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 You Could Look It Up: ... (09/06)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: W... (08/30)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit List: W... (09/13)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: P... (09/07)

September 7, 2005

Prospectus Hit List

Week of September 4

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Cardinals
87-50
4-2
Flat
Our latest Postseason Odds Report shows the Cardinals with a 100 percent chance of making the postseason. They haven't clinched in a strict mathematical sense, but according to Clay Davenport, their chances of missing the fun in October are less than one in one million. With a 14.5-game lead in the NL Central, their magic number is now eleven. Jason Marquis hurls his second straight complete game, Mark Mulder yields just two hits and one run in eight innings after missing a start, and Chris Carpenter becomes the fastest Cardinal to 20 wins since Dizzy Dean in 1934, doing so in just 28 starts.

2


Athletics
76-60
3-4
Flat
A nondisplaced fracture of his left ankle lands Bobby Crosby on the DL. Second on the team in VORP (26.9), Crosby might be out just three weeks, but his absence threatens the team's ability to reach the postseason. The A's were 17-32 when Crosby returned from the broken ribs he sustained on Opening Day, as compared to 55-24 before he got hurt again. More bad news: Rich Harden's strained lat isn't progressing, though contrary to last week's Hit List item, he did not go on the disabled list.

3


Red Sox
80-55
6-1
Up
Just .0003 points behind the A's for second place on the Hit List. David Wells is suspended, then called to the carpet for criticizing the commissioner. After serving his six days, he throws a complete game to cap a 7-1 stretch for the Sox. Though his ERA stands at 4.24, Wells has the third-best VORP (24.8) among Sox pitchers, and he's the second-stingiest pitcher in the majors when it comes to surrendering walks (0.81 per 9 IP, just 14 on the year). Meanwhile, Keith Foulke returns to the Sox for the first time in nearly two months, pitching a scoreless third of an inning on Saturday.

4


White Sox
84-51
5-3
Up
Scott Podsednik returns from the DL and hits .321/.321/.429 as the Sox back up a 5-11 skid (most of which Pod missed) with a 5-1 run. Sure, it might be coincidence, but don't underestimate the power of getting Timo Perez out of the lineup, to say nothing of the leadoff spot. Meanwhile, Brandon McCarthy, #23 on our Top 50 Prospect List, reels off 14 2/3 scoreless innings against the league's two highest-scoring teams, yielding just five hits. Coming into those starts, McCarthy's ERA stood at 8.14 in 24 1/3 innings.

5


Indians
75-61
2-3
Down
Hardly an impressive week for the Tribe as they go 2-3 against two opponents below them in the AL Central standings. Even so, they're still tied for second in the wild-card hunt, just a game and a half behind the Yankees. Speaking of the Yanks, Travis Hafner trails just Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi in the AL EqA rankings (.341). Since returning a month ago from his beaning, he's hit .312/.379/.596.

6


Yankees
77-59
4-3
Down
Kevin Brown and Carl Pavano are transferred to the 60-day DL, ending their seasons and perhaps their pinstriped careers--not that you'd find a single Yankee fan weeping. Jaret Wright dodges a bullet but not the ball. And an inflamed elbow causes Mike Mussina to miss a start and threatens his season. Fortunately for the Yanks, Aaron Small shuts out the A's in Moose's place. Small, who came into 2005 with a 5.49 ERA in 218 major-league innings, mostly prior to 1999, has put up a 2.42 ERA in 44 2/3 innings; his 17.0 VORP is fifth on the staff. Meanwhile, a .207/.252/.261 August from Robinson Cano prompts the signing of Red Sox castoff Mark Bellhorn, but a .391/.391/.565 week from the rookie ensures his job is safe.

7


Angels
77-59
4-2
Up
Though they've retaken first place in the AL West, the Angels offense has scored just 48 runs over their past 15 games, during which they've hit just .261/.317/.356. Their pitching has been keeping them close; they've given up just 53 runs in that span. In the rotation, rookie Ervin Santana continues to impress; he's put up a 3.32 ERA in 57 innings since the All-Star break, compared to 6.20 in 40 1/3 innings prior. Meanwhile, a back problem that caused Bartolo Colon to leave Sunday's game isn't considered serious, though it did stop his streak of consecutive quality starts at seven. He's now third in the AL in pitching VORP (51.3), and teammate Jarrod Washburn has very quietly inched his way to fourth (47.6).

8


Braves
78-59
4-3
Down
A walk-off homer against the Nats by Andruw Jones has the MVP hype building. But despite his impressive .271/.356/.594 line and 45 homers, Jones is nowhere near as productive as Albert Pujols, who's hitting .336/.431/.621 and has out-VORPed Jones, 89.5 to 58.6. Even considering defense, Pujols still gets the nod according to WARP1, 9.6 to 8.1.

9


Mets
70-66
2-4
Flat
After dropping 32 runs on the Diamondbacks in a two-game span, the Mets have scored just 28 runs over their next 11 games, hitting a feeble .216/.280/.337 in that span and dropping to 2 1/2 games out of the wild card. Flavor of the week Mike Jacobs is just 2-for-19 since his initial four-homers-in-four-games outburst, so Wilie Randolph must be salivating now that Doug Mientkiewicz and his .247/.333/.424 line are back from a month on the DL. Meanwhile, Jae Seo continues to haunt as the Ghost of Starts Bypassed; he's put up a 1.49 ERA and a a 37/8 K/BB in 49 1/3 innings (seven starts) since his recall. With a 25.8 VORP, he's third on the staff, just 0.2 runs behind the #2, Tom Glavine.

10


Astros
72-64
4-2
Flat
Roger Clemens has hamstring and back troubles, Roy Oswalt is gritting his way through a dead arm and Andy Pettitte is wounded by a comebacker. Yet the Astros have gamely fought their way to the head of the wild-card pack once again, with Lance Berkman (.300/.417/.850 on the week) leading the way. Rookie Chris Burke has hit .333/.373/.646 since August 15 after hitting just .228/.293/.307 up to that point.

11


Twins
72-64
4-2
Flat
Replacing Joe Mays in the rotation, rookie Scott Baker allows three earned runs in 12 1/3 innings, striking out nine while walking just two as the Twins hang on for their postseason lives. After four starts and one relief appearance, Baker's posted a 2.49 ERA overall. Meanwhile, Johan Santana appears to have finally found his groove. In his last five starts, he's given up just three runs over 40 1/3 innings, with a 42/6 K/BB, and he now leads AL pitchers in VORP (57.6). Could another Cy Young Award be on the way?

12


Phillies
73-64
3-3
Up
Split six games with two teams behind them in the NL East/wild-card standings, despite outscoring them 27-21. Ryan Howard slugged three homers on the week, but he also struck out 14 times in 25 at-bats. He's got 78 Ks in 250 plate appearances overall, a pace of 187 if projected to 600 plate appearances. Still, that's hardly cause for alarm, especially if Howard can keep his walk rate in the range of one for every 10 PA. Overall, he's hitting .283/.352/.502 on the year, and ranks seventh among NL rookies in VORP (15.0), less than one run out of fourth.

13


Marlins
72-64
3-3
Down
Grand entrance: Jeremy Hermida, #35 on BP's , hits a grand slam in his first major-league at-bat, the first player to do so since "Frosty" Bill Duggleby on April 21, 1898. Alas, the hit came in a 10-5 loss, though earlier in the game, Juan Encarnacion became the first non-Delgado, non-Cabrera Marlin to homer since August 5. The much-maligned Encarnacion has hit .298/.361/.478 on the year--an OBP 50 points higher than his career mark entering the season--with the third-best VORP (30.1) of any Fish hitter.

14


Cubs
66-70
4-2
Up
Nomar Garciaparra continues his hot streak, hitting four homers on the week, and he's up to .329/.368/.620 in 86 plate appearances since returning from his groin injury. But the early returns on his play at third base aren't so encouraging; in 10 games he's made three errors and has a Rate2 of just 67. Meanwhile, Carlos Zambrano continues his stellar second half: a 2.09 ERA in 73 1/3 innings, with a 66/22 K/BB and just three homers allowed. He's also hitting .265/.265/.441 on the year and is seventh on the team in hitting VORP (9.9) to go with his team-leading pitching VORP (46.7).

15


Rangers
67-70
6-2
Flat
After a 1-12 road trip from hell knocked them to nine games below .500, the Rangers have rallied by winning 10 of 14 despite just a 76-73 edge in runs. Mark Teixeira is hitting .392/.483/.784 in that span, and Rod Barajas has hit five homers and slugged .703. On the pitching side, Juan Dominguez has allowed four runs in 21 1/3 innings, and took a no-hitter into the seventh against the Royals on Saturday.

16


Blue Jays
67-69
2-4
Down
Though Roy Halladay and Ted Lilly are down, a few of the Jays' starters are hitting their strides. Josh Towers has nine consecutive quality starts, good for a 2.35 ERA over 65 innings. Scott Downs has reeled off five quality starts in a row for a 2.20 ERA over 32 2/3 innings. And David Bush has allowed just three earned runs while posting a 19/2 K/BB over his last 20 innings.

17


Brewers
67-70
3-3
Up
A bum thumb may be cause for Rickie Weeks current 4-for-30 slide; he's slated to have offseason surgery. His keystone partner, fellow rookie J.J. Hardy, has been on the rise, hitting .289/.364/.447 since the All-Star break. Meanwhile, Carlos Lee has topped 30 homers for the third straight year, joining Derrek Lee, David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Manny Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez in doing so. Despite the hype coming from the south side of Chicago, Lee has outproduced Scott Podsednik, the man for whom he was traded over the winter, by a VORP margin of 37.6 to 9.1.

18


Padres
68-68
4-3
Up
In Seattle, Miguel Olivo was a disaster, hitting just .151/.172/.276 in 157 plate appearances before being farmed out. Since being traded to the Padres--his fourth organization in five years--Olivo has injected some punch into the Padre offense, hitting .320/.356/.526. The only Padre with a higher slugging percentage in that span is Khalil Greene, who's hit .281/.333/.531 despite missing 13 games with a broken big toe. Also adding some punch lately is rookie Ben Johnson, who hit his first three major-league homers in consecutive games on his way to a .353/.389/1.000 week.

19


Orioles
64-72
3-4
Up
Get thee gone: Aruban Knightmare Sidney Ponson is released on the grounds that his contract should be terminated. Seņor Stanozolol Rafael Palmeiro, just 2-for-26 since his suspension, plugs his ears to blot the boos and is sent home to rehab his left ankle, right knee, and wounded reputation. Slinkin' Sammy Sosa is AWOL. Fortunately, controversies like these have helped deflect attention from team that's lost 45 out of its last 68 games and has flatlined according to our Postseason Odds Report.

20


Tigers
63-71
1-5
Down
Currently on a 2-9 skid in which they've been outscored 90-36, having given up eight or more runs eight times. It's part of a larger trend in which the team's starting pitching has gone to seed since the All-Star break, allowing a 6.09 ERA, with Jeremy Bonderman's 5.03 in that span the best of a bad lot. Switching the topic from horrid to torrid, Carlos Pena continues to hit since his recall, .294/.400/.529 on the week and .366/.447/.951 with seven homers in 47 PA overall.

21


Nationals
71-66
4-3
Flat
GM Jim Bowden trashes the offense he built in the press, and though they're outscored 30-29, the Nats post only their second winning week since early July. This year's first-round pick, third baseman Ryan Zimmerman, debuts, and the next day becomes the first 2005 draftee to get a major-league hit. He should take at-bats away from incumbent Vinny Castilla, who since May 1 has hit just .228/.305/.345. Overall, Castilla is sub-zero on the year in both VORP (-1.4) and MLVr (-0.054).

22


Reds
63-73
1-5
Flat
Ken Griffey Jr. ties Mickey Mantle on the all-time HR list before foot and hamstring troubles send him to the bench. Elsewhere in their crowded outfield, Austin Kearns has very quietly put up a solid second half after five weeks in the minors, hitting .277/.361/.511 after a .224/.306/.394 first half.

23


Mariners
58-78
3-4
Flat
Rime of the Ancient Ex-Mariner: Randy Johnson bests Felix Hernandez in a dandy pitcher's duel, but the M's still manage a split with the Yanks. Former Next Big Mariner Thing pitcher Joel Pineiro's ERA stands at an unsightly 5.59, but he's managed five quality starts in his last six outings, good for a 3.79 ERA, a 24/7 K/BB and 6.72 innings per start. Oddly enough, he has yet to allow an unearned run in his 158 2/3 innings. He'll either have to toss 81 2/3 innings (very unlikely, even given the M's reputation as a woodchipper for young pitchers) or give up 15 earned runs to top Dick Ruthven (1976) and claim a record. That'd be sweet.

24


Dodgers
61-75
2-4
Flat
Nobody explodes to the press or goes down with a season-ending injury, but a 2-4 week culminating in a sweep by the Rockies is nothing to write home about either. Derek Lowe tosses a one-hitter at the Cubs, but then, Dusty Baker's team is every bit as DOA as this one. Elsewhere in the rotation, Edwin Jackson continues to disappoint; he hasn't lasted longer than 5 1/3 innings in his three starts--none of them against offensive juggernauts--and has posted a 7.20 ERA.

25


Giants
62-73
5-1
Flat
Barry Bonds may finally be returning, just as the Giants win seven of eight to move into second in the wheezing NL West despite their obvious shortcomings. Already rolling, the pitching staff, which has allowed just a 3.22 ERA since August 1, has been bolstered by the promotion of our #28 Top Prospect Matt Cain, who gave up three runs in 12 innings over his first two appearances this past week.

26


Devil Rays
57-81
2-5
Flat
Pass the blindfold and cigarette: managing partner Vince Naimoli's reign of terror may soon end. As reports of his departure emerged, the Rays, who had carried a 27-15 record since the All-Star break into the week, promptly lost five straight, including a four-game sweep by the Red Sox. Joe Borowski, who had hurled 21 scoreless innings since being picked off the scrap heap, gave up five runs over two appearances, taking the loss both times.

27


Pirates
55-81
1-4
Flat
Lefty Paul Maholm becomes the latest Pirate rookie to impress, tossing eight shutout innings at the Brewers in his major-league debut just hours after hearing that his home in Biloxi, Mississippi escaped the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. On the other side of the coin, rookie-wise, Brad Eldred has endured a 1-for-33 slump with 20 strikeouts and just one walk, while a Grade II hamstring tear has sidelined red-hot (.341/.385/.429) Chris Duffy. Finally, in a move that surprised no one, the Pirates cashiered manager Lloyd McClendon on their way to a 13th consecutive losing season.

28


Diamondbacks
61-77
1-5
Flat
Losers of five straight and 16 of their last 21 have fallen into fourth in the NL West, which is like saying there's only one guy with worse body odor in your office. Since returning from three months on the DL with an elbow strain, Brandon Lyon has been pummelled for 14 runs in 6 2/3 innings, "helping" the D'backs bullpen to a 6.23 ERA, worst in the majors by three-quarters of a run. In the Stretching For Something Nice To Say department, Russ Ortiz had his first quality start and his first back-to-back non-disaster starts (fewer runs than innings) in nearly three months, lowering his ERA to a microscopic 6.64.

29


Rockies
55-81
4-2
Flat
Now riding a 10-4 streak during which they've limited opponents to an even 4.00 runs per game. Rookie shortstop Clint Barmes has returned after three months on the DL due to a fractured clavicle; he still ranks second among NL rookie hitters in VORP (19.2) and might just salvage Rookie of the Year honors if Jeff Francoeur continues to cool off and Zach Duke can't get back on track.

30


Royals
44-91
2-5
Flat
Streaky, streaky, streaky: the Royals are now 2-8 since a 4-1 burst halted their 19-game losing streak. Amid all of this, the suffer-fest continues for Zack Greinke. As if a 6.22 ERA and -10.5 VORP--amazingly, just the fifth-worst mark on the team--weren't bad enough, he's in danger not only of losing 20 games (he has 16) but of becoming the first pitcher since Red Ruffing in 1928 to match his age in losses. Seldom has an organization shown such incompetence in squandering one of its few remaining assets.

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. For more on the Hit List, see this article.

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 You Could Look It Up: ... (09/06)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: W... (08/30)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit List: W... (09/13)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: P... (09/07)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Premium Article Notes from the Field: South Atlantic League ...
Prospectus Feature: Baseball Brexit
Tools of Ignorance: Is Now the Time to Sell?
What You Need to Know: Baltimore Bombs
Rubbing Mud: Houston's Delayed Launch
Premium Article The View From Behind The Backstop: Triple-A ...
Prospectus Feature: Bloom's Taxonomy and the...

MORE FROM SEPTEMBER 7, 2005
Premium Article Lies, Damned Lies: The Tiger Plan, Revisited
Premium Article Prospectus Today: Merit vs. Moments
Premium Article Under The Knife: Moving On
Premium Article Prospectus Matchups: Performance Enhancing J...

MORE BY JAY JAFFE
2005-09-27 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 25
2005-09-20 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 18
2005-09-13 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 11
2005-09-07 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 4
2005-08-30 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of August 28
2005-08-30 - Prospectus Hit List: The System, Explained
2005-08-23 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of August 21
More...

MORE PROSPECTUS HIT LIST
2005-09-27 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 25
2005-09-20 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 18
2005-09-13 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 11
2005-09-07 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of September 4
2005-08-30 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of August 28
2005-08-30 - Prospectus Hit List: The System, Explained
2005-08-23 - Prospectus Hit List: Week of August 21
More...