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July 30, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Changes Gonna Come

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Yankees
65-36
5-2
.625
Up
Shaping Up: Curtis Granderson hits three homers in two days, including a pair in a slugfest against the Royals. Lefties remain a problem for the center fielder (.214/.252/.286) but after a disappointing first half (.240/.309/.409 overall), he's hitting .319/.385/.596 since the break. Also coming around is Mark Teixiera; he's shaken off that slow start and is hitting a more characteristic .293/.396/.537 since May 1. Meanwhile Alex Rodriguez hits his 599th homer but remains stuck there; he's already taken more plate appearances between that one and No. 600 than any of the six players who came before him, though he's collected three two-hit games since then.

2


Rays
63-38
6-1
.605
Up
The Right Side: Matt Garza throws the fifth no-hitter of the season, the third involving Tampa Bay, but the first by a (Devil) Rays pitcher in franchise history; he faces one Tiger over the minimum. Garza has had a hot-and-cold campaign, with three quality starts and three disaster starts in his previous six. Providing him with offensive support in his gem is Matt Joyce, who breaks up Max Scherzer's own no-hit bid by clubbing his second grand slam of the year. He's hitting .227/.370/.453 in 92 PA since being recalled just over a month ago; the Rays are 17-7 with him in the lineup.

3


Rangers
60-42
4-2
.580
Up
Going the Distance: The Rangers open up space between themselves and the Angels, as Cliff Lee keeps on rolling by whiffing a season-high 13 in a nine-inning performance against the A's. Lee has now gone at least eight innings in 13 of his 17 starts, and his K/BB ratio remains an unreal 114/7; he leads the league in both SNWP (.665) and ERA (2.40). Meanwhile, the Rangers add a potential upgrade in Jorge Cantu, who steals Chris Davis' job at first as the latter (.189/.267/.245 since recall) struggled for a second time this season. Alas, the team loses Ian Kinsler to the disabled list due to a groin strain just one day after his 25-game on-base streak comes to an end; he hit .343/.422/.556 during that stretch.

4


Red Sox
58-44
4-2
.578
Flat
Beckett's Back: After more than two months on the disabled list, Josh Beckett returns and delivers two solid starts for the Sox, the second of which caps a three-game sweep of the Angels to salvage a rough West Coast swing. Elsewhere in the rotation, John Lackey gets a frosty reception in his return to Anaheim, though he can probably count on a few more cheers in Boston given the three-start roll in which he's yielded just four earned runs in 22.1 innings.

5


Twins
56-46
5-1
.570
Up
Hotter Than July: Joe Mauer's 5-for-5, 7-RBI showing leads the Twins to a 19-1 rout of the Royals. It's part of a five-game breakout by the Twins offense, which hits .411/.466/.670 and averages 10.6 runs a game despite the continued absence of Justin Morneau, who at least has returned to phyisical activity. As for Mauer, he's now hitting .333/.372/.563 this month despite multiple nagging injuries. As hot as that it, it can't touch Delmon Young's scorching .439/.462/.745. He's now fourth in the league in batting average (.334) and ninth in slugging (.548).

6


White Sox
57-44
5-2
.554
Up
Missile Launched: Alexei Ramirez collects eight hits in a three-game sweep of the Mariners, including homers on back-to-back days. He's hitting .378/.407/.598 this month, and the Sox have now won 10 straight at home. Collecting the win in the middle match versus the M's is Gavin Floyd, who's riding a 15-inning scoreless streak. He's got a 1.04 ERA in his 10 starts since June 8, the point at which the Sox season turned around; they're a major league best 32-11 since then.

7


Blue Jays
53-49
5-1
.537
Up
Jose on the Way? As the trade deadline approaches, Jose Bautista goes on an insane 13-for-27 rampage with five doubles and four homers, boosting his stock considerably. The blasts, which come over a three-game span, lift his MLB-leading total to 30, two more than he'd hit in the previous two seasons combined. Accompanying his four-hit, two-homer effort against the Orioles is a three-hit night by Yunel Escobar, who's batting .354/.380/.521 in 51 PA since being acquired from Atlanta.

8


Athletics
51-50
3-3
.515
Up
Short-Sheeted: Billy Beane's $10 million crapshoot on Ben Sheets officially comes up snake eyes, as a torn flexor tendon ends the 31-year-old righty's season for the second time in three years; he may be facing the end of his career. Sheets put up a 4.53 ERA, 6.3 K/9 and a .462 SNWP during his 20 starts, but he went at least six innings in all of his last 14, at a 3.64 ERA clip. In happier news, Brett Anderson is nearing a return; reportedly, the A's have been working on having him throw more fastballs and fewer sliders during his rehab.

9


Tigers
51-50
1-6
.505
Down
Stacktastic: The Tigers' hopes for climbing back into the AL Central race are dealt a major blow when they lose both Magglio Ordonez and Carlos Guillen to the disabled list, this on top of losing Brandon Inge just last week. While neither Guillen nor Ordonez had been swinging the bat particularly well lately, Maggs is hitting .303/.378/.474, with a .301 TAv that ranks third on the team and 17th in the league; Brennan Boesch's 5-for-50 slump threatens to elevate that ranking. Insult meets injuries when a lineup half-full of Triple-A fodder falls victim to Matt Garza's no-hitter, prompting the depleted club to patch their infield with an overwhelmingly adequate-at-best Jhonny Peralta.

10


Angels
52-52
1-5
.466
Down
Good Deal Amid Bad Times: Amid a 1-7 slide which sends the Angels plummeting back to .500-not terribly surprising given that their run differential has been in the red virtually all season-GM Tony Reagans pulls off a heist in trading Joe Saunders and three magic beans for Dan Haren. The move that should pay dividends through the next two or three seasons, given Haren's affordable contract and the likelihood that his suddenly-inflated BABIP and home run rate regress. He survives a scare in his first start, taking a liner off the forearm; luckily he's just bruised, but the rotation nonetheless takes a hit as Joel Pineiro strains an oblique, an injury which will shelve him into September.

11


Indians
42-60
2-5
.427
Flat
Choo and Who? Shin-Soo Choo goes 11-for-26 with doubles in five straight games after returning from being sidelined by a thumb injury. Alas, he gets very little help from his teammates, who eke out just 18 runs during his seven-game spree. As if on cue, the Indians do away with one of those underachievers, trading the disappointing Jhonny Peralta (.251/.313/.380 over the last season and a half) to Detroit. They also find a new role for the otherwise Enrique Wilsonesque Andy Marte (.198/.278/.337): mop-up man (1 0 0 0 0 1).

12


Royals
42-60
1-6
.416
Down
Royal Pains: It's a brutal week for the Royals, who lose both David DeJesus and Gil Meche for the season due to surgeries for thumb and shoulder injuries, respectively. For DeJesus, the tragedy is that he was hitting at a career-best .295 clip and would have netted a nice return under sell-high conditions; he's got a $6 million option for next year, but the organization is better off finding out if Alex Gordon's shift to the outfield can pay off. For Meche, the tragedy lies in the Royals' utter mismanagement of last year's shoulder woes. Since his 131-pitch shutout last June 16, he'd gone 2-9 with a 7.52 ERA, 2.1 HR/9 and more walks than strikeouts; the Royals, in their epic stupidity, pushed him to 121 pitches during a dead arm period shortly afterwards. For those of us who love comedy, the tragedy lies in the latter injury quashing a timeless trade rumor involving Meche, Jose Guillen, Kyle Farnsworth, Jeff Francoeur, Oliver Perez and Luis Castillo. What, no Willie Bloomquist?

13


Mariners
39-64
2-5
.396
Down
Don-Chone Donnybrook: The Mariners' frustrations reach a boiling point, as Chone Figgins and Don Wakamatsu argue heatedly in the dugout after the manager pulls the second baseman for a perceived lack of hustle amid a botched relay. It's been a nightmare season for Figgins, who's hitting just .235/.333/.284, but at least he's 8-for-23 with two doubles and his first homer of the year since the incident. Not that it's helped much, as the M's are currently putting the finishing touches on a 6-20 month in which they've scored just 2.8 runs per game while allowing 4.9.

14


Orioles
32-70
2-5
.342
Down
Bucking the Trend? Eight weeks after canning Dave Trembley, and well into a 2-11 second-half skid, the Orioles finally name a successor as they hire Buck Showalter. While breaking a streak of 13 straight losing seasons is a tall order, Showalter is the first manager with major league experience to be hired by the O's since Mike Hargrove, and should be a good fit given his reputation for working with young players. Speaking of which, the team makes room for Josh Bell by swapping Miguel Tejada to the Padres, and Matt Wieters comes off the DL and bops a pair of homers in his second game back, albeit in a losing cause; he's hitting .344/.453/.574 over his last 75 PA, with hits in 16 of his 18 starts dating back to June 20.


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,  The Who,  Year Of The Injury

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