows a four-run lead, sending the O's to their 11th defeat in his last 12 starts. The trio has combined for a 5.40 ERA and a .438 SNWP thus far, which looks like Cy Young material next to Brad Bergesen (6.50 ERA, .352 SNWP).


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 Streak,  Triple-A

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