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August 16, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of August 14

by Dave Metz

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

1


Cardinals
74-43
4-2
Flat
The Cardinals remain shoulders above the field at #1, but their 2nd and 3rd order differentials suggest the team is playing a bit over its head. A strong bullpen could be responsible, and while Jason Isringhausen and Julian Tavarez have been the primary options, Al Reyes has quietly put together a sustainably strong season - 9.6 K/9, 2.9 BB/9. He also leads the Cardinals with 18.9 ARP

2


Red Sox
68-47
5-0
Up
For many sabermetrically-minded Sox fans, it was only a matter of time before Roberto Petagine broke through in the Bigs. His .327/.452/.635 line in AAA was simply too strong for the Red Sox to ignore. Since coming up, Petagine has hit to the tune of .333/.400/.556 in 20 PA. Though Kevin Millar believes he's the analogue to Tom Brady, the scorching Red Sox have gone 5-0 with Petagine starting. Coincidence? I know some already have their thoughts.

3


White Sox
74-41
2-3
Down
The White Sox drop to 3rd on this week's Hit List, perhaps starting their descent toward mediocrity. They're currently out-playing their 2nd and 3rd order projections by 12.5 games--never a healthy sign. Sadly, they played the Red Sox to a 5-2 lead in the 4th, only to have the game washed away, quite literally, helping their counterpart in the process. Scott Podsednik continues to impress the masses with his blistering speed and ML-leading 54 steals. Unfortunately, his 75% success rate is right at the break even point for a basestealer.

4


Athletics
67-49
3-2
Down
The Athletics remain hot and have become a surprising favorite to make the playoffs. Although a major sabermetric tenet is the irrelevance of hitters' strikeouts, the Athletics are last in the majors with 581 K's. Is the market ignoring strikeouts too much? It would have been a good question for Billy Beane.

5


Braves
67-50
3-2
Down
Still walk-less (!), Jeffrey Francoeur continues to be a strong addition for Cox's Crew. Among those with an appreciable number of PA, Francoeur trails only Frank Thomas in isolated power. Though the complete absence of patience is a concern, Franceour is still 21 and figures to add a modicum of plate discipline to his repetoire--a scary thought indeed.

6


Angels
67-49
3-2
Up
Anaheim continues to plod along with another winning week, but one must wonder if they need one more surge to make the playoffs. With the Athletics playing vastly improved baseball, and the Yankees and Indians nipping at their heels in the Wild Card, the Angels have seen their probability for making the playoffs plummet from a high of 89% to 63%, currently. Further injury to Darin Erstad would be a blessing if Casey Kotchman continues to hit.

7


Indians
63-54
3-2
Down
Life is good for the Marts. K-Mart saved itself by merging with Sears, and now V-Mart (Victor Martinez) is one of the hottest players in baseball. Hitting an abysmal .193/.263/.273 in late May, Martinez can now boast a robust .286/.363/.449 line--raking to the tune of .345/.424/.562 since May 29th. Although he still hasn't leapfrogged his pessimistic prognostications.

8


Yankees
63-52
4-2
Up
The Yankees have maneuvered quite a bit to keep their fledgling rotation above water. Chien-Ming Wang, Aaron Small, Shawn Chacon,Darrell May, Sean Henn, Alex Graman, and Tim Redding have all been considered for the rotation or pitched in it at some point. Together, they total 12.2 VORP, which isn't terrible, considering that most of them seem to fit the conceptual definition of "replacement."

9


Blue Jays
60-56
4-2
Up
Although the Jays "failed" against the Yankees last weekend, the Hit List still liked what it saw in the bluebirds, as they jumped three spots in the last week. Much of the credit should be laid at the feet of Roy Halladay, who is 4th in MLB with a 53.9 VORP despite having started four fewer games than the leaders.

10


Astros
63-53
3-2
Down
Another week, yet more dominance from The Rocket. Exhibit A was 7 innings of 0 ER ball, but Exhibit B was simply a masterpiece: 8 IP, 2 H, 0 BBs, 9 K's. Exhibit B is also evidence of what could potentially cost him a Cy Young, an inability to get the W in his stat line. Chris Carpenter owns 17 of them while Clemens, he of the 1.67 RA/9, only has 11--something CY voters have frowned upon previously.

11


Mets
59-57
2-3
Down
It's time somebody asked: What is wrong with Carlos Beltran? PECOTA had him pegged for a mean projection of .280/.377/.508, even with the deleterious environment of Shea Stadium. At writing, he was only boasting a .267/.329/.434 line. Thankfully avoiding serious injury in the collision with Mike Cameron, Mets fans will start with murmurs of malcontent if the poor play continues.

12


Marlins
60-56
3-4
Up
It's time somebody asked: What is wrong with Todd Jones? A fledgling reliever for roughly the past 5 years, Jones is 10th in WXRL. It's fortunate for the Marlins, because Guillermo Mota has continued to be a major disappointment since coming off the DL, as Will Carroll predicted almost two months ago.

13


Rangers
56-60
0-6
Down
It speaks a lot for the longevity of the season when a team can go 0-7 in a week and still drop only four spots on the Hit List. That's precisely what the Rangers did, despite the continued strong play of David Dellucci. He has posted a 31.7 VORP, good for 49th in the majors. Don't hold your breath Rangers fans--there's nothing in Delucci's past to indicate that the power and walk rate can continue.

14


Twins
59-57
2-3
Flat
No matter how much defense and pitching a team has (well, almost), the team still needs to score runs to win. This obnoxiously obvious statement is redundant on the ears of Twins fans, who have put up with a team EqA of .249--4th worst in MLB.

15


Phillies
62-55
4-1
Up
One wonders where this team would be with a healthy Jim Thome. Although Ryan Howard has been an admirable replacement, the 1st baseman's VORP (along with his subpar henchmen) has totalled 5.0. For some perspective, Thome had a 60.3 VORP in 2004.

16


Cubs
56-61
2-4
Up
It seems Cubs fans are destined for frustrating seasons. Dump six straight to the Mets and Reds? Par for the course, most South Siders would say. "Watch them fold!" The Cubs refused to comply, taking three of four from the Cards. Maybe the team has some fight yet.

17


Orioles
57-59
4-1
Up
Oh how the mighty have fallen. On June 11th they were a strong favorite to make the playoffs with a 81% probability according to Clay Davenport's Playoff Odds. Currently, they have a paltry .36 probability of reaching the promised land--that's a percentage.

18


Brewers
56-61
0-5
Down
Ben Sheets is locked up, Prince Fielder is indentured along with Rickie Weeks, who really looks like the real deal. If only they could sign Triple Crown foiler Carlos Lee long-term.

19


Tigers
53-61
1-3
Flat
Amidst another mediocre season, Tigers' fans can take solace in their increasing aptitude at attracting free agents. Placido Polanco, in addition to having one of the best alliterative names in the Bigs, was recently locked up to a 4 year, 18.4 million dollar extension. As Chris Kahrl points out, however, the Tiger acquisitions (Carlos Guillen, Magglio Ordonez, and Ivan Rodriguez included) all have guaranteed seasons on the wrong side of 30.

20


Padres
58-58
2-3
Down
Just when he was starting to hit again, Khalil Greene incurs yet another injury. If the Pads win a division despite being in the bottom third of teams, color me surprised. Should Greene return strong, color San Diego happy. Color Khalil Greene--I don't know.

21


Nationals
61-55
3-2
Up
The Nationals returned to form with a sweep of the Rockies over the weekend. Still only one game out of the wild card, things look grim for the Nats with such a poor Pythagenport ranking and with four other teams within four games of the wild card.

22


Reds
54-62
5-0
Up
The Big Red Machine? Hardly, but their last week might make you think so. Outscoring their opponents 37 to 21, the Reds finished the week at 5-1. Don't credit the recent additions (re-additions?) of Austin Kearns or Edwin Encarnacion, however. They have a paltry -.016 and .025 MLVr, respectively.

23


Diamondbacks
56-62
2-3
Flat
Arizona fans waited long enough, but it seems the wait was worth it. Stephen Drew has really been tearing it up in the minors--this while Conor Jackson, Carlos Quentin have been doing the same. If the Diamondbacks add Justin Upton--and they figure to if Stephen Drew eventually signed--they'll really have a scary crop of position players on the cheap for some time.

24


Dodgers
52-64
2-3
Flat
J.D. Drew returns soon, along with his previously cited .306 MLVr. The Dodgers will be glad to rid themselves of regular playing time from Jason Repko, who has been just about the definition of replacement-level with a 0.1 VORP. Now, if only they could be greeted in the rainforest once again.

25


Mariners
49-66
2-3
Down
Few bright spots exist for the Tridents, but King Felix Hernandez represents a blinding light at the end of a morose tunnel. Joe Sheehan believes there should be cautious optimism but, deeply mired in a disappointing season, no one can blame Mariners fans for a bit of fanaticism.

26


Pirates
50-67
3-2
Up
99.9% of America wouldn't believe you, but if you said that Jason Bay was the 6th best hitter in baseball you'd have some recourse. Surprisingly, Bay is 6th among in the majors with a 59.7 VORP. Being in Pittsburgh hurts his stardom, but so does being in a lineup that only scores 4.26 R/G, 5th worst in the Bigs.

27


Giants
50-65
2-3
Down
The decline of the Giants on this Hit List begs the question: "Why were the Giants trading away prospects at the trading deadline?" They only netted a measly Randy Winn on D-Day, and had to give away Zach Miner and Jesse Foppert in the process. It's not like they're trading away chopped liver--Foppert was pegged for a "big breakout in 2006". At least there will be fewer Felipe Alou tormenters.

28


Devil Rays
45-72
2-3
Flat
Since getting the call-up on June 12th, BP favorite Jonny Gomes has done nothing but hit. Drawing notice for his three homer explosion, Gomes has been much more than a one game wonder. PECOTA slapped him with such a lofty projection that many felt he deserved at least an Honorable Mention when listed with the 50 Best Prospects. It seems he deserved more than a mention, however honorable it may have been.

29


Rockies
44-73
3-4
Flat
First Jack Cust, then Ryan Shealy. Whereas Cust was of dubious worth, it seems clear that Shealy can really rake, boasting a .333/.412/.507 line in his limited duty. Sadly, he is stuck behind Todd Helton and his humungous contract. Admittedly, Shealy's been playing in primarily high altitude, but a .333/.386/.607 line at AAA is difficult to ignore.

30


Royals
38-76
0-3
Flat
The Royals game last night featured quite a performance from Hernandez--unfortunately for KC fans, it was the wrong one. Runelvys Hernandez has little to compare him to Felix save for the last name. Since tantalizing with an artificial 1.60 ERA in April last year, Rany Jazayerli has been heard opining for Xavier Hernandez in his stead.

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.

Related Content:  Fans,  The Who,  The Process,  Yankees Fans,  Year Of The Injury

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