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June 10, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

NL: Tapping Into the V-Energy

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Padres
34-24
2-3
.590
Down
Gonzo Gets Going: The Padres surrender first place in the NL West for the first time since April 19 as Edward Mujica serves up an 11th-inning walkoff homer to Ike Davis. Their offense manages just 22 runs in the seven games since they dropped 18 on the Mets, but don't blame Adrian Gonzalez. He's hitting .400/.424/.900 with four homers since the calendar turned to June, with a walkoff grand slam and a solo shot to break up Cole Hamels' no-hit bid among them. Playing on the road has something to do with it; Gonzo has nine of his 13 homers (fifth in the league) on the road, where he's hitting .343/.410/.667, compared to .229/.374/.362 at Petco Park.

2


Cardinals
33-27
2-4
.583
Down
Mostly All 'Wright: After yielding just four runs in his previous four starts-including a two-hit shutout of the Brewers earlier in the week-Adam Wainwright is dusted for four by the Dodgers as the Cardinals are swept in L.A. for the first time since 1988. The two runs Wainwright allows in the first inning matches his year-to-date total in that initial frame. He still leads the league in strikeouts, is sixth in Support Neutral Winning Percentage (.660) and ninth in ERA (2.30). Improbably enough, rookie Jaime Garcia still outranks him in those latter two categories, running third with a .663 SNWP and second with a 1.47 ERA.

3


Braves
34-26
3-4
.571
Down
Lowe Point: The Braves hold onto first in the East despite losing four of six, as Derek Lowe continues to struggle. He's pounded by the Diamondbacks jugger-not, bumping his ERA back above 5.00 after a stretch of four quality starts out of five. Since signing his four-year, $60 million deal with the Braves in January 2009, Lowe has put up a 4.77 ERA, .462 SNWP and 1.6 K/BB ratio; during his four years in LA he was at 3.59 ERA, .539 SNWP and 2.6 K/BB. It's not all ballpark, either; Lowe's road ERA with the Braves is 5.94, compared to 4.03 with the Dodgers.

4


Giants
32-26
4-2
.561
Flat
Raising Cain: Tim Lincecum snaps out of his recent funk, but it's Matt Cain who's turning heads. Afterblanking the Reds for his second shutout in three starts, he's now allowed just one earned run over his last 36 innings, pushing him to sixth in the league in ERA (2.11) and fourth in SNWP (.662). Meanwhile, Madison Bumgarner appears to have been fixed in Fresno and Buster Posey finally gets to catch; he's raking (.450/.488/.625) since being recalled in late May, while Bengie Molina (.248/.310/.318) continues to compound Bruce Bochy's managerial malpractice.

5


Dodgers
36-24
5-2
.552
Up
V Energy: Winners of 28 out of their last 38, the Dodgers climb into first place in the NL West and claim the top record in the league. That they rank so low here is a product of their meager run differential (+14) and their 15-6 record in one-run games; they're 4.2 wins above their third-order projection. Nine of their last 10 victories have come via such nail-biters, five of them in their final at-bat, as everyone on the roster from A.J Ellis to Manny Ramirez gets into the act. Clearly they owe a debt to one Vladimir Shpunt, a pseudoscientific Russian "healer" paid by the McCourts "to help the team win by sending positive energy over great distances... his energy could increase the chance of winning by 10 percent to 15 percent." Look for third base coach Larry Bowa to give the Shpunt sign anytime the Dodgers are in a close game.

6


Rockies
30-29
2-4
.552
Down
Plenty of Zeroes to Go Around: Ubaldo Jimenez shuts out the Diamondbacks for seven innings to extend his scoreless streak to 33 innings before he stumbles in the eighth, allowing just his second homer of the year; nonetheless, he keeps his ERA under a buck (0.93). Elsewhere in the rotation, Jason Hammel tosses zeroes at the Astros for 7.1 frames. Rocked for a 7.52 ERA through his first six starts-a stretch that includes a trip to the DL for a groin strain-Hammel has allowed just three runs in his last three starts. His 3.76 SIERA suggests he's on the right track for further success.

7


Phillies
31-26
3-2
.550
Flat
Hammering Hamels: The Phils get back to the tedious business of scoring runs, plating more than five for the first time in 17 games, their longest such drought in 10 years. There's still plenty of frustration to go around, particularly with regards to Cole Hamels. After his start against the Braves is curtailed by rain after two outs and a three-run homer, he takes a no-hitter into the seventh before yielding back-to-back homers, breaking a scoreless tie on a day the Phils get just one run. Homers have been a problem for Hamels; his rate of allowing 1.6 per nine is third behind Ian Kennedy and Dan Haren.

8


Reds
34-26
3-3
.544
Flat
A Real Corker? The Reds survive a stretch in which they lose six out of nine to maintain a the NL Central lead. The offense hits a dry spell-or perhaps gets skittish about corking their bats like one Cincy icon-scoring two runs or less in four of those nine games, and above five runs just once. Still, their surprisingly robust 5.0 runs per game paces the Senior Circuit, and Scott Rolen is still mashing; his two-run pinch-homer sends the Reds into extra innings against the Nats before Drew Stubbs wins it. Rolen's 14 homers are second in the NL, his .613 SLG first. He's hitting .345/.404/.747 over the last four weeks, while Stubbs is at .313/.389/.566 in that span.

9


Mets
31-27
4-0
.519
Up
Towering Homers, Blowing Garbage: Ike Davis snaps a 3-for-29 slump with a 4-for-4 day, then hits a 444-foot 11th-inning walkoff homer two days later, giving the Mets their ninth straight win at home. The bipolarity of Mets fans must be a reflection of the team's home/road split; they're 23-9 at Citi Field, but just 8-18 elsewhere, fueling preposterous theories regarding lackluster attendance and blowing garbage, none of which specifically mention enduring an Oliver Perez start. Luckily, the Citi-zens won't have to  watch him pitch anytime soon.

10


Marlins
28-31
1-4
.503
Down
Wee Fishies: Losers of four in a row and 12 out of 18, the Marlins nonetheless get a tantalizing glimps of their future by recalling Mike Stanton from Double-A, where he'd hit a park-aided .311/.441/.726 with 21 homers thus far (.380/.519/.940/16 HR at home, .233/.343/.489/5 HR on the road). With all eyes on a more famous prospect's debut, Stanton goes 3-for-5 in his first game while minding his strike zone. At least for the moment, the Fish solve their outfield logjam by sitting Cameron Maybin, whose .225/.290/.341 line and 28 percent strikeout rate suggest a Triple-A refresher course may be in order.

11


Cubs
27-32
3-3
.496
Up
The Big Zzzzzz: Carlos Zambrano returns to the rotation after a six-week stint in the bullpen, getting roughed up by the Astros before trudging through five ugly innings against the Brewers to snap the team's 2-6 skid. The offense is the real culprit; prior to Wednesday night's nine-run outburst, The Cubs had scored just 3.4 runs per game since May 8 on .245/.305/.360 hitting, topping five runs just four times in 28 games while scoring two or less in 11 of those games. Perhaps their bounty of runs reflects the addition by subtraction of Aramis Ramirez, who hits the DL with a bruised thumb. That's about the only thing he's hit all year (.168/.232/.285.).

12


Nationals
29-31
3-3
.481
Flat
A Damn Good Start: Business as usual for the NatsŠ at least until Monday, when they tab Bryce Harper with the first pick of the amateur draft, announcing him as an outfielder instead of a catcher, which could speed his route to The Show (Johnny Bench approves). On Tuesday, they debut Stephen Strasburg, who lives up to the incredible hype by dazzling with a 14-strikeout, zero-walk performance against the Pirates in which he punches out the last seven hitters while showing off his filthy four-pitch arsenal. If there's concern, it's Strasburg's ability to pitch out of the stretch and to manage expectations. Still, it's time to believe the hype.

13


Brewers
24-35
2-4
.415
Down
Suppan Stupidity: Losers of seven out of 10, the Brewers mire themselves even further under .500, but they do finally separate themselves from Suppuratin' Jeff Suppan, whose 577 innings of 5.08 ERA ball over the last three years provided the team with -0.2 WARP for the cool price of $42 million, not that most other buyers of free agent pitching from that fateful winter of 2006-07 aren't feeling buyer's remorse. Partying like it's 2007, the Brewers resurrect two-time TJSer Chris Capuano for his first big-league appearance since then, but that doesn't go so well; remember, this is a team which ranks 15th in the league in SNLVAR, after ranking last in 2009. If only they had money to throw at the problem...

14


Diamondbacks
24-36
4-2
.401
Up
D-Train to the Desert: Ryan Roberts collects three RBI with a pair of pinch hits against the Rockies, giving the Diamondbacks a two-game winning streak to snap their 10-game slide. The first one is a ninth-inning walkoff single, the second backs Dontrelle Willis' D-back debut. He throws six somewhat shaky shutout innings, allowing five hits and four walks as the Rox go 0-for-10 against him with runners in scoring position. Arizona's rotation needs all the help it can get; the D-backs rank 14th in the league in SNLVAR.

15


Astros
24-36
5-2
.347
Up
Change of Fortune: Felipe Paulino subdues the Cubs to notch his first victory of the year in eight decisions as the Astros cap a four-game winning streak, tying their season high. Rocked for a 5.72 ERA through his first seven starts, Paulino has put up a 1.75 mark over his last five while going eight innings in each of his last three outings. The Astros have won seven of nine, but Roy Oswalt's on the schneid, having been rocked for 10 runs in 9.1 innings over his last two starts, breaking his string of 10 straight quality starts to begin the year.

16


Pirates
23-36
1-5
.315
Down
Here Come the Kids: The Pirates play the palookas, getting punched out 14 times in Stephen Strasburg's stellar debut. Hold the jokes as to what might happen if the phenom were facing a real major-league lineup; even such an epic flail rates as a one-in-a-million shot. For the Bucs, the future is undoubtedly better than the present; this year's draft crop gets high marks and Pedro Alvarez (.278/.368/.519 at Triple-A) is nearing promotion, while Jose Tabata and Brad Lincoln-their third- and sixth-best prospects coming into the year-get the call. Lincoln is rocked for five runs in six frames, but Tabata goes 2-for-4 with a walk and a steal.


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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