CSS Button No Image Css3Menu.com

Baseball Prospectus home
  
  
Click here to log in Click here for forgotten password Click here to subscribe

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Action: Ad... (08/21)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: G... (08/14)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit List: B... (08/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Keeping Them Honest (08/23)

August 21, 2009

Prospectus Hit List

Patchwork

by Jay Jaffe

RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Comment

1


Dodgers
72-50
3-4
.610
Flat
Our Kingdom For a Starting Pitcher: Chad Billingsley returns in fine form after skipping a start due to hamstring woes, but the Dodger rotation is again thinned when Hiroki Kuroda takes a liner off the noggin. As the team's division lead shrinks, they're at the point of dredging up knuckleballer Charlie Haeger, signing recently released Rangers reject Vicente Padilla, and taxing the bullpen with Jeff Weaver's brief starts, leading one to wonder why Eric Stults (4.86 ERA, .501 SNWP) is still Duking it out in Albuquerque. (I know it's the Isotopes now, but I've been following Dodger farmhands in Albuquerque since before Stults-not to mention half the current lineup-was born.) At least Randy Wolf is putting on a show, whiffing 10 while finishing a triple short of hitting for the cycle; he's 14th in the league in SNLVAR, and perhaps as importantly, seventh in innings pitched.

2


Yankees
76-45
4-2
.607
Down
Hail to the Captain: Derek Jeter passes Luis Aparicio for the most hits by a shortstop with his 2,674th, just one of 16 hits he collects over a seven-game span. He's hitting .331/.395/.471 this season, his best numbers in each category since 2006; the power appears to be a function of his new park (.319/.392/.496 at home), while he's simply hitting 'em where they ain't elsewhere (.343/.398/.449 on the road). His 2,696 total hits are just 25 behind Lou Gehrig for the all-time franchise lead.

3


Rays
65-55
4-2
.570
Flat
Paint It Black: Not even a funky new hairstyle can disguise the fact that the Rays' shot at the postseason is slipping away. Even in a winning week, they're making no headway; their Playoff Odds have fallen from about 25 to 20 percent in the past seven days, and at 10½ back in the AL East, the Wild Card route is the only one left. One could blame their starting pitching, but their SNWP is tied with the Yankees at .499, two points ahead of the Red Sox. It's the bullpen where they lose ground, but then we always knew last year's trick in that department would be tough to repeat no matter how many arms they stockpiled.

4


Red Sox
69-51
4-2
.566
Up
Sagging: The Sox offense busts out six runs for Clay Buchholz, the first runs they've scored for him across three straight quality starts that lower his ERA to 3.99. Indeed, things are rather uneven in Boston, or perhaps all too even; they're just 22-21 since the beginning of July, having briefly fallen out of the Wild Card lead while losing two out of three in Texas. As you'd expect, there's good and bad news, such as David Ortiz snapping out of a 5-for-44 slump by homering four times in five games to lift his paltry season line to .224/.318/.431, and Tim Wakefield limping through a bullpen session, prolonging his stay on the DL.

5


Phillies
69-49
5-1
.564
Up
Cliffy Clicks: Cliff Lee continues to dominate NL hitters, whiffing 11 Diamondbacks and holding his opponents to one run for the fourth straight start. He's got an 0.82 ERA and a 34/6 K/BB ratio in 33 innings since being traded to the weaker league. At the other end of the staff, Brad Lidge continues to stink up the joint, blowing two of his last four save attempts; he's got an 8.24 Fair Run Average and an major league-worst -1.6 WXRL.

6


Rockies
68-53
4-2
.560
Down
De La Rolling: The Rockies maintain their Wild Card lead thanks in part to Jorge De La Rosa, who whiffs nine Marlins but falls one out shy of his eighth quality start out of nine; the Rox are 8-1 in those starts. For the second year in a row, De La Rosa's found a groove after early struggles; his first-half ERA in over the last two years was 5.97, while in the second half it's 3.05. Meanwhile, he's eighth in the league with 9.3 strikeouts per nine.

7


Angels
73-46
5-2
.553
Flat
The Nines: While our numbers-crunchers have yet to determine how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin, their August 18 lineup proves that nine .300-hitting cherubs can fit into a single batting order, as the team becomes the first since the offense-crazy 1930 season to field such a unit. The Halos are obviously offense-crazy themselves; they drop nine 13th-inning runs on the Orioles, and they're now averaging 6.8 per game during the second half on their way to a 24-9 record.

8


Rangers
68-52
4-3
.551
Up
Hot Stuff Coming Through: Ian Kinsler homers in his first at-bat after coming off the disabled list, one of two he hits to help the Rangers beat the Red Sox to move into the AL Wild Card lead, however briefly. For the week he goes 8-for-22 with three blasts, a hopeful sign after his .157/.200/.348 July. Also showing signs of life is Josh Hamilton, who collects 16 hits in eight games and is batting .375/.439/.528 for the month after a dismal .227/.273/.384 showing through July.

9


Cardinals
70-53
6-1
.544
Up
Redbirds of a Feather Flocking Together: Winners of 11 out of 13, the Cardinals have built themselves a seven-game cushion in the NL Central. Chris Carpenter shuts down the Dodgers (8 5 2 2 1 8) to kick off a three-game series in LA that winds up going the Redbirds' way. He's got eight quality starts out of nine since the beginning of July, and he leads the league in ERA (2.27) while ranking second in K/BB (5.3), tied for third in wins (13), and sixth in SNLVAR. The latter category is led by Adam Wainwright, who's also tied for first in wins (14), fourth in ERA (2.61), and fifth in strikeouts (152).

10


Braves
64-57
4-3
.544
Flat
Matt Diaz's big night (4 3 2 4, HR) helps the Braves pile 15 runs on the hapless Mets. He's hitting a searing .327/.393/.618 with five homers this month while seeing extensive duty due to Nate McLouth's hamstring woes. Alas, the Braves outfielders' combined performance (.259/.321/.393) ranks them third-to-last in the league in OPS, and the team has a a tough road ahead of them to remain in the playoff hunt.

11


Giants
66-55
4-3
.531
Up
Giant Sinkholes: Aaron Rowand snaps out of a 1-for-20 slump with a four-hit night in which he also homers for the first time since July 2, a point since which he's hitting just .218/.256/.327 with a 27/3 K/BB ratio. Randy Winn hasn't been much help either, hitting .259/.305/.343 since the calendar flipped to June. Performances like that only solidify the team's number 28th ranking in EqA.

12


White Sox
62-59
4-2
.516
Up
At Least He Didn't Call Them Lollygaggers: Kenny Williams calls out his team as a bunch of underachievers just in time for underachieving Jose Contreras to put together his first quality start since July 8, a span during which he put up a 7.62 ERA while averaging just 4.7 innings per start. Alas, that's only a partial-and probably fleeting-solution to the team's ongoing rotation problems given Freddy Garcia's rusty return and Jake Peavy's rocky rehab, though they do still rank fifth in the league in SNLVAR.

13


Marlins
64-57
3-3
.515
Up
Though they can't make any headway in the NL East race, the Marlins beat the Rockies in two out of three and briefly move to within two games of the Wild Card lead. Josh Johnson tosses 6 2/3 innings of no-hit ball and strikes out a career-high 11, while Chris Coghlan resumes his multi-hit shtik; he's got 12 such games out of 17 this month while hitting .410/.471/.573. Meanwhile, Hanley Ramirez is every bit as hot, hitting .416/.458/.590 this month while riding a 15-game hitting streak.

14


Cubs
61-58
3-3
.512
Up
Lo(u)sing it: The Cubs continue their slide, and Lou Piniella's feeling the heat even while crossing the street. He removes Kevin Gregg from closer duty after the latter surrenders a walk-off homer which sends the Cubs to their eighth loss in 11 games. Gregg's yielded 12 long balls in 56 1/3 innings; he's got a 4.70 Fair Run Average and just 0.5 WXRL. Taking over for him will be Carlos Marmol, who's sixth in the league with 3.0 WXRL, but still walking an astronomical 8.3 per nine.

15


Blue Jays
55-64
1-5
.506
Down
Despite seven losses in eight games, the Jays have something to look forward via their late-season callups. Travis Snider homers off Josh Beckett in his first at-bat since being recalled from a three-month minor league stint which has restored his prospect status while preserving his service clock. Meanwhile, Randy Ruiz homers three times in his first eight games; at 31, he's a suspect, not a prospect, but contrary to rumors, he never cheated in the Boston Marathon.

16


Tigers
64-56
4-2
.506
Up
Inge by Inge: Troubled by knee woes which have limited him to a .170/.257/.250 second-half showing, Brandon Inge collects just two hits all week, both solo homers in one-run games, one of which provides all the scoring. Inge's absence presses Ryan Rayburn into duty at third base; he makes three errors in one game, including two in the 10th inning, one of which plates the winning run. The Tigers maintain their hold on first place in the AL Central thanks to a staff that allows just 18 runs on the week.

17


Twins
58-63
3-4
.499
Flat
Mauer Power Ain't Enough: Joe Mauer belts five homers in a six-game span, but only the final pair come in a winning cause. Mauer leads the AL in all three triple-slash categories at .380/.448/.648, and while he's at the center of an ongoing MVP fray, the fact that the Twins are sub-.500 likely dooms his chances, as just one of the last 34 MVPs (17 in each league since 1992) has come from a losing team.

18


Mariners
62-59
2-4
.489
Flat
Yeah, He'll Do That: Ichiro Suzuki's two-run homer off of Justin Verlander helps give Ian Snell his first AL win while continuing his season-long tear; he's batting .365/.394/.475 and has 61 hits across his last 36 games, which makes for a 275-hit pace. He's closing in on his ninth straight 200-hit season and perhaps even his third batting title, accomplishments that are sure to wow future Hall of Fame voters, short stateside career and all.

19


Indians
52-68
3-3
.476
Flat
About Damn Time: Underutilized during his first stint with the big club, and bypassed for promotion after Mark DeRosa, Ryan Garko, Ben Francisco, Victor Martinez, Rocky Colavito, and Jerry Dybzinski were dealt, Matt LaPorta finally rejoins the Indians and collects three RBI in his return. Manager Eric Wedgesays he'll get regular playing time the rest of the way, for whatever that's worth. LaPorta's big game backs Justin Masterson's strongest effort (6.1 3 1 0 4 3) since being acquired in the V-Mart deal; he's put up a 4.62 ERA in nine starts this year, a mark bettered only by Aaron Laffey among Cleveland's remaining starters.

20


Diamondbacks
54-68
2-5
.473
Down
The Diamondbacks scrape together just 17 runs over a six-game span, three of them on a pair of Mark Reynolds homers which run his second-half total to an MLB-high 14; his 38 overall are second only to Albert Pujols. Reynolds is having one of the great freak-stat seasons in memory. He's on pace to strike out a record 223 times, but his batting average and slugging percentage on contact are good enough to crack the historical top 10.

21


Brewers
58-62
2-4
.467
Flat
Pittfall: After running their winning streak over Bucs to 17 games earlier this year, the Brewers have lost five of six to them even amid the latter's roster turnover, including three-game sweep this week in which they're outscored 17-7. Despite a second-half schedule that the second-easiest in the majors, the Brewers are now just 13-19 since the All-Star break, and their Playoff Odds are below one percent. The staff has been rocked for a 5.77 ERA in the second half, with Yovani Gallardo the only starter below 5.04.

22


Mets
56-65
3-4
.464
Down
Manuel Pilot: Perhaps afraid that he might be replaced by the Managatron 3000, Jerry Manuel gets creative with multiple pointless infield position shifts amid a 15-2 blowout. He also demonstrates his facility with multiple varieties of inane patter by throwing Ryan Church under the bus while comparing Church's concussion problems last year with those of David Wright, whose scary beaning provides an almost-too-literal coup de grāce for this miserable season. Despite just eight homers, Wright ranks third in the league in batting average (.324) and seventh in OBP (.414), but he now joins Jose Reyes, Carlos Beltran, and Carlos Delgado on the DL.

23


Athletics
53-67
2-4
.457
Down
In his first appearance with the A's, Brett Tomko tosses five shutout innings against the Yankees, who released him last month after 15 appearances. Grade D filler though Tomko may be, the second-half performances of Vin Mazarro (7.75 ERA), Dallas Braden (7.40, plus a trip to the DL) and Trevor Cahill (5.71) suggest some late-season rotation patching will be inevitable; expect Gil Heredia, Eric Hiljus, and Esteban Loaiza to show up when rosters expand.

24


Astros
59-62
3-3
.449
Down
Overcompensating, Aren't We? Already pitching through a torn meniscus, Mike Hampton goes on the disabled list with a partially torn rotator cuff; he vows to return this year without surgery, not that his 5.30 ERA and .431 SNWP are doing the Astros much good. Speaking of which, the team trades Pudge Rodriguez and his robust .251/.280/.382 line back to Texas for a couple of warm bodies, not that they're waiving a white flag-they're just testing out the wind patterns for that pennant they're about to hoist.

25


Orioles
49-72
2-5
.419
Flat
Birds of a Feather Get Pounded Together: A five-game losing streak runs the Orioles' second-half record to an AL-worst 8-24 as the young rotation takes its lumps. Taking more lumps than most is Jason Berken, a crash test dummy who's gone 2-11 with a 6.72 ERA and a .387 SNWP, the second-worst mark in the league among pitchers with at least 80 innings. Alas, that's only slightly worse than Jeremy Guthrie, whose ninth-ranked .422 mark is accompanied by a plump 5.66 ERA.

26


Nationals
43-78
3-3
.414
Flat
Getting their Men: With just 77 seconds to spare, the Nationals reach a record-setting deal with overall number one pick Stephen Strasburg; he'll get $15.1 million over four years, but won't pitch in the majors this year. They also reward acting GM Mike Rizzo with a promotion to the full-time job despite <rumor of Jerry DiPoto's imminent hiring-a major step towards our long Natinal nightmare being over.

27


Pirates
49-70
3-2
.414
Flat
The Bucs Stop Someone: Caught in a 3-17 tailspin, the Pirates escape via a three-game sweep of the team that once owned them via 17 straight wins, the Brewers. Garrett Jones kicks things off with his 13th homer in just 170 plate appearances, Delwyn Young continues his hot hitting (.312/.368/.443) by opening the scoring in the middle match, and Paul Maholm caps it off with his first quality start since July 17.

28


Reds
51-69
1-5
.411
Down
Two-Sixty-Eight: That's the Reds' winning percentage since July 4, the last day they were over .500; they're 11-30 since then, and the nightmares just get worse thanks to Dusty Baker's push-button managing. They lose Johnny Cueto to the DL due to shoulder inflammation; he's been bombed for a 10.64 ERA since July 6, a span that includes his being pushed past 100 pitches four times amid diminishing returns. They also "lose" Willy Taveras to the DL due to a quad strain; he's got lowest EqA among any hitter with at least 300 PA, but Baker batted him first or second in 93 of the team's first 118 games, thereby helping push the team's season off of a cliff.

29


Padres
51-72
2-5
.409
Down
Blanks Out: Kyle Blanks belts a walk-off three-run homer, his second late-inning shot against the Cubs in as many nights. He's hitting .287/.391/.606 with eight homers since the All-Star break, compared to .159/.260/.227 prior. Also on a second-half tear is Adrian Gonzalez, hitting .348/.457/.688 with a team-high nine homers. Such He-Man feats have helped the Padres raise their per-game scoring level from 3.80 runs per game in the first half to 3.87 in the second, in case your microscope wasn't working well enough to see.

30


Royals
47-73
2-4
.404
Down
Omaha or Bust: Hitting just .227/.310/.333 since returning from hip surgery on July 16, Alex Gordon is sent to Triple-A, a move that could delay his free agency by a year, not that suitors are lining up around the block for a player who's hit .248/.329/.412 through this point in his age-25 season. In happier news, another one of the Royals' can't-miss kids is faring better; Billy Butler is hitting .320/.382/.570 since the All-Star break while improving his K/UIBB ratio from 2.2 to 1.6.


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

29 comments have been left for this article.

<< Previous Article
Premium Article Transaction Action: Ad... (08/21)
<< Previous Column
Prospectus Hit List: G... (08/14)
Next Column >>
Prospectus Hit List: B... (08/28)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Keeping Them Honest (08/23)

RECENTLY AT BASEBALL PROSPECTUS
Fantasy Article Five to Watch: High-A Risers
Premium Article Minor League Update: Games of Wednesday, Aug...
Fantasy Article Fantasy Freestyle: Better Late Than Never
Fantasy Rounders: Personality Goes a Long Wa...
Premium Article What You Need to Know: August 27, 2015
Premium Article Pitching Backward: Casey Fien Makes No Sense
Premium Article Field Generals: It's Ned Yost in a Box

MORE FROM AUGUST 21, 2009
Premium Article Transaction Action: Additions of a Minor Nat...
Premium Article Prospectus Today: A Wagnerian Ovation?
Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Not Quite a Reynolds...
Premium Article Red Sox Woes Afield

MORE BY JAY JAFFE
2009-08-28 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Scheduling Impact in...
2009-08-27 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Scheduling Impact in...
2009-08-25 - Prospectus Hit and Run: The Hit List Remix o...
2009-08-21 - Prospectus Hit List: Patchwork
2009-08-21 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Not Quite a Reynolds...
2009-08-19 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit and Run: Vlad and the Right F...
2009-08-14 - Prospectus Hit List: Getting Their Money's W...
More...

MORE PROSPECTUS HIT LIST
2009-09-11 - Prospectus Hit List: Narrowing the Field
2009-09-04 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Hit Parade
2009-08-28 - Prospectus Hit List: Breaking in and Breakin...
2009-08-21 - Prospectus Hit List: Patchwork
2009-08-14 - Prospectus Hit List: Getting Their Money's W...
2009-08-07 - Prospectus Hit List: The Post-Shuffle Shuffl...
2009-07-31 - Premium Article Prospectus Hit List: Deadline Drama
More...

INCOMING ARTICLE LINKS
2009-08-25 - Prospectus Hit and Run: The Hit List Remix o...