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June 18, 2010

Prospectus Hit List

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Yankees
41-25
4-2
.635
Flat
Be Bop Posada Hey: Jorge Posada slams the 'Stros in back-to-back wins as the Yankees roll to a 12-4 record against the pillow-soft portion of their schedule, helping them capture a share of first place in the AL East for the first time since April 21. Limited mostly to DH duty since returning from the DL-he can't catch back-to-back days yet-Posada is nonetheless hitting .290/.400/.557. His blasts help offset the absence of Alex Rodriguez, who misses a week due to a hip flexor strain and then is limited to DH duty himself, squeezing Posada out of the lineup.

2


Rays
41-25
2-4
.612
Down
Hot in the Middle: Sean Rodriguez collects six extra-base hits over a six-game span en route to a 15-game hitting streak, tied for the third-longest in the league this year. In the absence of Jason Bartlett (DLed with a hamstring strain) Rodriguez and Reid Brignac combine to hit .357/.394/.541. While manager Joe Maddon plans to ease Bartlet into full-time duty now that he's back, both Brignac (.279) and Rodriguez (.272) have True Averages at least 30 points higher than he does (.242). Did somebody say "Wally Pipp"?

3


Red Sox
40-28
5-1
.588
Up
Still Stackin': With Jacoby Ellsbury and Jeremy Hermida both out due to fractured ribs sustained via collisions with human tornado Adrian Beltre, the Sox turn to 27-year-old indie-league journeyman Daniel Nava. He crushes a grand slam on the first pitch he faces, joining Hermida as one of four players to go grand in his first at-bat, and one of two (Kevin Kouzmanoff being the other) to do so on his first pitch. Despite their injuries, the Sox are 20-8 over the past month, and just two games out of the AL East lead, the closest they've been since April 14.

4


Twins
38-28
3-3
.575
Down
The Young and the Useful: Don't look now, but Delmon Young's got a .292 True Average, 19 points higher than the average left fielder. The 24-year-old (!) has been swinging the bat well (.326/.354/.554 since May 1) while doing a much better job of not swinging the bat as well; he's already surpassed last season's walk total, and his 6.1 UIBB% represents a career high, nearly doubling his 2006-2009 rate (3.5%). Elsewhere in the lineup, rookie Danny Valencia (who's 25) is asserting his claim on the third base job via a .351/.385/.378 line through his first 39 PA.

5


Rangers
38-28
5-1
.558
Up
Thinning the Herd: Winners of eight out of nine by a combined score of 59-26, the Rangers reopen their lead in the AL West. While their starters deliver a 3.33 ERA in that span, their ranks are thinned by two during that span. Rich Harden strains a glute; with a 5.68 ERA, 6.0 BB/9, 1.9 HR/9 and .389 SNWP, he's been a pain in one as well. Tommy Hunter departs with a hip flexor strain just two innings into his third start of the season; he'd replaced Derek Holland, who's rehabbing a shoulder strain. The Rangers do have rotation depth, but they rank just 10th in the league in SNLVAR.

6


Tigers
36-29
6-0
.551
Up
Big Mig and Friends: Miguel Cabrera takes over the major-league lead with his 19th homer, a three-run jack which helps the Tigers sweep the Bucs en route to a six-game winning streak. Cabrera has hit 11 homers in his past 23 games while batting .326/.384/.753; he leads the league in SLG (.647) and is fourth in OBP (.411) and TAv (.343). Sizzling months from Brennan Boesch (.386/.453/.719) and Magglio Ordonez (.412/.444/.647) allow them to horn in on Cabrera's rankings racket with .337 and .319 marks while Carlos Guillen joins an exclusive club.

7


Blue Jays
36-31
2-4
.546
Down
Soar No More? The formerly high-flying Jays offense has become decidedly earthbound this month, scoring 3.3 runs per game on .223/.300/382 hitting as the team has gone 5-9. After setting a career high by hitting 18 homers in the Blue Jays' first 56 games, Jose Bautista wakes up and remembers he's Jose Freakin' Bautista, a trauma which knocks him into a 2-for-36 slump and costs him the league lead in round-trippers. Meanwhile, Adam Lind continues to stink up Canada; he's 6-for-46 in June, and batting .161/.219/.277 since May 1.

8


Athletics
33-35
1-5
.487
Down
Doin' It Soccer Style? The A's trade a minor-league reliever to the Diamondbacks for struggling Conor Jackson (.238/.326/.331), a head scratcher given their glut of first basemen (Daric Barton, Chris Carter) and the short-term availability of Jack Cust for left field needs amid interleague play. Indeed, the question as to whether futbol enthusiast Billy Beane is even paying attention these days has been raised, what with team TAv leader Barton's league-leading nine sac bunts (!), Bob Geren's tactical disasters and the GM's signing of Lionel Messi to be a designated pinch-runner. To be fair, one of those things isn't happening, but neither is this team, as a 5-11 month has knocked them out of first place and under .500.

9


Angels
37-32
4-2
.479
Up
Digging Deep: Winners of 16 of 22, the Halos have climbed above .500 and into second place in the AL West, but their infield depth is being tested. Already without Kendry Morales for the remainder of the season, they lose red-hot Erick Aybar (.382/.414/.509 in June) to a hyperextended knee via a hard takeout slide. Brandon Wood has been recalled from Triple-A to play shortstop for the first time all season despite hitting just .196/.241/.255 on the farm, but thankfully, Kevin Frandsen has been en fuego (.368/.400/.456) since joining the club in mid-May, working the infield corners in the wake of all this upheaval.

10


White Sox
31-34
5-1
.476
Up
Turnarounds? The White Sox edge toward .500 while winning seven of eight, and they get some small but encouraging signs from struggling players. Gordon Beckham enjoys a big day against the Pirates; though he's hitting an anemic .208/.283/.264, he laces five doubles in an eight-game span, more than doubling his season total. On the hill, Gavin Floyd tosses 6 2/3 no-hit innings on a night where Ted Lilly is even better. Floyd has yielded just two runs in 14 frames, lowering his ERA a full run, to 5.64, but the Sox have given him just three runs of support, losing both. Jake Peavy has also got two strong starts in a row to lower his ERA to 5.62, but he'll be pushed back in the rotation due to a sore shoulder.

11


Royals
29-38
4-2
.454
Up
Double Threat: David DeJesus and Billy Butler combine for seven hits (five for extra bases), five runs, and five RBI in a game against the Reds, and each collects 10 hits in overlapping three-game spans against Cincy and Houston. The two players are now 13th and 14th in the league in True Average at .310 and .308, respectively. DeJesus (.329/.403/.488 overall) is hitting a searing .472/.517/.623 this month and now ranks in the league's top 10 in both batting average and OBP. Butler (.336/.390/.486) is sixth in batting average, but he's already grounded into 19 double plays, putting him on pace for 46, which would shatter Jim Rice's single-season record of 36.

12


Mariners
25-41
2-4
.403
Down
See Ya, Ian As the Cliff Lee rumors swirl, the Mariners cut bait on Ian Snell. Acquired last summer in a seven-player deal with the Pirates, Snell's 6.41 ERA and .404 SNWP weren't cutting it even in a rotation that's been the least of the team's problems. Snell needs a GPS to find the strike zone; he put up a 63/64 K/BB ratio in his two partial seasons with the M's. Alas, the move still leaves the team with one struggling starter in Ryan Rowland-Smith, who's got a 6.63 ERA and hasn't had a quality start since April 17.

13


Indians
25-40
2-4
.400
Up
Haf Time, Part Time: Travis Hafner clubs four homers in a six-game span, matching the number he'd hit during his first 49 games of the season. He's hitting just .254/.367/.431, but he'll have to cool his heels during the Tribe's nine-game interleague road trip, as his shoulder injury makes playing first base out of the question. Perhaps new catcher Carlos Santana can provide some of the missing punch. The team's top prospect coming into the year-eighth on our list overall-lashes a solo homer and a two-run double in his second big-league game; he's hitting .273/.385/.545 through his first six games.

14


Orioles
18-48
1-5
.318
Down
If At First... The O's court Bobby Valentine, Buck Showalter, and Eric Wedge for their managerial vacancy, and while interim skipper Juan Samuel isn't exactly off to a flying start (3-9), he's at least getting the hang of one aspect. He's given the desiccated remains of Garrett Atkins (.219/.282/.292) just 17 PA this month and is ready to force the issue of his continued presence on the roster. That's put Ty Wigginton at first base more often than not, but his bat is dragging (.220/.322/.260 this month), while Julio Lugo has been downright awful at second (.227/.267/.227), with Brian Roberts some six weeks away from a return. It might help the cause if potential first-base solution Nolan Reimold wasn't hitting .172/.252/.280 and fielding .895 at the position at Triple-A, but you don't reel off 13 straight losing seasons by having ready-made answers to every problem.


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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