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July 5, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of July 3, 2005

by Jay Jaffe

Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Trend
Comment

1


Cardinals
51-30
4-2
Flat
Spirit of 0.76: that's Chris Carpenter's ERA over his last six starts, supported by a 5.78 K/BB ratio and a 10.58 K/9. He's now tied for fourth in VORP among NL pitchers (39.4), and one of six Cards to make Tony LaRussa's NL All-Star squad. Meanwhile, Derrek Lee might outrank Albert Pujols in all three categories (as well as All-Star votes), but Nate Silver's numbers show Prince Albert with a better shot at the Triple Crown.

2


White Sox
54-26
4-2
Flat
Two-fifths of their rotation--Mark Buehrle and Jon Garland--makes the AL All-Star squad, appropriate for a team with the best ERA in the majors (3.47). Buehrle's a no-brainer with his 10-2 record, 2.58 ERA and the second-best VORP among pitchers (41.4), but Garland is basically even with Freddy Garcia, separated by less than a full point of ERA and 1.9 runs of VORP. Both join their teammate in the AL's top five in that category. Also making the trip to Motown is first baseman Paul Konerko, though beyond the 19 homers, his stats (.243/.346/.479) aren't wowing anyone.

3


Angels
50-31
5-2
Up
Winners of 13 out of their last 16, the Angels pulled off a seven-game swing in the AL West standings during June. Offense pounded out 5.77 runs per game, led by Vlad the Impaler (.443/.489/.785 after returning from the DL on June 10 ) and Adam Kennedy (.435/.479/.529 on the month), while the rotation's front four yielded just a 3.10 ERA and a 4.00 K/BB ratio.

4


Red Sox
46-34
2-4
Down
Slugged .501 as a team in June while scoring 6.00 runs per game, best in baseball. They needed all the runs they could get, especially with a bullpen tattooed for a 6.50 ERA on the month and hoping that with Curt Schilling's impending return a starter, perhaps Tim Wakefield or Bronson Arroyo, can lend a helping hand. Terry Francona gets to write four Sox players into the AL All-Star lineup: Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon (holder of a 19-game hitting streak), Manny Ramirez, and David Ortiz, who topped all players with over 4 million votes.

5


Indians
44-36
5-2
Up
Rose to the occasion of their return to league play by taking series from both the Red Sox and Orioles. A 17-10 June record not only catapulted them into the Wild Card hunt, it made them the favorite according to BP's Playoff Odds report (28.9 percent). Travis Hafner's big bat (.345/.430/.736) paced an offense which scored 5.78 runs/game on the month, 2nd-best in the AL, but he got snubbed when it came to the AL All-Star squad. In another head-scratcher, the team's sole rep for the ASG is closer Bob Wickman.

6


Orioles
44-37
2-4
Down
Rotation's June swoon (5.48 ERA on the month) led to a 12-15 record. Sammy Sosa's 1-for-34 slump compels manager Lee Mazzilli to bench the big slugger, hitting only .227/.300/.395 on the year. Offense scored a paltry 3.0 runs per game in the nine games Melvin Mora missed with a strained hamstring. Mora, who returned on Sunday, still made the AL All-Star team, along with keystone combo of Brian Roberts and Miguel Tejada and closer B.J. Ryan.

7


Twins
45-34
5-1
Down
Spot the Healthy Infielder, Win a Prize: even in a winning week, the Twins can't buy a break. Third baseman Glenn Williams, a 12-year minor-league vet hitting .425/.452/.450 in his first 13 games since being recalled, dislocated his right shoulder and will miss six weeks. Three days later, a pitch on the hand of Mike Cuddyer sent him to the DL as well. The return of Nick Punto from a broken collarbone will help, but this team may need a boost from outside.

8


Rangers
42-38
4-3
Down
The Gambler apparently doesn't know when to hold 'em, fold 'em, walk away, or run: 20-game suspension and $50K fine for shoving two cameramen, though it didn't cost him a shot at the All-Star Game--but it should have. Distraction didn't stop teammates from launching 18 homers on the week to blast opponents into submission and further their major-league lead in that category (134, with Orioles trailing at 112). Starting All-Star first baseman Mark Teixeira's 22 leads the AL, while Alfonso Soriano joined Jeff Kent, Ryne Sandberg and Bret Boone as the only second basemen to hit 20 homers in four consecutive seasons.

9


Braves
45-37
4-3
Up
Last Man Standing: with injuries decimating the rotation, John Smoltz has been admirably durable in his return from the bullpen. He's tield for fourth in VORP among NL pitchers (39.4), and he's going to Motown as an All-Star for the seventh time. Also garnering an invitation is Andruw Jones, who leads the majors with 26 homers to go with his .281/.359/.602 line. He's tops among all centerfielders in VORP (36.2).

10


Yankees
41-39
3-2
Down
Bull... Pen: Organizational pow-wow in Tampa yields earth-shaking decisions to dump Mike Stanton (7.07 ERA, -2-2 VORP) after walk-off homer to Brian Roberts in favor of… Wayne Franklin (career 5.47 ERA), and ship Paul Quantrill (6.75 ERA, -3.8 VORP) to San Diego in blockbuster which nets… Tim Redding (9.10 ERA, -15.8 VORP) and Darrell May (5.61 ERA, 0.2 VORP). Meanwhile Gary Sheffield lashes out about suspension and potential trade to Mets while team alternates late-inning rallies and early blowouts, with Randy Johnson's performance (18 runs allowed in last three starts, 4.24 ERA overall) raising some eyebrows. Tick, tick, tick...

11


Blue Jays
42-40
4-2
Up
With the league lead in VORP among pitchers (48.7 ) and ERA (2.33), Roy Halladay has the best case to start the All-Star game for the AL, and he hasn't shoved any cameramen lately either. His eight strong innings helped the Jays take this weeks' series from the Red Sox. Toronto holds an 8-3 season series lead on Boston and stands only five games out, the same as the Yankees, helping to make the AL East a very crowded place for its top four teams. Shea Hillenbrand is among the less inspiring All-Star selections, especially given that he's hit a feeble .250/.328/.392 since May 2.

12


Marlins
42-37
4-3
Down
Second shutout in three starts and fourth overall for Dontrelle Willis, who will join teammates Paul Lo Duca, Luis Castillo, and Miguel Cabrera on the NL All-Star team. Tough luck for Carlos Delgado (.300 /.396/.538 with 15 HR) who didn't make the squad. Still lucky to be on any team is Al Leiter (6.45 ERA, 4.93 innings per start, 0.87 K/BB ratio, -6.2 VORP), who's lost his spot in the rotation to rookie Scott Olsen.

13


Padres
45-37
3-3
Down
Still atop the NL West by a healthy margin, but they continue to struggle versus the Dodgers, against whom they're 4-8 after this week's series loss. Famililarity has bred a much healthier ability to whup San Francisco's Jason Schmidt, whom they've tagged for 12 runs in 15 innings over three starts this season en route to an 8-3 record against the Giants. Jake Peavy is the sole Padre selected for the NL All-Star team; he's eighth in VORP among NL pitchers (30.5) and is only four strikeouts off of Pedro Martinez' league-leading total of 123--in nine fewer innings.

14


Nationals
50-31
6-0
Up
Doubled division lead over Braves with a perfect week, completing a 20-6 June along the way. Alas, the offense loses a couple of its top hitters, with Nick Johnson (heel bruise) joining Ryan Church (strained rib cage) on the DL. Off the field, heavy-handed Republicans attempt to bully MLB into bypassing potential Nats ownership group featuring lefty George Soros by threatening to revoke anti-trust exemption.

15


Athletics
40-41
5-1
Up
This week's Platinum Pole Vault award winners have taken of 9 out of 10 and 16 out of 20, continuing to atone for their early-season sins. But the A's only drew a token representative to the All-Star Game in reliever Justin Duchscherer (1.48 ERA, 8.44 K/9, 4.44 K/BB). Elsewhere, Dan Haren has posted a 2.86 ERA and a 4.78 K/BB ratio over his last nine starts.

16


Cubs
40-39
2-3
Down
Kerry Wood follows Mark Prior off the DL and puts up his best start of the season. Derrek Lee wins the popular vote to start at first base in the All-Star Game; with a EqA that's 38 points higher, those 3,560,316 fans have a pretty good case. At .383/.456/.729 overall, it's his world and the rest of us are just living in it.

17


Tigers
37-41
1-5
Down
Losers of eight out of 10 managed only 19 runs all week, 10 of them in one game--though at least they can say they spanked Randy Johnson. Ivan Rodriguez is the host team's sole representative for the All-Star Game, but that's more out of habit (it's his 12th appearance) than merit (.294/.308/.455). Carlos Guillen (.337/.385/.454), or Brandon Inge (.294/.380/.454) would have been better choices, and one could make a case for Jeremy Bonderman had he not posted a 5.79 ERA in June; he's put a 3.30 ERA in all other months.

18


Mets
40-41
2-3
Down
Perhaps simply dazzled by the continued presence of Jose Offerman on a major-league roster, Carlos Beltran (.262/.318/.430) continues to sleepwalk, drawing boos even on his own bobblehead day for failing to hustle. Beltran joins teammate Mike Piazza (.264/.324/.439) as an underwhelming choice to start the All-Star Game, while a philosophical Cliff Floyd (.288/.362/.561 with 21 HR and a higher VORP than Beltran and Piazza put together) is forced to stay home. Getting a well-earned ticket to Detroit, of course, is Pedro Martinez (2.74 ERA, 9.63 K/9, 5.59 K/BB ratio).

19


Brewers
38-43
3-3
Flat
The Kid's For Real: Rickie Weeks socks tiebreaking homers in the late innings of back-to-back games and is hitting .276/.382/.487. Carlos Lee is tapped to represent the Brew Crew on the NL All-Star team with a league-leading RBI total (72) to go with his .271/.341/.552 line. Derrick Turnbow (2.65 ERA, 8.74 K/9, and 5th in the NL with 1.967 Expected Wins Above Replacement Level wouldn't have been out of place on that squad.

20


Phillies
41-41
2-4
Down
Billy Wagner doesn't think the Phils are a playoff team right now, and with the Phils phourth in the NL East, phlounderng at .500 and having lost 11 out of phourteen, he's got a point. Especially stinking up the joint is Jon Lieber, who's posted a 7.48 ERA and allowed 14 homers over his last 10 starts, totalling only 55 innings. Who does he think he is, Eric Milton?

21


Astros
38-42
5-2
Up
Roger Clemens reclaims his VORP lead (49.8) over the rest of NL hurlers by yielding only one run in 14 innings on the week, lowering his ERA to a microscopic 1.41, and making his 11th All-Star team. There's trouble for his All-Star teammate at the other end of the staff; closer Brad Lidge has a strained biceps, missing 10 games thus far. Morgan Ensberg's got a 10-game hitting streak during which he's batted .385/.455/.897 with five homers.

22


Dodgers
38-43
3-3
Flat
Despite a skid which saw Cesar Izturis hit .085/.128/.098 in 86 plate appearances since June 2 (memo to Jim Tracy: maybe it's time to move him out of the leadoff spot?), he made the NL All-Star team as a reserve. On the opposite end of the thermometer is his fellow All-Star teammate, Jeff Kent, who bashed .381/.430/.629 on the month. Despite Kent's hot bat and that of J.D. Drew (.347/.466/.625 in June), the team managed only 3.52 runs per game yielding 4.48, a ticket to a desultory 11-16 month. It's not going to get any better now that Drew's wrist is broken. Oh, and the starters managed only five innings combined in their past two games, with the team bound for the Rocky Horrors of Coors Field. Say good night, Tracy.

23


Pirates
35-45
1-5
Up
Glub Glub Club: the Buc continue to sink, having lost 15 of 20 since briefly tasting .500. The kicker (literally) is the already-frustrated (and frustrating) Oliver Perez (6.16 ERA) fractured his big toe on a laundry cart, costing him a month. The good news is that Jason Bay (.310/.393/.561 and a 40.6 VORP, fifth-best in the NL) is a deserving All-Star selection, and that Craig Wilson is starting a rehab assignment this week.

24


Mariners
34-46
1-5
Down
Matching their victory total on the week, the M's garner a Golden Anvil award by mere percentage points. Mere percentage points also describes the flatlining performance of players not named Ichiro, as they "hit" .159/.216/.268 on the week and while managing only 14 runs as a team. If there's a positive, it's in Adrian Beltre's three homers in a four-game span, ending a drought of nearly six weeks and lifting his SLG over .400 for the first time since April 13. Meanwhile, Bret Boone (.231/.299/.385 ) has been designated for assignment, opening up a spot for 21-year-old Jose Lopez (PECOTA weighted mean of .268/.304/.421).

25


Diamondbacks
41-42
2-4
Flat
A 9-19 June revealed the Diamondbacks as snakebitten pretenders rather than fang-bearing contenders, as the pitching staff totally collapsed, yielding eight or more runs 12 times in that span and posting a 5.80 ERA on the month. The rotation was especailly brutal, with the starters besides Brandon Webb posting a 6.52 ERA. Alas, it's Luis Gonzalez (28th among NL hitters in VORP at 24.4) instead of Webb (10th among pitchers at 28.8) who will represent the team at the All-Star Game.

26


Giants
34-46
4-2
Up
At 10-17 with a 5.77 ERA in June, their performance looks awfully similar (and similarly awful) to the Diamondbacks'. Brett Tomko's been exiled to the bullpen, though it's the height of folly to suggest that Jeff Fassero can outperform Tomko in that role. Like the Giants, the Midsummer Classic will proceed without Barry Bonds (whose head, er, knee, is still swelling), but Moises Alou (.323/.413/.515 ) has earned his way to Detroit if anyone has.

27


Reds
31-50
1-5
Down
Seven games--including a tie and subsequent double-header makeup--in six days hasn't made life any easier for the Big Red Run Hemorrhaging Machine; things under Jerry Narron (3-7-1 since taking over) aren't that much different than they were under Dave Miley. The (lack of) pitching is the real culprit; the staff has posted an ERA of 6.41 since June 1, with three starters--Luke Hudson, Ramon Ortiz, and You Know Who--coming in at 8.00 or above. Felipe Lopez, who hit 483/.516/.655 on the week in a totally lost cause, will represent the team at the All-Star Game.

28


Rockies
28-52
3-4
Up
Well, they came within a couple runs of taking their first road series of the year, and from the #1 ranked team no less. Since the Rox are a pathetic 7-33 on the road this year, they should feel pretty good about garnering a spit against the Cards. With no Rox hitter particularly worthy of a trip to Detroit (then again, who among us is?), Tony LaRussa tapped closer Brian Fuentes, who's tied with Jay Witasick for the team lead in VORP among pitchers (11.7).

29


Devil Rays
27-55
1-5
Down
Managed a piddling 15 runs on the week while hitting only .206/.272/.314. But don't kid yourself; it's the pitching, stupid (a 6.15 ERA since June 1). If there's hope, it's that Casey Fossum is emerging as a solid starter, yielding only a 4.09 ERA in 9 starts while striking out 7.82 per nine innings. He's no Scott Kazmir, but he's closer to that end of the spectrum than the Hideo Nomo/Dewon Brazelton one.

30


Royals
26-53
1-4
Down
What better place to put this week's Authorial Indifference award than at the bottom of the pile? The Royals continue to lose, dropping 13 out of 15 and scratching out only three runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of the Angels. Given Zack Greinke's struggles (9.90 ERA since June 1, 6.09 overall, to go with a 1-10 record), it's fair to ask whether the team would be better off sending their brightest hope to Omaha to escape the brutality and perhaps conserve some service time while shoring up his confidence.

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

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