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September 5, 2008

Prospectus Hit List

Bearing Down

by Marc Normandin

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

1


Red Sox
82-57
5-1
.618
Up
The Indians 455 straight sellouts streak was impressive, but given the voracious tendencies of the Red Sox faithful, it's going to be left miles behind. Despite the injury issues lately-the team's DL was eight deep before Josh Beckett was removed for tonight's start-they went 5-1 on the week, mostly thanks to Dustin Pedroia's .680/.700/1.080 line that's straight out of a video game.

2


Cubs
85-55
1-5
.609
Down
The Cubs had a rough week, as they started off with a win and then lost five straight, backing themselves into a three-way tie for the best record in the majors. Blame a punchless offense for the poor showing, as everyone except for Mark DeRosa (.300/.391/.450) and Geovany Soto (.476/.476/.667) crashed and burned. To make things worse, Carlos Zambrano's arm could be in trouble.

3


Rays
85-53
4-2
.596
Up
The Rays clinched their first-ever winning season on Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles, and it was a long time coming for this franchise. It should be no surprise given their historical lack of success that the organization's win-percentage is .416, worst among active teams; the next few years should see improvement on that front. Heading into tonight's contest, the Rays are tied for the best record in the majors, and are on pace for another franchise first-100 wins.

4


Brewers
80-60
3-4
.563
Flat
You know the offense is in a groove when Jason Kendall hits .348/.375/.522 on the week; as a team, the Brew Crew hit the opposition hard, coming in at .274/.343/.460. The pitching was on too, allowing a paltry .209/.293/.362, but Milwaukee nevertheless managed to lose four straight and blow their chance at catching up to the first-place Cubs, with most of that offense coming from two games against the lowly Pirates.

5


Mets
79-61
5-1
.560
Up
The Mets increased their slim lead in the East by a game since the last Hit List, just in time for a weekend series against the team that's trying to catch them. The Mets haven't exactly set the world ablaze statistically the past week, coming into tonight's action with a 776 OPS as a unit during that stretch, but they have done enough, winning four in a row thanks to solid starting pitching.

6


White Sox
78-61
2-4
.558
Down
The White Sox produced even less at the plate than their North Side cousins, putting up a meager .203/.249/.318 line. Things weren't any rosier for the pitching staff, who allowed the opposition to hit a whopping .332/.404/.479. Despite this, the White Sox actually increased their lead over the Twins since the last edition of Hit List, even with a 2-4 record. This late in the game, and just 1 games up as is, they'll take it.

7


Blue Jays
73-66
5-1
.552
Up
Alex Rios (.348/.348/.652) had a great week, but Jose Bautista (.583/.615/1.000), of all people, steals the show for the lineup, helping to make up for his first week in Canada when he was zero for his first 12. Even though the team is happy to play the role of spoiler, manager Cito Gaston seems to take offense to the designation, but within the same article, J.P. Ricciardi actually says something worthwhile for a change of pace while discussing the Twins' success.

8


Angels
85-54
4-2
.547
Flat
Despite an expected record that's 11 wins behind the Cubs, they are the last of the three clubs tied for the best record in the majors. The Halos were 4-2 on the week in spite of shaky starts from most of the non-Ervin Santana crowd (8 IP, 1 R, 7 K, 1 BB by Santana). Mark Teixeira, acquired before the trade deadline, has been ridiculous for L'Anaheim, with a .376/.468/.641 line since the switch.

9


Yankees
75-65
4-3
.544
Flat
It would take one hell of a run for the Yankees to make the playoffs at this point, as they sit 11 games back from the Rays and 7 behind the Red Sox for the wild card, reducing them to a 1.3 percent chance at the playoffs according to Clay Davenport's Playoff Odds Report. The Bombers were the first team to make use of the new instant replay tech, as Alex Rodriguez's questionable home run-one that gave him sole possession of 12th place all-time on the homer list-was not called back. The replay took just over two minutes, which is less time than a Lou Piniella tantrum but almost twice as long as a Pedro Feliz at-bat, so future occurrences shouldn't interrupt the flow of games all that much.

10


Phillies
76-64
3-3
.541
Down
Their 3-3 record on the week cost them a game in the standings, and now they head to New York for a three-game set where the best-case scenario is a tie for first place after Sunday's contest. With less than a month to play, the Phillies are going to need to strike now, especially with this being their last series against their rivals. They still aren't hitting though, amassing a meager 714 OPS for the week.

11


Cardinals
75-65
1-5
.528
Down
The Cardinals are quickly falling out of the race, thanks to a 3-7 record over their last 10 games. They sit 10 games back of the NL Central-leading Cubs, and now find themselves behind both Milwaukee and Philadelphia for the wild card, with the surging Astros on their tail. On the brighter side, Troy Glaus hit his 300th home run, and Albert Pujols (.409/.519/.727) continues to be the most productive hitter in the game.

12


Twins
77-63
2-4
.527
Down
The Twins still sit 1 games back of the White Sox in the Central, as they stunk up the joint even though the Pale Hose created an opening for them. A 3-7 record over their last 10 isn't helping their cause, but their recent struggles aren't the fault of the offense, which has hit .302/.373/.429 the past week. Point those fingers at the rotation (.293/.309/.449) and bullpen (.342/.415/.534).

13


Dodgers
70-70
5-1
.522
Up
Reeling off five straight victories puts the Dodgers at .500 and 1 games behind the NL West's first-place Diamondbacks. They'll get their shot at the division this weekend in a series against those same D'backs, though with the way the two have played this season, it wouldn't come as a shock if they managed to tie some of these games. Manny Ramirez (.588/.654/1.254) continues to shine, but Casey Blake (.708 slugging) and Andre Ethier (1.304) did their part to carry the load as well.

14


Indians
67-71
2-4
.517
Up
A poor week keeps the Indians from inching that much closer to .500, though they do find themselves in third place in the Central now, one game up on the Tigers. The thing that has kept this team from succeeding has been their bullpen, which currently sits more than two games under replacement level via WXRL, though that's an improvement over earlier check-ups: they have gained eight games on the Tigers since my last Hit List go-round at the end of July, and gained over a win of WXRLsince July 20.

15


Diamondbacks
71-68
3-3
.516
Down
The D'backs and Dodgers are once again teasing us with the possibility of a .500 or worse club taking the division, as Arizona has lost seven of their last 10 to drop their winning percentage to .511 and their lead over the streaking Dodgers to 1 games. Given both teams are saddled with baggage, the thing that has kept this race interesting is that it acts as the metaphorical train wreck that none of us can avert our eyes from. Both clubs might want to pick it up a tad though, so that, at the least, they can keep the Rockies from backing into their 2007 stunt all over again.

16


Tigers
67-73
3-4
.490
Down
Oh, how the mediocre have fallen, for the already-disappointing Tigers lose seven of 10 and find themselves in fourth place, ahead of only the lowly Royals. For every positive contribution the past week (.407/.515/.815 from Curtis Granderson) it seems like there were two to knock it down (Jeffrey Larish's .167/.167/.167 and Marcus Thames' .000/.067/.000), and the pitching was abysmal, giving up a .344/.393/.508 line to the opposition; for once, it wasn't all the bullpen's fault either, with the starters giving up a .597 slugging on the week.

17


Astros
74-66
6-0
.488
Up
This "Little Engine That Could" act the Astros have been putting on since the trade deadline is picking up steam, with the club finding themselves on the outskirts of the wild-card race. Their playoff chances are still slim to none though-and slim has probably left town-given the leapfrogging they would have to perform in order to do more than just make noise and play spoiler to the teams actually heading towards the extended season.

18


Marlins
71-69
3-3
.486
Flat
It's odd that the Marlins would fall out of contention once they had the pieces to legitimately contend in their rotation, but that's just what has happened to the Fish. They're eight games back from the Mets in the NL East, and they now have less than a one percent chance of stretching into October baseball. Despite this, the team could still finish with a better record than either of the contending NL West clubs, a pretty solid accomplishment for a team with a lower payroll than most NFL practice squads.

19


Rockies
66-75
3-3
.481
Flat
Matt Holliday's production was nowhere to be found, with the slugger hitting all of .091 on the week while failing to record an extra-base hit, but at least Troy Tulowitzki's bat came back from the Lost & Found sometime after he returned from injury: he's hit .327/.392/.456 since July 21, and an impressive .300/.391/.550 during the past week, easily tops on the team. Jorge de la Rosa has had a nifty run since August, with five starts, 29 K in 35 1/3 innings, and a 1.78 ERA that brought his overall ERA down almost two full runs.

20


Braves
61-80
2-5
.476
Down
The week from the offense looks impressive, but 16 runs produced by their .300/.376/.490 line came in one game, and the club was outscored 47 to 39 overall. They did throw a combined-effort shutout last night against the piteous Nationals though, as James Parr, making his debut, threw six scoreless frames. Parr is the 11th starter the Braves have employed this season; if you're looking for one reason they have struggled, instability in the rotation can shoulder some of the blame.

21


Rangers
69-72
3-3
.475
Flat
Dustin Nippert was the star of the rotation this week, with two starts spanning 12 1/3 innings to go along with 11 punch outs, just a pair of walks, and all of three runs allowed. Kevin Millwood dipped into the memories of his days as a Brave and came away with an impressive 6 2/3 innings with seven strikeouts, no walks, and just two runs allowed against the Angels. Brandon McCarthy threw six innings with four Ks and no walks, while also giving up just a pair of runs. It's not often you can talk about four solid performances from the Rangers rotation in a week's time, but there you are.

22


Athletics
63-77
1-5
.468
Down
Another rough week for Athletics fans, with the team dropping four straight contests, including a three-game set against the Royals. On the brighter side of things, Justin Duchscherer is slated to start this weekend-run out and grab him, fantasy fans!-and the schedule is easy from here on out, excepting one series against the Angels. Daric Barton has had a miserable season, but for just this past week he managed to hit well (.333/.375/.714); sadly for the A's Barton and Jack Cust were the only two hitting.

23


Orioles
63-76
0-6
.465
Down
Whatever high the Orioles were riding during the third quarter of the season has faded, and the team has gone from productive to inept in the span of a few weeks. The team that was once flirting with the Yankees and Blue Jays for fourth place in the AL East finds themselves 22 games back of the Rays, and 10 games back in the cellar. Their .305 OBP the past week didn't help, but neither did allowing opponents to reach base nearly half the time: there are no words to describe how awful giving up a .360/.480/.593 line to your opponents is, even in just a week's worth of games.

24


Giants
60-79
1-5
.429
Down
I'm a little out of practice writing about the Giants and productive hitting at the same time, so you'll have to forgive my awkwardness, but they managed to put together a .295/.333/.445 line this past week. Ironically, that hitting hasn't helped them much lately-they've won just three of their last 10 outings-because their pitching, which has been just about the only dependable facet of the team this year, allowed a .270/.369/.435 line to their opponents, nullifying the good that the lineup (for once) achieved.

25


Royals
60-79
4-2
.426
Up
The Royals have won three straight, thanks to a solid week from their offense. The legend of Mike Aviles continues to grow: after defeating the evil Unproductive Shortstop Pena Jr. and usurping his position, Aviles has hit .334/.365/492 on the year and .458/.519/.583 the past week. Pena, on the other hand, languishes on the bench, his place of banishment. Mark Teahen battled some of his own demons, slugging .550 on the week despite an average of .200.

26


Reds
62-78
4-2
.425
Up
Jay Bruce's bat was seen this week, as he hit .318/.444/.500; Reds fans and fantasy owners hope that he doesn't follow that up with an 0-15 stretch to balance things out. Joey Votto's production is the real story though, as he hit .458/.519/.833, bringing his line up to a Hattebergian .294/.360/.472. It may not be quite what was expected after his 84 at-bat outburst to end 2007, but it's a good start to what should be a promising career. Edwin Encarnacion is another Reds' hitter who has bounced between All-Star and scrub intermittently, and he was on the All-Star side of the ledger this week (.312/.519/.750).

27


Mariners
54-85
4-2
.409
Up
The Mariners have dropped two straight games, but overall they have played better lately: they are 7-3 over their last 10, and though they have already been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs and sit 31 games back of the Angels (and 8 games out of third) they should be able to avoid losing 100 games on the season if they can keep up their recent success. A trip to Arlington helped to cure what ails the offense, as the club hit .291/.319/.450 on the week.

28


Padres
54-86
3-4
.408
Down
If you're looking for good news from the offense this week, there isn't any, as Kevin Kouzmanoff's .250/.300/.429 line was contested only by Nick Hundley's .263/.286/.474 showing. Rookie Matt Antonelli hit .091, Chase Headley had one extra-base hit-though he did have a .393 OBP-and just two players hit homers. The team did defeat the Brewers Thursday night though, keeping that club winless in September, but they sit just six games from elimination in the lowly NL West as of today.

29


Pirates
59-80
2-4
.392
Down
It was a bad week for the Pirates, as the team could not make it over the Mendoza line, and slugged all of .335 with a sub-.300 OBP. The pitching ensured that the games would be out of reach for the struggling lineup too, as they let opponents hit off a tee all week, enabling them to finish with a .290/.359/.505 line; at least they weren't as bad as the Orioles' pitchers, right? Like the Mariners, the Pirates biggest positive right now is that they won't be a 100-game loser this year, as long as they cobble together a few more wins before time runs out.

30


Nationals
54-87
5-2
.388
Up
Washington may have saved themselves from the 100-loss embarrassment with their last week of play, as the club jumped from 49 wins to 54 while losing just a pair, putting 63 wins within reach. They've gone 8-2 over their last 10, and have seen what was a memorably bad offense morph into something useful, even if just for a few short weeks: the Nats have hit .271/.335/.398 since August began, which is closer to the realm of average than awful.


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 Sunday.

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