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August 7, 2009

Prospectus Hit List

The Post-Shuffle Shuffle

by Jay Jaffe

RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Comment

1


Dodgers
67-42
4-3
.619
Up
Rare Drought: Shaking off a hand injury and the revelation that he was on the supposedly anonymous 2003 survey testing list, Manny Ramirez snaps out of a 7-for-44 slump without an RBI (tied for the longest drought of his career) by clubbing a home run and a bases-loaded double. He's later hit by a pitch during the 17-4 blowout, touching off a beanball war which winds up with the Brewers' Prince Fielder charging the Dodgers' clubhouse. Ramirez is hitting .280/.374/.550 since returning from his suspension, and while the Dodgers have gone 17-12 in that span, their division lead has been shaved by a game.

2


Yankees
66-42
4-2
.594
Down
Trilogy: Johnny Damon homers in three straight games, including once off Roy Halladay, whom he owns (.356/.426/.533 in 101 PA lifetime), and once off John Smoltz, his first career hit off the 42-year-old. It's hardly the only hit the Yanks collect off of Smoltz; they paste him for nine hits and eight runs in 3 1/3 innings to gain their first victory over Boston in nine tries this year. As lopsided as their series has been, the Yanks have been the better team since their early meetings thanks to the return of Alex Rodriguez and the revamping of their bullpen. They now lead the AL East by 3½ games, a swing of eight games in the standings since A-Rod's May 8 return, and they've won 28 out of their last 38.

3


Rays
60-48
5-1
.583
Up
Going Longo: Despite striking out four times, Evan Longoria hits a pair of homers against the Red Sox, one to tie the game in the eighth, the other to win it on a walkoff in the 13th. The blasts give the Rays the first of a pair of wins over the Sox, part of a strong week which helps the team rebound from a season-high 7½-game deficit in the AL East. Along the way, manager Joe Maddon shakes up the lineup, dropping B.J. Upton from the leadoff spot down to seventh. Upton's hitting just .244/.319/.371 overall, and his .317 OBP from the leadoff spot ranks just 12th out of 16 qualifiers.

4


Red Sox
62-45
3-3
.568
Down
In just his second game with the Red Sox, Victor Martinez makes himself at home with a huge day (6 1 5 4) in an 18-10 drubbing of the Orioles, a nearly four-hour epic in which the two teams combine to score in every inning, just the third time that's happened this year. The win keeps the Sox just a half-game behind the Yankees, but Clay Buchholz's ugly performance and the three losses that follow provide a sobering reminder of the pitching upgrades they bypassed at the deadline, as Buchholz, Brad Penny, and John Smoltz are torched for 24 hits, seven homers, and 20 runs in 13 1/3 innings. All three have Support-Neutral Winning Percentages well under .500.

5


Angels
64-42
4-2
.558
Up
Triple-Double: Kendry Morales' pair of three-run homers helps the Angels complete a three-game sweep of the Twins in which they score at least 10 runs in each game. The hammerin' Halos are scoring 7.1 runs per game since the break, enough to push them into the major league lead at 5.7 per game overall. Morales is hitting .333/.365/.758 with an AL-best eight homers in the second half, while Howie Kendrick is hitting .380/.421/.535 since returning from the minors a month ago.

6


Rockies
59-49
4-2
.553
Up
Road Warriors: While they can't hold onto the wild-card lead, the Rockies take to the trail and win five games in a row. They're 32-28 on the road, the NL's third-best record behind the Dodgers and Phillies. Troy Tulowitzki collects at least one hit and one run or RBI in those five games; he's hitting .328/.443/.641 since the All-Star break, but the team's real second-half heroes are on a pitching staff that's put up a 3.63 ERA and 3.0 K/BB ratio as the team's gone 12-8.

7


Phillies
61-45
3-3
.550
Flat
You Can't Have Too Much, Etc.: Cliff Lee takes a no-hitter into the sixth en route to a four-hitter in his Phillies debut, his third complete game in four starts. J.A. Happ one-ups him with a four-hit shutout in which he strikes out 10 but tosses 127 pitches. Initially slated to head to the bullpen once Pedro Martinez arrives, Happ is 8-2 with a 2.74 ERA, sixth in the league, and it's the three-time Cy Young winner who's working on his stretch move while he rehabs. Also eying a return to the bullpen is Brett Myers, and the Phils could use the help there; they're just 11th in the league in WXRL.

8


Rangers
60-47
3-4
.535
Down
Plenty of Guns, Not Enough Bullets: With four losses in five games, the Rangers fall 4½ behind the Angels in the AL West, their largest deficit of the season; they've lost nine games of ground to the Halos in eight weeks. That bad news is muted somewhat by the arrival of top pitching prospect Neftali Feliz, who whiffs four in two spotless innings in his debut while reaching triple digits on the gun. The news isn't as good for fellow überprospect Derek Holland; after last week's 118-pitch, 10-strikeout gem, he resumes his regularly-scheduled poundings.

9


Braves
55-54
3-4
.528
Down
Tough Day at the Office: Matt Diaz ties a franchise record by grounding into three double plays in one game, but he also homers to cap a four-run rally. The outburst backs Javy Vazquez, who's yielded three runs or less in seven of his last eight starts. Vazquez is quietly putting together a fine season, with a 2.99 ERA and the league's number two ranking in both strikeouts (164) and strikeout-to-walk-ratio (5.47); he's 11th in SNWP, one notch ahead of Jair Jurrjens.

10


Giants
60-48
4-2
.528
Up
Winners of eight out of 10, including three out of four against the Phillies, the Giants reclaim the Wild Card lead. Tim Lincecum helps the cause but falls an inning short of his second straight complete game and his third shutout of the year; he's pulled having thrown 117 pitches. Lincecum's 12 wins and 191 strikeouts lead the league, and he's second with a 2.18 ERA, but he's just seventh in Pitcher Abuse Points, a far cry from last year, when he was the runaway leader.

11


Cardinals
59-51
3-2
.525
Down
Ain't It Grand? Albert Pujols snaps an 0-for-13 skid with a four-hit, two-homer game which includes his fifth grand slam of the year, one shy of the single-season record shared by Don Mattingly (1987) and Travis Hafner (2006). The slam completes a come-from-behind victory which helps the Cards keep pace with the Cubs in the NL Central race. Also helping: Chris Carpenter's complete game win over the Astros; he's allowed just eight runs in his last 45 innings and now leads the league in ERA (2.10) and SNWP (.682).

12


Blue Jays
51-56
2-3
.523
Flat
What's Up, Doc? Roy Halladay is knocked around (9 10 5 4 0 5) by the Yankees in his first start following the trading deadline. He yields three late-inning homers, two of them back-to-back, just the second time in his 12-year major league career that's happened. It's also the second time in a row that he's surrendered a hat trick to the Yankees; he's allowed just eight in his other 19 starts. Elsewhere on the Jays' pitching staff, it's pronounced REH-ni-kee, as in Josh Roenicke, acquired in the Rolen deal; he's the son of former Orioles platoon hero Gary Roenicke. Weaver on Strategy remains on the syllabus, people!

13


Cubs
57-49
3-3
.521
Down
The Gorz Score: Liberated from Pittsburgh in a five-player deadline deal and added to the rotation in place of injured Ted Lilly, Tom Gorzelanny makes his first start of the year and stymies the Reds in seven strong innings (7 3 1 1 1 6). Pushed hard at the tail end of an otherwise successful 2007 for no good reason, Gorzelanny put up a 6.67 ERA last year, spending much of past 12 months bouncing between the Bucs' bullpen and their Triple-A affiliate before arriving as an after thought in the John Grabow deal. Though they're merely tied for first place, the Cubs are now an NL-best 14-6 since the All-Star break.

14


White Sox
56-53
4-2
.517
Up
Podzilla and the Slayer: Keyed by four Jayson Nix walks from the number nine spot (!), Scott Podsednik (5 2 3 4) and Gordon Beckham (6 1 2 4) enjoy big nights in a 14-4 rout of the Yankees that gives the Sox their first of three wins in a four-game series. Podsednik (.300/.355/.395) and Beckham (.309/.374/.495) have given the Sox offense a major shot in the arm since joining the team midseason. Prior to Beckham's debut on June 7, the team was averaging just 4.1 runs per game, since then, they're at 5.2, the league's third-highest rate.

15


Tigers
57-50
4-3
.510
Down
Burned: In his Tiger debut, Jarrod Washburn is scorched for six runs in 5 1/3 innings. That's his shortest outing since May 18, and double the amount of runs he'd yielded over his previous five starts; not for nothing is he second in the league in Support-Neutral Winning Percentage. Meanwhile, Rick Porcello gets off the schneid with eight innings of one-run ball, his first quality start in over seven weeks.

16


Twins
53-55
1-5
.501
Down
The Baker is Fine, But the Butcher and the Candlestick Maker...: An ugly week knocks the Twins back under .500 as they yield at least 10 runs to the Angels in each game of a three-game sweep. Their pitching has been a disaster lately, with a 6.10 ERA and just seven quality starts out of 18 since the All-Star break; both Nick Blackburn and Glen Perkins have second half ERAs above 9.00. On a brighter note, three of those seven quality starts are by Scott Baker, who's put up a 1.38 ERA in the second half while yielding just 0.7 homers per nine, compared to a 5.42 ERA and 1.6 homers per nine in the first.

17


Marlins
55-53
2-4
.496
Up
Have Stick, Will Travel: Acquired in one of the deadline's less heralded transactions, Nick Johnson somehow matches his oh-fers with the Marlins' wins and his hits with their losses. It's a surprising result in a microcosm, but in the bigger picture, his acquisition does more to enhance the Marlins' future winning percentage-adding 42 points, a byproduct of benching Emilio Bonifacio while shifting Jorge Cantu to third-than any other deadline move. Johnson's hitting .297/.414/.403, fifth in the league in OBP, not to mention healthy enough to top 100 games for the first time since 2006. Wrist woes have sapped his power, but for that, the team can turn to Josh "No Relation" Johnson, though his third homer of the year is offset by his allowing more than three runs for the first time since April 18, a span of 18 starts.

18


Diamondbacks
50-59
6-1
.495
Up
It's the Little Things: Yusmeiro Petit takes a no-hitter into the eighth before settling for a combined one-hitter. The outing extends Petit's scoreless streak to 14 innings, lowering his ERA from Boeing territory to 5.81. Alas, not all news of the Diamondbacks' rotation is as good; Daniel Cabrera finds another sucker, Doug Davis and Jon Garland are still here instead of fueling the rebuilding effort via trades for prospects, and Brandon Webb goes under the knife, placing his 2010 status in doubt.

19


Mariners
56-52
3-3
.491
Flat
Welcome Back, Sort Of: Adrian Beltre returns from a five-week absence but goes 0-for-5 with three strikeouts and a throwing error in a game the Mariners nonetheless win. He's hitting just .264/.294/.373, and his arrival sends Jack Hannahan back to the bench after the latter hit a surprising .263/.348/.404 in three weeks of regular duty. Alas, the M's now have five lineup spots with OBPs of .310 or less, a big reason why they're 13th in the league in EqA.

20


Mets
51-57
2-5
.477
Down
The Fork Has Spoken: The Mets' nightmarish 2009 season reaches the "done" stage, as news of another Jose Reyes setback spells the end of his year, likely relegating the pending returns of Carlos Beltran and Carlos Delgado to footnote status. Alas, Reyes isn't the only who's done; Jon Niese tears his hamstring from the bone and requires season-ending surgery. The Mets have already lost $31.3 million in salary to players on the disabled list, 39 percent more than the second-ranked Angels.

21


Indians
46-62
4-2
.470
Up
Man, Is This Awkward: Fausto Carmona, whose 7.42 ERA over his first 12 starts greased the skids for the the Lost Tribe's dismantling, replaces Cliff Lee in the rotation and walks more hitters than he strikes out for the seventh straight start (he later runs that streak to eight). His strikeout-to-walk ratio is the majors' second-worst among pitchers with at least 40 innings. A day later, the team hosts Victor Martinez Bobblehead Night having traded the real deal to the Red Sox just over 24 hours earlier. Classy, though it does beat the alternative, Tyner-esque fate.

22


Brewers
54-54
3-3
.468
Down
That's a Paddlin': After being hit by an apparently retaliatory pitch amid a 17-4 rout by the Dodgers, Prince Fielder charges the LA clubhouse in search of confrontation, not to mention a lighter wallet. Ryan Braun, on the other hand, lets his bat do the talking, collecting eight hits and six RBI as the team takes two out of three in Chavez Ravine; he's hitting .354/.393/.734 since the All-Star break, and his overall .319/.391/.569 line places him in the league's top 10 in all three triple-slash categories.

23


Athletics
47-61
4-3
.453
Flat
Rajai, Over and Out: Rajai Davis' two-run pinch triple caps a three-run bottom-of-the-ninth rally that give the A's their first of three wins over the Rangers in their four-game series. Davis is Oakland's hottest hitter these days, batting .356/.431/.556 with seven steals since the break while reasserting his hold on their center field job. The once-inert A's offense has shifted into gear during the second half, averaging 5.7 runs per game, but alas, they've scored only two more runs than they've allowed.

24


Astros
53-55
2-4
.453
Down
Nice Launch: In his first major league start, Bud Norris lives up to the tall order of filling in for Roy Oswalt by taking a no-hitter into the sixth, combining with three relievers on a three-hit shutout. The top upper-level pitching prospect in a decrepit system, he's a groundballer who put up a 2.62 ERA while whiffing 112 and yielding just six homers in 120 innings at Round Rock. Meanwhile, Wandy Rodriguez departs a start after four innings due to a hamstring strain, though it's believed he'll make his next start-a good thing for the Astros, since he's allowed just four runs in his last 42 frames and now ranks fifth in the league with a 2.63 ERA.

25


Orioles
45-63
1-6
.428
Down
Hatchlings: For the second week in a row, an injury in the rotation prompts the Orioles to recall a top pitching prospect. This time it's Brian Matusz filling in for Brad Bergesen after the latter takes a line drive off the shin; Matusz (The Tooz?) fares better in his debut (5 6 1 1 3 5) than Chris Tillman did. Bergesen, for his part, has been by far the Orioles' best starter, with a 3.43 ERA and a .560 SNWP, 15th in the league.

26


Pirates
45-63
2-5
.425
Down
The Young Bucs: With Freddie Sanchez traded to the Giants, Delwyn Young takes over second base, a position he last played regularly in the minors circa 2005, though he's spotted there since. He's hitting .293/.354/.408, though he's in the throes of a 2-for-23 slump. Elsewhere, rookie Andrew McCutchen homers three times in one game, part of a four-hit, six-RBI night. He's hitting .291/.349/.489 with a .299 EqA which ranks second on the team behind fellow rookie outfielder Garrett Jones' .340. Jones, for his part, has bopped 11 homers in just 129 PA.

27


Nationals
37-72
5-2
.413
Up
Zim Zammin': Despite sitting one game due to shoulder soreness, Ryan Zimmerman is on a tear, collecting 17 hits amid a 10-game hitting streak, five of them homers. He's hitting .356/.427/.781 with an MLB-high nine jacks since the All-Star break, the last coming amid a big day (4 3 4 3) which helps the Nats overcome an early six-run deficit en route to their season-high fifth straight win.

28


Reds
46-61
1-5
.411
Down
Young Pitchers Will Break Your Heart: Amid an eight-game losing streak that runs their record to 14-34 since June 10, Dusty Baker receives the vote of confidence from owner Bob Castellini. Injury joins that insult when the Reds learn that Edinson Volquez could miss at least a year due to the deluxe torn UCL combo platter. They'd better hope that Johnny Cueto's woes (8.20 ERA and 2.2 HR/9 over his last nine starts) are just fatigue instead of something worse.

29


Padres
45-65
4-3
.405
Up
Bunyanesque slugger Kyle Blanks homers in two of the Padres' three wins for the week. he's hitting .263/.400/.614 with six homers since the All-Star break, and he's not the only rookie generating excitement for the Pads as they play out the string. Everth Cabrera is hitting .286/.360/.506 with four triples since the break, while Matt Latos is now 3-1 with a 2.66 ERA through his first four major league starts.

30


Royals
42-66
2-5
.405
Down
Our Man Banny: Brian Bannister blanks the Rays for seven innings, striking out seven and providing the Royals their only win in an eight-game stretch. After a wretched 2008, Bannister's remade himself as a pitcher this year, using PITCHf/x to change his approach; he's striking out a career-high 5.8 per nine, generating grounders on 50 percent of batted balls, and lowering his homer rate by 79 percent relative to last year.


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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