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May 4, 2007

Prospectus Hit List

One Month Down

by Jay Jaffe

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RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Trend
Comment

1


Mets
17-10
4-3
.669
Down
A Little Bit of Wright and a Big Bowl of Wrong: David Wright homers for the first time this year, but the rest of the news out of Queens isn't so good. Injuries sideline Orlando Hernandez and Jose Valentin, and neither Mike Pelfrey (6.75 ERA and 19/10 K/BB through four starts) nor Chan Ho Park can stop the bleeding. Worse, the game's latest steroid scandal centers around a former Mets clubby. Throw in Lastings Milledge's foot injury and some tampering allegations and you've got a week suitable for Flushing.

2


Red Sox
18-9
4-2
.665
Up
Fresh off a Fenway sweep of the Yanks, the Sox take two out of three in the Bronx and open up a 5.5-game lead in the AL East, where they're the only team above .500. With all the hype around Daisuke Matsuzaka's gyro and Curt Schilling's blog, it's Josh Beckett who's leading the way for a staff that's second in the league in ERA (3.50) and first in K/BB ratio (2.35). Beckett's 6-0 with a 2.79 ERA and 3.9 K/BB; furthermore, he's allowed just one homer in 39.2 innings, helping him place third in the league in VORP (12.7).

3


Indians
17-8
5-1
.601
Up
You Can't Have Too Much, Etc.: fresh off his best start of the year, and despite the fact he's been the team's second-best starter, Fausto Carmona is told to shuffle off to Buffalo in anticipation of Cliff Lee's return to the rotation. However, in yet another instance of pitching surpluses sorting themselves out, Jake Westbrook strains an oblique, paving the way for Carmona's return. Meanwhile, Eric Wedge calls shenanigans over a belated run added to the Orioles' tally, but on the bright side, it comes in the only Tribe loss over an 11-game span.

4


Brewers
18-10
5-2
.585
Up
Brew Crew-sing: a sweep of the grieving Cardinals caps an 11-3 run, helping the Brewers open a 4.5 game lead in the NL Central on their way to the NL's best record. Good pitching--a 2.91 ERA in those 14 games--is the story here: Jeff Suppan goes the distance against his former teammates, Ben Sheets bounces back from a mild groin injury, and Carlos Villanueva picks up the slack after Chris Capuano is drilled in the leg. The bullpen is third in the league in WXRL, with both Francisco Cordero (1.291) and Derrick Turnbow (1.227) in the top six.

5


Cubs
12-14
4-1
.581
Up
Despite the sub-.500 record, the Cubs have the majors' third-best run differential, and in winning five out of six they've outscored opponents 39-17. On the mound, Jason Marquis--he of the 6.02 ERA last year--has put up a 2.09 ERA, while Rich Hill has been even better at 1.77; the duo are sixth and fourth in the NL in VORP, respectively. At the plate, Derrek Lee is hitting an insane .415/.488/.604 and is third in VORP, while Alfonso Soriano's batting .400/.417/.714 since returning from his hamstring woes and shifting to left field.

6


Braves
17-10
4-2
.569
Up
Call Him "Salty": Brian McCann's sore finger and Brayan Pena's concussion prefigure the arrival of Jarrod Saltalamacchia, #31 on our Hybrid Top 60 Prospect List. With his debut, Salty sets a record for the longest surname in major league history. Injuries also fell Bob Wickman (back? shoulder?) and Mark Redman (ingrown toenail, yuck), though the payoffs are somewhat less exciting unless you're a fan of tandem closers or podiatrists. Not injured at all is Chipper Jones, whose three homers on the week give him the NL lead with 10 and help the Braves move into a tie for first in the NL East.

7


Dodgers
17-11
4-2
.564
Down
What a Relief: the Dodger bullpen takes over the NL lead in WXRL (4.102) thanks to a collective 10.2-inning, one-hit, no-run effort in a 17-inning game against the Padres. Takashi Saito leads the league (1.525), while Chin-Hui Tsao (who's allowed just one hit in 10.2 innings), Jonathan Broxton and Joe Beimel all rank among the top 25. Meanwhile, Mark Hendrickson continues his lights-out work in place of Jason Schmidt; he's allowed just two runs and 10 hits in 16.2 innings over three starts, and it sounds like he'll be pitching in Schmidt's stead for at least another month.

8


Padres
15-13
3-3
.556
Down
Trevor Hoffman blows consecutive saves for the first time in ten years, costing the Pads series wins against the Diamondbacks and Dodgers. Still, the bullpen has been outstanding, with the best Fair Run Average (2.10) and second-best WXRL (3.994) of any NL club. Cla Meredith, who reeled off a 34-inning scoreless streak as a rookie last year, starts the year with 14 shutout frames before being touched up by the Nationals.

9


Blue Jays
13-15
2-5
.550
Down
Black and Blue Jays: Gustavo Chacin joins a crowded DL with a shoulder strain, and while nobody's going to miss his 5.60 ERA, another start from Victor Zambrano (2.2 4 2 2 1 3 1) will change that in a big hurry. As for the bullpen, with B.J. Ryan on the shelf, replacement closer Jason Frasor is struggling mightily, and the Jays are second-to-last in WXRL (-0.439) after a week where the pen puts up a 6.17 ERA.

10


Tigers
16-11
4-2
.542
Down
Cooking with Shef: Gary Sheffield exacts revenge off Daniel Cabrera as the Tigers and Orioles exchange unpleasantries. Two days later, his 4-for-4 keys the Tigers to their fourth straight win; the slugger is hitting .412/.524/.647 since his April 23 return from a benching. Even hotter is Magglio Ordonez, hitting .468/.545/.830 with 20 RBI in 13 games since April 17. He's sixth in the AL in VORP (13.9).

11


Yankees
12-14
4-2
.525
Up
The Kid Stays in the... Wait, Scratch That: just as Philip Hughes demonstrates his prowess with 6.1 innings of no-hit ball, a Grade II hamstring strain strikes him down and out for 4-6 weeks; he's the fifth Yankee starter to hit the DL this spring (and yes, the appropriate goat has been 'scaped). Prior to that, the Yanks snap a seven-game losing streak, but a series loss to the Red Sox generates the usual sturm und drang, ending with George Steinbrenner's second-hand vote of confidence for Joe Torre.

12


Twins
15-13
3-3
.523
Up
Ramon Ortiz finally gets knocked around, but even so, he's 5-for-6 in quality starts, with a higher VORP than Johan Santana (10.0 to 8.7). Thus far the oft-criticized Twins rotation has held it's own; they're fifth in the AL in SNLVAR (3.0). Meanwhile, Torii Hunter is hitting a very odd but productive .330/.358/.650, with six homers but just three walks in 106 PA. He's fourth in the AL in VORP (14.5).

13


Angels
16-13
4-3
.509
Flat
Betweeen Brandon Wood's arrival, Chone Figgins' return, and the plague of injuries befalling the other infielders (latest victim: Maicer Izturis), there's plenty to discuss here, and that's before we get to prospect Hank Conger's grassroots presidential campaign. But the Angels would be nowhere without Vladimir Guerrero, who's been a one-man wrecking crew, hitting .359/.469/.717 with the AL's second-best VORP, while the rest of the lineup is hitting a punchless .266/.313/.365.

14


Phillies
13-15
4-3
.509
Flat
News Flash: remember that mysterious trip to the doctor Tom Gordon took during spring training for a "routine checkup"? Funny thing about that, see. It turns out Gordon was experiencing shoulder soreness, and--ta-da!--it's back, which helps explain why Flash has blown three out of eight save opportunities and why his sub-replacement level performance has the Phils 14th in WXRL (0.206). Brett Myers notches his first save, but Joe Sheehan has already changed his mind about the wisdom of moving Myers to the pen, based on Charlie Manuel's usage patterns.

15


Giants
14-13
2-5
.508
Down
Barry Bonds hits his 743rd homer and a game-winning single to boot. Now hitting a jaw-dropping .343/.511/.791, Bonds is second in the NL in VORP (20.3). Russ Ortiz hits the DL with an inflamed nerve in his elbow after the Rockies inflame Ortiz's ERA from 4.50 to 6.44. Rough as it is for Ortiz, the injury is a dream come true for prospect mavens, since it means the recall of Tim Lincecum, #3 on our Hybrid Top 60 Prospect List. Lincecum, who's 4-0 with an 0.29 ERA and a 46/11 K/BB ratio in 31 innings at Triple-A, is slated to start Sunday night against the Phillies' Cole Hamels. Pass the popcorn.

16


Reds
13-15
3-3
.506
Up
Bronson Arroyo collects his first win, but with a 2.59 ERA and five quality starts out of six, it's not as though he's been pitching poorly. In fact the Reds lead the NL in SNLVAR (3.5), and four-fifths of the rotation has combined for a 3.32 ERA and 15 quality starts out of 23. The laggard, as usual, is Official Prospectus Hit List Whipping Boy Eric Milton, who's at least kept his ERA under 5.00 (4.85) and yielded just three homers in 26 innings. ... Random eye-popping stat: Adam Dunn has six steals to go with his eight homers. In fact he's nabbed 14 in a row since May 20, 2005, and is 54/70 in his career.

17


Athletics
13-14
2-3
.494
Down
As the injuries--including Travis Buck's sore wrist and Nick Swisher's pesky hamstring--continue to mount, the A's turn to a pair of BP staff favorites to patch their battered lineup. Mike Piazza's strained shoulder keys a trade for Jack Cust (.293/.467/.549 with 30 homers in Triple-A last year), while Billy Beane solves the threadbare outfield's woes by flipping Ryan Langerhans for Crash Snelling. Definitely not broken, Rich Harden's latest delay notwithstanding, is the pitching staff, which leads the majors in ERA (3.26) and SNLVAR (5.2); take that, Angels.

18


White Sox
12-13
1-4
.494
Down
A rib-cage injury claims Jim Thome, and the Sox offense responds by scoring just four runs in its next three games. But then what do you expect on a team where Darin Erstad's .307 OBP is the third-best among remaining regulars? Without Thome, the rest of the offense is 11.6 runs below replacement level, they're not getting Podzilla back anytime soon, and their interim plan has Christina Kahrl scratching her head.

19


Marlins
13-14
3-3
.478
Up
Miggy Getting' Jiggy: Miguel Cabrera's oblique strain is a thing of the past. He's hitting .455/.486/.667 since April 24 and attracting the envy of opposing GMs. Also swinging a hot bat is Josh Willingham, who hits .391/.481/.870 for the week while driving in 11 runs over a four-game span. While the Fish continue to lead the NL in scoring (5.59 runs per game), they're having a hard time outhitting their own pitching, which is allowing a league-worst 5.52 runs per game.

20


Orioles
12-16
1-5
.477
Down
Those Are the O's That You Know(s): after a high-water mark of 11-7, they lose nine out of 10 and settle into their familiar perch below .500 despite the return of Ramon Hernandez. Scoring just 3.2 runs per game during the slide, the Orioles' only real show of offense is that taken by Miguel Tejada. Worse, Adam Loewen leaves with forearm soreness, and just when Jaret Wright thinks he's out, the DL pulls him back in.

21


Diamondbacks
16-14
4-3
.473
Up
A pair of one-run losses to the Dodgers knocks the Snakes out of first place in the NL West and takes the luster off a six-game winning streak. The offense continues to fizzle; they're 13th in the league in EqA (.252), and it doesn't help that the team's hottest hitter, Chad Tracy (.500/.579/.688 for the week), is felled by a strained muscle in his rib cage. The pitching, however, has been a nice surprise; the staff is third in the league in ERA (3.44). Brandon Webb has allowed just four earned runs in his past 23 innings, Doug Davis three in his last 20, and Randy Johnson is showing improvement as well.

22


Mariners
12-11
4-2
.464
Up
After not collecting his first save until April 23, J.J. Putz is now Mr. Popular, notching five since then as the M's run off a 7-1 streak. That helps propel them to second in the AL West despite a negative run differential, an offense with a collective OBP of .310, and a rotation that's put up a 5.66 ERA. Most of that latter is due to Jeff Weaver (18.26 ERA after a Royal humiliation), who has yet to pitch a game where he allowed fewer runs than innings pitched. At least Weaver's making Bill Bavasi look smart... for not offering him a multi-year deal. Blind squirrel, meet acorn.

23


Astros
12-15
3-3
.459
Up
Despite the arrival of Hunter Pence, the Astros are decidedly earthbound after nine losses in 10 games, and at this rate, the only Rocket ride they can look forward to is on Kiss Alive II. Owner Drayton McLane, GM Tim Purpura, president of baseball operations Tal Smith, and manager Phil Garner confer, deciding that Garner's mustache is trimmed to the optimal length to inspire Craig Biggio in his deathless march to 3,000.

24


Rockies
11-17
2-4
.429
Down
Rox Dropped: Losers of four series in a row and nine out of 13, Colorado continues to lose ground in a crowded NL West race. The pitching staff is third-to-last in the NL in ERA, with Jeff Francis dragging the stone of shame at 6.19. Early indications are that altitude is again a factor at Coors, as Rox games feature 5.31 runs per game there, compared to 4.07 per game at home. In brighter news, Troy Tulowitzki pulls just the 13th unassisted triple play in major league history.

25


Devil Rays
13-15
4-2
.421
Up
Reyes of Sunshine: with the Devil Rays winning three of their past four series--all over teams that made the postseason in 2006--closer/reclamation project Al Reyes has been a busy man lately, and that's a good thing. As a unit, the Tampa Bay bullpen has been worse than pluck-out-your-own-eyeballs-out dreadful--why do you think Joe Maddon wears those glasses, anyway?--with a subzero WXRL and a Fair Run Average of 6.64. However, Reyes has saved 10 of the team's 13 wins, leads the AL in WXRL (1.595).

26


Pirates
13-14
3-4
.401
Down
Yes, I'm afraid so, it's the first Yeearrrgh! of the season on behalf of the Pirates. While the Bucs' pitching is keeping them within a plank's walk of .500, the offense is suffering from cases of both scurvy and rickets, hitting a combined .237/.293/.361, "good" for a major-league worst EqA of .237. Plate discipline is the main problem; the team's 60 walks are an NL low, and their 3.2 K/BB ratio is 40 percent higher than the next-worst NL team, the Marlins.

27


Royals
10-19
3-4
.397
Up
Another blue week for the Royals. Zack Greinke gets pounded for the third time in four starts; he's allowed 14 earned runs in his last 17.2 innings. Alex Gordon still isn't hitting his weight (220) or even mine (172), and the only consolation to losing Ryan Shealy to the DL is that at .113, he's not hitting half of his weight (250). On the other hand, Billy Butler--#18 on our Hybrid Top 60 Prospect List despite "indescribably horrific" defense, arrives and goes 2-for-4 in his debut.

28


Cardinals
10-16
0-5
.393
Down
Tragedy strikes, as Josh Hancock is killed in an auto accident. Worse, it's his second crash of the week and alcohol may have played a factor, raising an uncomfortable issue for a team whose manager got a DUI during spring training. Against this sobering backdrop, the Cards extend their losing streak to five straight, and while Chris Carpenter may return soon, the healing is far from over here.

29


Rangers
10-18
2-5
.365
Down
A doubleheader sweep by the Yankees runs the Rangers' losing streak to five in a row and eight out of 10. Kevin Millwood's bad hammy doesn't help, and while his 5.88 ERA is no great shakes either, it looks pretty good next to Brandon McCarthy's 11.00. As a unit, the Ranger rotation is last in the majors in SNLVAR (-0.7), with a 6.99 Fair Run Average to boot.

30


Nationals
9-19
2-4
.313
Up
John Patterson notches his first win in over a year, but the real story is Jim Bowden dismantling this juggernaut. Bowden undoes his best deal of the winter by trading Chris Snelling to Oakland for Ryan Langerhans, a player two years older with half the upside, not to mention the majors' second-lowest VORP (-9.1). Worse, Bowden's pondering the Nooklear option; come Monday, both Nook Logan and Cristian Guzman will return to the lineup, relegating Langerhans, Kory Casto, and Ronnie Belliard to the bench.


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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