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June 5, 2009

Prospectus Hit List

The Rising

by Jay Jaffe

RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Comment

1


Dodgers
37-19
3-4
.634
Down
Opening Day starter Hiroki Kuroda makes a solid return to the rotation after missing nearly two months due to an oblique strain, and while the Dodgers fall in that game, they continue to hold the majors' widest division lead. That the Dodgers are where they are despite Kuroda's injury is a surprise; they're 14-5 in games started by Eric Stults, James McDonald, Jeff Weaver, and Eric Milton despite a .490 combined Support Neutral Winning Percentage and a 4.83 ERA because they've supported those hurlers with 6.8 runs per game of offense.

2


Red Sox
32-22
4-2
.575
Up
Josh Beckett tosses 6 2/3 no-hit innings en route to a win over Detroit. He's now allowed just one earned run in his last 22 2/3 innings and put together six straight quality starts, lowering his ERA from Boeing territory to 4.12, best in Boston's still-underperforming rotation. Meanwhile, David Ortiz continues his slide into the abyss. He's just 6-for-51 since homering on May 20 and is now hitting .187/.281/.289. Nonetheless, the team continues to battle for the top spot in the AL East, and they've got the game's third-best run differential.

3


Rays
28-28
5-1
.572
Up
The Kids Are Alright: David Price whiffs 11 Twins (5.2 1 1 2 11) and collects his first regular-season major league win in his second start of the year, while Jeff Niemann spins a two-hit shutout for his third quality start out of four. The Rays continue have yet to climb more than one game above .500, but their 20-14 mark since April 29 is the league's third-best behind the Rangers and Yankees, and their run differential is now the league's best.

4


Cardinals
31-23
3-4
.571
Down
El Hombre: Albert Pujols has himself a week, going 13-for-25 with five doubles and three homers while walking five times and ending the slate by providing virtually all of the team's offense in a win over the Reds. That's .520/.600/1.080 for the week, and .346/.470/.698 for the year. At the other end of the heat scale is Ryan Ludwick, who goes just 2-for-23 with a lone walk in his first week following a DL stint for a bad hammy; he's hitting just .240/.306/.457.

5


Phillies
32-20
7-0
.567
Up
That's Tony the Bastard to You, Pal: Antonio Bastardo beats the Padres in his major league debut (6 4 1 1 1 5), a victory fueled by Raul Ibanez's 18th and 19th homers on his 37th birthday (nice math, that). Not a tremendous prospect, the 23-year-old southpaw arrives with just two Triple-A starts under his belt, but given their rotation woes and those results, the Phillies are in no position to complain. Meanwhile, fellow rookie southpaw J.A. Happ has compiled a 2.45 ERA through three starts; coupled with his bullpen work, he's second on the team behind Ryan Madson in combined win expectancy (SNLVAR + WXRL).

6


Yankees
32-22
5-2
.562
Up
Now 18-8 since Alex Rodriguez's return, the Yanks move atop the AL East thanks in part to an major-league record 18 straight errorless games, underscoring their rise in Defensive Efficiency from 12th last year to fifth this year. Joba Chamberlain goes a career-best eight innings, hopefully settling the matter of his correct role once and for all. Meanwhile, the team takes my advice (wink) and temporarily moves Phil Hughes to the bullpen to accommodate Chien-Ming Wang's return to the rotation, though the initial returns aren't exactly overwhelming.

7


Mets
28-24
2-4
.559
Down
Getting Biblical: A plague of injuries, illnesses, and losses strikes the Mets. A stomach bug hits John Maine mid-game, then Carlos Beltran misses a few games with a similar illness, touching off rumors that both are suffering from swine flu. Meanwhile, J.J. Putz loses his set-up job, then heads to the doctor because a bone spur is hampering his follow-through, thus explaining his 5.8 BB/9 and 5.22 ERA. But wait, there's more: a fractured pinkie makes Ramon Martinez the third Mets shortstop to hit the DL in a 15-day span, and Jose Reyes suffers a setback in his rehab.

8


Rangers
31-22
4-3
.552
Flat
Pack the Flotilla and Go? A day after reviving an old beef with Mark Teixeira by drilling him twice and being summarily paddled for his trouble, Vicente Padilla is placed on waivers. His 5.57 ERA aside, he had been riding a hot streak (seven earned runs in 27 innings over four quality starts) before going on the DL, but he's now fifth on the team in Support Neutral Winning Percentage (.483). His contract makes anyone claiming him unlikely, so consider this a message rather than a move.

9


Blue Jays
30-26
3-3
.543
Down
The Doctor Works Hard, The Rest Hardly Work: Roy Halladay sets career highs with 14 strikeouts and 133 pitches in a complete-game win over the Angels. He's now third in SNLVAR and strikeouts, and fifth in ERA. Alas, his gritty outing is one of just three Blue Jays wins in their past 15 games, a span over which the team's non-Halladay starters have put up a 6.37 ERA while yielding 2.4 homers per nine.

10


Tigers
28-24
2-4
.540
Down
Back Off the Rails: Dontrelle Willis returns to his bad self by trying to have it both ways, first by being lit for 10 hits and seven runs, then yielding five runs without a hit (2.1 0 5 5 5 3). Nonetheless, the team still leads the league in SNLVAR, and they lead the AL Central despite losing two series in a row, the latter the sweep by the Sox.

11


Brewers
31-23
4-3
.529
Flat
Hoff Time: The Brewers share the top spot in the NL Central, and their bullpen (save for a meltdown-and-out by Jorge Julio) is a major reason why, as they're third in WXRL and first in reliever Fair Run Average. Trevor Hoffman is 14-for-14 in saves while tossing 16 scoreless innings and allowing just seven baserunners. He's fourth in WXRL, while free-talent pickups Todd Coffey and Mark DiFelice are also in the top 25.

12


Reds
28-25
2-5
.513
Down
Not a Lot o' Votto: Despite going 4-for-14 with three homers since returning from his inner ear infection, Joey Votto lands on the DL with "stress-related issues," the latest among a wave of players to be sidelined by anxiety disorders. Lest you think things are otherwise going swimmingly for the Reds, Edinson Volquez returns to the DL with elbow tendonitis after just one inning of work.

13


Cubs
26-25
3-2
.510
Up
No No-No, No Win, No Nuthin': Randy Wells takes a no-hitter into the seventh, and departs in the eighth leading 4-0, but the Cubs bullpen coughs up the lead and they fall to the Braves in 12. Wells has put up a 1.69 ERA in five starts, good for second on the team in SNLVAR, but he has yet to get a win for his troubles thanks to lousy offensive (2.8 runs per game) and bullpen support. The pen, which ranks 10th in WXRL, has been nothing to write home about; while Carlos Marmol ranks eighth individually, he's skating on thin ice with his 7.9 UIBB/9, and closer Kevin Gregg ranks just 69th.

14


Twins
27-28
3-3
.507
Down
Hot Twins Pair Up in Threes: Jason Kubel raps a pair of three-run homers off of Fausto Carmona in back-to-back innings; he's hitting a crisp .322/.374/.532. Justin Morneau reels off an 11-game hitting streak (17-for-41) which raises his OPS all of nine points; he's hitting .348/.426/.657. And still, neither of them are fit to carry Joe Mauer's jock; he's at .436/.519/.845 with 12 homers in 135 PA.

15


Angels
27-25
3-3
.504
Down
Kids, This is What Happens When You Don't Walk: Manager Mike Scioscia benches Howie Kendrick as he's mired in a 1-for-17 slide amid a season-long slump (.229/.273/.349), and the team is considering ticketing him for Triple-A. Kendrick's isolated power and abysmal walk rate are almost exactly in line with his career numbers, but his .264 BABIP is 94 points below his 2006-2008 rate, completely leaching his value, not that the Angels deserve much sympathy for trusting so much in a player with a career 196/29 K/UIBB rate in the first place. Late note: Kendrick finds a wee bit of redemption when his bunt single and baserunning manufacture the game-winning run on Thursday.

16


Braves
26-26
3-2
.500
Up
Turn, Turn, Turn: 305-game winner Tom Glavine is rather shockingly released just one day before he would have been added to the active roster, a move which clears space for #2 prospect Tommy Hanson (#13 overall on this year's list) to start Saturday. Hanson had put up a 1.49 ERA and 90/17 K/BB ratio in 66 1/3 Triple-A innings. Meanwhile, the team shores up its Vortex of Suck outfield (a combined .237/.299/.341 with a league-low OPS) by demoting Jordan Schafer (hitting a grim .204/.313/.287 with just one homer since his Opening Day blast), and shipping three prospects (including Gorkys Hernandez) to Pittsburgh for Nate McLouth.

17


Pirates
25-28
4-2
.492
Up
The Re-Mcs: The Pirates reach a changing-of-the-guard moment, as they trade Nate McLouth to the Braves for a three-prospect haul centered around Gorkys Hernandez (fourth among the Braves' top prospects). The move clears the way for them to promote their own second-ranked prospect, Andrew McCutchen, who's hitting .303/.361/.493 in Triple-A, and he sparks the team to a win (4 3 2 1, BB, SB) in his big-league debut.

18


Giants
27-25
4-2
.475
Up
The Big W: Randy Johnson waits out the rain to win his 300th game with a strong performance (6.0 2 1 0 2 2) against the Nationals. Though he sets the record for the highest ERA of any pitcher going into win 300 (5.71), he's just the 24th pitcher to reach that milestone, and you might as well take note, because it will be a good long time before we see another. Still unimpressed? Then consider that with a JAWS score of 89.0 (110.5 career, 67.5 peak), he's in the mix with Warren Spahn (122.4/62.7/92.6) and Lefty Grove (110.6/68.7/89.7) as the top lefty hurler of all time.

19


Indians
23-33
2-5
.465
Down
Et Tu, Grady? Though they're fifth in the league in scoring, life isn't getting any easier for the Indians, as they lose two regulars to the disabled list in the same week. First is Grady Sizemore, who's suffering from bursitis in his elbow; he's hitting an uncharacteristically low .223/.309/.417 and may need surgery. Then the much more productive (.316/.374/.427) Asdrubal Cabrera sprains his left shoulder while sliding. Neither will give them an excuse to recall Matt LaPorta, but then Eric Wedge wouldn't know what the hell to do with him if the lineup merely required nine corner outfielders.

20


Mariners
26-28
4-2
.462
Up
Erik Bedard beats his former team in his first outing against them. His 2.37 ERA ranks fourth in the league, and his 61 Ks are 10th, but that won't bring back Adam Jones, Chris Tillman, and company any more than Homer's tears will bring back spilled milk. The win also sees Ichiro Suzuki break the team hitting streak record; he's now at 27, and hitting .353/.386/.480, good for fourth in the batting title race.

21


Rockies
21-32
3-4
.452
Flat
While Jim Tracy wins his debut as the Rockies' interim manager, replacing fired Clint Hurdle, soon enough the team returns to its losing ways. That may have something to do with Tracy restoring Garrett Atkins to the cleanup spot. He's hitting just .188/.264/.273, hasn't homered since April 25 or had a multi-hit game since April 27, and is batting just .144 since then; a trip to Triple-A looms as an option. Late note: batting sixth, Atkins homers twice off of Wandy Rodriguez on Thursday night.

22


Marlins
26-29
4-3
.450
Up
Double Duty: Josh Johnson subdues the Brewers (7.2 5 2 2 1 8) and bashes a three-run homer off of Dave Bush. It's the career .107 hitter's first major league homer, but the strong pitching is getting routine. Since returning from Tommy John surgery in the middle of last season, he's gone 12-2 with a 3.15 ERA and 8.0 K/9, and he now leads the league in SNLVAR.

23


White Sox
25-28
4-3
.447
Up
Beckoning Beckham: A 10-3 run-or an 8-2 one, if you want to mark time by the 20-1 drubbing and Jake Peavy's rejection-pulls the Sox up to .500 before a pair of losses cause them to sag again. With their third basemen hitting a combined .238/.297/.326, the team promotes 2008 #1 pick Gordon Beckham, hitting a combined .330/.381/528 at Double-A and Triple-A after very nearly winning a job in the spring, and DFAs Wilson Betemit. With adjacent Vortices of Suck at short (.251/.306/.356) and second (.237/.314/.320), Ozzie Guillen may have to restrain himself from writing Beckham into the lineup twice.

24


Padres
25-28
1-5
.445
Down
Totally Gonzo: Having briefly risen above .500, the Padres return from whence they came. Don't blame Adrian Gonzalez, who homers in four straight games, and six out of eight. He leads the majors with 22, 15 of them on the road, where he's hitting a searing .313/.421/.802; he's at .264/.402/.516 in Petco. A big reason for his surge's is his .277/.388/.578 performance against lefties thus far, compared to .248/.307/.427 prior to this year (hat tip on the latter note goes to reader dcoonce from this week's chat).

25


Royals
23-30
0-6
.443
Down
Au Revoir, .500: Though they welcome back Joakim Soria after a nearly four-week absence-a span during which they went 5-17-the Royals' seven losses in a row carry them further downstream from their once-winning record. Perhaps they should have left Brian Bannister and Luke Hochevar in the minors all along, as the duo have been shellacked for an 8.76 ERA in eight starts, only one of which was quality. Perhaps they should left an offense that hit .235/.290/.363 and provided just 3.1 runs per game during that span at the Salvation Army.

26


Astros
23-29
5-2
.442
Up
Breaking the Wandy? After allowing just one homer in his first 70 1/3 innings, Wandy Rodriguez is blitzed for four over his next 2 1/3 frames, including two by Garrett Atkins, who hadn't hit one since Colorado attained statehood. After yielding a 1.83 ERA and 6.6 hits per nine through his first nine starts, Rodriguez has been lit for 29 hits and 18 runs (12 earned) over his last three turns (13 2/3 innings). The loss snaps Houston's season-high four game winning streak and quashes their hopes of an undefeated June, but they can still root for the Tooth Fairy to show up.

27


Diamondbacks
23-31
2-4
.440
Down
In a performance that surely confuses senile Angelenos, Billy Buckner blanks the Dodgers for six innings en route to one of the team's two victories on the week. Demoted during the season's first week with a 15.75 ERA compiled in relief, Buckner's put up a 2.95 ERA over three starts since being recalled. Meanwhile, Justin Upton hits his first career grand slam after winning NL Player of the Month honors for May (.373/.444/.709 with seven homers), but the Snakes score just 20 the entire week, and continue to dig their own grave.

28


Athletics
22-30
4-4
.429
Up
Mazzaro Zeros: Vin Mazzaro, the fourth rookie starter the A's have fielded this year, tosses 6 1/3 scoreless innings in his major league debut. (Ed. note: In what was Sabermetrics Night at the ballpark, no less!) Meanwhile, fellow rookie Josh Outman tosses his fifth straight quality start, a span during which he's put up a 1.91 ERA. Nonetheless, the A's continue to occupy the AL West basement because the offense remains last in the league in EqA, even with Adam Kennedy on a .348/.429/.554 tear since taking over the second base job.

29


Orioles
24-30
2-4
.427
Down
Youth Movement: Top prospect Matt Wieters makes his long-awaited debut, though he gets off to a 3-for-21 start and goes hitless in the Orioles' two wins on the week. Brad Bergesen collects the win in that debut game; after just two quality starts in his first seven, he's made two in a row, and now ranks third on the team in SNLVAR. Since Adam Eaton's timely demise, the new-look rotation, which includes Rich Hill and David Hernandez, has put up a tidy 3.45 ERA.

30


Nationals
14-38
1-5
.377
Down
Losers of 19 out of 23, and it now appears possible that the Nats are just going to stand in one spot until they can draft Stephen Strasburg next week, then head for the beach and call it a season while team and agent hash out a contract. On that note, Jesus Flores may already be done for the year due to a stress fracture in his shoulder. Despite battling elbow woes, he was off to a great start (.311/.382/.522), but for at least the next three months, the position is in the hands of Josh Bard and Wil Nieves. Good luck with that.


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 Thursday.

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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