As the season's third week starts and the Adjusted
Standings return, we're back to computing the Hit List rankings the old fashioned way: with cash bribes... er, actual,
first-, second-, and third-order winning percentages. White Sox fans can hoot while we wave goodbye to those PECOTA win projections, while this author tips
his cap to those who kept their senses of humor through last week's little e-mail stunt. Even with the sample-size caveats
outnumbering the reasons to poke fun at Jeffrey Loria and Jim Bowden, it's all about slicing and dicing what's happening on
the field now.
The 5-0 start has vanished, thanks in part to a sweep by the White Sox, but Tiger pitchers have been the AL's second-
stingiest thus far (3.87 ERA), and that'll keep your Hit List boat afloat through a stormy week. As Tax Day passes, it's
still Chris Shelton's world with the rest of us just standing by: .479/.500/1.208 with
Feast or famine: in the Yanks' six wins, they've outscored opponents 64-21, with a minimum of nine runs scored in each
and all but one win by at least six runs. In their six losses, they've been outscored 31-16, yielding more than six runs only
once and losing three one-run games. Add it all up and you get the majors' most potent offense, and a very rusty Mariano Rivera, one the Twins were able to beat on Saturday. You also get some very confusing signs from the organization regarding
Randy Johnson, but that's a story for another day.
Artificial High: the Rox are still riding the run differential of their three-game drubbing of the Padres; in all other
contests they've been outscored 48-42. Still, it's rare to see this team with a winning record or a sub-5.00 ERA (4.46
through Sunday), so you'll have to forgive our gawking at anomalies like Jose Mesa's 0.00
ERA or Brad Hawpe's .739 SLG. Like the Two-Headed Goat, such oddities are not long for this world.
Ben Sheetsreturns from his teres
major strain, only to run into the Mets' juggernaut. While that, the heroics of Carlos Lee and the fact that Prince Fielder
(.417/.500/.528 excluding his first two games) has recovered from his early jitters count as good news, the offense is
wheezing along at just 4.0 runs per game, second-worst in the NL. Retro duds do not a Harvey's Wallbanger make.
Bronson Arroyogoes deep off of
Glendon Rusch for the second time in a week, yet manages to withstand the same winds that helped five of his teammates' shots
soar over the ivy. The Reds are unwilling to throw caution to the wind when it comes to Ken Griffey Jr.,
however, sitting him four days in a row for a
minor knee problem before it turns into something bigger.
Step one for how to top that 82-win projection
that had White Sox Nation howling is for
Jim Thome to beat his PECOTA's projections of 341 PA and 16.5 VORP. Having already matched last year's
injury-addled total of seven homers and reached 14.6 VORP (second in the majors), so far so good. Step
two is for the rotation to approach last year's lofty standards; with a combined ERA of 5.72, that hasn't happened yet, and
the bullpen isn't holding up its end
of the bargain either.
Daniel Cabrera rekindles fond
memories of Bobby Witt with his five-inning, nine-walk, 10-strikeout performance, and with 16 free passes in 6.1 innings thus
far, he must have Leo Mazzone rocking himself into a catatonic state. Hell, considering that the rest of the staff is walking
3.7 batters per nine innings, it's a solid bet that somewhere George Stallings is spinning in
The Bizarro-backs are still among the NL's best in ERA (4.01, good for fourth), with Brandon Webb (2.14
ERA in 21 innings) leading the way. Through the other side of the looking glass, the team's .234 EqA is the lowest in the NL, with Shawn Green
(5-for-35) particularly brutal but by no means the lone offender.
The fun continues for Barry Bonds: 4-for-23 without a homer thus far, 10 to 12 bone chips in his swollen left elbow, and a grand jury investigating whether he perjured himself in the BALCO hearings. Aside from
rhythm and music, who could ask for
anything more? Meanwhile, what's left of the Giants' offense produces just ten runs on the week, and while they escape with a
winning record, that hardly bodes well.
After trading David Dellucci to thin the outfield's ranks at the outset of the season, Ranger
outfielders have hit just .191/.225/.283 with one homer and a 52/5 K/BB ratio this year, leading to silly talk of a
curse. Of no laughing matter, particularly, is Brad Wilkerson's .185/.214/.315 performance and league-
leading 23 K's after struggling with a sore shoulder this spring. Meanwhile, roookie second baseman Ian
Kinsler's dislocated thumb may cost him a
month of action and carry further ramifications
for his swing once he returns.
So much for that post-World Baseball Classic optimism about Adrian Beltre (.109/.226/.109) and
Ichiro Suzuki (.196/.274/.286). On the other hand, when was the last time fellow WBC participant
Joel Pineiro (3.66 ERA and a combined
shutout of the Red Sox) put up two good starts out of three? OK, the answer is a trio of starts from last September, but
shaving your ERA from 5.59 to 5.30 for a team destined to lose 93 games doesn't really count, and for a guy making $6.8
million this year, that question shouldn't even have to be asked.
The odious Jeffrey Loria renews his threat to make San Antonians sleep with the Fishes unless those lousy stinking Floridans personally apologize to him by coughing up the
scratch to replace Wayne Huizenga Smallpox-Infested Blanket Stadium, and pronto. Meanwhile, rumors swirl that the team may deal Miguel
Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis. On the field, an 0-4 record in one-run games has things looking a bit
more Uggla than they might otherwise be, but give
Jim Tracy finds a way to get Craig Wilson into the lineup after all--a double-whammy on Sean
Casey that leaves the first baseman with two fractures
in his lower back and a six-to-eight week (or more) vacation. Fortunately, Wilson--the odd man out in a silly offseason binge that left the Bucs with
Casey and Jeromy Burnitz clogging his two points of entry into the linep--goes berserk by hitting four
homers on the week, giving him six (topping last year's total) in just 33 at-bats. We'd say Dave Littlefield owes somebody an
apology, namely the team's hottest hitter.
Seriously, Dewon Brazelton? Take away the former D-Ray's two starts (6.1 innings, 17 runs, 24.16 ERA)
and you've got a team that's scored as many runs as it's allowed, albeit one with some odd stat lines from the Museum of
April Oddities (Khalil Greene hitting .190/.227/.500 with half of the team's eight homers, Jake
Peavy with a 5.50 ERA). Add Brazelton back in and you've got some questionable decision making to go with an anemic
offense (.234/.308/.367) and a rotation with a 7.02 ERA. Injuries have thrown the Mild, Mild West wide open again, but a
repeat looks pretty unlikely for the Pad people as currently constituted.
Freefalling: with the speed and grace of a lifeless body tossed down a flight of stairs, the Royals land in the Hit List
basement after a perfectly horrific week in which they're shown the Bronx (swept three straight while being outscored 30-15)
and razed by the Rays (another sweep, 22-10 combined). On a pair of sorely-needed positive notes, Mark
Redman is back in action, if not in top form,
and Zack Greinke's return is on the horizon.
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