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September 22, 2007

Prospectus Hit List

AL Supremacy Edition

by Marc Normandin

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

1


Red Sox
91-63
2-4
.621
Down
Red Sox fans are not content with their 99.9% chance at making the playoffs, and I've spent my week fighting off the cries of depressed Sox fans all around me. This is what you don't want the Sox to do if you're a fan; Wild Card or AL East Champs, they're most likely playing in October, and probably deeper with the rest some of their key players have received. Hideki Okajima is one of those players; they'll need him back soon if they want to avoid pitching Eric Gagne in anything but mop up work.

2


Yankees
88-65
4-2
.588
Flat
Thanks to the Indians' slaughter of the Tigers, the Yankees playoff ambitions are secure, and they may end up facing the opponent that doesn't give them fits-Cleveland lost the season series with New York 0-6 this year. The postseason is a whole new season for the clubs involved, but the Yankees have to be pleased that they may not face the Halos if the current standings hold up. Nevertheless, the Yankees seemingly prefer to face Anaheim and some greater danger, so they keep trying to win the division.

3


Indians
91-62
5-1
.567
Up
Cleveland is now 7.5 games up on the second-place Tigers and sport the best record in baseball. They're one game up in the loss column on the Angels and Red Sox; in a tie, the Indians would face the Wild Card team from the AL East, since the season series with LA was a tie and the Tribe has the better intradivision record. With two of the top six starters in the league by VORP, the Indians could be deadly in the playoffs.

4


91-63
5-2
.558
Flat
With their lead in the division secure, the Angels try to rest both Chone Figgins and Gary Matthews Jr. while giving Vladimir Guerrero time at DH. The best match-up for the Halos' rotation could be against the Yankees, due to their weaker rotation, but they're currently behind the Indians and on the wrong side of the tiebreakers.

5


Mets
85-68
2-5
.557
Down
The Mets' ticket to the postseason more than likely comes via a division title, but they've gone 3-7 in their last 10, bringing back the possibility that the Phillies might poach the title after all. The Mets don't have anyone to blame but themselves for this turn of events, given their 6-12 record against the Phils this season. If they had won just two more games in the season series, I'd be forced to find something else to write about in this space.

6


Rockies
82-72
6-1
.543
Up
The Rockies' chances at the playoffs are really only better than Atlanta's in the NL among the uneliminated right now, but at 81-72, at least they're virtually guaranteed to finish above .500 for the first time since 2000 while finishing in third, ahead of the Dodgers. This Rox team is second in the NL in runs scored with a run differential of +74; they're a team to watch in 2008, and one that many have forgotten about with all the focus on the Dodger and D'back youngsters.

7


Tigers
84-70
3-3
.542
Flat
A depressing end to a strong start, and the Tigers are essentially out of it. Their playoff odds have them under o1% to make the postseason, although Jeremy Bonderman could have been back if they needed him it seems. One stat says it all-before the All-Star break w/ RISP: .329/.403/.507; afterwards w/RISP: .286/.353/.428.

8


Padres
85-68
6-1
.540
Up
The Friars have been on fire lately, and sit just 1.5 back of the D'backs for the division lead; they're also 1.5 ahead of Philadelphia. The Padres will go into the playoffs without Clay Hensley, who had surgery on his shoulder, but Milton Bradley-owner of a .312/.417/.580 line as a Padre-made his return to the lineup. In other good news, Kevin Kouzmanoff is getting some well-deserved recognition.

9


Phillies
84-70
6-1
.539
Up
Philly has the best offense this side of the Yankees, and it's helped prop up a rotation that ranks 13th in the NL in quality starts and ERA while allowing opponents an 804 OPS. They're slugging .460 as a team, but they'll still need to hope for some New York losses in order to take over the division. Jimmy Rollins' Isolated Power is way up the last two seasons, and one wonders if this trend will hold as age sets in and he presumably slows down.

10


Braves
80-74
5-2
.535
Down
The Braves playoff odds are on life support, and eventually they'll be without Rafael Soriano, who was suspended for four games. Thanks to a 7-3 run in their past 10 games, the Braves don't have to worry about finishing under .500 for the first time since the 1990 team went 65-97. They'll have some major decisions facing them if they want to compete again in 2008; specifically, is Mark Teixeira worth re-signing, and is Andruw Jones staying or going?

11


Dodgers
79-75
1-6
.531
Down
The Dodgers are eight games out, and Jeff Kent blames the young players for it. Things that confuse me about this: Bill Plaschke's stance on Kent's statements, and Kent's taking issue with the team having productive players besides himself. What isn't confusing: Grady Little is a lame manager. I couldn't have said it better myself, Rob.

12


Blue Jays
78-75
5-1
.528
Up
The Blue Jays season has been a failure for the most part, as they didn't make any progress in year two of their spend-happy plan. Frank Thomas's three homers the other night put him 18th on the career list, and the Jays did manage to ruin the nights of countless members of Red Sox Nation by beating up on Gagne, Papelbon, and Buchholz. Thomas has been solid this year at .270/.375/.475 with 25 HR, although his power is down considering the move from Oakland to homer-friendly Toronto.

13


Cubs
81-73
5-2
.523
Up
The Cubbies are 1.5 games up on the Brewers, and are still huge favorites to win the division. Aramis Ramirez did his part in yesterday's contest with two HRs and six RBI. John Helyar reports that John Canning Jr. is the favorite to win the bidding for Cubs' ownership.

14


Brewers
79-74
5-2
.515
Up
The Brewers are 1.5 back, but now they might be without the services of Ben Sheets. Not that it really matters, since Ned Yost is so willing to just give games away that the Brewers need to win. For a team that needs to win every game they can, not starting Rickie Weeks (.276/.447/.517 since 8/10) because he's 0-8 in his career against Tim Hudson is just baffling. Yes, they won, but let's run that test 100 times and see who comes out ahead.

15


Diamondbacks
87-67
4-2
.504
Up
The D'backs are still in first despite a -12 run differential-although that's improved by +19 runs since August 22-and though not guaranteed a playoff spot, are likely entrants into October baseball given that they're three games better than the Phillies. Arizona won't have Chad Tracy available when they get there, though. They currently sport the best record in the NL as well; if they finish that way and their run differential remains negative, they would be the first team in history to do so.

16


Athletics
74-81
1-5
.501
Down
Oakland has lost five straight, and their disappointing season continues. They weren't a very strong playoff contender to begin with, but injuries derailed any hope of keeping the Angels out of first place. Pitching wasn't the problem, as the A's are fifth in the AL in quality starts and sixth in ERA, but the offense ranked 9th in runs and 11th in slugging percentage. Daric Barton is up, so there is that to look forward to.

17


Twins
75-78
3-3
.495
Flat
The Twins are under .500, and it doesn't get much brighter in their future. Yes, the team should be healthy to start 2008, and the rotation will be improved with the return of Francisco Liriano, and maybe, just maybe, Nick Punto won't be the worst everyday player in the league, but the Twins are behind the talented Indians and Tigers in terms of talent, and the eventual departure of Torii Hunter and Johan Santana to greener pa$ture$ puts a damper on things. As always, this team needs offense, but even Mike Lowell might be too expensive.

18


Mariners
82-71
4-3
.495
Flat
The Mariners are giving their best effort to kept the Angels from winning the division against them, with Jarrod Washburn throwing a solid effort last night. Jorge Campillo was suspended four games for throwing at Vlad twice. The M's can still play spoiler and keep the Angels from finishing with a better record than Cleveland.

19


Reds
71-83
2-4
.470
Flat
Ken Griffey Jr. ends his season with an injury again-this time a "high groin strain"-but he should still be happy with his final line of .277/.372/.496 with 30 homers and solid glovework in right field. The Reds can still sneak into third place-they're only a half-game out-and salvage a poor season, at least in the standings.

20


Giants
67-87
1-6
.463
Down
The Giants won't be bringing Barry Bonds back for the 2008 season, which makes me wonder if Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum are both prepared to lose 20 games with ERAs in the threes next year. I have to agree with Bonds in regards to Mark Ecko; if you're a fan of baseball history, vote to send the ball to Cooperstown where it belongs, regardless of how you feel about Bonds.

21


Rangers
71-83
2-5
.461
Up
The Rangers are 43-33 at home, but a dismal 28-50 on the road this year. If they had managed to go around .500 on the road, they would be competing with Seattle for second place, but this team has been an overall disappointment. Vicente Padilla dropped his appeal, and Sammy Sosa initial expectations.

22


Orioles
65-88
2-5
.454
Down
If Miguel Tejada is serious about his desire to play for another team, the O's should look into taking him up on it. He hit just .299/.357/.453 with 37 extra-base hits, and will be 32 years old next season. The O's are thinking of moving him to third base for 2008 to make room for Luis Hernandez at shortstop. As for no one saying anything bad about Derek Jeter's defense (keep reading the last story) Tejada should try reading one of my chats someday.

23


Marlins
66-88
2-5
.450
Down
They may be finishing in last place, but the Mets need to take them seriously in order to keep their hold on the NL East. Dan Uggla beat them with an extra-inning double on Thursday night, and the two teams have five games remaining against each other. Hanley Ramirez has become only the second Marlin with 200 hits in a season.

24


Cardinals
71-82
2-6
.446
Down
Albert Pujols may be out for the year along with Jim Edmonds and Chris Duncan for his hernia.. Mark Mulder had an MRI and a nerve test on his ailing shoulder, and Will Carroll has winced at Mulder's mechanics from the start of his return. The Cardinals are also 2-8 in their last 10, further burying the dream of a comeback.

25


Astros
68-86
5-2
.435
Up
The Astros have gone with Ed Wade as their new general manager, but it doesn't matter who takes over for the departed Tim Purpura if owner Drayton McLane isn't willing to stop meddling in front office affairs and pony up for draft pick signings. One thing's for sure: between Krivsky, La Russa, and Wade, the NL Central is going to have more middle relievers per team than any division in baseball.

26


Nationals
68-86
3-4
.431
Flat
The Nats team that was supposed to threaten the single-season loss record-well, according to some-is sitting in fourth place and two games up on the Marlins. The Nats have been ruining the Mets playoff hopes for the week, taking two of three and then immediately losing the first two games of a four-game series to the Phillies. Ryan Zimmerman recovered nicely from a poor first half with a .287/.356/.506 line, though despite my early-season praise, he's still no David Wright.

27


Royals
66-87
3-3
.431
Down
With a little help from a White Sox team that's determined to end 2007 as quickly as possible, Zack Greinke punches out 10 batters and potentially solidified his role as a starting pitcher in 2008. With GilgaMeche and Greinke fronting a rotation-label my thoughts regarding Brian Bannister's future performance cynical-the Royals are in good shape heading into next year, as long as their young bats continue to develop. John Buck was quoted as saying that Greinke should remain in the rotation, but he was then replaced mid-interview by Jason LaRue.

28


Devil Rays
63-91
2-4
.430
Flat
The Rays have been at the mercy of some quality pitching performances lately, with Santana, and now Beckett all baffling Tampa's offense. Chances are good they will finish in last once again, unless Baltimore melts down further. Carl Crawford missed his fourth straight game with a strained left groin.

29


Pirates
66-88
0-7
.425
Down
Neal Huntington is the Pirates new General Manager, or not. There isn't much else to report on the Pirate front. They're in last place in the worst division in baseball, tied for the second-worst record in the league. Their best player is probably on the downward swing of his peak, the organization is a mess due to repeated poor draft choices, and the Bucs are winning a poll for which team's fans have it the worst in baseball. Either the Pirates are that bad, or the Cubs really just can't finish first in anything.

30


White Sox
67-87
4-3
.420
Up
The race for fourth place continues, with the Pale Hose just a half-game up on the Royals. Even if the White Sox finish ahead, the Royals can take solace in the fact that they aren't last in Hit List Factor anymore, and really, that's all that matters in this space.


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.

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Future Shock: Hawaiian... (09/22)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: S... (09/15)
Next Column >>
Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: S... (10/07)
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Premium Article Prospectus Q&A: Carlos... (09/23)

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