CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Under The Knife: Inter... (06/06)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: W... (06/01)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit List: W... (06/14)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: T... (06/07)

June 7, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of June 5, 2005

by Jay Jaffe

Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Trend
Comment
1 Orioles
34-22
4-3
Flat
Perched atop the Hit List for the fourth time in a row and at the one-third mark for the season, giving them plenty of reasons to preen. Raw power--an MLB-best slugging percentage of .480, 70 points above league average--is the key, with the keystone dynamo of Brian Roberts (who's missed five straight with a rotator cuff strain) and Miguel Tejada combining for a whopping .623 and holding two of the top three spots in Value Over Replacement Player among ALers. No less credit should go to the pitching staff for shaving 0.73 runs off of last year's ERA and holding opponents to a .379 SLG and 48 homers, 30 fewer than the O's have hit.
2 Twins
33-22
4-2
Up
Still looking up at the White Sox in the AL Central standings, but outperforming them, particularly on the mound, where they hold the majors' best ERA (3.32), to say nothing of an undgodly 3.60 K/BB ratio that's running at a record rate. At the plate they'll need to fight through injuries--a trio sustained in an extra-inning epic, with Nick Punto (hamstring) and perhaps Joe Mauer (groin) and Justin Morneau (hyperextended elbow) winding up on the DL--to keep pace.
3 Cardinals
36-20
4-3
Down
Last year's NL champs are firmly in control again, with the largest cushion of any division leader. But while Albert Pujols and Jim Edmonds continue to dominate, Larry Walker and Scott Rolen have scuffled through injuries, missing 35 games between them. Credit role players like Abraham Nunez and Mark Grudzielanek and a very solid rotation, with Chris Carpenter maintaining last year's gains and Matt Morris and Mark Mulder (the MM&MM boys) returning to form after injury woes.
4 Rangers
32-23
3-3
Up
Even with David Dellucci's .268/.435/.528 straining credulity, offense is rarely a surprise for the Rangers. The majors' most potent lineup is scoring even more on the road (5.72 runs per game) than at their hitter-friendly haven (5.52), with a shot at challenging the record for homers in a single season (264 by the '97 Seattle Mariners; they're on pace for 256). But it's Orel Hershiser's charges who are the real eye-openers, allowing only 39 homers, with Kenny Rogers (two dingers in 83.1 innings to go along with his 1.62 ERA and the top VORP among pitchers, 36.8) leading the way.
5 White Sox
37-19
4-2
Up
Deserving of a bow for their major-league best record at the one-third mark, but beware: per our Adjusted Standings, no team has outperformed their run differential by a wider margin (7.1 third-order wins). Dustin Hermanson's majors-leading Reliever Expected Wins Added has nicely complemented a surprsingly solid rotation (3.55 ERA). But their morbund offense, ninth in the AL, could certainly use the return of Frank Thomas. Aaron Rowand's team-best 10.5 VORP is the lowest team-leading total this side of the A's. Brrrrr...
6 Cubs
30-25
6-1
Up
Just when things seemed darkest--with Mark Prior's fracture sending him to the DL to join Kerry Wood and Nomar Garciaparra--the Cubs zipped past .500 and into the wild-card lead with a 6-1 week, earning the Platinum Pole Vault for rising nine places in the rankings. Credit to Derrek Lee (.385/.469/.717 and the top VORP and EqA), the bizarro Neifi Perez (.325/.348/.485), and Glendon Rusch (1.82 ERA in six starts, including a shutout of the hot-hitting Padres last week) for picking up the slack.
7 Mets
30-27
4-2
Up
It's anybody's race in the NL East, where all five teams are above .500 and separated by a mere game and a half. Though Carlos Beltran has yet to hit his stride and Mike Piazza looks cooked, David Wright (307/.399/.529), Mike Cameron (.340/.438/.631) and Cliff Floyd (.283/.348/.551) have provided adequate juice for the offense (now if Willie Randolph could only get Jose Reyes' .304 OBP out of the leadoff spot and nail Kazuo Matsui to the bench...). Pitching coach Rick Peterson's got his work cut out, particularly in the rotation, where the likes of Victor Zambrano, Kazuhisa Ishii and Tom Glavine have combined for a 1.08 K/BB ratio). Why can't they all be like Pedro?
8 Padres
34-23
3-4
Down
Catapulted to the top of the NL West on the strength of a 22-6 May thanks to an offense--led by a scorching Brian Giles (.364/.467/.646 for the month) and a healthy Khalil Greene (.311/.358/.554 for the month)---that now ranks third in the NL (4.88 runs per game), no mean feat for a Petco-based team. On the mound, Jake Peavy (.237 ERA, 9.24 K/9, 6.00 K/BB) continues to dominate hitters, and Adam Eaton (3.48 ERA) has excelled, but the rest of the rotation has slogged along at a 5.63 ERA clip, an area they'll need to shore up if they want to maintain their position.
9 Marlins
28-26
1-6
Down
Tailspin: the Fish dove from first to worst in the NL East in a single week, easy to do in such a tight race. They still lead the NL in ERA (3.57) with the Willis/Beckett/Burnett trio perhaps the top one in the game--a combined 2.48 ERA, 7.94 K/9, and 0.35 HR/9). But their lack of offense (4.37 runs per game, 12th in the NL) isn't helping. Miguel Cabrera and Carlos Delgado have hit as advertised, and even Juan Encarnacion has surprised. On the other hand, the easy temptations of speedster Juan Pierre in the leadoff spot are too much for old-schooler Jack McKeon to resist despite that .311 OBP. What's eating Mike Lowell (.218/.262/.341)?
10 Red Sox
31-25
4-3
Down
The most celebrated pitcher in team history is looking great in blue and orange, the staff ace has an 8.15 ERA in 17 2/3 innings and an ankle in need of Hamburger Helper, the number-two guy's got a bloated 5.85 ERA and the closer is at 6.23. Oh, and the Cooperstown-bound slugger is hitting a mere .255/.345/.480 and the big-money free-agent shortstop has looked like a bust. These aren't the 2004 Red Sox, breakers of the 86-year curse. Yet somehow--Matt Clement's 3.17 ERA, Johnny Damon's .348/.397/.455 line, David Ortiz's late-inning heroics--the Sox are six games above .500, only three back in the AL East, and with a considerably fuller glass than their pinstriped foes.
11 Braves
30-26
2-5
Down
Losers of three series in a row and seven of ten, the Braves remain in the thick of the NL East, but then doesn't everybody? They'll need to find some offense with Chipper Jones (.282/.411/.513) headed to the DL, where he'll join Mike Hampton (forearm tightness, again). Meanwhile, the Raul Mondesi Show has been cancelled, but the equally debilitating Brian Jordan Show (.236/.281/.303) plays on. Despite their woes, it's still a sucker's bet to go against the Braves, thanks especially to a rotation that's got a 3.44 ERA even without Hampton's nifty 1.83.
12 Blue Jays
29-28
2-5
Down
In the seven years prior to last season's 67-94 debacle, the Jays were a combined 649-647, never straying very far from .500. Thanks to Roy Halladay's return to dominance (2.45 ERA, 34.4 VORP, third among pitchers), this squad bears more resemblance to those seven than it does to the most recent model. The offense has put up runs (4.74 runs per game, 5th in the AL), though the team's .262 EqA is more in line with the impression that none of the name-brand hitters, including Vernon Wells (13 homers but a .243/.298/.463 line), is having a very good year with the bat. Reed Johnson (.290/.363/.481) has been a nice surprise.
13 Angels
32-24
2-4
Up
Plenty to complain about: dismal performances from free agents Steve Finley (.224/.288/.422) and Orlando Cabrera (.238/.295/.343), Vladimir Guerrero's shoulder injury and dings that have sidelined Adam Kennedy and Ben Molina, slow starts by highly touted rookie Dallas McPherson and several role players, and the continued drag that Darin Erstad places on the lineup... and that's just the hitters. But thanks to the pitching (3.77 ERA, fourth in the AL), the Angels remain in the thick of the AL West and the wild-card hunts. They'll need good luck with the dicey elbows of Kelvim Escobar and Francisco Rodriguez to make it through.
14 Brewers
26-30
2-5
Down
Hanging around .500 but not really sure they want to buy, backing away everytime a sales clerk asks them if there's anything they need help with. Pitcher wins and losses are lousy indicators, but if anybody had told the Brewers they'd be where they are with Ben Sheets at 1-5, they'd have been laughed out of the room. As it is, Victor Santos and Chris Capuano have been nearly heroic in Sheets' absence, combining for a 2.85 ERA overall. Props to a defense that's second in the NL in Defensive Efficiency Rating.
15 Phillies
30-27
6-0
Up
A 9-1 sprint means they've joined the fray in the NL East. While Jim Thome (.203/.367/.322) continues to struggle, Bobby Abreu (.332/.453/.591) earned NL Player of the Month honors, Pat Burrell (.311/.409/.519) appears to have regained his 2002 form, and Chase Utley (.315/.382/.562) has been a revelation. But aside from Brett Myers (2.24 ERA, third in the NL in VORP among pitchers) the staff has taken its lumps. Perhaps help will arrive when they trade all of their surplus Placido Polancos (1).
16 Yankees
28-28
1-6
Down
Offering a ride no smoother than the Homer Simpson kludgemobile envisioned earlier this spring, the Yanks made the one-third turn on a six-game skid to .500, reason enough to have the Boss reading his lieutenants the riot act. Don't blame the offense, which is pumping out 5.20 runs per game, fifth in the majors, with Alex Rodriguez (the new Mr. May?) second in the AL in VORP (34.1), and Gary Sheffield fourth (26.5). It's still the pitching (4.66 ERA, fourth-worst in the AL, with Randy Johnson's 3.92 the ho-hum best among starters) that has George bitching. He'll love the Golden Anvil they receive here for dropping five spots.
17 Tigers
26-28
3-3
Down
With .500 still in view this far from the gate, the Tigers can congratulate themselves on taking another step forward from their dismal 2003. Carlos Guillen's league-leading batting average is just one of his tasty treats (.368/.419/.503), and Brandon Inge (.310/.392/.476) continues to improve. But while their rotation has been solid, only Jeremy Bonderman (3.62 ERA) has been impressive, with the rest of the unit combining for a 1.54 K/BB and 4.81 K/9, peripherals that don't bode well.
18 Nationals
31-26
6-1
Up
First in war, first in peace, and for the moment, first in the NL East as well after sweeping the Marlins despite a negative run differential. This is a fiesty team, from Tomokazu Ohka showing up manager Frank Robinson to Marlon Byrd knocking over an ump to Livan Hernandez wringing 150 pitches out of that rubber arm. Ranked 14th in the NL in scoring, they'll have to translate that fiestiness into some runs to stay atop the East.
19 Indians
26-29
2-4
Down
Juan Here and Gone Again after one at-bat, and say goodbye to hitting coach Eddie Murray as well thanks to the hitters' .244/.308/.400 performance. Expected to joust for the top spot in the AL Central, the Tribe remains mired in fourth, with busts like Victor Martinez (.2087/.276/.348), Casey Blake (.188/.276/.340), and Aaron Boone (.174/.222/.275) cancelling out gains elsewhere, particularly in the bullpen (2.67 ERA). The traffic atop the division is heavy, but there's still plenty of talent and room to grow, not to mention a smart front office, so don't expect panic.
20 Dodgers
29-27
3-4
Down
I'll Remember April: once upon a time the Dodgers held the top spot here, and five weeks ago they were 16-8 with the rest of the world eating Paul DePodesta's dust. High-profile gambles on Derek Lowe and Brad Penny have paid off so far, but injuries and inexperience have exposed a staff that's sent no fewer than nine diffferent starters to the mound, with particularly harrowing results out of the Scott Erickson/Wilson Alvarez slot (8.10 ERA in 4.6 innings per start). Inevitable cool-downs of Jeff Kent (.200/.241/.330 May following a .333/.457/.643 April), Milton Bradley (now on the DL with a finger injury) and everyone else haven't helped. They'll rebound, but not without shedding dead weight like Erickson (1.9 K/9, with two walks for every K) and getting better luck in the health department.
21 Pirates
26-29
5-2
Flat
Avast, ye scurvy dogs: the Pirates posted a winning record (15-13) for May. Though nominal ace Oliver Perez (6.41 ERA, and a -4.8 VORP) has yet to round into form, the rest of the rotation has posted a combined 3.51 ERA. Jason Bay (.289/.369/.545) continues to shine, and Daryle Ward (.278/.350/.537) and Rob Mackowiak (331/.414/.514) have proven their usefulness. But with the offense sputtering along at 4.02 runs per game (15th in the NL), why demote Ty Wigginton when he'd just found his stroke (.267/.353/.644 with five homers in May)?
22 Diamondbacks
30-27
1-5
Flat
Outscored by 37 runs, the Snakes have used mirrors to keep themselves in the NL West race. The rotation has been solid (4.13 ERA) despite the Russ Ortiz horror show, the bullpen a nightmare (a 5.62 ERA) even with closer Brandon Lyon's 1.96 ERA showing, and the offense, with a .249 EqA, third-worst in the majors, is impressing nobody. Perhaps they'd fare a bit better if Bob Melvin had the courage not to write Shawn Green (.262/.323/.395) into the lineup every day. VORP tally just past the one-third mark: Randy Johnson, 13.3 vs. Javier Vazquez, 10.3 and Brad Halsey, 6.7. George Steinbrenner will be even happier once he realizes how much of that bill he's footing...
23 Mariners
24-31
4-2
Up
"It never rains but it pours" is probably the wrong metaphor to use for a team from Seattle, but how else to explain why 42-year-old Pat Borders is now the M's starting catcher in the face of injuries to Dan Wilson (a season-ending ACL tear) and Wiki Gonzalez, and the farming out of Miguel Olivo and his 410 OPS? Too bad it's not the least of the team's problems; Adrian Beltre's .238/.271/.350 line, the dessicated remains of Bret Boone (the second family member to be called out for underperformance in this list), and the rotation's 5.21 ERA and penchant for injury rank much higher.
24 Giants
24-31
1-5
Down
Currently riding a 1-9 skid. Yeah, it's a drag not having Barry Bonds, especially now that Pedro Feliz is down to a very Pedro Feliz-like .277/.316/.456, but the offense hasn't been without its bright spots--Moises Alou and rookies (!) Jason Ellison and Lance Niekro. The real culprit for the Giants' current lot is pitching, or lack thereof. When Brett Tomko is your most reliable starter, you're not going very far. Most troubling is Jason Schmidt's woes-5.69 ERA and 13 runs allowed in 13.1 innings over three starts since returning from the DL for a shoulder strain. Another one of these and Latroy Hawkins is sure to feel the love he felt in Chicago.
25 Athletics
23-33
6-1
Up
The past week's surge to the contrary, the A's find themselves in a dark place. AL Player of the Week Eric Chavez is still hitting a mere .236/.298/.377, which looks positively Ruthian next to Jason Kendall (.241/.317/.286, with nary a homer) and whatever it is that died in left field (a combined .198/.314/.332 among Eric Byrnes and others). Rich Harden flourished before hitting the DL with a muscle strain, but Joe Blanton (6.14 ERA) has been awful, Barry Zito has been solidly outperformed by his traded triomates, the bounty they fetched has combined for a 5.38 ERA, and Octavio Dotel is done for the year. Turning this squad around would be Billy Beane's biggest miracle, but don't hold your breath.
26 Astros
21-34
3-3
Down
Houston, we have a problem: an offense that looks mired in the Astrodome era, with a major-league worst 3.65 runs per game and the game's lowest under the knife) and Lance Berkman (.268 EqA since returning from surgery)--and if the Rocket's got a red glare, it's from the fact that lousy run support (2.00 runs per start) has limited him to four wins despite a 1.67 ERA and the topVORP (35.2) among hurlers.
27 Devil Rays
20-37
1-5
Down
Like a pact between buddies on a lost weekend, what happened to the Rays during 2004's 70-win campaign stays in 2004. Scott Kazmir provides a reason to tune in every fifth day, but the staff's 5.55 ERA means that nearly everything else has gone horribly, horribly wrong. Even Aubrey Huff, ostensibly the team's best hitter and/or most valuable trade commodity, has gone kaput (.255/.329/.375) But hey, Alex Sanchez is hitting (.349/.381/.476) and that kind of makes up for the whole mess, right?
28 Reds
21-35
1-5
Down
Upon scaping several goats a couple weeks back--D'Angelo Jimenez, Danny Graves, and the massage recliners of Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr.--the Reds showed brief flickers of life by winning six of eight. Five straight losses at the hands of the only two NL teams in their weakened weight class should serve to remind that bigger goats--such as the genius who decided Official PHL Whipping Boy Eric Milton (7.06 ERA, 21 HR allowed) was a good fit for this team--still roam free. Expect more drama.
29 Rockies
19-36
5-2
Flat
Living a Jeckyl-and-Hyde existence with their home and road results: at Coors they're 15-13, have outscored their opponents 187-160, and put up a 5.61 ERA. On the road, they're a miserable 4-23, batting an anemic .225/.290/.345 and yielding a 5.87 ERA--yes, higher than at home--on their way to being outscored 156-84. One can surmise that it's the bad habits the Rox get into with such extreme differences in playing environments, but nobody's solved this riddle yet, and it's an open question as to whether anybody on the team's payroll is trying to.
30 Royals
17-39
4-3
Flat
Despite sweeping the Yankees immediately upon new manager Buddy Bell's arrival, this remains a disaster wrapped inside a travesty, the majors' worst underperformers according to third-order wins (-5.7). With hitting coach Jeff Pentland following manager Tony Pena to the unemployment line, one wonders what pitching coach Guy Hansen's secret to survival is given the staff's 5.56 ERA-a clubhouse invisibility potion? an unlisted phone number? racy photographs of Allard Baird?

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. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

0 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Under The Knife: Inter... (06/06)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: W... (06/01)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit List: W... (06/14)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: T... (06/07)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Closer Report: Week 14
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of July 3-6, 2015
Expert FAAB Review: Week 14
Fantasy Rounders: Macho Man Manny Machado
Premium Article Some Projection Left: Ask The Industry: Inte...
Premium Article Rubbing Mud: The Present and Future of the S...
Premium Article Raising Aces: The Return of Fern

MORE FROM JUNE 7, 2005
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Surprise Team #3
Premium Article Can Of Corn: The Great Debate, Redux
Premium Article Draft Preview
Premium Article Under The Knife: Draft Day
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: The Yankees According t...

MORE BY JAY JAFFE
2005-06-28 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 26, 2005
2005-06-21 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 19, 2005
2005-06-14 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 12, 2005
2005-06-07 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 5, 2005
2005-05-10 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of May 8, 2005
2005-05-03 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of May 1, 2005
2005-04-26 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of April 24, 2005
More...

MORE PROSPECTUS HIT LIST
2005-06-28 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 26, 2005
2005-06-21 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 19, 2005
2005-06-14 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 12, 2005
2005-06-07 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of June 5, 2005
2005-06-01 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of May 29, 2005
2005-05-24 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of May 22, 2005
2005-05-18 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of May 15, 2005
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2010-09-29 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Disasterpiece Theate...
2005-06-10 - Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: Claiming the Flag