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May 10, 2011

Prospectus Hit List

Beasts of the East

by Tommy Bennett

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

1


Phillies
23-11
5-2
.619
Flat

Party's Over: The Phillies finish a nine-game stretch at home and embark on a 20-game slate against teams with winning records. They benefit from hot weeks from Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino (23 May hits between them), who present a formidable combo atop the batting order. Meanwhile, Chase Utley could return in 10 days and Domonic Brown blazes his way back to the majors. With Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt also coming back, the Phillies have a chance to show their full strength against tough opponents.

2


Braves
20-16
5-1
.600
Up
Not Just the Capital of Iran: The Braves take two out of three from the Phillies on the road, demonstrating again how pitching is their greatest strength. Julio Teheran's debut (4.2 4 3 3 2 1) is no cakewalk, but Derek Lowe (6.0 2 0 0 1 4) and Jair Jurrjens (6.1 8 1 1 1 2) get the job done—that's two middle-of-the-rotation guys with crooked K/BB numbers (2.93 and 3.33, respectively). The bats remain the weakness, as Jason Heyward (.105/.227/.158) and Chipper Jones (.227/.227/.318) fail to produce. Close games breed heavy bullpen activity, but good luck figuring out Fredi Gonzalez's usage patterns.

3


Cardinals
20-15
4-2
.577
Up
Animals on Vacation: Big Puma cools off with a two-hit, six-walk week that drops his batting average all the way to .374. Albert Pujols keeps doing his best Buck impersonation—John Buck, that is (.248/.322/.421 on the year). But Jaime Garcia (9.0 2 0 0 1 8), Kyle McClellan (13.0 10 5 5 5 5), and Kyle Lohse (14.0 12 6 6 5 5) wait in the tall grass for their prey. GM John Mozeliak says the closer situation is "snake-bitten," but replacements Eduardo Sanchez and Fernando Salas have performed ferociously in place of Ryan Franklin. Meanwhile, the team will be without third baseman David Freese for two months following hand surgery.

4


Marlins
20-14
2-5
.545
Down
Weak In, Weak Out: The Marlins lose a series to the Nationals at home and score a combined four runs in the two losses. Josh Johnson (7.1 8 5 5 4 7) has his worst start of the year, while Javier Vazquez continues to be a complete disaster (4.1 9 6 5 1 0). Hanley Ramirez's struggles continue: he has the 17th worst True Average (.209) among players with at least 80 PAs. The Marlins do get a strong week from Gaby Sanchez (now batting .328/.414/.512 on the year with 5 HR), and Greg Dobbs continues to set the world on fire (.359/.411/.500 on the year) despite trouble with his ankle.

5


Giants
18-16
5-1
.523
Up
Heating Up: The Giants bounce back from a 3-8 stretch to go 5-1 on the week and bring themselves within a game of first place. Brian Wilson (two wins and three saves on the week) continues to be a boon for gif-makers the world over. Tim Lincecum—whose velocity is closer to '08 levels than '10 levels—puts on a clinic at Citi Field (7.0 5 0 0 3 12). Jonathan Sanchez's control begins to catch up to him (5.0 5 5 5 6 6); his 3.55 ERA belies his 6.2 BB/9.

6


Reds
19-16
5-2
.517
Up
Six or More: Two series against the Astros in 10 days give the Reds the boost they need, and they take two out of three from the Cubs in between. Johnny Cueto's return from biceps injury (6.0 5 0 0 1 4) is a beauty and follows strong starts from Bronson Arroyo (7.1 7 1 1 2 3) and Homer Bailey (6.0 4 1 1 1 7). Travis Wood chips in his own gem (6.2 6 0 0 1 6); he even helps his own cause with a three-run home run. For a team scoring over five runs per game, that's plenty of pitching. Joey Votto ranks fifth in the majors in TAv, but gets the day off after ending a streak in which he reached base in 33 consecutive games.

7


Rockies
19-14
2-5
.516
Down
Why Are All the Runs Gone? A week in which the Rockies score a total of 18 runs drops their R/G by a half-run. Despite six out of seven games at Coors, the Rockies manage to be outscored by only four runs. A pair of quality starts from Jhoulys Chacin, who struggles with walks but racks up ground balls (60.6%), picks up some slack, and Jason Hammel (7.0 4 0 0 3 4) continues a strong season. Ubaldo Jimenez finally goes seven innings, but his 5.5 BB/9 remains the highest mark of his career. Carlos Gonzalez says he still doesn't feel comfortable at the plate and Ian Stewart is now "hitting" .068—the latter may soon be due for another stint in Triple-A.

8


Brewers
15-20
2-5
.466
Down
Fruits of a Trade: Help arrives when it is most needed. Zack Greinke's second start goes much better (6.0 5 2 2 0 9) than the first, as he beats Mat Latos and the Padres. Meanwhile, the seemingly worthless asset in the Greinke trade turns a jaw-dropping double play. In a week that saw two no-hitters, Yovani Gallardo takes one of his own into the eighth (8.0 1 0 0 4 6). Still, the Brewers score just 13 runs all week and drop five out of seven, including the conclusion of a four-game sweep in Atlanta.

9


Diamondbacks
15-18
3-3
.455
Up
Back and Forth Forever: The Snakes trade wins and losses with the Rockies and Padres, effectively holding serve three games below .500. Such is the fate of a team that runs Barry Enright out there every fifth game (5.0 6 6 6 4 1) and relies on Joe Saunders to eat innings (6.0 5 4 4 3 3). Daniel Hudson is the highlight (7.0 5 0 0 0 6). The rotation troubles cause the front office to shift soft-tosser Josh Collmenter to the rotation. Justin Upton hits his seventh home run of the year a long way, but Ryan Roberts (3-20, 0 XBH) and Kelly Johnson (3-17, 1 XBH) look desperately overmatched at the plate.

10


Mets
15-20
3-4
.450
Up
Corrections: A run-of-the-mill R.A. Dickey quote about naming bats after 8th century Old English epics leads to an all-time newspaper correction. Dickey, for his part, has a slight correction of his own (7.0 10 4 3 2 3) against the anemic Dodgers offense. Jason Pridie has filled in well in the absence of Angel Pagan (whose status remains uncertain), hitting a robust .279/.340/.558 on the year. Carlos Beltran (5) and Jose Reyes (6) each chip in a bunch of XBH on the week to help the Mets improve slightly. With strong defensive plays like this, the Mets won't have to regret the error.

11


Pirates
18-17
4-2
.445
Up
What Do We Do Now?: Winners of six of their last eight, the Pirates pull above .500 at the latest point in the season since 2004. The team gets tremendous performances from Charlie Morton (7.2 7 1 1 1 5) and Paul Maholm (7.0 5 1 1 3 4 with 15 ground balls). Garrett Jones and Ryan Doumit lead the way in May, reaching base 20 times in 42 PA between them. The bullpen looks shaky as the team blows three out of five save opportunities on the week. Don't blame the recently called up Daniel Moskos: his first two appearances are perfect.

12


Cubs
15-18
3-2
.433
Up
The Garza Mystery: Matt Garza strikes out another seven batters (6.0 6 5 5 2 7) without posting a quality start, but he gives up his first home run of the season. Garza leads the majors in K/9 and is second in the NL in strikeouts despite an unseemly 4.43 ERA. Carlos Zambrano pitches a beauty (8.0 5 1 1 1 4) against former rotationmate Ted Lilly, and Ryan Dempster appears to have turned a corner (7.0 5 2 2 0 4) after a brutal start to the year. More mysterious still is Alfonso Soriano's batting line: at .250/.273/.569, he sports a TB/BB ratio that'll raise an eyebrow or two. Carlos Pena appears to have solved his mystery, as he hits three home runs on the week.

13


Padres
14-21
3-3
.429
Flat
The Long Walk out of the Cellar: When you're 12-18, as the Padres were last week, an even split can be pleasant. The team continues to draw walks at a healthy clip—the week includes a 10-walk effort punctuated by a four-walk night from Chase Headley, who has nearly as many walks (21) as strikeouts (23). As it happens, the team gets shut out on a night when it fails to draw a walk, demonstrating how limited its other offensive weapons are. An ugly outing from Mat Latos (5.2 7 4 4 2 4) is unlikely to reassure doubters that he will regain his 2010 form any time soon.

14


Dodgers
16-20
1-5
.423
Down
You Be the Ump: Dodgers fans are convinced they are robbed in the midst of a comeback against the Pirates. The incident adds insult to injury, as the Dodgers score just 15 runs all week. Averaging 3.6 runs per game is no way to run an offense, and the main culprits are pretty much everyone except Andre Ethier, whose 30-game hitting streak finally comes to an end. Batting Jamey Carroll and Aaron Miles one-two in the lineup certainly doesn't help things.

15


Nationals
16-18
2-4
.420
Down
First You Crawl: Swept in Philadelphia only to turn around and take two of three from the Marlins, the Nationals continue to hang tough on the outskirts of .500. Don't expect it to last: reading across their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd order winning percentages is like rolling down a gently sloping hill; the last is a measly .409. You have to walk before you can run, which is exactly what the rehabbing Ryan Zimmerman is doing now. Without him, the Nats are just a string of miserable Jason Marquis starts (5.0 10 7 6 2 2).

16


Astros
13-22
2-5
.354
Down
No Relief in Sight: "Astros spend all their runs on Tuesday, have none left for rest of week," the headline reads. Astros relievers now sport a 5.40 ERA and allow an OPS (.802)  more than 100 points higher than the NL average (.701). One bright spot is Hunter Pence, as his six XBH this week lead the team.


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.

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