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June 6, 2011

Prospectus Hit List

AL: The Colon Train Chugs Along

by Tommy Bennett

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

1


Yankees
33-24
6-1
.608
Up

Back in the Saddle Again: The Yankees post the best week of their season as the pitching and defense prove the heroes; the team allows no more than three runs in any game all week. The Bartolo Colon (9.0 4 0 0 0 6 / 5.1 6 3 3 2 4) show, however improbable, rumbles on. Conspirator in surprising outcomes Freddy Garcia (7.0 9 3 3 2 5) does his part. Robinson Cano (five XBH) rounds into form, while Mark Teixeira bookends the week with his 16th and 17th home runs of the year. Help may be coming to the rotation soon, as Phil Hughes throws live BP for the first time since hitting the DL.

2


Red Sox
33-26
4-4
.591
Down
Three Down, Three Up: The Red Sox post a .500 week the hard way by dropping a three-game series at home against the White Sox only to storm back with a triplet of barnburners to sweep the Athletics. All that sweeping does little to get the team's house in order as they cede first place to the Yankees. The pitching struggles to find its footing, and the team allows 6.8 runs per game on the week. Adrian Gonzalez is swinging hard and freely (.423/.444/.846), and a surprising Jarrod Saltalamacchia picks a good time to get hot. A mediocre (5.2 3 3 3 2 2) start from John Lackey counts as a modest success, but nearly every other member of the rotation gets bombed. The bad news piles on for Clay Buchholz and Dice-K.

3


Rangers
34-26
7-1
.586
Up
Deep in the Heart: The Rangers match the Yankees game-for-game and do them one better in the win column to boot. A 6-1 week puts the team eight games above .500 for the first time since April 11. Back-to-back beauts from Derek Holland (9.0 5 0 0 1 5) and C.J. Wilson (7.2 3 0 0 2 7) complete a sweep of the Indians in Cleveland. Nelson Cruz (.333/.355/.633) leads the offense to score six runs per game. Even Elvis Andrus gets in on the action by hitting his third (!) home run of the year. Journeyman outfielder Endy Chavez makes the team's center field position an uncertain proposition.

4


Indians
33-24
2-6
.537
Down
June Swoon: Now 3-8 in their last 11, the Indians are all but in freefall. Their division lead dwindles from seven games two weeks ago to just two and a half today, but the team opens up a three game series against the list-lagging Twins at home on Monday night.. To put an exclamation point (or frowny emoticon) on the week, the team is shut out in the final two games of a four-game sweep at home at the hands of the Rangers. The shine further continues to wear off Justin Masterson (6.1 10 4 4 1 7) and Josh Tomlin (6.0 8 6 6 1 7). Meanwhile, Shin-Soo Choo says his recent DUI has been affecting his play.

5


Blue Jays
30-29
4-3
.530
Flat
Do the Lindy Hop: Adam Lind returns from the DL (back stiffness) to hit two home runs against the Orioles and bring the Blue Jays back above .500. That snatches a 3-3 week from the jaws of losers' ignominy. The only notable pitching performance comes from Jo-Jo Reyes (9.0 8 1 1 4 4); it's by far his best of the season. Rickey Romero (7.2 11 5 5 3 5) and Carlos Villanueva (5.1 6 2 2 1 0) merely post box-score oddities. For a team that starts Corey Patterson (.231/.222/.346) in left field, the 6.8 runs they average per week are downright sensational. Meanwhile, Jose Bautista's creation myth grows larger.

6


Tigers
31-27
6-2
.528
Up
Put a Verlander in your Tank: A 5-1 week puts the Tigers as close (two and a half games) as they have been to first place since the start of May. Much of that is thanks to a fortunate series against the Twins, whom they outscored by only four runs in the three-game sweep. The result keeps Jose Valverde (three saves plus another appearance) plenty busy on the week. Justin Verlander (8.0 7 2 2 1 7) throws his ninth start with more than 110 pitches (he's a clean 13-for-13 in clearing the century mark), which is as much a testament to his ability to maintain his velocity late in games as it is anything else. Jhonny Peralta (.471/.500/.588) brings his season batting average to .320 after posting a .249 mark last year. If the Indians continue to fall, the Tigers now appear the most likely beneficiaries.

7


Rays
30-29
3-5
.525
Down
Pick Your Battles: Losing a series to the red-hot Rangers is bound to happen, but the Rays give away three out of four to the Mariners as well in a week in which they average only three runs per game and are shut out twice. Strong performances from David Price (8.0 5 3 3 1 8) and Jeremy Hellickson (7.1 3 1 1 1 4) are wasted by poor support, and the usually reliable James Shields (4.0 7 8 7 3 4) gets shelled. The real question is Andy Sonnanstine (5.0 4 7 7 4 1 3), who has now started four games and been serviceable in none of them. Of course, the Rays have 12 picks in the Rule 4 Draft, but a former first-rounder provides reasons to remember such picks don't always spell success.

8


Angels
30-31
3-4
.516
Down
Losing the Initiative: Losers of series versus the Royals and Yankees, the Angels fall from a tie for the division lead to third place–four and a half games behind the Rangers–in less than 10 days. Tyler Chatwood (7.2 5 0 0 2 2) and Jered Weaver (7.0 3 2 2 4 8) pitch well but neither receives more than three runs of support. Tough weeks from Erick Aybar (.231/.259/.269) and Torii Hunter (.130/.231/.391) mean the offense sputters to score just 3.5 runs per game despite putting up 10 against the Royals a week ago. Howie Kendrick returns from the DL but goes a combined 0-8 in his first two games back.

9


Mariners
31-28
5-3
.514
Up
Pass That Dutch: The Mariners are 14-4 over their last 18 games. They play quickly—average time of game this week: 2:45—and defensively thanks to a string of 10 consecutive games at home. The biggest surprise for the team has been the health and effectiveness of Erik Bedard (7.0 8 3 3 0 7 / 6.1 6 2 2 2 7). The offense is still a weakness, as players like Chone Figgins (.111/.111/.111) and Franklin Gutierrez (.000/.053/.000) simply have not found their grooves. There is some hope: the team calls up free-swinging Dutch outfielder Greg Halman, who goes 3-4 without a strikeout in his debut.

10


White Sox
28-33
4-3
.502
Up
Groin? Groan: A 4-2 week begins with a good Jake Peavy start (7.0 6 3 3 0 2) and ends with a miserable one (5.0 3 6 6 3 4), the latter of which ends with a groin injury that makes Peavy DL bound. Gavin Floyd has a bad outing (5.2 9 4 4 1 1) in his first appearance after appearing as a reliever in a 14-inning game on May 28. Brent Lillibridge (.286/.348/.619) is the bright spot, as he adds two more home runs on the week and has somehow hit well enough to keep his right-field glove in the lineup.

11


Athletics
27-33
1-6
.500
Down
Baby Elephant Walk: After scrambling to .500 and respectability last week, the A's lose six straight against the Yankees and Red Sox. That includes an embarrassing day on which they were on the wrong end of a Bartolo Colon complete-game shutout, but sadly few on the current A's team have been around long enough to remember what those used to be like. The dynamic duo of Brett Anderson (5.0 9 5 5 2 2) and Trevor Cahill (6.2 4 4 4 5 2 / 7.0 8 5 5 1 8) fails to play stopper. For the Hit List's money, the best sideshow line of the year is Daric Barton's (.224/.338/.284).

12


Orioles
26-31
2-5
.454
Flat
For the Birds: The Orioles post a 2-4 week that may be the first moment in their long occupancy of fifth place in the AL East. The likelihood of that four-month-long residence obscures strides made by young pitcher Brian Matusz (5.2 4 1 1 0 3). For every step forward, there are two steps back: Zach Britton (5.0 6 7 5 3 3) and Jake Arrieta (2.1 4 4 4 4 3 / 6.0 5 3 3 4 1) both suffer defeats. On the plus side, there are plenty of beautiful Adam Jones catches to watch.

13


Royals
25-34
2-6
.437
Down
Nope: The Royals have now resoundingly demonstrated that there was nothing special about the group of warmed-over has-beens they have warming the seats for the world's shiniest bunch of adolescents and twentysomethings. Winners of just five of their last 21 games, their offense delivers just 3.3 runs per game, and the team allows 5.6 runs against. The only bright spot is a game in which five pitchers combine to shut out the Angels with a combined line of (9.0 7 0 0 1 10).

14


Twins
21-37
4-4
.403
Up
Don't Call it a Comeback: The Twins piece together a four-game winning streak—their longest of the year—and show legitimate signs of life. Sure, with Jason Kubel and Jim Thome on the DL alongside their opening-day catcher and second baseman, but it could be worse. Brian Duensing (8.0 6 0 0 1 4) hands in his best start of the year, Carl Pavano (9.0 9 2 2 1 4) looks like he may be back to his 2010 form, and the team scores 5.7 runs per game on the week. Then again, that's the warm, fuzzy embrace of visiting the Royals.


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.

Related Content:  Game 1,  Year Of The Injury

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