Rk Team
Overall WL
Week WL
Hit List Factor


Making a Molehill out of a Mound: Alex Rodriguez returns to Oakland and hits a pair of homers in the creamy middle of a three-game sweep; he also makes peace with Dallas Braden in the name of charity and solidarity. The homers are the 596th and 597th of his career; the first one is also his 21st grand slam, tying him with Manny Ramirez for second on the all-time list behind Lou Gehrig. The blasts back CC Sabathia‘s 10-strikeout effort, as the big man has rounded into shape with a 1.90 ERA and 8.5 K/9 over his last seven starts, not to mention a homerless streak of 45 2/3 IP. He may soon be joined in the rotation by another ex-Indian, as the Yanks are apparently closing in on a deal centered around Cliff Lee and überprospect Jesus Montero.


Price is Right: David Price strikes out 10 Red Sox en route to a three-game sweep which lifts the Rays back into second place in the AL East. Price’s 12 wins pace the circuit, and his 2.42 ERA ranks second, credentials which give him a shot at starting the All-Star Game; his .608 Support-Neutral Winning Percentage ranks seventh in the league. Price’s strong outing follows that of Jeff Niemann (6 IP, 1 UER), whose credentials-second in SNWP (.626), fourth in ERA (2.65)-aren’t too shabby either, though he won’t be going to Anaheim.


Red Sox
Slipping Sox: Losers of four straight, including three in a row to the Rays in Tampa Bay, the Sox are now 7-13 against their two biggest rivals, and just 18-20 within the AL East as a whole. They’re struggling amid their slew of injuries, averaging just four runs per game for the week, and they get an even bigger scare when Kevin Youkilis leaves a game due to an ankle injury. Youkilis’ .330 True Average is fifth in the league, though he’s hit just .213/.276/.488 over the past month. That may explain why he didn’t make the AL All-Star team, though never underestimate the negative power of a John Kerry campaign effort on one’s behalf.


Throw a Bucket of Water on Him: Josh Hamilton remains en fuego. Though his hitting streak ends at 23 games, he extends a home hitting streak to 28 games, bashing four homers in the process. He’s hitting .435/.469/.819 since June 1, and now ranks fourth in the league in True Average at .332, second in batting average (.345), slugging percentage (.633) and homers (22); guys have certainly won MVPs with lesser credentials. Alas, three of Hamilton’s four homers come in losses, though the Rangers actually extend their lead thanks to the Angels‘ slump.


Dingers and Dingees: Joe Mauer homers to help the Twins beat the Blue Jays. It’s only Mauer’s fourth dinger of the year; he’s much closer to his 2008 pace (nine) than last year’s 28, a situation that may be related to reports of hip and back woes. He’s hitting .297/.371/.431, his troubles raise the question of whether the team might be willing to include catching prospect Wilson Ramos in a potential Cliff Lee deal. Also hurting, at least mildly, is Delmon Young, who injures his wrist in a collision with Denard Span. Young’s overall line (.306/.340/.507) falls short of All-Star caliber, particularly when compared to those of fellow Final Vote candidates Nick Swisher and Kevin Youkilis, but his .440/.462/.880 run in 26 July plate appearances puts his best foot forward nonetheless.


Heeeere’s Johnny! Johnny Damon collects his 2500th career hit, and his 2501st as well, the latter in the form of a walkoff homer against the Orioles. Damon’s hitting .271/.362/.412 with just five homers this year, but Comerica Park is the least of his worries; he’s hitting .283/.360/.469 at home, compared to .259/.367/.348 on the road. At 36 years old, he’s still got a shot at 3000 hits, which might get him into Cooperstown, though JAWS says he’s not a tremendous candidate: his 45.3 career/32.2 peak/38.8 JAWS mark is well shy of the standard for center fielders (68.3/44.0/56.1), ahead of Larry Doby and Kirby Puckett, but behind Andre Dawson, Duke Snider, and Richie Ashburn. Among those in the 3000 Hit Club, he’d outrank only Lou Brock (37.2/27.0/32.1)


White Sox
Detatchment: The White Sox draw within a game of the AL Central lead, but their chances take a huge hit with the loss of Jake Peavy, whose detatched lat likely necessitates season-ending surgery. Though he carried a 6.23 ERA into June, Peavy had really dominated lately, putting up a 1.75 ERA in five June starts while holding hitters to a .194/.245/.279 line. Continuing to dominate while staying in one piece is Gavin Floyd, who stifles the Angels; he’s got a 1.27 ERA and a 42 2/3-inning homerless streak over his last six starts, having allowed more than one run just once.


Blue Jays
Still for the Birds: The Blue Jays momentarily slip below .500 for the first time since late April and are now 12-21 since the beginning of June. Offense isn’t their only reason for their fall; their rotation has been taking its lumps with a 4.52 ERA during that span, with Brett Cecil enduring a mini-slump, Jesse Litsch (7.30 ERA) and Mark Rzepczynski (6.35 in one start) getting hit hard in their returns from the DL, and Shaun Marcum (5.24) heading there due to elbow inflammation. The one starter whose fortunes have reversed for the better is Brandon Morrow, who’s put up a 2.77 ERA with a 41/11 K/BB and just two homers allowed in his last 39 innings. As a unit, the Jays have slipped to sixth in the league in SNLVAR.


Dallas Does Displeasure: Sidelined by elbow woes and thus unable to face Alex Rodriguez again, Dallas Braden sits out the A’s sweep by the Yankees, but he makes himself heard by coming out against his own team’s decision to sell “Get Off My Mound” t-shirts bearing his likeness, shirts the Players Association explicitly refused to license at that. Elsewhere in the rotation, Ben Sheets pitches well in a losing cause against the Yanks, though his 4.98 ERA and 1.4 HR/9 aren’t exactly glowing endorsements for his services.


Kaz-Mat: Scott Kazmir takes yet another pounding as the Angels lose five of six. Kazmir has now strung together three disaster starts (more runs than innings) in a row and six for the year, tied for the major-league lead; the post-strike record is 13 by Official Hit List Whipping Boy Eric Milton in 2005. Speaking of strikes, Kazmir would be well-served to throw them; his 6.0 K/9 and 1.3 K/BB are both career worsts.


Panamania? Junkballin’ Bruce Chen takes a perfect game into the seventh and winds up holding the Angels to two hits and one run over seven innings, the third straight start in which he’s allowed two runs or less. Winner of the “You’re Still Here?!?” award, the nomadic Chen is now pitching for his 10th big-league team, two short of the record. At 33, he might want to pace himself better lest he run out of options. More importantly, he’s put up a 3.66 ERA and 7.6 K/BB ratio in seven starts; his .551 SNWP is actually higher than that of Zack Greinke (.519).


Over the Cliff: Not surprisingly, the Mariners’ lone win for the week comes from Cliff Lee, who continues to boost his stock among potential suitors with an 11-K effort against the Tigers. Lee’s 89/6 K/BB ratio would be the best ever among pitchers with at least 100 innings, though he may be chasing that record while wearing pinstripes, since a deal to the Yankees is reportedly near as this goes to press. Elsewhere in the rotation, Doug Fister offers up his first quality start in six weeks, albeit in a losing cause. He’s allowed 10 runs in 14 2/3 innings since returning from the disabled list, but still ranks 13th in the league in SNWP at .586, with Lee’s .663 topping the league, and both Felix Hernandez and Jason Vargas in the top 10 as well.


Ouch, Ouch, Ouch: Austin Kearns is hit by a pitch three times in one game, joining at least 20 other hitters (some of them repeat plunkees) in having been plunked thrice; Manny Ramirez is the most recent, having been multiply drilled two years to the day before Kearns. The HBPs couldn’t have been that painful, as Kearns is back in the lineup the next day; more painful, perhaps, is the fact that he’s hitting just .239/.339/.353 since May 1. Even more painful than that is the loss of Shin-Soo Choo, whose thumb sprain could end his season; he leads the team in nearly every key counting stat-hits, homers, total bases, walks, steals-and his True Average ranks 12th in the league.


No Grist for the Mill(wood): The Orioles see their opportunity to flip Kevin Millwood at the trade deadline dry up as he departs his latest start after allowing five runs in a 45-pitch first inning, hitting the DL with a forearm strain. Millwood hasn’t pitched well at all lately; the outing marks his fifth disaster start out of seven, a span during which he’s been rocked for a 9.89 ERA. In happier news, Brian Matusz tosses seven shutout innings against the Red Sox. He’s got a staff-best .497 SNWP and has allowed three runs or fewer in all but four of his 17 starts, but he’s receiving just 3.4 runs per start, hence the 3-9 record.

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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The White Sox will likely call up Daniel Hudson from AAA Charlotte to take Peavy's place in the rotation. I wonder if Hudson can do for the 2010 White Sox what Nelson Briles did for the Cardinals in 1967. After a Roberto Clemente line drive broke Bob Gibson's leg in mid July 1967, the Cardinals placed Briles in the rotation and he went 14-5 with a 2.43 ERA for the World Champs and also led the N.L. in winning percentage. I don't think Hudson has to be anywhere near that effective to help the White Sox down the stretch but a strong performance from Hudson would certainly help.
I have to say, that deal for Mauer's ALREADY looking bad. It's not because of a half of baseball, but because his power outage is blamed on injuries, which only reminds us that injury concerns were huge in estimating his longevity before the signing. They can't move him to 1B with Morneau there and they can't move him there if his SLG still sits in the low .400s. With his high OBP/low SLG combo, he looks more and more like he'd be Scott Hatteburg if they moved him to first base... and that's if he can transform himself into a plus first baseman like Hatteburg did.