Rk Team
Overall WL
Week WL
Hit List Factor


The Waiting is the Hardest Part: After 51 plate appearances without a home run-tied for his second-longest streak of the year-Alex Rodriguez finally hits his 600th; despite the delay, he’s still the youngest player to reach the milestone. The celebration is dampened by the number of players who have preceded him to the mark in recent years, by his awkward public persona and his own admission of steroid usage, and by the hypocrisy of so-called journalists who celebrated the post-strike home run binge while looking the other way at such activity but are now content to moralize. In any event, the well-timed homer helps the reloaded Yanks-Lance Berkman, Kerry Wood, Austin Kearns and more cash?-snap a three-game losing streak that briefly bumps them out of first place for the first time since June 12.


Heavenly Hellickson: The Rays show off their depth while buying an extra day of rest for their rotation as they recall Jeremy Hellickson, one of the minors’ top pitching prospects. He shuts down the Twins in an impressive debut (7 3 2 2 2 6) which helps the Rays recapture a share of first place in the AL East, then returns to Triple-A Durham to await his next opportunity. Meanwhile, with the lineup down Ben Zobrist and Carlos Peña due to minor injuries, B.J. Upton picks up the slack by going 6-for-12 with two doubles and a homer during a three-game stretch. Notably, two of those games come against lefty starters; Upton is hitting .267/.378/.535 against southpaws this year but just .222/.293/.361 against righties, this after showing a modest reverse platoon split from 2007-09 (.243/.367/.384 vs. LHP, .280/.357/.439 vs. RHP).


Red Sox
Man Up? Man Down: The Sox scramble to make up lost ground, but the injuries continue to mount, as does the misplaced machismo. As Jacoby Ellsbury is slammed for the slow speed of his rehab, the bolder Dustin Pedroia is cautioned for overdoing it as he rehabs his broken foot, Mike Cameron is shelved for the year after playing through pain, and Kevin Youkilis is done for the year due to a season-ending thumb injury after playing through his own pain. Losing the latter and his .331 TAv (fourth in the league) might be the coup de grâce given that Mike Lowell‘s health inspires no more confidence than his rusty bat (.244 TAv), though he does homer in his return from a six-week absence.


The Capper? Despite Jon Rauch‘s solid performance thus far-21 saves in 25 attempts, a 3.54 Fair Run Average and 2.0 WXRL, good for 12th in the league-the Twins trade four-star prospect Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps at the deadline, installing the latter as their closer despite less impressive numbers this year (4.00 FRA, 0.4 WXRL). While Capps notches a save in his first outing, he also blows one in an extra-inning victory, then gets a win in a game his bullpen mates nearly squander before Jason Kubel pops the go-ahead single off the Tropicana Field catwalk. The bottom line is everything’s coming up Milhouse for the Twins, as they’re averaging 6.0 runs per game since the All-Star break-without Justin Morneau, mind you-while putting up an AL-best 15-6 record.


Bidding Goodbye to Hicks: As the Chuck Greenberg/Nolan Ryan group win an auction for the right to buy the Rangers-outlasting black sheep Mark Cuban during a crazy bid process-the Rangers win a wild one in Seattle. After scoring just five runs in their previous three games-each while missing either Vlad Guerrero or Josh Hamilton-they equal that with a big fourth inning capped by a David Murphy three-run homer. The Murph adds a second go-ahead homer the next night; he’s got more homers in 50 PA since the break (four) than he had in 227 PA before it (three).


White Sox
South Side Shuffle: Newly acquired Edwin Jackson puts together his best start since his no-hitter (7 9 1 1 1 6), pitching the White Sox to a series win in Detroit. While the trade may seem like a head scratcher given rumors that the team planned to flip him to the Nationals for Adam Dunn, it’s not a bad one in its own right given that Jackson has a career 3.71 ERA in existing AL Central ballparks, compared to 5.02 everywhere else. Meanwhile, Juan Pierre helps the team overcome its failure to land a big bat-though they may yet lurk in the weeds on Manny Ramirez-by hitting his first homer since September 15, 2008, pushing his slugging percentage above .300 for the first time all season. Not to be outdone, Mark Kotsay becomes almost lifelike with a three-hit effort that includes a two-run homer in the ninth inning and a game-winning triple in the 11th, lifting his enfeebled line to .223/.304/.364.


Blue Jays
Still Slugging: Jose Bautista survives the trade deadline and continues to pulverize the ball, adding three more homers to his ledger to give him seven in nine games and 33 for the year; he’s now fifth in the league with a .324 TAv. Elsewhere in the lineup, Travis Snider returns to the majors following a two-and-a-half month absence due to a wrist injury, collecting back-to-back two-hit games in a pair of wins over the Yankees; he homers for the first time since May 14 in the process. The Jays still lead the majors in longballs by a wide margin; their 167 is 24 more than the next-highest team, the Red Sox, and on pace for 251, which would rank fourth all-time.


Welcome Back: Brett Anderson returns to a major-league mound for the first time in nearly two months after being sidelined by elbow woes, though the results are a mixed bag; he gets roughed up by the White Sox, but tosses seven strong innings against the new-look Royals. Meanwhile, Trevor Cahill continues to roll, with a three-hit shutout of KC to run his scoreless streak to 18 innings. He’s now third in the league in ERA (2.72) and ninth in Support Neutral Winning Percentage.


Dog Day Afternoon: With a 5-18 record since July 10, the Tigers’ season is all but done.


Fallen Angels: A 3-11 slide knocks the Angels below .500 and into third place in the AL West, but it’s not like this hasn’t been a long time in the making; the team is 10-20 since June 30, and its run differential has spent just two days in the black since April 6. Change is afoot, given a defense that ranks 12th in Defensive Efficiency, the Angels recall Peter Bourjos to play center field, bumping Torii Hunter to right and Bobby Abreu to left or DH, where he’ll cut into the playing time of the underperforming Juan Rivera (.260/.314/.428) or Hideki Matsui (.249/.327/.413). The move may not yield overwhelming dividends; Bourjos rated as a three-star prospect coming into the year, and his gaudy Triple-A triple-slashes only translate to a .252 TAv, roughly 10-15 points lower than the players whose at-bats he’ll be taking, yet 10 points above his own weighted mean PECOTA.


Carlosless: Amid signs of life with a 12-9 record since the All-Star break, the Indians are dealt a cruel blow when they lose Carlos Santana for the remainder of the year. He’ll need surgery due to a hyperextended left knee sustained in a gruesome collision (insert Joe Sheehan rant about blocking home plate without the ball here). While he’d cooled off somewhat after a blazing start, Santana was still hitting .260/.401/.467 with an impressive 29/37 K/BB ratio; his .322 TAv is the highest on the team, and the highest of any catcher with at least 100 PA. Elsewhere, the Indians net little in the way of blood or treasure by dealing Austin Kearns, Kerry Wood and Jake Westbrook.


Yard Sale The Royals take steps to dismantle their collection of hopeless mercenary hacks, trading Rick Ankiel and Kyle Farnsworth to the Braves (suckers!) and sending Scott Podsednik to the Dodgers for stuff that might do more than prop up the proverbial table leg. Furthermore, they designate Jose Guillen-the team leader in homers (16) and RBI (62)-for assignment; since a .304/.337/.609/7 HR April, he’d hit just .240/.307/.375, including an 0-for-21 slump to close out a stint in which he provided just 0.4 WARP for about $32 million. The moves clear space for the likes of Kila Ka’aihue and Alex Gordon; the latter homers three times in a five-game span, with all of them coming in wins, the first via his three-run walk-off shot.


Adventures in Disappointment: The Mariners’ already-frustrating season finds new ways to go down the tubes, as Justin Smoak (.159/.169/.270 since being acquired for Cliff Lee) earns a Triple-A demotion, Erik Bedard prepares for his third surgery in three years, and Milton Bradley (.205/.292/.348) hits the disabled list yet again. Meanwhile, manager Don Wakamatsu expresses concern over the way Ichiro Suzuki is being pitched amid the weak lineup; he’s coming off a .246/.288/.280 July, his second-worst OPS for any month of his major league career (a .233/.274/.293 August 2006 being his worst). Still, Ichiro’s overall triple-slash line (.312/.362/.388) is a dead ringer for his 2008 line, and his .284 TAv is as good or better than five of his other nine major-league seasons.


Buckyball: The Buck Showalter Era begins with a bang as the Orioles win their first three games under the new skipper, something they did only six times prior to his hiring. Luke Scott celebrates his arrival by homering for the second and third games in a row; not only is he still an Oriole after various rumors had him departing for elsewhere, but he’s been on fire since returning from the DL on July 19, hitting .328/.356/.761 with eight dingers in 73 plate appearances. Also showing signs of signs of life after running the rumor gauntlet is Ty Wigginton, who’s hitting .284/.342/.552 with three homers since the break, after connecting for just one in his previous 42 games (.204/.309/.257).

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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Slamming Lupica for playing up the long ball in '98 but then acknowledging the role of steroids in defining the same era twelve years after the fact seems just a tad cheap. Not that he's been handed down from on high as a gift to sports writing or anything even close, or that he wrote what he did for any reason other than selling copy. However, it's far from invalid to bring up the fact that ARod admitted on the record that he was using steroids when he hit some of those 600 dingers for which he's being celebrated. Writing it off as mere moralizing doesn't do justice to the fact that MLB and the Yankees have been putting an avowed cheater on a pedestal. Just because Lupica's point is trite doesn't mean it's incorrect or impertinent. What DOES seem impertinent is its inclusion in the Hit List in the first place.
or...he might be fitting the blurbs to each team's fanbase. the reason for not mentioning lupica isn't really its lack of objective pertinence though. it's because lupica is such a huge tool that any mention of him stands to dignify his hackery.

oops, i did it again
Jay, thanks for using just one decimal place when pointing out a relievers' WXRL. The stat is "wins added over a replacement level pitcher" and I always thought it was ridiculous when Christina would use it in a column and it was carried out to 3 or 4 decimal places. I don't mean this as a criticism of Christina, I just found it silly to carry a "wins added" stat to so many decimal places. The idea of .001 wins is really silly.
Love the Buckyball reference!