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June 1, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of May 29, 2005

by Ben Murphy

Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Trend
Comment
1 Baltimore Orioles
30-19
3-3
Flat
The Orioles maintained the top spot on the Hit List despite a .500 week and injury troubles. Hayden Penn was called up this past week, and managed to pitch well in his debut. The team continues to rely on young starting pitchers, and they continue to deliver.
2 St. Louis Cardinals
32-17
5-1
Up
Larry Walker returns to Colorado this week for a four game series against his old team. Unfortunately, there is a chance that his ankle sprain might keep him from playing much. Meanwhile, Yadier Molina is starting to improve after some minor injuries.
3 Minnesota Twins
29-20
4-3
Up
Don't be misled: their ascent up the Hit List is due more to the significant falls by the Marlins and White Sox than their own success--they actually dropped a few percentage points in the overall average. In addition to his mound dominance, Johan Santana is helping to liven up the clubhouse with antics and pranks.
4 San Diego Padres
31-19
5-1
Up
Hot Air Balloon of the Week Award (tie): Rising five spots (along with the Rangers) the Padres join the Orioles and Cardinals as teams that are odds-on favorites to make the post season. The Friars scored an impressive 53 runs this week. Catcher Ramon Hernandez has hit well so far (.301/.337/.472), leading NL catchers in VORP.
5 Florida Marlins
27-20
3-4
Down
The Marlins barely managed to stay in the top five after a relatively poor week. One of the losses came on Dontrelle Willis's watch, a rarity this year. The problem wasn't Willis, who allowed two runs, but instead an offense that scored once off of Kazuhisa Ishii, and a bullpen that allowed four runs after he left. The team hopes that Guillermo Mota can return to form coming off his injury.
6 Texas Rangers
29-20
5-0
Up
Hot Air Balloon of the Week Award (tie): The nine man buzz saw called the Rangers' lineup helped the team score 37 runs and hit .312/.369/.606 for the week. The team led the majors with 14 HR, cruising through the week undefeated. Michael Young is getting hot, hitting .435/.435/.609 the past week. The team heads out to play to 12 straight road games after the longest undefeated homestand in team history.
7 Chicago White Sox
33-17
2-4
Down
If you go by percentage points, the White Sox fell the furthest this week. They hit .205/.266/.320 as a team, and scored a league-low 14 runs. The club looks forward to Frank Thomas's return early this week to help awaken the offense. In business news, the club extended Ozzie Guillen's contract, picking up his option for 2006 and adding two more years to his deal, including an option for 2009.
8 Boston Red Sox
27-22
2-4
Down
Johnny Damon continues to light it up, hitting .353/.406/.459 on the year so far, and Edgar Renteria is heating up, batting .667/.680/1.042 the past seven days, with 2 homeruns, a double and a triple. The Red Sox host the Orioles for four games at the beginning of the week, a chance to gain ground on the front-running birds.
9 Toronto Blue Jays
27-23
4-2
Up
Reed Johnson helped ignite the offense, hitting .345/.387/.793 the past seven days, with three HR. Eric Hinske has decided to contribute at home, hitting .333/.398/.551 in Toronto, but has only managed a .241/.313/.391 line on the road. The pitching staff is looking forward to the Blue Jays debut of Chad Gaudin early this week in Seattle. After his most recent loss, the team decided that getting David Bush on track is a priority, and sent him to Triple-A.
10 Atlanta Braves
28-21
4-2
Down
General Manager John Schuerholz, who was recently interviewed here, made waves this offseason with his deals to acquire Tim Hudson from the Oakland A's and Dan Kolb from the Brewers. The reviews of these deals are starting to come in as Kolb continues to struggle and Hudson continues to do well. The deal to get Kolb, where the Braves gave up Jose Capellan didn't look like the best option at the time, and Kolb has only confirmed those doubts thus far.
11 New York Yankees
27-22
4-2
Down
The Yankees, like the Braves, went 4-2 but managed to drop three spots this week. Since the computation for Hit List ranks includes all three components of the Adjusted Standings, losing 17-1 and 7-2 is going to have a much more significant impact on the team run differential than typical scores might. Alex Rodriguez continues to lead the offense, hitting .571/.739/1.357 this past week and .330/.436/.659 on the year. Jorge Posada (.444/.500/.778) and Gary Sheffield (.421/.542/.895) also hit very well this week.
12 New York Mets
26-25
3-4
Down
After being swept by the Braves, the Mets managed to win three out of four games in their series with the Marlins, without much help from an ailing Carlos Beltran. In his absence, Mike Cameron has been manning center field admirably, much as he had for years in Seattle and Cincinnati before that. Glimpses of his defense, combined with concerns about Beltran's legs, have fans wondering who is really the best center fielder on the squad. Another positional battle is brewing at second base, where Miguel Cairo filled in well for Kazuo Matsui as his neck strain healed.
13 Milwaukee Brewers
24-25
4-2
Up
The pitching staff was rather impressive, allowing ten runs total (six came in one game against the Astros). Of course, playing the Rockies and Astros, the chances of dominance increase--even for the Brewers. Chris Capuano (3.01 ERA, 56 K's in 74.6 IP) and Ben Sheets (3.62 ERA, 34 K's in 32.1 IP) continue to lead the hurlers, and Doug Davis (3.89 ERA, 52 K's in 71.6 IP) has offered a strong contribution. Meanwhile, in Nashville, Prince Fielder continues to make noise for the Sounds, winning player of the week honors in the Pacific Coast League.
14 Detroit Tigers
23-25
3-3
Down
The Tigers will have to deal with the surging Rangers and the Orioles at home this week, hoping to keep up the positive momentum generated by sweeping the current Hit List kings, the Orioles, at the end of last week. Alan Trammell might point to recent lineup jostling as the cause of the recent surge, but recent studies have shown that lineup changes don't have significant short term effects. With Chris Shelton ready in Toledo, perhaps a promotion would help the offense more.
15 Chicago Cubs
24-24
5-2
Up
After turning in two consecutive two homer games, Derrek Lee won NL Player of the Week honors. Of course, even a 5-2 week looks bleak when something like this happens to an ace like Mark Prior. With everyone weighing in on Prior's status, Will Carroll delivers the goods again.
16 Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
30-20
5-2
Up
The Angels of somewhere in SoCal split their series with the White Sox and then swept the hapless Royals to finish up a solid seven game homestand. The big, late-breaking news was that the Angels signed last year's top pick, Jered Weaver. The team has had to jostle the lineup and bench, making moves to account for injuries to stars like Vladimir Guerrero and Francisco Rodriguez. Rodriguez is on schedule for his return sometime next week, and young players like Dallas McPherson and recent call-up Casey Kotchman are hoping to break into more consistent playing time.
17 Cleveland Indians
24-25
5-2
Flat
The Indians activated Juan Gonzalez. Perhaps he can help in their new focus on fundamentals and small ball--which kind of makes you wonder, why are those two always lumped together? It seems like hitting the ball hard is a more important fundamental than bunting. After all, would you rather have a hitter that can get on with a bunt single every time, or a player that can hit a double every time?
18 Los Angeles Dodgers
26-23
3-3
Down
This is the third week in a row where the Dodgers have dropped in the Hit List ranks after their hot start. Filling in for the injured Odalis Perez, Derek Thompson has pitched surprisingly well thus far.
19 Philadelphia Phillies
24-27
3-3
Up
The team is eager to start a 13-game homestand after their recent nine-game road trip. Some bats are starting to heat up, like Jimmy Rollins, who had a slow start to the year. The offense will need a boost as repeat former NL player of the week Pat Burrell is out with wrist problems.
20 Washington Nationals
25-25
1-5
Down
Anvil of the Week Award: No, that's not a typo; the Nationals dropped six more spots this week after going 1-5 and being outscored 32 to 16. The team was swept by the Reds and managed only one win against the Cardinals. John Patterson hopes to bolster the rotation in his return this week, after his recent stint on the disabled list. Fortunately, the bullpen has been relatively strong so far this year, especially closer Chad Cordero, who is getting some All-Star consideration with 11 saves and an ERA under 1.00.
21 Pittsburgh Pirates
21-27
2-5
Up
The Bucs scored enough runs to outpace the rest of the lower third of the Hit List, moving up two spots this week--the fourth straight week that the Pirates have moved up, but only by a total of five spots. Slow and steady wins the race, right? Meanwhile, manager Lloyd McClendon is worried about Jack Wilson's recent injuries and hitting woes.
22 Arizona Diamondbacks
29-22
2-4
Down
The Diamondbacks took the lead from the Angels and White Sox in the race for the luckiest team (most third order wins above expectation). This is the fifth straight week that the Diamondbacks have slipped in the standings, as their luck begins to run out. The biggest news out of Arizona was signing last year's top pick Stephen Drew. Fans are looking forward to what management might do with this year's first pick in the draft.
23 San Francisco Giants
23-26
3-4
Down
General Manager Brian Sabean made a move this past week to get LaTroy Hawkins from the Cubs for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma to help a bullpen that recently bid adieu to veteran Matt Herges.
24 Seattle Mariners
20-29
2-4
Flat
After sending Miguel Olivo to the minors, the team saw a boost from uber-veteran Pat Borders. Rookie Jeremy Reed helped the team to their first comeback win (a win after trailing after seven innings) this week over the Devil Rays.
25 Houston Astros
18-31
3-3
Flat
Poor Astros fans. You know your team is bad when a 3-3 week looks good. One of those wins was a strong effort by Andy Pettitte, who seems to be returning to form. After a hard slide from Carlos Lee, the Astros seem to have lost Craig Biggio for a few games.
26 Tampa Bay Devil Rays
19-32
4-2
Up
The Devil Rays move up one spot after sweeping the Oakland A's, their first series sweep this season, and then dropping two of three to the Mariners. With Jorge Cantu adjusting to playing third base, and B.J. Upton improving his defense in Durham, Upton's call up should be any day now. The team hopes that Casey Fossum can continue to gas up the rotation.
27 Cincinnati Reds
20-30
5-2
Up
The Reds moved up three spots thanks to ineptitude from the A's, Rockies, and Royals and a 5-2 week where they swept the Nationals and split with the Pirates. The team site recently features an interview with BP favorite Adam Dunn where he describes his failed aspirations in medicine. This just in: Danny Graves is available for a buck.
28 Oakland Athletics
17-32
0-6
Down
The A's finished the week 0-6, culminating an eight-game losing streak that stretched back through last weekend. The A's were swept by the Devil Rays and Indians after mustering just one win in their series with the Giants last week. The team was so excited to have Bobby Crosby back that they sent Keith Ginter to the minors. Meanwhile, management looks forward to the most exciting time of year in hopes that next year will be better.
29 Colorado Rockies
14-34
1-6
Down
The bottom three teams in the Hit List went a combined 1-18 this week, and the lone win belonged to the Colorado Rockies, a 5-2 victory over the Cubs. Things aren't going to get any easier, as the Cardinals, Reds and White Sox come to town. The team recently called up Matt Anderson in hopes that he can fill in for the injured Jose Acevedo.
30 Kansas City Royals
13-36
0-6
Down
The Royals might have won the anvil award if they weren't already so close to the bottom of the standings. The pitchers had an 8.39 ERA on the week and the bats mustered 3.66 runs per game, so going 0-5 is no shock. The team named Buddy Bell the new manager, much to the dismay of some Royals fans. The continual Mike Sweeney rumors continue to be shot down by General Manager Allard Baird. The team hopes that getting Jeremy Affeldt back sometime soon will help with juggling the rotation.

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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