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Rk Team
Overall WL
Week WL
Comment

1


Yankees
72-43
6-1
.610
Up
That’s Why They Pay ‘Em the Big Bucks: The Yankees claim the top spot for the first time since Opening Day, as A.J. Burnett (7.2 1 0 0 6 6) and CC Sabathia (7.2 2 0 0 2 9) help them knit together a 31-inning scoreless streak amid a four-game sweep of the Red Sox; they outscore their rivals by a combined 25-8 score across the series. Alex Rodriguez belts two key homers, one breaking a scoreless tie in the 15th inning, the other doing the same in the seventh frame. Contrary to his reputation, Rodriguez has actually been quite clutch this year; twelve of his 21 homers and 34 of his 63 RBI have either tied the game or given the Yanks the lead, and he’s leading the league in shutting up.

2


Dodgers
69-46
2-4
.609
Down
Tightening Up: Despite allowing just two runs in 11 frames, Chad Billingsley departs his second start in a row with hamstring issues which will cost him a start and perhaps a trip to the DL. He may need the rest, as he’s been lit for a 6.14 ERA while averaging just under five innings per start since July 4. Also showing signs of wear is the bullpen, which has been rocked for a 4.87 ERA this month, with Ramon Troncoso and Guillermo Mota both carrying double-digit ERAs. Amid these woes, the Dodgers’ division lead shrinks to just five games, their smallest margin since May 14.

3


Rays
61-53
1-5
.568
Down
There’s No Crying in the AL East: A rough week sends the Rays 10½ back in the AL East and four back in the Wild Card; their Playoff Odds have tumbled from 50.3 percent to 25.8 percent since Sunday. The pitching staff is strafed for 7.7 runs per game for the week, with Scott Kazmir (6.50 ERA, .419 SNWP) and David Price (5.13 ERA, .449 SNWP) again failing to pull their weight, and the bullpen taking three losses as well. The staff just isn’t as effective as last year, ranking seventh in the league in both SNLVAR and WXRL this year, compared to third and first last year.

4


Rockies
64-51
5-2
.563
Up
Five Tulo: Troy Tulowitzki joins Dante Bichette, Neifi Perez, Todd Helton, and Mike Lansing as the fifth player in Rockies history to hit for the cycle; he goes 5-for-5 with seven RBI for the night, not to mention the first of three homers for the week. He’s hitting .357/.434/.714 since the All-Star break, and the Rox are now closer to the top of the NL West than they’ve been since late April.

5


Red Sox
65-49
3-4
.563
Down
Red Ass, Red Face: Kevin Youkilis charges the mound after being hit by a pitch for the second game in a row, earning a five-game suspension that he takes lying down (and he wonders why he’s the designated payback target with fighting skillz like that?). Even with the team’s recent roster shuffle, it’s a bad time to go Youk-less for a team whose offense-aside from one 18-run outpouring-is averaging just 4.2 runs per game since the All-Star break. Their offensive drought includes a 31-inning dry spell amid a four-game sweep by the Yanks in which the Sox manage just eight runs on .174/.300/.250 hitting.

6


Angels
68-44
4-2
.555
Flat
Return of the Impaler: Vlad Guerrero bashes four homers in a five-game span, including a pair against the Rays, one of them the game-winner. Those four homers match his pre-injury output; he’s hitting .375/.412/.750 since returning from a four-week stay on the DL on August 4. The Halos continue to hammer opponents into submission with their 6.8 runs per game output in the second half; they need to average just 4.6 runs per game over their final 50 games to break the franchise record.

7


Rangers
64-49
4-2
.547
Up
You Don’t Have to Go Home But You Gotta Flotilla the Hell Out of Here: The Rangers move within a half-game of the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card chase thanks in part to Derek Holland‘s first career shutout (9 3 0 0 1 8), and they send Vicente Padilla and his ugly stat line (4.92 ERA, .488 SNWP, 4.9 K/9) packing after a final shellacking. Despite their low strikeout rate (6.1 per nine, 13th in the league), the team now ranks second in the league in SNLVAR-and not coincidentally, second in Defensive Efficiency as well.

8


Phillies
64-48
3-3
.546
Down
Pedro Martinez gets the win in his Phillies debut (5 7 3 3 1 5), a performance sullied only by fifth-inning struggles while protecting a 12-1 lead. Not everyone is happy to see him, however, particularly Jamie Moyer, who complains he was somehow misled when the team shelled out a record-setting two-year, $13 million deal to a 46-year-old and expected competence in return. The ancient Phil was unaware of an even more ancient custom where sucking-a 5.47 ERA and a .435 SNWP, in this case-can cost one his job.

9


Braves
60-54
5-0
.541
Up
The Real Heroes: Ryan Church and Kelly Johnson homer in extra innings on back-to-back nights against the Dodgers, kicking off a five-game winning streak that pushes the Braves to a season-high six games above .500. Despite those heroics, it’s the pitching staff who have spurred the team’s 17-9 second-half run; they’ve put up a 3.03 ERA, with all five starters under 3.70, and relievers Mike Gonzalez, Peter Moylan, and Kris Medlen combining to allow just two runs in 39 innings while whiffing 45.

10


Cardinals
64-52
5-1
.535
Up
Every Day’s a Holliday: Matt Holliday continues his tear, and the Cardinals retake sole possession of first place in the NL Central. Holliday goes 13-for-23 on the week with five multi-hit games; he’s now hitting .486/.519/.800 with 34 hits in 18 games since being acquired, and .446/.484/.777 with 50 hits in 28 games dating back to July 11. The Cardinals are cranking out 4.9 runs per game since his arrival, compared to 4.4 prior.

11


Giants
62-52
2-4
.525
Down
Eugenius: Despite hitting a searing .382/.417/.588 in 72 PA and starting at four positions since being recalled from the minors, Eugenio Velez sets the Giants back and reminds why he’s not their regular second baseman when he makes a key error on a potential double-play ball, opening the floodgates in a loss to the Dodgers. The defeat costs the Giants the series and helps push them down to third place in the NL West, and 1½ games back in the wild-card chase.

12


Blue Jays
54-59
3-3
.522
Flat
Talentless: J.P. Ricciardi makes the biggest salary dump in baseball history when he lets Alex Rios go to the White Sox via waivers for nothing but salary relief from the $61 million remaining on his contract through (gulp) 2014. It’s a move which obviously saves the Jays a pretty penny, but it’s merely the latest embarrassing gaffe in a series which has seen the GM’s name become synonymous with awful contracts, not to mention some awkward attempts to evade their full impact. On the field, Marco Scutaro continues to be the exception that proves the rule when it comes to Ricciardi’s penchant for buying high; he’s hitting .296/.387/.441 and ranking in the top five in both walks and runs while earning a base salary of $1.1 million.

13


White Sox
58-57
2-4
.510
Down
My Final Offer is… Nothing: The White Sox score themselves a potential long-term solution in center field by claiming Alex Rios on waivers from the Blue Jays and refusing to submit to J.P. Ricciardi’s demands of any talent in return to offset the $61 million remaining on his deal. It’s a bold and obviously costly move, but his defensive numbers suggest he can cover the middle pasture which more easily justifies the investment in a 28-year-old hitting to a .275 EqA tune in a down year. Add in the fact that Jake Peavy is beginning a rehab assignment, and it’s clear the AL Central race is about to get interesting.

14


Marlins
61-54
6-1
.510
Up
Vital Cogh: Chris Coghlan helps the Marlins complete a three-game sweep of the Phillies with a leadoff homer off of Cole Hamels, followed by a four-hit afternoon. Coghlan’s been on fire since the calender turned to August, hitting .526/.640/1.166 with 23 hits in 11 games, including eight multi-hit games in a row. Between that streak, the arrival of Nick Johnson, and the benching of Emilio Bonifacio, the Fish are averaging 6.5 runs per game this month, though they’ve allowed just as many runs, and their overall run differential remains in the red.

15


Cubs
58-55
1-6
.504
Down
Unfriendly Confines: A moronic Cubs fan tosses a beer on Shane Victorino mid-catch, but it’s the Cubs who end up all wet as they’re swept by the Phillies in Wrigley. Losers of five in a row and seven out of eight, they tumble out of a share for first place in the NL Central, and along the way they send Carlos Zambrano to the DL and Aramis Ramirez to the trainer’s table. The Cubs are 25-17 in games in which Ramirez has started, 33-38 in games he hasn’t, with his replacements hitting a combined .242/.319/.420.

16


Twins
55-59
2-4
.501
Flat
No Idle Threat: Acquired for a PTBNL the day before and apparently uninjured in transit, Carl Pavano shuts down Detroit for seven innings in his Twins debut; he’s now tamed the Tigers four times this year, three of them within a month, putting up a 1.48 ERA and 18/1 K/BB in 30 1/3 innings. Of course, that means he’s put up a 6.21 ERA against everyone else, but when you’re trying to contend with a rotation that’s giving you a 48 percent chance of winning on any given day, beggars can’t be choosers.

17


Tigers
60-54
3-4
.498
Down
Money for Maggs: Just 12-15 since the All-Star break, the Tigers continue to play uneven ball. Their offense is averaging just 4.0 runs per game in the second half, and that’s even with Magglio Ordoñez hitting a relatively robust .306/.342/.528. The bigger problem regarding Ordoñez is that despite Jim Leyland’s stated intent to platoon the former slugger, Ordoñez now needs just 84 PA over the team’s final 48 games for his $18 million option to vest, a gruesome proposition given his .271/.335/.383 overall line; “former” is apt. The math might work out such that the marginal value of a playoff appearance exceeds that of the option, but for a team that could use the financial flexibility, the situation was preventable nonetheless.

18


Diamondbacks
52-63
2-4
.492
Down
The Wind Machine and the Four Winds: Despite his 218-strikeout pace, Mark Reynolds homers in four straight games, pushing his season total to 36 (second in the league) and helping raise his slugging percentage to .600 (third). Not to be outdone, rookie Trent Oeltjen homers three times in his first four games, then follows it with a four-hit effort in victory. Elsewhere, the 2009 Diamondbacks continue to scatter, with slumping Chris B. Young schlepping his .194/.297/.359 line to Triple-A Reno, tragedy-stricken Scott Schoeneweis landing on the DL due to depression, and the ever-injured Tom Gordon getting released after just three appearances.

19


Mariners
60-55
4-3
.488
Flat
This Guy’s Nuts: Adrian Beltre‘s 16-for-36 streak-and perhaps his season-comes to an end when an errant one-hopper strikes him in the groin; unbelievably enough, he apparently wasn’t wearing a cup, so he may need surgery to stop the internal bleeding. More definitively shelved for the year is Erik Bedard, who’s headed for another shoulder surgery; he’s put up a 3.23 ERA in 30 starts as a Mariner, but will have spent more than half of his two seasons with the club on the DL.

20


Indians
49-65
3-3
.473
Flat
No Laffey Matter: Aaron Laffey contributes to a combined shutout against the Rangers, the third time in four starts he’s pitched at least 6 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run. Laffey’s 3.25 ERA and .589 SNWP are second only to the departed Cliff Lee, which makes him the staff ace in a Jeremy Guthrie kind of way. Elsewhere in the rotation, Carl Pavano escapes, Fausto Carmona breaks his string of eight straight starts with more walks than strikeouts (albeit in defeat), and Jake Westbrook suffers a season-ending setback in his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

21


Mets
53-61
2-4
.469
Down
No Drama: It’s a relatively uneventful week for the Mets, with no executive firings or pratfalls, just peace, quiet, and losing, as befits a team whose playoff odds have fallen below 0.2 percent. The team does reward those masochistic enough to still pay attention with another injury setback (Carlos Delgado) and some late-inning heartbreak, as Francisco Rodriguez yields five ninth-inning runs to the Padres in Petco, an occurrence whose extreme unlikelihood breaks the Baseball Prospectus Infinite Improbability Drive.

22


Brewers
56-58
2-4
.465
Flat
Break Up the Brewers: With his team having lost 13 of 21 and fallen further out of first place than they had all year, Doug Melvin takes a set of drastic measures. He options struggling J.J. Hardy to Triple-A and promotes top prospect Alcides Escobar; the veteran shortstop was hitting just .229/.300/.367 and has been slightly worse than that since the All-Star break. He DFAs Bill Hall despite still owing more than $10 million on the utilityman’s contract, but if .174/.248/.309 against righties in over 400 PA since the beginning of last year isn’t a firing offense, what is? Finally, he axes pitching coach Bill Castro in favor of Chris Bosio, some rough justice for a guy who wasn’t dealt a particularly good hand to begin with (Braden Looper + Yovani Gallardo ≠ CC Sabathia + Ben Sheets). It all adds up to too little, too late, particularly when one considers the rotation upgrades that Melvin might have secured when Hardy was coming off of last season (6.8 WARP).

23


Athletics
51-63
4-2
.465
Up
Brought to You by the Letter G: Gio Gonzalez pitches his second consecutive scoreless outing, helping the A’s win seven of 10. Since being pummeled for 11 runs in 2 2/3 innings on July 20, Gonzalez has yielded just four in 24 2/3 frames while striking out 26 and lowering his ERA from 9.33 to 5.57. Elsewhere the team cuts bait on Jason Giambi, who was hitting just .193/.332/.364 before landing on the DL due to a quad strain.

24


Astros
56-59
3-4
.453
Flat
The Pouncin’ Puma and the Punchless Pretenders: Fresh off the DL after a three-week absence due to a calf strain, Lance Berkman doubles twice in the first two innings to help the Astros jump out to a 6-0 lead en route to a blowout against the Marlins. Alas, the ‘Stros remain below .500; they went 6-12 in Berkman’s absence while averaging just 3.9 runs per game. Amid Berkman’s absences from the lineup, Darin Erstad, Chris Coste, Geoff Blum et al have combined to hit just .231/.292/.365. Where’s Mike Lamb when you need him?

25


Reds
50-64
4-3
.419
Up
Rolen Downhill: Scott Rolen lands on the DL after just four games in a Cincinnati uniform due to a concussion sustained after being beaned by Jason Marquis. Not that the injury could have been foreseen, but it only underscores the ridiculousness of acquiring him given the team’s aggressive pursuit of the NL Central basement. Meanwhile, Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo are likely stuck in Cincy for the duration, which at least means the latter won’t have to pack up his considerable stash.

26


Orioles
47-67
2-4
.419
Down
Mama Said There’d Be Weeks Like This: Chris Tillman throws his first major league quality start but loses, Brian Matusz gets shelled, and Matt Wieters fails to walk across water as the Orioles’ second-half record falls to 7-19. The youth movement isn’t getting much help from former staff ace Jeremy Guthrie, either; he’s been bombed for a 7.81 ERA over his last four starts, and his .436 SNWP ranks 78th among the 84 pitchers who’ve made at least 20 starts this year.

27


Padres
49-67
4-2
.416
Up
Back in the Swing of Things: Adrian Gonzalez goes 6-for-6 as part of a 22-hit onslaught. He’s hitting .333/.464/.644 since the All-Star break, and the Pads have now won 11 of 16. On the other side of the coin, prospect-turned-suspect Cesar Carillo gets a rude welcome to the big leagues: 2.1 4 8 8 2 1 with three homers allowed, two by previously homerless Mike Rivera.

28


Pirates
46-68
1-5
.414
Down
Ross the Boss: Ross Ohlendorf stops an eight-game losing streak with a strong six-inning showing at Coors Field. The ‘Dorf has put together four straight quality starts with a 2.96 ERA, but in and around that, the Pirates have dropped 15 of 18 while scoring just 3.0 runs per game and allowing 5.9. Yes, the circus has left town, but still…

29


Nationals
40-75
3-3
.411
Flat
The Nats’ season-high winning streak reaches eight games, but the joy is tempered by the news that Jordan Zimmermann will undergo Tommy John surgery, likely costing him all of 2010. The 23-year-old put up a 4.63 ERA and .448 SNWP in 16 starts but missed plenty of bats while showing outstanding control (9.1 K/9, 3.2 K/BB). Speaking of pitching phenoms under Washington’s control, the deadline for overall #1 pick Stephen Strasburg’s signing draws nigh without any signs of progress.

30


Royals
45-69
3-3
.411
Up
The Royal Treatment: Kansas City’s offense breaks out for a dozen runsin support of Zack Greinke, one shy of what they’d given him in his previous seven starts combined. The outburst gives Greinke his first win in six weeks, a drought which will probably wind up costing him the AL Cy Young Award; though he still leads the league with a 2.43 ERA and a 6.1 SNLVAR, and is second in strikeouts at 167, he’s merely tied for eighth in wins at 11.

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.