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April 23, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Welcome Back

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Yankees
11-4
5-1
.684
Up
Philthy: Phil Hughes becomes the second Yankees pitcher this season to take a no-hitter into the eighth, but he's jinxed by a bum who stumbles into the wrong bar, fails to locate a comebacker, and settles for a 7 1 1 1 2 10 line. At least he emerges in one piece, unlike his last no-hit bid three (!) years ago. The Yanks' rotation is firing on nearly every cylinder, though Javier Vazquez's 8.27 ERA is nearly as high as the other four pitchers' marks added together (8.91). Meanwhile, the team's equivalent of Halley's Comet comes around, as they pull off their first triple play in 42 years.

2


Rays
12-4
6-1
.640
Up
Melvin and the Massacre: B.J. Upton's three-run homer off John Lackey helps the Rays take a four-game set in Fenway Park for the first time in fanchise history en route to a 9-1 road trip. The Rays outscore their hosts by a combined score of 24-9, holding them to one or two runs in three of the games. It's Bossman Junior's second homer of the series and fourth in a five-game span, an encouraging sign from a player who hit just 20 over the previous two seasons amid shoulder woes.

3


Twins
11-5
4-2
.604
Down
He's Baaaaack: Francisco Liriano throws 15 scoreless innings across a pair of combined shutouts against Boston and Cleveland, the first time he's put together back-to-back zeroes since July 2006, well before undergoing Tommy John surgery. Kevin Slowey (2.45 ERA, 8.3 K/9) is coming back strong as well, but it's the bullpen, where Jon Rauch is 6-for-6 in save opportunities and 2-for-2 in neck tattoos in place of Joe Nathan, that's lifting and separating them from the pack.

4


Athletics
10-7
3-3
.543
Down
Shorting Sheets: Though four starts, Ben Sheets' return to the majors has been a tad uneven. He's got a 2.74 ERA and has yielded just one homer, but his 12/13 K/BB ratio and 5.60 SIERA bespeak a case of the Granny Goodens. He hasn't been getting much run support (3.3 per game), but it's not like a team with a .247 TAv (10th in the league) is lavishing it elsewhere. Meanwhile, Dallas Braden wins the Conniption of the Week award.

5


Blue Jays
9-7
2-4
.524
Down
Flying Start: Vernon Wells powers the Blue Jays past the Royals with his seventh homer of the year, tied for the league lead and nearly halfway to last season's total of 15. He's hitting .339/.426/.797 and leading the league with a .397 True Average. Elsewhere in the lineup, Alex Gonzalez passes the halfway point to his 2009 homer total with his fifth; he's fourth in the league in dingers and seventh with a .627 SLG.

6


Tigers
9-7
3-4
.513
Down
Though they still rank third in the AL in True Average, the Tiger offense has been tame over the past week (3.7 runs per game). Don't blame Miguel Cabrera for that; he's got at least one extra base hit in seven of his past eight games (seven doubles and two homers) and is hitting .365/.452/.667 overall. Also sizzling is Austin Jackson (.308/.375/.431), though his 24 strikeouts lead the majors. Kid, that .488 BABIP ain't gonna last forever.

7


Mariners
9-7
5-1
.511
Up
Felix Hernandez scatters nine hits en route to a complete-game win over the Orioles, his 17th straight quality start dating back to last August 1. He's got a 2.15 ERA thus far and has walked just three over his last three starts, half as many as on opening day. Elsewhere in the rotation, Doug Fister takes a no-hitter into the seventh amid a streak of 15 scoreless innings, and Cliff Lee's five-game suspension is rescinded; he could return on May 2.

8


Rangers
6-9
1-5
.462
Down
Smoak Rising: Losers of six straight on a roadtrip from Hell, the Rangers are swept in the Bronx before blowing four-run leads on consecutive nights in Fenway, helping the Red Sox snap a skid of their own. The offense is sputtering to the tune of a .245 True Average, with leadoff hitter Julio Borbon failing at Tablesetting 101 (.146/.163/.188 without a walk, not to mention an utter inability to remember which side of the plate the salad fork goes on) and Chris Davis (.188/.264/.292, 32.1 K%) still suffering from contact woes. The latter's been farmed out, with top hitting prospect Justin Smoak-currently posting a .500 OBP in Triple-A-promoted.

9


Indians
7-8
4-2
.459
Up
Shin-Soo Choo's grand slam is his fourth homer in a seven-game span. Alas, while Choo's hitting .288/.431/.577 thus far, he's a one-car train in this offense, which is hitting a dead-on-the-tracks .222/.305/.351 with a .240 True Average, 12th in the league. The return of Russell Branyan could help, particularly given that Michael Brantley hit just .156/.229/.188 before being farmed out.

10


Angels
8-9
5-2
.452
Up
The Angels claw their way towards .500 via a five-game winning streak thanks to a strong turn through the rotation, which delivers a 1.21 ERA, 27 strikeouts and just one walk in 37 innings across the five starts. Alas, the streak comes to an end, not due to rotation failure but because of the continued brutality of their bullpen, which yields seven runs in eight frames during that span before Brian Fuentes blows the save in his first appearance since coming back from the DL, pushing the Halos to ninth in WXRL and inflating the unit's Fair Run Average to 6.16.

11


Red Sox
6-10
2-5
.451
Down
Ol' McDonald Off the Farm: Recalled from the minors earlier that day due to a stack of injuries, Darnell McDonald helps the Red Sox shake off a five-game losing streak by homering and collecting the game-winning hit in his first game, then adding another homer in his second. The 31-year-old journeyman, who once lost a race to a horse on a losing streak of its own, thus matches the number of homers he'd accumulated in his 156 career plate appearances. Alas, the offense has bigger issues than he can solve, with David Ortiz's 6-for-41, 17 strikeout showing the most troubling.

12


Royals
6-9
2-4
.440
Down
Off to a 1-for-9 start following a season-opening stint on the DL, with his job in jeopardy and even his last fan losing hope, Alex Gordon connects for a game-winning homer. And off a lefty to boot; he can't hit them (.217/.288/.365 from 2007-2009) to save his life. Elsewhere in the infield, Alberto Callaspo enjoys a two-homer, six-RBI day; he's hitting .288/.323/.475.

13


White Sox
5-11
1-5
.416
Down
Oh, But You Should See Their Baserunning: With five lossses in six games, the Sox tumble into the AL Central basement. Aside from John Danks, the rotation has been cuffed for a 6.85 ERA, while the offense is hitting an anemic .215/.300/.367 and proving the old adage you can't steal first base, Ozzie Guillen's plan to the contrary. The team may be 0.6 Equivalent Baserunning Runs above average, but given their .239 True Average, they're about 18 runs below average in terms of the entirety of their offense.

14


Orioles
2-14
1-5
.313
Flat
Very Trembley: The Orioles' slow start has their manager in a shaky situation, and things are going from bad to a whole lot worse in the injury department. They lose Felix Pie, their one hot hitter (.400/.450/.500), to the DL with a lat strain that could sideline him until July, and get news that Brian Roberts could be out until June due to his herniated disc. Further hampered by a hobbled Nolan Reimold (.167/.255/.310, Achilles) and a missing Miguel Tejada (groin strain), the O's are scraping out just 2.9 runs per game on .225/.285/.358 hitting.


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

Related Content:  The Streak,  Homer,  The Who,  Three Homer Game

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