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May 21, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

Bombs Away

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Rays
30-11
6-1
.678
Up
Breaking Out in the Bronx: Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton, and Ben Zobrist-whose slumps were featured in this space last week-go yard a total of four times (two by Peņa) for their first homers of the month to complete a two-game sweep of the Yankees in the Bronx. As the Rays attempt to shore up the offense by tossing Pat the Bat, their rotation continues to roll; their SNLVAR total is more than two wins ahead of the next-closest team, their 2.91 Fair Run Average is over a full run better than their next pursuer, and all five of their starters are in the top 25 in Support-Neutral Winning Percentage, led by Matt Garza, who ranks third at .660.

2


Yankees
25-16
3-4
.640
Down
Bad Penmanship: Even with Nick Johnson undergoing wrist surgery, Jorge Posada hitting the DL due to a hairline fracture, Nick Swisher dealing with a biceps strain, Curtis Granderson working his way back from a groin strain, and Derek Jeter suffering from excessive grounderitis, one can't blame the scrub-filled Yankees offense for struggling-even amid a 4-8 stretch, they're averaging 5.2 runs per game. On the other hand, their relief pitching has been so ghastly of late, with 20 runs allowed in their last five games (16 1/3 IP), that they now rank 11th in the league in WXRL. Joba Chamberlain yields seven of those runs across two outings, but the real shocker is Mariano Rivera surrendering a grand slam to Jason Kubel, just the fourth the closer has allowed in his 16-year career.

3


Blue Jays
25-18
5-2
.576
Up
Going Long Again: A 6-1 stretch has the Jays threatening to overtake the wounded Yankees for second place in the AL East, if not here. Ricky Romero shuts out the Rangers, while Jose Bautista homers twice and drives in five of the team's six runs. The outburst kicks off a five-homer week for Bautista; he's now got 12, only four off his career high. Meanwhile, Vernon Wells hits his 11th homer, and while Alex Gonzalez remains stuck on 10 since May 8, that still gives Toronto three of the top six on the leaderboard. The Jays are outhomering opponents by at least a 2-to-1 margin both at home (37/18) and on the road (29/14), but while they lead the league in slugging percentage (.459) they're 13th in OBP (.310).

4


Twins
24-17
2-5
.565
Down
Jason and Justin: Struggling Jason Kubel hits a stunning grand slam off Mariano Rivera to break the Twins' 12-game losing streak against the Yankees. Meanwhile, Justin Morneau homers three times in two days, including a pair against the Blue Jays. His .362/.477/.681 line has him in the AL lead in all three triple-slash categories, and his .389 True Average tops the circuit as well.

5


Tigers
24-17
4-2
.557
Up
Boesch Leaguer: A 5-2 stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox helps the Tigers take a share of the AL Central lead. Leading the way is 25-year-old rookie Brennan Boesch, who goes 13-for-27 with five extra-base hits in those seven games, coming up particularly big in a pair of one-run victories. Recalled to replace the injured Carlos Guillen, Boesch isn't exactly a prospect ("...a swing more hole-y than the Pope and a swing-at-anything approach less discriminating than Tila Tequila," says BP2010), but he's hacking at a .354/.365/.622 clip, and you aren't.

6


Red Sox
22-20
4-3
.532
Up
Papel-Bomb: The Sox continue to meander around the .500 mark as they survive a sloppy pair of games in the Bronx made a bit too exciting by Jonathan Papelbon. He surrenders a pair of two-run homers in the ninth inning to lose one night, then allows one run but strands the tying one 90 feet away the next. Papelbon's got a spotty history against the Yanks: a 4.59 ERA, five losses, and three blown saves in 33 1/3 career innings against them, compared to a 1.62 ERA, nine losses and 15 blown saves in 284 2/3 innings versus everyone else. That said, he's only allowed one earned run to non-Yankee opponents in 16 innings this year, and ranks ninth in the league in WXRL even with his pinstriped hiccups.

7


Rangers
24-18
4-3
.532
Down
The Clean-the-Plate Man: Fresh off the disabled list, Nelson Cruz bookends his week with a pair of four-RBI performances, the first in a wild and woolly 16-10 loss, the last in a 13-7 win in which he collects four hits. Along the way he collects five other RBI across three straight one-run wins, capped by a walkoff sacrifice fly. Among AL hitters with at least 100 PAs, Cruz leads the league in Others Batted In Percentage.

8


Athletics
20-22
2-5
.459
Down
Out in the Infield: The A's slip below .500 due to five straight losses against the Rangers and the Angels as their second place standing in the AL West begins to slip away. They score just five runs across those five games, part of a larger problem in which they're averaging just 3.2 runs per game this month, down from 4.4 in April. Their starting infield of Daric Barton, Adam Rosales (subbing for injured Mark Ellis), Cliff Pennington, and Kevin Kouzmanoff is hitting a combined .239/.305/.336 this month, but at least help is on the way. Ellis is on a rehab assignment, Kurt Suzuki is back in action, and Jack Cust is back from Sacto and getting on base at a .409 clip.

9


White Sox
16-24
2-4
.446
Flat
Danks for Nothing: The White Sox continue to founder on offense, but they're getting some decent starting pitching lately. Jake Peavy is riding a three-start streak in which he's yielded six runs in 22 1/3 innings, with a 22/2 K/BB ratio, Freddy Garcia is averaging six innings per start and working on a string of three consecutive qualilty starts, and John Danks has yet to yield more than three runs in any start. Alas, while Danks is fifth in the league with a .638 SNWP, the Sox have lost his last three starts, scoring just four runs.

10


Royals
17-25
5-2
.428
Up
The Most for Yost: Opinions on whether he's the right man for the job may be mixed-not to mention verbose-but the Ned Yost era kicks off in fine fashion, as Gil Meche rebounds from his 128-pitch ordeal with no ill effects and Jose Guillen snaps an 0-for-22 slump to collect two hits, including the go-ahead RBI single, giving the Royals their first win under their new skipper. The Royals rack up a handful of wins before the week is out, outscoring their opponents 39-23 for the week. Billy Butler and Mike Aviles lead the hitting spree; Butler's batting .337/.387/.485, while Aviles is hitting .375/.375/.531, with 17 hits in his last 10 games.

11


Mariners
15-26
2-5
.416
Flat
Worst M's Ever? Losers of 15 out of 18, the Mariners are now on pace not only to finish with a worse record than the 2008 model that cost Bill Bavasi his job, but to challenge the worst record in franchise history (56-104, 1978). In typical fashion, Cliff Lee tosses a gem against the Rays (8 5 2 2 1 10), but the Mariners give him only one run of support; they're wasting his 2.08 ERA and 25/1 K/BB ratio by averaging 2.25 rpg in his four starts. If there's good news, it's that Milton Bradley is back from two weeks of couseling, going 2-for-4 in his first game, and Ken Griffey Jr. finds some post-Napgate redemption with a game-winning pinch-hit to snap a five-game losing streak.

12


Angels
20-23
5-2
.405
Up
Double Zeroes: Joe Saunders and Joel Pineiro bookend a three-game sweep of the A's with a pair of four-hit shutouts. Both have been throwing the ball well lately. Pineiro's riding a scoreless streak of 17 1/3 innings, and has walked more than one hitter just once in his past seven starts; he now ranks 16th in the league with a .570 SNWP, while Saunders has yielded two earned runs across his last 22 1/3 IP.

13


Indians
15-24
2-5
.387
Down
Down-Sized: The Indians continue to lose ballgames and players, as both Grady Sizemore and Asdrubal Cabrera hit the disabled list. Sizemore's dealing with a deep bone bruise in his knee and may face surgery; at .211/.271/.289, he might easily be outhit by his fan club. Cabrera suffers a broken forearm that will send him under the knife and shelve him until the All-Star break; he's hitting a none-too-robust .287/.322/.368. Meanwhile, Kerry Wood is back from the DL and back in the closer role, though he blows his first save oppportunity in spectacular fashion, against the Royals no less.

14


Orioles
13-29
2-5
.364
Flat
The Atkins Diet: Adam Jones' continued struggles (.250/.275/.364) have him in a helmet-tossing mood, and who can blame him given the Orioles' offensive woes? They're second-to-last in the league in scoring (3.5 runs per game) and True Average (.245). With Garrett Atkins hitting a predictably awful .221/.261/.283-yeesh, who could have foreseen that $4.5 million as money poorly spent?-the team has Nolan Reimold working out at first base at Triple-A, though his 2-for-22 performance down there isn't exactly a recipe for instant offense.


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,  The Who,  A.J. Ellis,  Stretch Run

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