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May 3, 2011

Prospectus Hit List

Where Were You

by Jay Jaffe

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

1


Phillies
18-9
3-2
.617
Up

On the Whole, I'd Rather Be in Philadelphia: Citizens Bank Park plays host to a stirring scene when the news of Osama Bin Laden's death at the hands of U.S. Special Forces breaks during their Sunday night game against the Mets. The Phillies lose the game in extra innings, but their fans acquit themselves well, for a change. Despite the loss, the team is rolling; their rotation's 4.3 K/BB ratio is nearly double that of the remaining NL starter field (2.2), and both Placido Polanco and Ryan Howard now own franchise records for the month of April. The former collects 39 hits and is now batting .385/.433/.505, while the latter homers three times in two days (including a grand slam) to total 27 RBI for the month.

2


Marlins
18-9
4-2
.585
Down
Walk 360 Feet in Another Man's Shoes: A bizarre body swap experiment must be afoot in Florida, where Emilio Bonifacio is hitting a robust .329/.380/.466, while Hanley Ramirez slips below the Mendoza Line at .191/.290/.277. Both players go yard for the first time this year amid a five-homer onslaught which helps the Marlins take the rubber match of their series with the Reds. They're now tied for first place in the NL East, haven't lost more than two games in a row all season, and are 15-0 in games in which they hit at least one homer. Bonifacio's dinger is his second 1000 major league plate appearances, while Ramirez's dinger ends the second-longest drought of his career, 31 games dating back to last September. Oddly, nobody's made the link between this season's slow start and the elbow soreness that cut his 2010 short.

3


Cardinals
16-13
4-3
.566
Down
If At Third…: Injuries to both David Freese and Nick Punto force Albert Pujols to man the hot corner for the first time since 2002. Freese is out 6-8 weeks due to a hand fracture, a blow considering he is hitting .356/.394/.471. Pujols continues to sputter at .241/.310/.438, but Lance Berkman (.406/.467/.781) is picking up the slack, enjoying his MLB-high third multi-homer game of the young season en route to his second NL Player of the Week award.

4


Braves
15-15
4-2
.554
Up
Misery Loves Company: It's a terrible week for the Braves off the field, as pitching coach Roger McDowell earns a two-week suspension for a confrontation with fans which allegedly includes homophobic slurs as well as the ridiculous assertion that "Kids don't ******* belong at a baseball park." Derek Lowe is arrested for a DUI sustained while he was allegedly racing in the streets (what would Springsteen think?). In a world where Ozzie Guillen is suspended two games for Twittering during a game, Lowe is nonetheless allowed to take the mound for the Braves; he pitches poorly, but the team comes from behind to beat the Cardinals. Alas, the Braves still can't climb above .500 despite the league's stingiest pitching staff (3.27 runs per game) and an offense eking out 4.07 runs per game despite hitting just .230/.302/.378.

5


Rockies
17-9
2-2
.554
Down
Dealing Without An Ace: Ubaldo Jimenez is knocked around by the Pirates, yielding 10 baserunners in four innings before being chased. Carrying a 7.20 ERA and walking 5.0 per nine, he has yet to put up a quality start in four attempts, all Colorado losses. The Rox are 17-5 behind the rest of their rotation, which features three pitchers—Jorge de la Rosa, Jhoulys Chacin, and Jason Hammell—with ERAs of 3.23 or lower, led by de la Rosa, who's ninth in the league at 2.61.

6


Brewers
13-15
2-4
.511
Down
Sluggers Will Slug: Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder hit back-to-back homers against the Astros' Brett Myers, with the latter's shot traveling an MLB season-high 486 feet. Braun is hitting .352/.446/.686 with 10 homers, the last five of them in a seven-game span, while Fielder is hitting .318/.402/.589, having doubled his season output with three homers in four games. While the Brewers continue to sputter along—losing 10 out of 16 despite zero run differential—things are looking up with Corey Hart now back in the lineup and Zack Greinke scheduled to make his Brewers debut on Wednesday.

7


Reds
14-14
2-3
.509
Down
Crushin' It: Drew Stubbs' 10th-inning homer lifts the Reds past the Brewers in the rubber match of a three-game set. Stubbs is hitting .266/.350/.440 with 10 steals in 11 attempts, stabilizing the leadoff slot, long a sore spot under Dusty Baker. Also homering in that game and driving in four runs is Joey Votto, who's batting .357/.492/.602 while leading the league in walks (26) and runs (24), the latter in large part because the man behind him, Brandon Phillips, is hitting a pretty terrific .351/.407/.546. The Reds are second in the league in scoring at 5.25 runs per game, but while they've outscored opponents by 17 runs, their record is level at .500.

8


Giants
13-15
3-4
.499
Down
Big Trouble in Little China: Losers of eight out of 11—including a four-game sweep by the Nationals—while scoring just 2.09 runs per game, the Giants' offense is in for even more struggle, as they lose Kung Fu Panda Pablo Sandoval for 4-6 weeks due to a broken hamate which will require surgery. The slimmer Sandoval had rebounded nicely from last year's debacle; his .313/.374/.530 line leads the team in all three categories, the first two by about 30 points, the last one by a whopping 80. Aubrey Huff is hitting a bare .190/.257/.290, Miguel Tejada is batting .211/.245/.95, and Cody Ross is at .189/.211/.189 since returning from the disabled list and exiling Brandon Belt to Fresno, where he is hitting .517/.622/.862 while learning to play the outfield.

9


Dodgers
15-15
3-3
.453
Up
Always With the Drama: Andre Ethier is halfway to DiMaggio with a 28-game hitting streak, batting .374/.442/.539, but that only takes you so far when your lineup is more than half full of sub-.300 OBP hitters, including Aaron Miles and Tony Gwynn Jr., who combined to lead off seven times in an eight-game span and both wind up batting in front of Ethier in the least surprising shutout of the season. The atrocious lineup—caused in part due to injuries to Rafael Furcal and now Casey Blake—provides a minor distraction from the drama over Jonathan Broxton's status as closer, to say nothing of the latest in the ownership saga, which sees embattled Frank McCourt come to New York to plead his case to MLB and the public the same time that trustee Tom Schieffer is introduced in Los Angeles.

10


Nationals
14-14
4-3
.450
Up
El Busted? Livan Hernandez throws eight strong innings against the Mets for his fourth quality start out of six, a performance which comes a day after the 36-year-old hurler is named as the subject of a federal investigation involving money laundering for a convicted Puerto Rican drug trafficker; a collection of luxury cars allegedly belonging to one "El Buster" is registered in Hernandez's name. Meanwhile, the team finds out Ryan Zimmerman, who hasn't played since April 9, will miss another six weeks due to a sports hernia, leaving third base in the hands of Jerry Hairston Jr. (.193/.292/.263) and Alex Cora (.175/.233/.225), a pair who couldn't get arrested with a bat in their hands.

11


Diamondbacks
12-15
3-3
.443
Up
Hey Little Brother: Stephen Drew's grand slam off Ryan Dempster keys a seven-run first inning against the Cubs. It's just Drew's second homer of the season, but he is hitting .306/.372/.506, numbers which outdo older brother J.D. Drew (.257/.373/.371). Putting up even stronger numbers is journeyman Ryan Roberts, who's hitting .328/.430/.642 after homering twice on the week; with six homers, he is already one shy of his career high, and he appears to have seized the starting third base job for the time being.

12


Mets
12-16
3-3
.432
Flat
Ups and Downs: Coming back from a PED suspension and anemia, Ronny Paulino collects five hits including a go-ahead double in his first start for the Mets, a 14-inning win over the Phillies that will be remembered for the crowd reaction to Osama bin Laden's death. The win snaps a three-game losing streak, which itself erased the high of the six-game wining streak that preceded it. Amid that skid, Mike Pelfrey comes back to earth; on the heels of his first quality start of the year, he departs before completing five innings for the third time in six starts. His homer rate has doubled over last year, his walk rate is up 40 percent, and he is being shelled for a .371 BABIP.

13


Padres
11-18
2-4
.428
Down
Hitless Wonders: After scoring just 12 runs in their previous eight games while going 1-7, the Padres match that total during back-to-back wins over the Dodgers. This offense would embarrass a Deadball Era team, last in the NL at 3.0 runs per game as well as all three slash stats (.213/.294/.308). Three of the team's four cornermen—Brad Hawpe, Ryan Ludwick, and Will Venable—were batting below .200 prior to Monday, and four of the team's eight regulars are slugging .301 or less, with Hawpe's .173/.213/.227 eligible for federal disaster relief funds even after his two-run single doubles his season RBI total and extends his hitting streak to five games.

14


Pirates
14-15
4-3
.420
Up
X-Dodger Factor: James McDonald outduels Madison Bumgarner by tossing six shutout innings against the Giants, lowering his ERA from double digits after consecutive disaster starts. Even in victory, McDonald is having a hard time finding the strike zone; his four walks and three strikeouts in the effort give him a 15/16 K/BB ratio for the season. Meanwhile, fellow ex-Dodger Xavier Paul hits a two-run triple off Ubaldo Jimenez in his first start to key a win over the Rockies. With Pedro Alvarez hitting a bare .206/.274/.278, is it bad form to point out that Andy LaRoche's .341/.400/.463 in part-time duty with Oakland?

15


Cubs
12-16
2-4
.406
Down
Falling Short: Carlos Peña winds up inches shy of a go-ahead ninth-inning homer as the Cubs fall to the Diamondbacks. Peña can't catch a break thus far; he is in the midst of a 2-for-29 slump and is now hitting .157/.286/.171 with just one extra base hit in 85 plate appearances. Alfonso Soriano's having no trouble getting over the fence, as he leads the majors with 11 homers, but he is hitting a lopsided .267/.286/.634 with three walks in 105 PA. Despite ranking in the top six in all three slash categories, the Cubs are 11th in the league in scoring at 3.96 runs per game, 0.27 below league average.

16


Astros
11-17
3-3
.359
Up
The Horse and the Walrus (Plus the Puma): In the space of a full inning, Carlos Lee hits a three-run homer and collides with shortstop Angel Sanchez, requiring him to be carted off the field and hospitalized due to bruised ribs. The homer snaps Lee out of a 3-for-29 slump, but he is hitting just .207/.248/.360. More productive is Brett Wallace, whose 15-for-23 tear across six consecutive multi-hit games—three of them against the Cardinals, in a changing-of-the-guard moment opposite Lance Berkman—helps push his line to .382/.450/.517. Speaking of Berkman, team radio announcer Milo Hamilton trashes the former Astros slugger over conditioning and commitment issues. Classy.


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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