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August 12, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

All Chipper'd Out?

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Braves
66-48
5-2
.580
Up
Bops By Brooks: Brooks Conrad's ninth-inning homer carries the Braves past the Astros. All six of his homers this year have come in the eighth or ninth inning, three of them as a pinch-hitter, two of them grand slams. This one comes as a substitute for Chipper Jones, who leaves the game due to a knee sprain, a tough break given that he's been hitting a very Chipper-like .307/.391/.533 since the All-Star break, with three homers coming in a five-day span last week (late word at press time is a torn ACL, which would end his season and possibly his career, if he chooses to act on the retirement rumors-a damn shame given that this is Bobby Cox's last run for the roses. Speaking of being clutch in the pinch, Brian McCann bops a 10th-inning grand slam to seal a win against the Astros.

2


Padres
66-46
4-2
.579
Up
Snapping Out of it: Ryan Ludwick shakes free of a 5-for-28 start to his Padres career with a two-homer game; the homers are his first since June 14, a span during which he hit just .214/.260/.271 while missing a month due to a calf strain. Meanwhile, Mat Latos helps the Pads end a 1-4 mini-slump with six shutout innings against the Diamondbacks. The kid has now gone 10 straight starts without allowing more than two runs, a span during which he's posted a 1.42 ERA while whifffing 9.8 per nine and holding hitters to a .173/.244/.253 line.

3


Cardinals
64-49
4-1
.568
Up
Carping: Chris Carpenter takes issue with Brendan Ryan's squeezing in a little extra batting practice-dude has got a .220 TAv- prior to game time. It doesn't hinder Carpenter from beating the first-place Reds in a showdown that touches off both heated verbal exchanges and a good old-fashioned donnybrook with their rivals, not to mention a sweep by the Cards, a reclamation of first place and an upset tummy for the manager. Carpenter himself sustains minor injuries in the fray, but he's been healthy enough to rank second in the league in innings (171), eighth in SNWP (.605) and ninth in ERA (2.89).

4


Reds
64-51
3-3
.552
Down
The Fur Flies: Brandon Phillips' inflammatory comments about the Cardinals lead to a bench-clearing brawl during the second night of a three-game showdown. Alas, the Reds lose face as they're swept out of first place on their home field, stopping a 9-2 run in its tracks. Ironically, the Reds are resembling the Cardinals a bit more with each passing day, as former St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty adds former St. Louis outfielder Jim Edmonds to the fold to help patch an outfield where Drew Stubbs is hitting .235/.302/.403 overall, Jonny Gomes is hitting .244/.310/.385 since June 1, and Jay Bruce .203/.261/.260 since July 1.

5


Giants
65-50
3-4
.550
Down
Big Trouble for Little Timmy: Tim Lincecum yields a career-worst four first-inning runs against the Cubs as the Giants lose ground in the NL West race. As he was back in May, Lincecum has been getting knocked around lately, putting up a 5.40 ERA over his last five starts thanks to a .356 BABIP and 1.5 HR/9. His overall 3.41 ERA is nearly a run higher than last year, while his overall HR/9 has nearly doubled to 0.75, with his strikeout and walk rates creeping in the wrong directions as well. More predictably regressing is Aubrey Huff, hitting just .231/.348/.385 in August after a .367/.462/.694 July; he's fallen behind Joey Votto and Albert Pujols on the NL TAv leaderboard, realigning the universe once again.

6


Rockies
59-54
3-3
.548
Flat
Ups and Downs: Huston Street surrenders a three-run walkoff homer to the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez as the Rockies alternate wins and losses, failing to get anywhere in the crowded NL West race despite plenty of good news: Troy Tulowitzki coming back strong from his injury (.375/.413/.518), Ubaldo Jimenez getting back on track (three runs in 21 innings, though he loses a 1-0 squeaker to the Mets), Carlos Gonzalez remaining hot (another four-homer week, and a near-miss of his second cycle in two weeks, .354/.373/.708 since the break). It's only the second save that Street-who's dealt with elbow and, uh, lower abdominal injuries this year-has blown in nine opportunities, but he's half a win below replacement level in a bullpen that's a middling ninth in the league in WXRL.

7


Phillies
63-50
4-2
.543
Flat
Roy-O: After two so-so starts on the road while battling through a case of dead arm, Roy Oswalt makes his Citizens Bank Park debut as a Phillie and combines on a shutout of the Dodgers. Elsewhere in the rotation, Cole Hamels whiffs 11 Mets but gets the short end of a 1-0 duel with Johan Santana. It's Hamels' second straight game with double digit Ks (he's fifth in the league at 9.2 per nine), but he's just 7-8, having netted just one win in his last 10 starts while receiving just 3.8 runs per game of support. Don't expect Oswalt to weep for him, as he's gotten a microscopic 2.3 runs per game, the worst in the majors.

8


Dodgers
59-55
3-3
.520
Flat
Dodger Down, Dodger Down: With their Playoff Odds already in the single digits, the Dodgers' chances take a further pair of hits with the losses of Russell Martin and Rafael Furcal. The former tears his hip labrum after not sliding into home plate on a play in which he was tagged out; he's done for the year; while his decline as an offensive force over the past two years is frustrating, the likes of Brad Ausmus and A.J. Ellis won't replace even his .262 TAv, nor does the system have any real catching prospect close to ready. As for Furcal, his back woes yet again interrupt what's been an outstanding season (.316/.380/.492) when he's been available. The Dodgers' makeshift lineup pounds the Phillies on the day Furcal is DLed and Matt Kemp benched (hey, it's Kyle Kendrick), leading Joe Torre to get slapped in the face by his hot hand theory.

9


Marlins
56-56
3-2
.504
Flat
Altered Stance: Hanley Ramirez collects the first walk-off hit of his big-league career against the Cardinals, snapping a season-high five-game losing streak which dunks the Marlins back below .500. Ramirez also homers in the game and collects three doubles the next night, with his reversion to an older batting stance paying immediate dividends in helping him shake free of a slump in which he'd hit just .190/.286/.228 in his first 20 games of the second half as his team averaged just 3.9 runs per game.

10


Mets
56-57
2-3
.484
Flat
Blankety-Blanks: Mike Pelfrey outduels Ubaldo Jimenez in a 1-0 win over the Rockies, two days after Santana pulls off the same feat against Cole Hamels and the Phillies; both wins help the Mets scrabble back to .500. Pelfrey's outing snaps a stretch of seven starts in which he'd put up an ERA of 9.00 while averaging just 4.3 innings per start, posting a 14/16 K/BB ratio and failing to deliver a single quality start. Santana's showing gets him past a two-start hiccup in which he'd allowed 11 runs in 12.2 innings. The latter now ranks seventh in the league with a .610 SNWP, and while his 4.41 SIERA dwarfs his 3.06 ERA and suggests a looming correction, he's got bigger problems off the field, as does Francisco Rodriguez. Against this backdrop, Jeff Francoeur continues to provide high comedy to go with his low production; can his own version of Operation Shutdown be far behind?

11


Nationals
49-65
1-5
.454
Down
All Ages Show Stephen Strasburg takes his lumps in his return from the disabled list, allowing as many runs (six) as he had in his previous four starts. Still, his velocity is normal, and his mechanics appeared unchanged. He's thrown 114 innings between the majors and minors this year, and while his innings cap is believed to be at 160, don't be surprised if this recent scare dials that down. Meanwhile, Livan Hernandez is still eating innings and pitching well, ranking 10th in the league in ERA (3.03) and having thrown 54.2 frames without yielding a homer. He may get some familiar company in the form of brother El Duque, who at 44 years old is vying to return to the majors for the first time since 2007; he'll pitch at Double-A Harrisburg after a stint in the Gulf Coast League.

12


Brewers
53-62
3-3
.445
Flat
Not So Brauny: After collecting 14 hits in six games to earn Player of the Week honors, Ryan Braun suffers a wrist strain that knocks him out of action. Even if the injury turns out not to be serious, it's been a relatively disappointing season for Braun, who's hitting .290/.344/.464 with just 16 homers, putting him in line for career lows in that department, SLG, ISO and TAv. He's actually fourth on the team in SLG and TAv behind Corey Hart, Prince Fielder and Rickie Weeks, and fifth in ISO behind that quartet and... Casey McGehee? Holy bratwurst, Batman.

13


Cubs
48-66
1-5
.441
Down
Coming or Going? Carlos Zambrano makes an ugly return to the rotation, walking seven in five innings, but the Cubs are having a tough time keeping themselves whole. Geovanny Soto hits the disabled list with a shoulder sprain. Soto has been enjoying a fine rebound from last year's woes, hitting .288/.401/.519 with a .317 TAv, the highest of any catcher with at least 300 PA (siddown, Buster). Meanwhile, Carlos Silva undergoes a cardiac ablation to correct an abnormal heart rate, interrupting his own strong rebound (3.92 ERA, .526 SNWP) from misery.

14


Diamondbacks
46-69
6-1
.418
Up
About Damn Time: Chris Young bookends a win against the Padres with a leadoff homer in the first inning and a walk-off shot in the ninth, the fourth player to accomplish such a feat in the last 40 years. Two days later, he homers again to become the first player this season to reach 20 homers and 20 steals. Amid all of the dispiriting news coming out of the desert, the 26-year-old Young's finally living up to his billing, setting career highs in all three triple-slash categories (.268/.340/.473) while posting a .286 TAv, his first time above .260.

15


Astros
48-65
1-5
.398
Down
The Walrus Era Begins: With their season-high seven-game winning streak lost amid the era-ending trades of Roy Oswalt and Lance Berkman, the Astros get back to the more immediate business of losing. Don't blame the new guys; rookie first baseman Brett Wallace jumps out to a .300/.400/.367 start with his new club, while J.A. Happ rebounds from a disasterpiece against the Cardinals to hold the Braves to one run in six innings. Happ's got a 3.45 ERA in six starts this season, but with a 22/23 K/BB ratio which won't make anyone forget Oswalt any more than it did Cliff Lee.

16


Pirates
39-74
2-4
.317
Flat
Welcome to Pitch-Boygh: Watch Out for Da Rats: Newly-acquired James McDonald tosses six shutout innings in his debut as a Buc, striking out eight Rockies, though he crashes back to earth in the sequel. He won't get to ask Joe Kerrigan for help ironing out his woes, as Kerrigan and hitting coach Gary Varsho are fired amid accusations of disloyalty to manager John Russell, not to mention clubhouse mole-dom for the pitching coach. Meanwhile, Pedro Alvarez belts a walk-off three-run homer against the Rockies, his third homer in four days but first in a winning cause. He's got 10 dingers in 194 PA but is hitting a rough-around-the-edges .243/.320/.451.


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

2 comments have been left for this article.

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Premium Article On the Beat: Recapturi... (08/11)
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Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: B... (08/13)
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