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Homers are up 18 percent over this time last year, at least according to ESPN’s Juice Box tracker. Franchise values are up 15 percent, according to Forbes Magazine‘s annual independent survey of the game’s financial landscape. The White Sox’ Hit List Factor (HLF) is up 146 points after they ran the table this past week, which means angry e-mails directed at this author should decline by about 80 percent. There’s a number for everything, perhaps too many numbers, so this week, as we re-introduce one more feature of the List–the Trend column–we’re sticking with pretty pictures instead of numbers. Unlike last year, when the arrows simply indicated change in rankings, the arrows now indicate changes in the HLF. Teams with a green up arrow have seen their Factors increase by at least .003 over the past week, teams with the red down arrow have fallen by at least the same, and teams in that +/-.003 range get the flat arrow (that’s a change of roughly half a game over the course of the season, small potatoes here). As a final reminder, the Hit List is based on objective measures, not on our whims. We don’t simply have it in for your team, so please refer to the methodology and check their run differentials before grumbling about where they’re ranked.
Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Trend
Comment

1


Yankees
9-8
3-2
0.662
Up
A Hard Day’s Night: now 8-0 in the daylight, and just 1-8 under the
bright lights, highlighting just how uneven the Yanks have been thus
far. The lineup, led by Jason Giambi
(.326/.530/.848), is crushing to the tune of an MLB-best 6.24 runs per
game. The rotation has been considerably less supportive; while
Mike Mussina (2.67 ERA and 23 K’s in 27 innings) and
Randy Johnson (who followed an
awful outing
with a
stellar one
) have been solid, the other three starters have put up
a combined 5.56 ERA. So how do they snare the top spot here? Their
209-point differential between OPS (.888) and OPS allowed (.679) is 59
points better than the Tigers, 85 points better than the White Sox,
and 89 points better than the Mets, driving their W2
up to .759. It’s the run components, people.

2


White Sox
13-5
6-0
0.656
Up
Put a Sock in It: with eight straight wins by a combined score of
50-13, the defending champs finally start walking the
walk–literally–to back their fans’ talk. Sox hitters are averaging a
free pass for every 8.2 at-bats, 55 percent better than last year’s
figure of one per 12.7 at-bats; even without Jim
Thome
‘s league-leading 20 freebies, they’re at one per 10.3
at-bats. Thome continues to crush a lot (.327/.513/.873 and a .436
EqA, the league’s second-best)
though his streak of scoring a run in 17 straight games (one short of
the AL record) ended on Sunday.

3


Tigers
12-7
5-2
0.655
Flat
A hot western swing (no, not that
kind
) in which they limit the A’s and Mariners to 16 runs shows
that there’s more to the Tigers than Chris Shelton‘s
hot bat. Mike Maroth has yielded just one run on the
year (18.1 IP, 0.49 ERA), the bullpen is
second in the AL
in WXRL (2.037) and Adjusted Runs Prevented
(12.3) and tops in Fair Run Average (3.92), while the D leads
the league
in Defensive Efficiency (.739).

4


Mets
12-6
3-4
0.647
Down
Carlos Beltran‘s balky
hamstring
and the Mets’ continued struggles against the Braves put
a damper on a homer-centric week. History-making
shots from Kazuo Matsui (in his first
at-bat of the year
for the third straight time) and Julio
Franco
(at 47, the
oldest player
to go yard) accompany five round-trippers in eight
days from Carlos Delgado. Meanwhile, Pedro
Martinez
tops the
200-win mark
and simply
keeps rolling
.

5


Astros
13-5
5-1
0.615
Up
Winners of seven out of their last eight have put the pity party over
who’s not here behind them. Morgan Ensberg homers in
six consecutive games and eight times in an eight-game span; he’s
hitting .403/.526/.952 on the year and leads
the NL
in VORP (20.2). Taylor Buchholz (1.80 ERA in 20 innings, including a combined
two-hit shutout)
) and Wandy Rodriguez (2.52 ERA
in 25 innings) have stepped up to help offset the losses of
Roger Clemens and, less
famously
, Brandon Backe. As a unit, the
rotation’s 2.97 ERA is the
best in the majors
thus far.

6


Cardinals
11-7
4-2
0.565
Down
The game’s most
valuable commodity
, Albert Pujols continues to
dish out Cream of
Whoop-Ass
to opposing pitchers (.333/.481/.933 with 11 HR on the
year). But the rest of the Cards’ lineup is serving up a thinner
gruel; they’re hitting just .243/.311/.369. Fortunately, Cardinal
pitchers have been holding up their end of the bargain; they’re second
in runs allowed (4.00 per game). Chris Carpenter
(1.67 ERA and 25 K’s in 27 innings) has resumed his Cy Young form, and
even Sidney Ponson (3.31 ERA in 16.1 frames) has been
a solid citizen.

7


Blue Jays
9-8
3-2
0.558
Up
A pair of high-priced pitchers continue passing like ships in the
night, as Roy Halladay returns
to action
while A.J. Burnett goes
back on the DL
with more elbow discomfort (“a shark floating in
there” in
his words
). Considerably less separable is the keystone couple,
Russ Adams and Aaron Hill, who
have tied the knot
. Derek Jacques’ thinly-veiled
suggestion
for an appropriate wedding gift: Canadian lessons for
the entire team.

8


Red Sox
12-7
4-3
0.558
Down
Jonathan Papelbon‘s bad
hair day
hasn’t affected his pitching. Subbing for the diminished
Keith Foulke, the rookie reliever has yet to allow a
run, and he leads
the majors
in Reliever Expected Wins Added with 1.662. Meanwhile,
the Sox offense resembles Big Papi and the Eight Dwarves; while
David Ortiz is hitting .293/.391/.680, the rest of
the team is hitting just .255/.344/.380 , and Manny
Ramirez
is slugging an uncharacteristcally feeble .379, even
after hitting his
first two homers
of the season.

9


Cubs
10-7
3-3
0.557
Down
Derrek Lee‘s wrist isn’t broken, it’s his
arm
, says Will Carroll; nonetheless, he’s still facing two months
on the shelf. Todd Walker will be one of the players
filling in for Lee; he’s hitting a healthy .408/.464/.612, which beats
getting kicked in the head. In other positive news, Greg
Maddux
is pitching like a man possessed (0.99 ERA and just 15
hits in 27.1 innings, thanks to a BABIP of .192). He can thank a
defense that thus far has turned in an MLB-best
Defensive Efficiency of .762. Expect a correction, of course, but enjoy
this bit of dominance
while it lasts, too.

10


Indians
10-9
3-4
0.55
Down
Cleveland Rocked: an ugly week as the Tribe yield 49 runs while
dropping a pair of series to the big, bad Orioles and Royals. There’s
injury to add to that insult, as relievers Rafael
Betancourt
, Fernando Cabrera, and
Matt Miller all hit the DL, with the latter bound for
season-ending elbow
surgery
. Not helping the decimated staff is a starting rotation
averaging just 5.65 innings per start, merely 10th in the AL.
Considering that their opponents have the fifth-worst
PECOTA-forecasted winning percentage of any team (.479), it’s a pretty
underwhelming showing by the Indians thus far.

11


Reds
12-7
5-2
0.546
Down
Something About the Color Red: for
the fourth time
in franchise history (but just the fifth in MLB
annals), the Reds allow five
homers in one inning
. Can’t blame Official Hit List Whipping
Boy(TM) Eric Milton (who yielded 40 jacks last year)
or Great American Ballpark (HR factor of 107) for this one;
Brandon Claussen was the culprit for four of the
five, and Miller Park the venue. Meanwhile, Ken Griffey
Jr.
‘s trip
to the DL
opens up a lineup spot for Brandon
Phillips
, who’s hitting .372/.372/.698 in 12 games since
arriving in a trade with the Indians and winning Player
of the Week
honors to boot. And that, in turn, has
apparently ended
the storied Cincy career of Tony
Womack
.

12


Brewers
9-10
2-5
0.536
Down
Wallbangin’: the Brewers become the first
team in 40 years
to hit five
homers in one inning
. But with 49 runs allowed on the week, the
Brew Crew has been on the wrong end of too many slugfests, and they’ve
now lost four series in a row, squandering their 5-0 start. Still,
they’ve got a positive differential of .090 between OPS and OPS
allowed, and that correlates well with the Hit List Factor (r=.942
this year, .958 last year), so expect some improvement. David
Bush
is making Doug Melvin look smart, and Ben
Sheets
is starting to look
like his old self
.

13


Rockies
10-8
3-3
0.526
Down
Guts: A severe,
mysterious stomach ailment
sends Todd Helton to the
DL
, while Jose Mesa tries to show intestinal
fortitude by renewing
hostilities
with literary
nemesis
Omar Vizquel. After a pair of
come-from-behind wins against the Giants over the weekend, the Rox own
a share of first place in the NL West thanks mainly to decent
pitching. Aside from DFA’ed
Zach Day (10.80 ERA in 13.1 innings), the rest of the
staff has allowed just a 4.19 ERA, and the bullpen is second
in the NL
in Reliever Expected Wins Added.

14


Rangers
10-9
5-1
0.517
Up
Your Feet’s Too Big: Kevin Mench discovers he’s been
wearing
the wrong shoe size
, causing him foot woes; we’ll suggest there’s
a little too much vacancy in that size 8
1/4 head
. Whatever. Though he’s yet to draw a walk, Mench is
pounding the ball (.381/.381/.905 on the week), helping the rangers
win four in a row and move into a first-place tie with the Angels.

15


Braves
9-9
3-2
0.507
Down
Sub Mission: once again, the Braves are showing their depth, winning
with three infield subs
while Chipper Jones,
Marcus Giles, and Edgar Renteria
heal, with Wilson Betemit (.292/.370/.500) again
playing the hero. On the hill, John Thomson has put
up a 0.53 ERA with 15 K’s in 17 innings since Horacio
Ramirez
went down. May we suggest giving Chuck
James
a look in the rotation now that Jorge
Sosa
‘s pumpkin
chariot
seems to have crashed? The latter holds a 10.80 ERA and
hasn’t lasted more than four innings in any of his three starts, which
does the bullpen no favors.

16


Dodgers
9-10
3-3
0.507
Down
The Dodgers continue to overwhelm the rest of the NL West with their
mediocrity, but at least Nomar Garciaparra‘s a hit in
his belated
debut
, and more importantly, Grady Little can now field something
resembling the team’s projected starting lineup (sans
Jayson Werth). On the hill, Brad
Penny
is starting to look like the guy that Paul DePodesta
took so much heat for acquiring: 1.88 ERA and a 25/2 K/BB ratio in 24
innings. He’s among the league leaders in both VORP
(11.8) and SNLVAR
(1.2).

17


Diamondbacks
8-11
3-4
0.495
Flat
Luis Gonzalez becomes the
21st player
to reach 500 doubles and 300 homers; while that may
not be enough for
Cooperstown
, he still rates as one hell of a return in a challenge
trade for Karim Garcia… Speaking of trades, the
Snakes haven’t gotten such a hot return out of the Troy
Glaus
deal; Miguel Batista‘s ERA stands at
5.16, while Orlando Hudson is not only busier maiming
himself
with foul balls than actually hitting fair ones
(.243/.303/.343), he’s failed to anchor
a defense that’s 13th
in the NL
in Defensive Efficiency (.679).

18


10-9
4-3
0.488
Up
Adam Kennedy may lead all Angels in the triple-slash
categories at .373/.406/.542, but expect prospect mavens to turn
cartwheels with the promotion
of Howie Kendrick to replace Maicer
Izturis
during the latter’s DL stint. Fifth on our Top
50 Prospects list
, Kendrick came into the year with a career
minor-league batting average of .359 and has hit .386/.403/.586 at
Triple-A Salt Lake City. With Kennedy a pending free agent, this could
be the team’s chance to audition their future keystone cornerstone.
Speaking of the youth movement, Casey Kotchman is
just 3-for-32 since April 14, dragging his overall numbers down to
.155/.210/.172; he’s drawing criticism
for his defensive
lapses
as well.

19


Nationals
7-11
3-2
0.472
Up
Frank Robinson wins his
1,000th game
as manager, while Jim Bowden proves capable of
producing embarrassment off the
field
as well as on. But at least one of Bowden’s Follies(TM)
starts to pay off, as Alfonso Soriano belts
three homers
in one game against the Braves. By that calculus, a
PCP bender culminating with Bowden riding a tactical nuke, Slim
Pickens style
, might bring the Nats replacement-level production
at shortstop.

20


Orioles
11-9
4-3
0.47
Down
Outscored 46-36 on the week, yet still managed to split their six
games. Leo Mazzone’s staff continues to take its lumps and then some,
but at least Erik Bedard (2.77 ERA in 26 innings) and
Kris Benson (3.70 in 24.1 innings) have produced
acceptable results. With the lumber, Brian Roberts
(.320/.381/.427) and Miguel Tejada (.425/.453/.600)
offer a bittersweet reminder of last year’s hot starts; this story
simply has to have a happier ending than that one did.

21


Giants
10-8
3-4
0.454
Flat
Barry Bonds finally goes
yard
for the first time, but in a game played a mile above sea
level in which Omar Vizquel (hitting a robust
.390/.493/.508) had just done so, how impressive is that? And what are
the odds that those two players would be central
to of a pair of beanball
wars
one week apart? Even at 709 and counting, Bonds is starting to
doubt
his body can hold up long enough to catch Hank
Aaron
. Meanwhile, Armando Benitez‘s body
holds up long enough for him to get back to the basics of blowing
saves
.

22


Padres
8-10
4-3
0.446
Up
Josh Barfield racks up no fewer than four three-hit
games in six days, finishing at .394/.429/.697 for the week and
helping the Padres get back to their winning ways. Still, Barfield’s
two homers represent half of the Pads’ tally on the week; they’re
slugging a meager .372 overall (.331 home, .411 road). The return
of Mike Cameron, who made his season debut on Sunday
in the same park where his 2005 season nightmarishly ended, should help,
though he’s not exactly Albert Pujols.

23


Marlins
5-11
2-3
0.423
Up
Last week found the Marlins trying to bamboozle taxpayers in Miami and
San Antonio to get a new ballpark; this week, rumors surface that
they’ve tried
to pry
David Wright–the game’s second
most-valuable commodity
–from the Mets for Dontrelle
Willis
(who ranks
a still-respectable #42
on said list). Not that the Fish are
underrepresented there; Miguel Cabrera is fourth,
Jeremy Hermida (recently sidelined
by a strained hip flexor) is 47th, and in an as-yet-unpublished
segment, Reggie Abercrombie (on a park-aided jag
that’s lifted his line to .190/.227/.310) is 2,897th.

24


Athletics
8-11
2-4
0.413
Down
Nick Swisher (.328/.397/.787 with eight homers)
continues to deliver on the hype, but otherwise it’s a painful week
for the A’s as they lose four out of six. Huston
Street
is sidelined by a strained
chest muscle
, and the bullpen coughs
up
a lead in his absence. Bobby Crosby is felled
by a strained triceps, while a back
spasm
gets the best of Esteban Loaiza. And don’t
even start about the pain the Big
Hurt
is inflicting on this lineup with his .167/.231/.400
performance…

25


Mariners
7-13
1-6
0.404
Down
In a battle
of pitching phenoms
, the M’s and Felix Hernandez
lose to the Tigers and Justin Verlander despite the
King’s best start of the year (7 6 3 1 1 9). The rest of their week
has considerably less to recommend it beyond the novelty of losing to
three different teams from three different divisions. The entire
offense is
producing below replacement level
, with the big three of
Ichiro Suzuki, Richie Sexson and
Adrian Beltre hitting a combined .224/.303/.307.

26


Devil Rays
8-11
1-5
0.396
Down
New
regime
or no, the Rays are still giving up far too many runs (6.37
per game, worse than all but the Royals) to remain competitive for
long. They lose five out of six on the week despite four homers from
Jonny Gomes and three from Ty
Wigginton
. Even their sole victory, with Scott
Kazmir
continuing
his mastery
over the Red Sox (3-1 with a 2.64 ERA and 43 K’s in
44.1 IP for his career), is marred when the team’s ace leaves his
start with a
thumb cramp
.

27


Twins
7-11
1-5
0.389
Down
Free Francisco Liriano! Johan
Santana
‘s first
quality start
of the year goes for naught, while the rotation’s
ERA balloons to an unsightly 6.98, with Kyle Lohse
(11.57) its most egregious offender. Meanwhile the top-ranked pitcher
on our Top
50 Prospects list
has allowed just one run in 10.1 innings,
striking out 15. We’re just sayin’… The staff isn’t the only part
of this team hemorrhaging runs; the defense is dead
stinking last in the AL
in Defensive Efficiency (.658), while
stiffs like Juan Castro (.280/.308/.300) and
Rondell White (.149/.157/.164)–both easily replaced
with a call to Rochester and a request for Jason (Bartlett
and Kubel)–continue
to drag down the offense.

28


Phillies
7-10
2-3
0.387
Down
The Phils are currently last
in the majors
in Defensive Efficiency (.657), which isn’t helping
their groundball pitchers (Jon Lieber, 7.99 ERA, .373
BABIP) any more than the homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park is helping
its flyballers. Even with Ryan Howard launching tape-measure
shots
(496 feet!) and Bobby Abreu back to looking
like the guy in the catalog (.305/.442/.576), that’s not getting the
job done.

29


Pirates
5-15
1-5
0.328
Down
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (Each With a Better Last-Place Club): the
Jim Tracy Pirates quickly sink to the depths of Lloyd McClendon’s
squad, getting off to their worst start
of the last 50 years
. An inexperienced rotation is the main
culprit; they have the league’s worst combined ERA (6.39) and BB/9
(4.60), and second-worst HR/9 (1.80). Even the team’s putative aces,
Zach Duke (4.50 ERA in 24 innings) and Oliver
Perez
(6.75 in 20 innings) are getting raked, to say nothing
of rookies Paul Maholm (7.40 in 20.2 innings) and
Ian Snell (7.71 after his first quality start of the
year). Arrrgh.

30


Royals
4-13
2-4
0.29
Up
The Opposite of Shame is Less Shame: the
Royals snap an 11-game losing streak and double their season total for
victories and series wins. Zack Greinke reports
to extended spring training and the Fat
Elvys
will soon take his turn. Still, the
buzzards are circling
Kauffman Stadium, with even Allard Baird’s
staunch supporters calling
for his head
.

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 Sunday.

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