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April 19, 2011

Prospectus Hit List

Feast or Famine

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Phillies
10-5
3-3
.638
Down

Get Back: Cliff Lee rebounds from a 3 1/3 inning, six-run pounding to spin a three-hit, 12-K shutout of the Nationals, but the rotation gets a scare when Roy Oswalt departs his start due to back spasms. He should make his next turn, typical of things largely going right for the Phils these days. Joe Blanton's 7.27 ERA aside, the rotation's more heralded quartet has combined for a 3.00 ERA and 80/14 K/BB ratio in 75 innings, while Wilson Valdez (.318/.362/.386) and Placido Polanco (.375/.420/.484) are providing a slap-happy substitute for Chase Utley's missing offense. The second baseman is finally running, though his return is still a ways off.

2


Rockies
12-4
5-2
.604
Down
Zeros and Tulos: Jhoulys Chacin's first career shutout, a six-hitter against the Cubs, runs the Rockies' winning streak to seven straight games. His strong performance thus far (1.64 ERA, 7.3 IP/GS) is helping to offset the absence of Ubaldo Jimenez; the rotation's 3.32 ERA excluding their absent ace's first turn would rank fourth in the league. Troy Tulowitzki homers in four straight games during the streak, giving him an MLB-high seven; he now has 22 dingers in his last 44 games dating back to last September 3.

3


Giants
9-7
5-1
.590
Up
Rebounds and Faceplants: Pablo Sandoval homers three times in a four-game span, helping the Giants climb above .500 for the first time this season. If not exactly ready for the swimsuit competition, the svelte Sandoval is hitting a robust .333/.410/.574, while Aaron Rowand (.327/.340/.510) is showing signs of life amid Andres Torres' Achilles woes. On the other hand, rookie Brandon Belt's .196/.305/.275 may have him ticketed for Triple-A with Cody Ross' return, particularly with neither Pat Burrell (.200/.333/.533) nor Aubrey Huff (.254/.303/.356) doing much more than falling all over themselves when it comes to picking up slack for the rookie.

4


Cardinals
8-8
4-2
.563
Up
Binge and Blow: Albert Pujols and Lance Berkman each club a pair of homers as the Cardinals rout the Dodgers 11-2. Both bats play a big part in a 5-1 tear which sees the team score 60 runs, at least eight in each game. Berkman launches six homers during the streak, with two multi-homer games and 12 RBI; he is hitting .308/.368/.692. Pujols collects 11 hits over the span, three of them homers, helping him dig out of his initial 5-for-35 hole. Alas, the streak is bookended by a pair of blown saves by Ryan Franklin; he has actually blown four out of five opportunities, and is in jeopardy of losing his closer job.

5


Reds
9-7
2-4
.560
Down
Been Caught Stealing: With so much attention focused on the missing velocity of Aroldis Chapman, the just plain missing Johnny Cueto and Homer Bailey, and the struggling Edinson Volquez (6.75 ERA), Mike Leake grabs headlines of his own with a shoplifting arrest for $59.88 worth of t-shirts. As it turns out, the Reds are tied for second in the league in steals, while scoring an MLB-high 5.9 runs per game while ranking in the top three in the triple-slash stats (.285/.351/.457). Joey Votto is hitting .429/.535/.643 with a 7/14 K/BB ratio, while Jonny Gomes is tied for second in the league in homers with six, five of them in a seven-game span. Even more surprisingly, the latter leads the league in walks en route to a 12/15 K/BB ratio, this from a player who's walked over 40 times in a season just once, with a 3.0 K/BB ratio for his career.

6


Marlins
8-6
3-2
.500
Up
No No-No, Much LoMo: Josh Johnson takes a no-hitter into the eighth against the Braves, the second time in three starts he has gone at least six innings without allowing a hit. He was backed by a Logan Morrison homer, one of two Morrison hits in a three-game span to help defeat Atlanta and Philadelphia. Morrison is hitting .327/.429/.654 with four homers, half of the team's NL-low total. Conspicuously without a longball is Mike Stanton, who's hitting just .194/.286/.323 and dealing with hamstring tightness, not to mention the second-longest homerless streak of his major league career (14 games dating back to last season, compared to a 16-game drought in August).

7


Braves
7-10
3-4
.488
Up
Petco East? Jair Jurrjens comes off the DL to make his first start of the season and throws seven inning of two-hit shutout ball against the Mets, in keeping with a team that is allowing an NL-low 3.2 runs per game. Alas, the Braves are scoring at exactly the same Petco-esque clip; yeah, it's Uggla (sorry, but not as sorry as his .197/.221/.394 line). The team ranks fifth in the league in homers (16), but their combined .229/.291/.371 line ranks 14th, 16th, and 11th, respectively, with old standbys Chipper Jones (.298/.369/.474), Brian McCann (.339/.403/.446) and Jason Heyward (.222/.354/.500) doing the heavy lifting while the rest of the offense slacks off.

8


Nationals
8-7
4-2
.479
Up
Elder Statesman: Livan Hernandez shuts down the Brewers to secure a three-game sweep for the Nationals. Hernandez has picked up where he left off last year, with a 2.88 ERA thus far; he has a career 3.89 mark with the Nats, compared to 4.69 elsewhere, probably because he looks so stately in red and white. In any event, his rotation-mates are following suit; their collective 3.30 ERA is third the league, in large part because they're walking just 2.1 per nine, second only to the Phillies' 1.7.

9


Brewers
8-8
3-3
.478
Up
Prince and the Paupers: Prince Fielder goes on a rampage, collecting four doubles and three homers among his 13 hits—not to mention 15 RBI—during the Brewers' 6-1 tear; he is hitting .311/.391/.557. Alas, the Brewers are just 2-7 outside of that stretch, and aside from Fielder, Ryan Braun (.357/.471/.625) and Rickie Weeks (.269/.353/.493), the rest of the offense–the other five lineup spots and a bafflingly weak bench—is hitting a Yuni Betancourt-esque .228/.277/.308. The good news is that Corey Hart is beginning a rehab stint, which should do something about the .222/.300/.370 hole Mark Kotsay and company have dug in right field.

10


Padres
7-9
3-4
.474
Flat
Well, They're Strong Up the Middle: When the Padres announced they would bat Orlando Hudson third it raised some eyebrows, but the move is more a statement on the team's meager offensive menu. Hudson's hitting a somewhat helpful .278/.379/.333, while Nick Hundley (.340/.404/.600) has been the team's heaviest hitter thus far, but you know a lineup has serious issues when the up-the-middle players are outhitting the corner ones, and not by a little: .272/.354/.410 to .176/.274/.273, with Brad Hawpe, Ryan Ludwick, and Will Venable all on the Interstate.

11


Diamondbacks
6-8
2-3
.447
Down
SOS (Same Old Snakes): Justin Upton's 478-foot three-run homer off Chris Carpenter helps the Diamondbacks beat the Cardinals in a slugfest. Upton's hitting .304/.400/.571, and he and his teammates are scoring more this year (5.4 runs per game, up from 4.4) while striking out less often (18 percent, down from a record 25 percent). It's not adding up to much thus far because the Snakes are allowing 6.1 runs per game, with four-fifths of their rotation carrying ERAs of at least 6.23. Blame it on the gophers; the team is allowing a league-high 1.4 per nine.

12


Cubs
8-8
3-3
.437
Down
The Castro District: Starlin Castro goes 4-for-5 with a three-run homer to help the Cubs halt the Rockies' winning streak at seven. It's a big week for Castro, who collects 15 hits over a six-game span to lift his line to .408/.432/.563 and claim the league lead in hits. Alas, the Cubs win just three of those games because of porous pitching. They're yielding 4.9 runs per game (13th in the league) thanks to a high walk rate (3.9 per nine, 14th) and the league's second-worst Defensive Efficiency (.650, 38 points below average).

13


Pirates
8-8
3-3
.434
Up
Changing It Up: Charlie Morton tosses the second complete game of his career against the Reds, holding the league's highest scoring team to just one run. Pummeled for a 7.57 ERA last year, Morton has a 1.64 mark thus far, albeit with a 6/12 K/BB ratio and a .167 BABIP, neither sustainable. A formerly well-regarded prospect whose results have lagged far behind his stuff, Morton is using a lower arm slot and getting more late movement on his pitches. Meanwhile, Jose Tabata is getting strong early results as well, hitting .317/.427/.524 and tying Matt Kemp for the league lead in steals thanks to extensive work studying pitchers.

14


Dodgers
8-9
2-5
.400
Down
"They pitched to the one guy who could beat them, and he does.": Matt Kemp's walkoff homer against the Cardinals' Ryan Franklin helps the Dodgers snap a five-game losing streak, and lifts his line to .459/.529/.689 with a league-high eight steals. Andre Ethier (.369/.431/.477) is riding a 15-game hitting streak, but the rest of the team besides that dynamic duo is hitting just .209/.260/.287, with Juan Uribe, James Loney, and Rod Barajas—the trio following Kemp in Sunday's game—all below the Mendoza Line, batting a collective .181/.230/.275 and creating a mid-lineup Death Valley that is no small factor in the team's second-to-last ranking in scoring—or in their decision to call up prospect Jerry Sands, who can play left field or first base.

15


Mets
5-11
1-5
.349
Down
For Starters: Rain forces the Mets to play two doubleheaders in a three-day span; they're swept by both the Rockies and Braves en route to a seven-game losing streak. Terry Collins calls upon starters Chris Capuano and R.A. Dickey to work overtime in stopping the slide, but it's the rotation that has been the root of the troubles. They've delivered a league-low three quality starts while being rocked for a 5.98 ERA (15th), with Mike Pelfrey's 9.72 mark leading the way; he is allowing more than two baserunners per inning while walking more than he strikes out. Jon Niese is getting bombed as well, while Chris Young is unsurprisingly hurt after just two strong starts.

16


Astros
5-11
3-3
.341
Up
They Are Who We Thought They Were: Already at the bottom of the pile, all but eliminated from any real shot at contending, but at least the Astros' shortcomings thus far haven't been quite the ones anticipated. The rotation has been rocked for a 5.23 ERA, with Wandy Rodriguez off to another dreadful start (7.31 ERA) and Brett Myers the only starter with an ERA below 5.00. The offense rank seventh in scoring at 4.3 runs per game, but even so, they're below league average, 12th in OBP (.315) and 10th in slugging (.381), with cornermen Brett Wallace, Chris Johnson and Carlos Lee wheezing along at a collective .235/.303/.352 clip — a performance worse than even the team's up-the-middle players (.257/ .306/.361).


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

1 comment has been left for this article.

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Premium Article Divide and Conquer, NL... (04/19)
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