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May 24, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of May 22, 2005

by Ben Murphy

Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Trend
Comment
1 Baltimore Orioles
27-16
3-3
Flat
The feel good story of the summer thus far, the Orioles keep plugging away; it's nice to see an underdog come out of the AL East basement to challenge the annual favorites. They'll need their "Who?!?" pitching staff to keep up the solid pitching if they are going to hold off the Red Sox. The offense looks to the return of Sammy Sosa in hopes that he can keep up with his career line (.277/.347/.543).
2 Chicago White Sox
31-13
4-2
Up
The biggest news of the week was Brandon McCarthy's solid debut. Imagine his face when he got the call: "Brandon, we want you to come start the rubber match of our series with the Cubs...against Mark Prior." He pitched admirably but the White Sox ended up losing. Not surprisngly, the White Sox are home to two of the three luckiest pitchers in the majors, Jon Garland and Mark Buehrle.
3 Florida Marlins
24-16
5-1
Up
The offense comes alive! Scoring 38 runs and hitting a collective .322/.394/.559 is the surest path to winning ways, and the 5-1 mark on the week is proof. OK, so sweeping the Devil Rays isn't really that hard, but it helped put them into first place in the NL East, where they are two games ahead at the end of the week.
4 Minnesota Twins
25-17
4-2
Up
One of the quirks of interleague play is that some of the "rivalries" are between teams like the Twins and Brewers. This week, the Twins start a series with a more plausible rival, the Indians. Twins fans will want to take note of some of the projected information about the new ball park, which recently passed the local government's vote.
5 St. Louis Cardinals
27-16
3-3
Down
Just like that, they are out of the top three, going 3-3 on the week. They struggled against the unstoppable force that Brett Myers; Chris Carpenter, Matt Morris, and Mark Mulder threw well, but Jeff Suppan took two of the three losses on the week.
6 Boston Red Sox
25-18
3-3
Up
The Red Sox lost two of three from the recovering A's, and made up for it by taking two of three from the struggling Braves. As Kevin Youkilis gets used to playing first, the Red Sox are hoping that the recently signed John Olerud makes it up to the big leagues soon, after he finishes getting into game shape in the minors.
7 Atlanta Braves
24-19
1-5
Down
Perhaps they were a bit unlucky this week. One example: they hit 16 doubles, good for second-best in the bigs, but only had two homers. Of course, it could be that the doubles were the abberration; the team hit .213/.265/.335 on the week, so they shouldn't expect to score many runs. As Chipper Jones continues to suffer from various injuries, the Braves also lost Mike Hampton to the disabled list.
8 New York Yankees
23-21
4-2
Up
The Yankees continued their winning ways, climbing four spots on the hit list. Fans were concerned when Derek Jeter, Gary Sheffield, and Jorge Posada all took a day off with minor injuries. The team hopes that Hideki Matsui can come out of his slump soon, especially if any of the three injured starters will be missing significant time.
9 San Diego Padres
26-18
4-2
Up
Jake Peavy (2.29 ERA, 71 K's in 63 IP) and Adam Eaton (3.35 ERA, 39 K's in 53.6 IP) lead the pitching staff so far--everyone hopes this is the breakout year Eaton had coming. The Friars start a set with the Diamondbacks in hopes of gaining ground on the NL West leaders. Impending Anchor Alert: 12-3 in one-run games so far this year
10 New York Mets
23-21
4-2
Up
One of three teams to move up four positions, the Mets swept the Reds, outscoring them 21-9 in three games. The team won only one of the games in the heralded Subway Series against the Yankees; they probably should have won a second game, but the bullpen faltered after Pedro Martinez was taken out of the game. The Mets turn their attention to the Braves, trying to manage without Carlos Beltran.
11 Texas Rangers
24-20
4-2
Up
The best team in the AL West by third order wins put together a solid week, mashing the baseball (12 HR, .562 SLG) and sweeping the Astros. Part of their high rank in the third order wins is because of a few blowouts and their 5-1 record in five-run games. Not surprisingly, they are 13-1 in games where they score seven or more runs--the impressive part is that they've scored seven or more runs 14 times already.
12 Toronto Blue Jays
23-21
3-3
Up
What a Man: Roy Halladay continues to amaze (7-2, 2.84 ERA, 49 K's in 76 IP), helping to captain a ship many felt was bound to have sunk by now. Instead they've wielded their flexibility and steered the course to the competitive ranks of the AL East. Some believe the team might look to trade Orlando Hudson before he gets too expensive. The team hopes to have Gregg Zaun back soon following his recent minor league rehab start.
13 Detroit Tigers
20-22
3-3
Down
Jeremy Bonderman continues to throw well (3.38 ERA, 52 K's in 61.3 IP), and with Carlos Guillen back in the lineup, the offense should see a boost--they'll need it after scoring only 17 runs this past week, third worst in MLB, and hitting .231/.306/.354. After battling in the intense rivalry against the Diamondbacks, the Tigers go on the road to face the Yankees and Orioles.
14 Washington Nationals
24-20
4-3
Down
Anvil of the Week Award: the Nationals dropped the most spots, six, of any team in the Hit List ranks, despite going 4-3; two of the wins were one run games, one a three run game, and the big win was 9-2 over the Blue Jays. The losses, by comparison, were by five, six, and seven runs. Meanwhile, Livan Hernandez continues to throw a ton, and John Patterson has been a pleasant addition (2.98 ERA, 7.44 K/9 in 42.3 IP).
15 Los Angeles Dodgers
23-20
2-4
Down
The Dodgers allowed 5.5 runs per game on the week, and Odalis Perez is headed for the disabled list. As in other cases, the real rivalries begin this week as the Dodgers go to San Francisco to add another chapter to arguably the greatest rivalry in sports. Meanwhile, some people are surprised that the Dodgers might have gotten a good deal last year, while we've been saying it all along--all it took was Hee Seop Choi to realize he could hit.
16 Milwaukee Brewers
20-23
2-5
Flat
Going 2-5 on the week, you'd figure they might lose some ground, but 3 of the losses were one-run affairs, and both wins were by six runs. Interestingly, the Brewers are 7-6 in one run games, but 0-8 in games decided by two runs, something that Brewers fans can hope balances out soon. Meanwhile, Bill Hall keeps getting the nod from Ned Yost over rookie J.J. Hardy.
17 Cleveland Indians
19-23
3-3
Up
More weeks like this past one will help them shake their unlucky ways and ascend the Hit List. They'll need to keep it up if they hope to climb back into the AL Central race. Since the pitching has been solid recently, the team is focusing on offense.
18 Chicago Cubs
19-22
3-2
Down
As Carlos Zambrano tries to get some quiet time, the rest of the team managed to win a few games despite scoring the fewest runs of any team this week: just 15. In other news, Mark Prior is good, Cubs and White Sox fans dislike each other, and the bullpen needs help.
19 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
25-18
4-2
Down
Gravity may have met its match. Already notching almost seven wins over expectation, the Angels refuse to falter; their third order wins are good enough to beat the A's in the AL West and that's it. A rash of injuries to key players like Vladimir Guerrero and Francisco Rodriguez will test the Angels' depth, especially in the outfield.
20 Arizona Diamondbacks
27-18
4-2
Down
If the Angels don't defeat gravity, the Diamondbacks just might. They've gotten 7.5 wins over expectation, and the most interesting race this year is to see which team racks up more luck (by surpassing their third order wins) by the end of the year. Will either one fall back to earth? Only time will tell. Javier Vazquez has dazzled thus far, throwing 67 innings of 3.49 ERA ball, racking up 63 K's and Brandon Webb has been the majors' second luckiest pitcher so far this year.
21 Philadelphia Phillies
21-24
4-2
Up
Pat Burrell won NL Player of the Week honors again after compiling a .381/.500/.619 line. Brett Myers continues to make a solid case for Cy Young consideration, putting together 62.3 innings with a 1.88 ERA, 71 K's and only 14 BB's. As a team, the Phillies have faced the second toughest schedule thus far.
22 San Francisco Giants
21-22
3-3
Down
Jason Schmidt returns this week from his injury to face the Dodgers, which should give hopes to Giants fans. The offense struggled, scoring only 18 runs on the week, but managed to win three games by a total of four runs. The other stud that Giants fans are hoping to see, Barry Bonds started light rehab this week for his knee.
23 Pittsburgh Pirates
19-22
2-3
Up
Having faced the easiest schedule thus far, Pirates fans might have thus far been given something of a false hope. There is some more hope in youngsters like Jason Bay, who is fighting the stigma of the sophomore slump, and Oliver Perez, who had a solid start this week against the Rockies.
24 Seattle Mariners
18-25
3-3
Up
Aaron Sele had a great game against the Padres, holding them to four hits. Fans have to hope that Joel Pineiro returns to form after his 10 day stint in AAA Tacoma.
25 Houston Astros
15-28
1-5
Down
Math Lesson: worst ERA on the week + second fewest runs on the week = lots of losing this week. This week the Astros allowed nearly seven runs per contest as opposing batters hit .301 and had an OPS of .899. Combine that with only scoring 16 runs, even playing in Arlington for a series, and you're going to have some 'splainin to do. After dropping to 2-19 on the road this year, Phil Garner has tried shuffling the lineup some, benching Jason Lane for the time being in favor of Todd Self.
26 Oakland Athletics
17-25
3-2
Up
What? You mean they scored some runs?!? Actually, yes, 35 runs on the week (5.83 per game), fourth-best in the league. Thankfully for A's fans, the pitching wasn't terrible, and they won a few games. On a staff hampered by injuries, the offense might get a boost when Bobby Crosby comes back.
27 Tampa Bay Devil Rays
15-30
1-5
Down
The Devil Rays won just one game, a strong start by Scott Kazmir against the hapless Tigers. The focus of the team has been on youth and the future, and fans are starting to clamor for the team to promote some of the stars, especially B.J. Upton and Delmon Young, this year's second-best prospect. Meanwhile, trouble continues to follow former top pick Josh Hamilton.
28 Colorado Rockies
13-28
3-3
Flat
The bad news gets worse as Chin-Hui Tsao is reportedly out for the year. The team is without manager Clint Hurdle, as he took a leave to be with his ailing daughter. The team went 3-3 on the week, with Jeff Francis winning again, this time over the Giants.
29 Kansas City Royals
13-31
2-4
Up
"Better lucky than good"--you've heard the cliche many times. Sadly, the Royals are neither, but they moved up one spot because the Reds are every bit as bad as their 15-28 mark suggests, while the Royals have lost about six more games than expected. As a result, they have the longest odds to make the post season at this point.
30 Cincinnati Reds
15-28
1-5
Down
As noted before, their horrendous suckitude isn't due to much bad luck at all; they've fought their way to all 15 wins. Their lone victory on the week was a slim 2-1 win over the Indians, thanks partly to the continuing contributions of Adam Dunn. They recently designated Danny Graves for assignment, apparently turning over the closer nomination to Ryan Wagner, with some bullpen roles shifting.

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.

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