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Rk Team
Overall WL
Week WL
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Yankees
60-34
6-3
.619
Down
Losing Streak: It’s been an eventful couple of weeks for the Yankees, who bid adieu to an era with the losses of principal owner George Steinbrenner and longtime PA announcer Bob Sheppard; Nick Swisher helps send the two off in style with a homer and a walkoff single in the eighth and ninth innings of the team’s first home game since the two icons’ passings. Worse for the team’s on-field chances, they lose Andy Pettitte to a groin strain; he’s sixth in the league in both SNWP (.597) and ERA (2.88). They almost lose A.J. Burnett to self-inflicted stupidity; he’s lost the plot lately, with an 8.15 ERA since the beginning of June. With Phil Hughes also struggling-6.85 ERA and 2.3 HR/9 in four starts since the Yanks skipped his turn out of concern for his innings cap, and a 5.51 ERA with just five quality starts in his last 11-the team may continue to seek rotation fortifications.

2


Rays
57-37
5-4
.601
Flat
Baseball in the Groin! Baseball in the Groin!: With a 12-5 record this month, the Rays recover the .700 clip they showed during April, with Evan Longoria (.348/.463/.591 this month) leading the way. His two-run homer and two-hit effort-his fourth multi-hit game out of seven-against the Orioles helps erase the sting of a walkoff loss the previous night. Still feeling the sting is Carl Crawford (.348/.375/.609), who takes a pickoff throw right in the stones; whether out of brazen stupidity or sheer defiance, he’s still going to play without a helmet. Alas, George C. Scott is unavailable for the big-budget remake.

3


Rangers
56-40
6-5
.577
Flat
New Toy: Cliff Lee throws nine innings in back-to-back games in his first two starts as a Ranger, but gets just three runs of support as the team loses both games; the first of those losses comes amid a four-game pre-break sweep by the Orioles. Lee finally gets a win in his third start, but like a girlyman needs his bullpen to get a couple of outs. More importantly, the Rangers snap out of their pre-break funk by winning six of eight since. Claiming two of those wins is Tommy Hunter, who’s 7-0 with a 2.09 ERA despite whiffing 5.0 per nine thanks to an unsustainably low .246 BABIP. Enjoy it while it lasts…

4


Red Sox
54-42
5-6
.576
Down
Rotation Capitulation: Losers of 10 out of 14 games and three out of four series, the Sox fall further from first place than any time since late May. Their rotation puts up a 5.49 ERA (and a 6.29 RA) in that span with four disasterpieces, two by Tim Wakefield, who’s been rocked for a 9.88 ERA over his three starts within that span, one by John Lackey, and one by Clay Buchholz in his return from the disabled list. The latter allows two homers in four innings after yielding just one in his previous 56 2/3, but despite the pounding, his 2.81 ERA is still tied with Jon Lester as the rotation’s best; that duo are the only Sox starters with Support-Neutral Winning Percentages above .500.

5


White Sox
52-42
6-4
.545
Up
Heating Up the Hot Corner: Despite cooling off after a 21-4 run leading up to the All-Star break, the Sox widen their AL Central lead. Amazingly enough, one key catalyst for the team’s strong play appears to be Omar Vizquel. Since taking over third base when Mark Teahen went to the disabled list on June 1, Vizquel’s hit .301/.367/.381, and the team is 24-10. He’s made some highlight-reel plays at the hot corner, though his -5 FRAA (and negative UZR and Plus/Minus) all suggest he’s got a ways to go before supplanting Brooks Robinson in the annals. While the Sox are getting by at third, as the deadline approaches, they certainly need upgrades for Replacement-Level Killer Juan Pierre (.240 TAv) and his accomplice, DH Mark Kotsay (.237).

6


Twins
51-45
6-5
.541
Down
Twin Stoppers: Francisco Liriano and Carl Pavano stop the streaking White Sox in their tracks to climb back into second in the AL Central race; both remain among the league’s top 15 in Support-Neutral Winning Percentage, and the latter follows up with a shutout of the Orioles in his next turn. Alas, not all is well in the Twins’ rotation, as Nick Blackburn is sent to the bullpen after being tagged for a 9.88 ERA, 2.4 HR/9, and five disaster starts in his last nine outings; somebody must have broken the mold from which his 2008 and 2009 campaigns were cast. Meanwhile, Justin Morneau remains sidelined due to a concussion, triggering a lineup shuffle that results in waaaay too much Nick Punto, who’s 7-for-38 this month and so bad in general that you’d expect the Twins to petition the league to allow him to hit off a tee.

7


Blue Jays
48-48
5-5
.525
Up
The Two Escobars? Amid an 8-4 stretch-their best since early May-the Jays add a clear win in the trade department. They swap Alex Gonzalez to the Braves for Yunel Escobar, whose clashes with Bobby Cox and slow start this year (.238/.334/.284) apparently trump the .301/.375/.426 he hit from 2007-2009. The deal pays near-immediate dividends, as Escobar hits a grand slam in his third game as a Jay to cap a sweep of the Orioles, then follows up with a homer the next day-his first two blasts of the year.

8


Tigers
50-44
4-7
.517
Down
Tailing: A seven-game losing streak knocks the Tigers into a tie for second in the AL Central, further than they’ve been from the division lead in more than a month. Games aren’t all the Tigers are losing these days; they’ll be without Brandon Inge-their second-hottest hitter this month (.326/.415/.522) after Miguel Cabrera (.397/.457/.759)-for four-to-six weeks due to a fractured metacarpal. Already suffering a Replacement-Level Killer tandem behind the plate, they’ll try muddling through with the sub-replacement tandem of Scott Sizemore (.224 TAv) and Don Kelly (.191) or maybe the 17th position change of Carlos Guillen‘s Detroit career, unless they can coax Darrell Evans out of retirement.

9


Athletics
48-47
7-2
.511
Up
He’s Kouzman-on Kevin Kouzmanoff‘s 10th-inning walkoff single caps a comeback from a 4-0 deficit to help the A’s take a series from the Red Sox. It’s the second of three straight series wins for the A’s, who climb back over .500 for the first time since June 11. It’s also a big week for Kouzmanoff, who racks up four straight multi-RBI games, driving in seven runs in a three-game sweep of the Royals plus a pair against Boston. Even so, he’s hitting just .270/.304/.398 and has just one walk in his past 13 games-the type of performance it’s difficult to imagine Billy Beane stomaching, if he were paying attention.

10


Angels
51-47
5-5
.480
Flat
Nap Time: Mike Napoli homers in three straight games (and four out of five for the week) to help the Angels escape their 2-8 slide into the All-Star break. The first two shots come against the Mariners, the third amid a three-hit, four-RBI effort in a rout of the Yankees. Napoli’s hitting .284/.346/.568 since June 16, the point at which he assumed the bulk of the team’s first base duties. His 18 homers are just two off his career high, but his walk rate (6.9 percent) and K/UBB ratio (4.1) are by far career worsts.

11


Royals
41-54
2-8
.442
Down
Zack Is Back: A 2-8 bellyflop knocks the Royals under .500 during the Ned Yost Era, not that many expected them to avoid that fate for this long. Even so, Zack Greinke‘s fortunes appear to be improving. He notches his fifth win and sixth quality start (assuming you ignore unearned runs) in a seven-start span, putting up a 2.89 ERA and 47/8 K/BB ratio in 53 innings along the way. Better still, he’s gone 40 innings without a homer. Meanwhile, the team swaps Alberto Callaspo to the Royals, presumably because Dayton Moore is really, really sure that Wilson Betemit can sustain his .377/.449/.672 showing.

12


Indians
40-55
7-3
.429
Up
Jhonny and… Jean-ny? The Tribe wreak havoc in the AL Central race, reeling off a six-game winning streak against the Tigers and Twins. The highlight of the streak may be Jhony Peralta’s unique inside-the-park home run which backs seven strong innings by Jeanmar Gomez against Detroit in his major league debut. Though the 22-year-old Venezuelan was the Eastern League Pitcher of the Year in 2009, Gomez certainly doesn’t look like much more than the destitute man’s Fausto Carmona on paper; he’s got a 5.70 ERA and just 3.7 K/9 at Triple-A this year. As for the real Carmona, he’s been reasonably effective this year, with a .517 SNWP and a 3.65 ERA despite mediocre peripherals; his 4.55 SIERA suggests the precariousness of his highwire act.

13


Mariners
37-59
3-8
.406
Down
Where there’s Smoak, There’s… Not So Much: The Justin Smoak Era begins in Seattle, as the new Mariners first baseman-the main bounty in the Cliff Lee deal-homers in back-to-back games during his first week. Alas, they’re both losses, and the Mariner offense continues to occupy a Vortex of Suck: they’re averaging 2.7 runs per game this month on .214/.283/.303 flailing, good for a 4-15 record. The team can lay claim to no less than seven of the 34 most festering sores lowest True Averages in the league among hitters with at least 150 PA-plus Smoak, based upon his combined work in Texas and Seattle.

14


Orioles
30-65
4-6
.351
Up
Their managerial dalliance with Buck Showalter remains unresolved, but a few other birds are starting to show up. Luke Scott returns from the disabled list and bops two homers in his second game back, miraculously avoiding injury as he rounds the bases. Kevin Millwood and Mike Gonzalez are activated, albeit to less impressive results; Brian Roberts is reportedly near, but then, so is the Great Pumpkin. Meanwhile, one Oriole departs suddenly: Chris Tillman, who goes from chasing a no-hitter against the Rangers to being bombed back to Norfolk in back-to-back turns.

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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adman71
7/23
Cliff Lee didn't throw back to back complete games for Texas -- in the Boston game, he threw 9 innings, but the game went into extra innings.
jjaffe
7/23
D'oh, my bad. E-6.
irablum
7/23
Your statement about Hunter and his BABIP seems suspect.

first off, the Rangers BABIP is .278, which shows some fairly nifty defense. second, the current rotation all but one has a low BABIP: Wilson, .247 Lewis, .261, Hunter, .246, Lee .266. Scott Feldman's BABIP is .336.

by observation, it just doesn't look like any of these guys is getting hit hard but Feldman, who is really struggling.
jjaffe
7/23
Are you telling me they're somehow magically immune to regression? Because history suggests otherwise, particularly among guys who don't strike out a lot of hitters. Hunter had almost exactly this same stretch last year (nine starts .250 BABIP, 2.26 ERA) before regressing, just to stick with the example at hand.
elbelz
7/23
Also, Royals swapped Albert Callaspo to the Angels, not themselves.
jjaffe
7/23
Whoops! Late add to the last entry I wrote, that while watching the Yankees-Royals game.