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May 10, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of May 8, 2005

by Jay Jaffe

Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Trend
Comment
1 White Sox
24-7
6-0
Up
Taking the top spot on the strength of an undefeated week. Starting staff continues to impress (2.96 ERA), led by Jon Garland (6-0, 2.42 ERA, sixth in VORP among pitchers). Hitters, on the other hand, are languishing, with a collective .259 Equivalent Average and nobody more than 5.5 runs above replacement.
2 Marlins
17-11
3-2
Down
Fish to cut bait? State legislature vetoes stadium tax, leaving team 0-for-4 in trolling for publicly funded park. Bet on more overtures from Las Vega>s.
3 Twins
19-11
4-2
Up
Even with Juan Rincon rung up for steroids, bullpen has allowed only a 2.03 ERA and 1.01 baserunners per inning, with Joe Nathan yielding nary a walk until Sunday. Meanwhile, Joe Mauer (356/.447/.529) isn't just hitting, he's getting his reps behind the plate (21 games started out of the team's 30), allowing third catcher Corky Miller (1-for-55 since 9/19/03) to be farmed out in favor of switch-hitting cornerman Terry Tiffee (.300/.371/.500).
4 Braves
20-11
5-1
Up
Strong return to action for sole hot hitter Chipper Jones (.349/.472/.640) staves off possible promotion of Andy Marte (.245/.331/.445 at Triple-A Richmond). Mike Hampton keeps rolling (4-1, 2.05 ERA despite meager 3.25 K/9), two-hitting Astros and slugging 15th career homer.
5 Orioles
20-10
3-3
Down
Continue to nest atop the AL East. Erik Bedard and Bruce Chen have combined for 2.81 ERA, 6.98 K/9, 3.88 K/BB and 6.67 IP/GS. Thank you, Ray Miller.
6 Cardinals
19-11
4-3
Flat
Second in NL in scoring (5.13 R/G) thanks to usual suspects like Albert Pujols (.321 EqA) and Jim Edmonds (.317). Missing Matheny: catcher Yadier Molina struggling at .200/.242/.233, while the man he replaced is hitting a comparatively robust .244/.302/.430 for the Giants.
7 Dodgers
19-11
3-3
Flat
Levelling off after hot start, but there's still some Choi to be had: Hee Seop (.276/.368/.539/5 HR) is quieting critics, and Jason Phillips (.313/.358/.470) has shorn up a weak catching corps. Meanwhile, solid but stretched bullpen can look forward to the return of Eric Gagne, who fanned the side in first rehab appearance at Vegas on Sunday.
8 Red Sox
18-13
5-2
Down
Solid debut for Wade Miller (5 innings, 2 runs, 6 Ks) spoiled by bullpen, but Sox have to feel good about where they are with patchwork rotation. Still homerless: Mark Bellhorn, Kevin Millar, and Bill Mueller (combined 324 PA). Disappointing so far is Edgar Renteria, hitting .239/.303/.349 with the worst double play rate of any hitter and 6 errors to boot.
9 Nationals
17-14
4-3
Up
Packing a punch: the Nats rank third in Equivalent Average among teams and sport five regulars with slugging percentages of .484 or higher in Jose Guillen (. 609), Vinny Castilla (.515), Jose Vidro (.510), Nick Johnson (.486) and Brad Wilkerson (.484). None has an OBP lower than Guillen's .354.
10 Mets
17-15
5-2
Up
Offense is dragged down by three starters with sub-.300 OBPs: Jose Reyes (.288), Kazuo Matsui (.289) and--ouch--Mike Piazza (.294). Meanwhile, Carlos Beltran continues to homer only on days Pedro Martinez starts, a fine pace presuming the skinny guy takes the hill around 30 times this year.
11 Tigers
14-16
3-4
Down
Back near the top of the VORP rankings is Carlos Guillen, tied for third while hitting .387/.449/.566. Also maintaining last year's gains is Brandon Inge (.304/.395/.482).
12 Brewers
15-15
4-2
Up
Reeled off seven straight wins in the absence of Ben Sheets. Surging Lyle Overbay (. 352/.496/.648 and batting over .500 for two weeks in a row) left Sunday's game with a hamstring strain. Impressive out of the pen: Derrick Turnbow, with a 1.76 ERA, 8.22 K/9, and only 6 hits allowed in 15.1 innings.
13 Rangers
17-15
5-1
Up
Platinum Jet-Pack winners rose nine spots and climbed to third in scoring (5.38 R/G) thanks in part to three-game, five-homer outburst from Alfonso Soriano, who now has 10 dingers, second only to the man for whom he was traded.
14 Blue Jays
16-16
2-4
Down
Bad blow: losing catcher (and top hitter) Gregg Zaun to a concussion and the disabled list just after releasing Greg Myers. Apt Bermanism of the Week: Josh "Control" Towers, who sports a 25/2 K/BB ratio and helped whitewash his former team, who lead the majors in scoring.
15 Giants
15-15
2-4
Down
Bad week for Barry Bonds with operation irrigation, quack allegations, and rumors of investigation. Meanwhile Pedro Feliz continues to muster big offense in left field (.321/.361/.536). The Giants are scoring 5.10 runs per game-and being outscored.
16 Angels
18-13
4-2
Up
Despite concerns about his elbow, Kelvim Escobar has been effective since returning from DL: 3.10 ERA, 8.41 K.9, 6.8 innings per start. Offense is still wallowing in nostalgia for those heady days in Anaheim: .243/.298/.391. Oh, wait...
17 Padres
17-15
6-1
Up
Eleven-run first inning by Cardinals on Sunday snuffed six-game win streak. That debacle's primary culprit, Tim Redding, later complained his shoulder hurt going into the start--gee, thanks--and now stands at 0-5 with an 8.76 ERA and early exits in three of his last four outings. Meanwhile, hats off to Trevor Hoffman on his 400th save.
18 Diamondbacks
18-14
3-4
Down
Arrrrrgh: dropped three out of four to the Pirates, with bullpen torched for 12 runs in final two innings on Sunday and now holding 5.33 ERA.
19 Cubs
13-17
1-5
Down
Skidded to seven straight losses and switched closers (Ryan Dempster for the embattled Latroy Hawkins) before narrowly averting a winless week. Bright spot: Derrek Lee is hitting .394/.481/.743 and leading all hitters in VORP (28.2 runs) and EqA (.381).
20 Yankees
13-19
3-4
Up
That the heavily-favored horses don't always come in should serve as an apt metaphor. Taking a series from weak-hitting A's can't erase the sting of losing three out of four in Tampa, as the Yanks now face increasingly long odds of playing in October despite lineup shakeup.
21 Mariners
13-18
1-6
Down
Adrian Beltre is starting to look like the Beltre of old-1998, perhaps-by hitting .242/.275/.339 and making Paul DePodesta look pretty sharp. Slightly less painful is contemplating the gulf between the starters (5.13 ERA, with Jamie Moyer's 4.70 leading the way) and the relievers (2.18 ERA).
22 Phillies
14-18
3-4
Up
Among the bigger surprises thus far is that Brett Myers is tied for the VORP lead among pitchers while posting a 1.49 ERA, 10.06 K.9 and 4.91 K/BB ratio. Another big surprise, less happily so, is that the Phils are last in the NL in slugging (. 360). Jim Thome is on the shelf, with Ryan Howard yet to take advantage of this showcase opportunity (1-for-14).
23 Indians
12-18
3-3
Up
Pitcher-esque: the Tribe's production at third base (.117/.182/.216) between Aaron Boone and Jose Hernandez.
24 Astros
11-19
1-6
Down
Pythagoras gets paid: prior to Sunday's 16-0 drubbing, Astros had been outscored by a mere two runs despite being seven games under .500. New ranking is more in line with their record, and they're holding a Golden Anvil for dropping 12 spots.
25 Athletics
14-17
1-5
Down
That they were blankety-blanked by the tanking Yanks speaks volumes about the catatonic offense. Highest EqA among hitters with 100 plate appearances: Mark Kotsay's .267.
26 Pirates
13-17
5-2
Up
A rare winning week digs the Bucs out of the basement, but they'll have to knuckle down without Craig Wilson (.296/.436/.395), who heads to the DL with a finger injury. It's admirable for Lloyd McClendon to volunteer to pick up some of the slack, but he's revealing too much: "The players need to play better, the pitchers need to pitch better, the coaches need to coach better and I need to manage better."
27 Reds
11-19
1-5
Down
As one of seven teams suffering through a one-win week, the Reds might have flown under the radar had it not been for the 10-run first inning they yielded to the Dodgers. While Eric Milton appears poised to give not just Bert Blyleven (50 HR allowed in 1986) but Barry Bonds (73 HR hit in 2001) runs for their money--he's on pace to allow 70--the rotation as a whole is yielding 2.09 HR/9.
28 Devil Rays
11-21
3-4
Flat
Taking out their frustrations on the Yanks--even temporarily knocking them into last place--was a fleeting respite from the hard work of being the AL East doormats. Back to the grind they go.
29 Rockies
7-21
1-5
Down
Amid the abject parade of combustible relievers, ten-game losing streaks and tired movie title puns, rookie shortstop Clint Barmes is hitting .404/.458/.624 and leading rookie hitters in VORP.
30 Royals
8-23
1-5
Down
Take away Mike Sweeney (.339/.388/.628) and you've got a team hitting .219/.276/.341. Of course, take away Mike Sweeney and you've got a team that may as well stay in bed for all the good showing up at the ballpark will do them (Zack Greinke excepted). After all, this is a franchise that thinks Ken Harvey's an asset.

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 Sunday.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
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