Rk Team
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor


The Tigers continued their dominance at the top of the Hit List, going 6-1 on the week and increasing their lead on the ChiSox to 2.5 games. It’s not all good news, though, as Mike Maroth lands on the DL, and the Tigers will be tested against the stronger teams in the AL East in the near future. Looks like surgery is imminent for Maroth. Chris Shelton has cooled significantly, but he’s still the offensive leader on the team, although Magglio Ordonez is certainly earning his keep, with a .333/.378/.622 May. If Jeremy Bonderman recaptures his past success (or past potential) the Tigers could open this gap up a little wider. Carlos Guillen has a .293 EqA with a Rate2 of 111, which almost duplicates his surprise 2004 season.


New York is playing the role of Boston this season so far, as they are second in the division with better Pythagorean figures. Much of this has to do with bludgeoning their opponents into submission; if that pitching gets any thinner, things won’t work out so well. Jorge Posada‘s week didn’t go nearly as well as the team’s, as he learned of a torn tendon in his hamstring. In other injury news, Gary Sheffield returned to the lineup against Boston, and quickly attempted to corkscrew himself into the ground swinging against Jonathan Papelbon. But the biggest news out of Yankee territory had to do with A-Rod’s apparent inability to do anything useful for the team, as far as the papers are concerned. Maybe they should’ve stuck with Aaron Boone, clutch demi-god and Red Sox killer…


White Sox
I’m still not over the Michael Barrett punch to the face of Pierzynski, so here are some links for your viewing pleasure. The White Sox retained the third spot in the Hit List rankings, but they are now 2.5 games behind the hot-as-hot-can-be Tigers. Jose Contreras pitched much more effectively this time around after returning from the DL, and word on the street is that Jon Garland will be the pitcher moved to make room for Brandon McCarthy. Incredibly interesting tidbit: Brian Anderson has a .201 EqA (terrible) and a 133 Rate2 (so amazing it isn’t believable). That would actually put him a few runs above average as a center fielder, although there are sample size issues everywhere.


Now that Jose Lima has made his exit, the Mets try to fix the back end of their rotation by trading for Proven New York Winner™ El Duque and collecting Dave Williams off the Cincinnati scrap heap. In less depressing news, David Wright is all kinds of great. A .361/.432/.546 May is tough to complain about, but his overall defensive figures are trending downward. Carlos Beltran is reminding New Yorkers why they wanted him signed in the first place, and Tom Glavine was working on a no-no against the Fish on Saturday, reminding us that he’s still pretty good. Since I’m filling in for Jay: Glavine’s JAWS is currently 90.7 without factoring in his 2006 resurgence, well above the Hall of Fame average for pitchers.


Red Sox
Covelli Crisp has returned to the lineup, moving Kevin Youkilis down in the lineup to…cleanup. And this comes the day after Youkilis played in left field for Manny Ramirez. For any who consider Youkilis to be less than he is, let it be known he currently sports a .313 EqA and Rate2 of 108, which would place him fairly high in the ranks of first basemen in the league. Wily Mo Pena hits the DL, as does Mike Timlin, and the Sox recall Manny Delcarmen from Pawtucket to replace him. Papelbon set the rookie record for consecutive saves to start the season, and the Sox won a game that Scott Kazmir started, surprising…well, everyone. Of course, not all is positive, as David Wells was smacked in the knee with a line drive in an otherwise effective post-rehab start. Trades that work out for everyone involved are my favorite.


Pujols ended his 3-game home run “slump” with a blast on Sunday, but the Cardinals lost to a struggling Jake Peavy. Chris Carpenter heads to the DL, which is the last thing the Cardinals need next to a serious Pujols injury. The Cards have a four game lead on the second place Reds, who are currently trending downward, so they should be safe as long as the Brewers avoid matching their third-order winning percentage. Sidney Ponson pitched 5 innings in his return from the DL and, in other rotation news, they may lose Carpenter, which won’t help their tired staff. To be positive, it’s probably safe to say that Scott Rolen (.314/.390/.507 overall, .316/.388/.497 in May) is back. Considering he’s already amassed 10 FRAA on the season, he’s doing the job defensively as well. With Jim Edmonds having health trouble, the Cards certainly need Rolen around.


The Dodgers are suddenly looking like a strong team now that they’re mostly healthy. Nomar Garciaparra is probably the largest reason for this; he has a .345 EqA on the season, has hit .378/.435/.612 in May, may or may not be a decent defensive first basemen (depending on who you ask) and won player of the week honors for having five multi-hit games in a week. Now if they can just find a useful part in exchange for Odalis Perez and his ugly contract…


Brandon Webb has been excellent this season: his G/F ratio is 4.28, his K/BB rate is actually higher than his K/9, and he’s doing it all in that Arizona bandbox. Of course, they lack a legitimate #2 starter, and the Dodgers are heating up, so the clock is ticking in Arizona. The lineup doesn’t have a standout bat, but the majority of the players are in the .275 to .290 range, which gives them excellent depth, much like the Tigers in the American League. If they can add a #3 type starter, they may be able to make a serious run at the division and the playoffs. This team is somewhat reminiscent of the 1999 Red Sox–minus the Garciaparra–as they try and ride one horse as far as they can in the rotation. Don’t get any ideas about signing Pat Rapp, though.


Blue Jays
The Jays are hanging tight in the American League East, which is surprising considering all of the injuries and ineffective performances they have had to endure to this point. A.J. Burnett is still on the shelf, as is Gustavo Chacin. Josh Towers and Russ Adams were both sent down for their ineffective performances, with the hopes that they will turn it around in the near future. The task now becomes finding a credible second baseman in order to move defensive specialist Aaron Hill over to short. Vernon Wells has cooled immensely in May (.240/.306/.375 after an inhuman .396/.437/.740 April). Don’t forget that, just by existing in the rotation, Doc Halladay makes the Jays a potential playoff team, even with the minor leaguers and Ted Lilly alongside him. Improving the defense by subtracting Adams can only help the rotation in the long run.


The Indians continue to avoid playing the excellent defensive baseball that carried their rotation throughout 2005, as they rank 21st in Defensive Efficiency, as opposed to last year’s #3 ranking. C.C. Sabathia is pitching some of the best baseball of his entire career, and the Indians need every ounce of that. They currently sport a .284 team EqA, thanks in part to some of the better players around in Travis Hafner and Victor Martinez. The pitching and defense really need to improve though, because Casey Blake cannot keep up his high wire act of ridiculous batting averages forever. The season is still early, and the Indians and Astros have certainly taught us not to put a team away after a few months of games, but they need to pick it up fast.


Rumor Central keeps up the hope that the Rangers will land Roger Clemens for the remainder of the season, although Rumor Central has a success rate lower than the Cubs at this point. Some say the Rangers need some bullpen help, but not everyone thinks it is worth the price. Ian Kinsler returned this week, and responded by hitting .357/.375/.786 in four games. They could certainly use the boost in offense, as their team EqA is only .266; considering their rotation is basically league average and their defense isn’t their strong suit, they need to succeed somewhere if they plan on contending in the West.


The most positive Braves news occurred Sunday, when they smacked 8 home runs and somehow only scored 13 runs. Naturally, the game was won in extra innings on an RBI single. You have to love the odd occurences that happen in baseball daily…like Aramis Ramirez botching a defensive play by taking the ball off his noggin, losing the game for the Cubs. Marcus Giles appears to be struggling in 2006, and some question if he was ever really that great to begin with. The leading hitter on the roster, Brian McCann, made a trip to the DL this week due to ankle trouble after a collision with Eric Byrnes. Jeff Francoeur continues to display power, but his .226 EqA betrays his useful looking slugging percentage. He has hit much better in May though, coming in at .281/.299/.509 with 3 whole walks in 114 at-bats.


The offense continues to shine, as the Brewers lead the National League in home runs and EqA. Prince Fielder continues to develop as a hitter, posting a .303/.354/.517 line in May, although with only three home runs. Bill Hall has hit four home runs filling in for J.J. Hardy in only 11 games. The Brewers traded for Jeremi Gonzalez, and the plan is to use him as a reliever. If the Brewer rotation could return to its effective ways (I’m looking at you Doug Davis) and Ben Sheets could come back for more than three starts at a time, they could make a push in the Central, because Chris Capuano is having himself quite the age 27 season.


Bronson Arroyo starts his descent back to the land of somewhat-above-league-average pitchers, although he is still the best Reds starter. Adam Dunn and Austin Kearns continue to make a formidable duo in the middle of the order, though Ken Griffey Jr. returned from the disabled list to spoil the offensive party, hitting .222/.241/.519 on the week. He isn’t helping himself out defensively, either, as his Rate2 is currently 10 runs below average per 100 games. Brandon Phillips hasn’t hit nearly as well in May (.271/.312/.341) as he did in April, although his seasonal line still looks somewhat impressive.


Jake Peavy, 5/21: 7 IP, 16 K, 1 BB, 1 HR, losing pitcher. Jake Peavy, 5/28: 5 IP, 6 ER, 6 K, 0 BB, winning pitcher. Must’ve been that one walk against Atlanta that did him in, right?. Brian Giles continues to have problems hitting for power, but no issues with getting on base. He has a .408 SLG, but a .298 EqA. He is slugging .440 on the road and .380 at home, but that is still below his career norms. Peter Gammons gushes about the NL West, but omits the Padres from the discussion. That’s interesting, considering they are only 3.5 games out of first and rank ahead of the Giants and Rockies in this edition of Hit List.


San Francisco had some news you may have heard about this weekend, as well some news you may not have heard. This lineup is in desperate need of help; Moises Alou remains on the disabled list and, since Bonds isn’t looking like a .400 EqA hitter any longer, they desperately need his bat. The pitching could use a boost as well, as Jason Schmidt is doing well (26.3 VORP) without any real assistance. Noah Lowry has looked awful since his return from the DL.


It was a rough week for the Rox, who snapped a losing streak against the division rival Giants. The biggest surprise for the Rockies so far has to be the emergence of Aaron Cook and Jeff Francis in the rotation. The two of them have put together a very good first two months together, Cook without the assistance of BABIP (.305), and Francis with a great deal of help from it (.247). Brad Hawpe has slowed down in May after a torrid April, and hit .143/.280/.190 in the past week. Considering Matt Holliday (.326/.363/.610 for the year, .263/.318/.316 for the week) and Clint Barmes (2 for 28 on the week) slumped as well, it’s no wonder they struggled. Garrett Atkins continued hitting, coming in at .385/.429/.615 over the week’s contests. Even though Atkins, Holliday, Todd Helton and Hawpe are all hitting well overall, the team EqA is still just .248; last year’s early RoY contender Clint Barmes is contributing to that, as he sports just a .167 EqA.


Joe Sheehan touched on this subject regarding the Phillies bullpen usage in the 16-inning game, but the problems have been evident for longer than that, with results that caused just as many problems. Aaron Rowand returns from the disabled list, and receives a standing ovation from the crowd. Don’t expect an increase in production now that Rowand is back, though, because Shane Victorino filled in more than capably; he hit .355/.394/.597, while playing above average defense in center. (I can’t blame the Phillies Phans for loving Rowand after his losing battle to the wall; Darren Bragg was one of my favorite players back in the day thanks to his ability to fall into the right field Fenway stands constantly.) The rotation still needs help; Brett Myers is the only starter in double digits of VORP, and the next five on the list are all relievers.


Is Clemens coming to save the Astros? We don’t know for sure if he’s coming back at all, and if he does, no one knows if he’ll actually end up in Houston. Plus, the longer Clemens takes to come back, the less helpful he’ll be for a Houston team that is staring up at the Cardinals, Reds and Brewers in the standings. As for ‘Stros who are already under contract, Lance Berkman capped off a rough May with an even worse final week: .188/.364/.375. Morgan Ensberg also slowed down somewhat this month, but his concluding week was much more impressive, with a .226/.405/.613 showing. Even Brad Ausmus was all right this month.


The Nationals had the best week out of all the teams in the bottom third of the Hit List, going 5-2. They can thank Nick Johnson‘s .360/.448/.680 line with a pair of homers for that, as well as Alfonso Soriano‘s ridiculous .448/.529/.897 week. Soriano is hitting .319/.386/.736 at RFK, which isn’t what anyone envisioned him doing. Considering he’s been a pretty capable left fielder as well, the Nats seem to be making out like bandits on this trade….except for the part where Soriano is unsigned past this year and still wants to play second base. Don’t forget, he’ll command a huge salary if he continues his torrid season in a pitcher’s park. The New York Post claims Livan Hernandez will be moved if the Nats don’t improve sometime soon, and John Patterson remains on the shelf. Also, Matt LeCroy apparently has defensive issues, as the Astros steal seven bases against him in just seven innings.


The A’s are the second ranked team in the West on Hit List, but are a far cry from the Rangers’ #11 position. The better team is most likely situated in California, but until it is healthy and running on all cylinders, the struggles look like they will continue. Nick Swisher can’t be blamed for the poor 1-6 week, as he hit .345/.444/.552. Barry Zito continues to dominate, although his 7.4 BB/9 from his past two starts is somewhat alarming. Want a closer look at Kirk Saarloos and his pitch selection? A’s fans should get used to the sight of Saarloos, just in case Zito is traded this summer. No word yet on how far Milton Bradley has progressed since his latest rehab setback.


The Angels are currently in last place in the West, but aren’t actually that far out of the race. They need more offense and more consistent pitching if they are to survive to win the Wild Card, considering the mass of talent farther east. Kendry Morales helped that cause in his five games this week with a .409/.435/.727 showing. Casey Kotchman is showing his displeasure with his treatment for mono, which probably isn’t a good idea considering Morales is taking his job away. In other rookie news, Jered Weaver made a successful debut for the Angels, though it might be somewhat awkward if he eventually replaces his brother in the rotation for the rest of the season.


Brian Roberts returned from the disabled list, and promptly hit .368/.455/.526 in his first five games back. The O’s as a team did not perform as well, only going 3-4 in the week’s games. Jay Gibbons is the latest victim in the battle of Man versus Wall, and once again, Man lost. Is the wall ever going to lose? Maybe if we dressed Aaron Rowand like this, it’d eventually happen. Jonathan Papelbon isn’t the only successful rookie closer in the league. Erik Bedard continues to struggle, and his HR/9 has now climbed to 1.19 to go along with poor strikeout and walk rates. News flash: Nick Markakis doesn’t look like he’s ready for the majors. He has struggled all season, but his .487 OPS in last week’s games doesn’t suggest any improvement.


Not everything is going poorly for the Twins, as Francisco Liriano has moved into the rotation and has pitched very well in 10 innings so far. The defense remains awful, though, with a .645 Defensive Efficiency, and if Brad Radke is to avoid continuing his complete meltdown, the defense needs to improve to cut down some of his hits allowed. Radke pitched terribly in May, with a 6.14 ERA, 1.80 K/BB and 1.23 HR/9, so maybe he needs more than some defensive assistance. Carlos Silva might return to the rotation sooner than expected.


David Cameron asked two questions in his piece on Felix Hernandez yesterday, and answered the second one in regards to the young, struggling phenom. As for the first question, the new Pearl Jam is by far their best showing since Vitalogy, if not longer than that. Of course, if you want to be less mainstream, you can always check out the latest release from another Seattle favorite. Kenji Jojima‘s early season success hasn’t continued, but his May was very good for a catcher as he hit .284/.330/.432. Jose Lopez has been the team’s best hitter thus far, which is more of a concern than a positive. Ichiro leads the team with a .280 EqA, and the M’s team EqA is just .245. Considering that you wouldn’t call the starting pitching their strong point, they are in a heap of trouble if Sexson and Co. don’t start swinging the bats well.


If only the Florida squad had some starting pitching. The team EqA is .262 (above the league average EqA) and quite admirable considering the number of rookies and young players that dominate the roster. Dontrelle Willis continues to struggle, though his starts this past week were a better showing than the norm for 2006, high walk rate aside. Sell high, Florida! Anibal Sanchez looks pretty good in Double-A so far this year, by the way. combine that with Hanley Ramirez‘s excellent season so far (on pace for 36 runs above the average shortstop) and the Marlins made out well for themselves in that deal, although the Sox probably aren’t complaining. The current leader in pitcher VORP for Florida? Joshua Johnson.


Well, that didn’t take long. Obviously inspired by the rantings of his manager, Jason Bay has taken out his anger on every curveball left over the plate in the past week. Craig Wilson isn’t a happy individual, and considering the state of the guy playing his position, can you blame him? While we’re at it, is it odd to anyone else that their two key utility/bench players are ranked #2 and #3 on the team in VORP?


Devil Rays
The Rays almost finished off a terrible week in the win column with a come from behind victory in Boston in the ninth, but a baserunning gaffe by speedster Joey Gathright derailed that train. With Carl Crawford still performing below expectations and Jorge Cantu still on the disabled list, Jonny Gomes has become the offensive leader of the team…except he isn’t really leading anyone else, charging into battle all by himself. At least Scott Kazmir is there to join him every fifth day. Crawford actually had a spectacular week, hitting .484/.484/.774, but there just isn’t any help in the lineup right now. Aubrey Huff was just plain terrible in May, “hitting” .151/.222/.219 in 20 games with a single home run. If only the Rays could call up Delmon Young for some potential offensive help…or trade Huff for Mike Pelfrey. Something like that.


Well, Dusty Baker’s job is apparently safe. Jacque Jones is having issues with the fans, and he’s actually one of the better Cubs on the field right now. Their VORP leader’s best hit landed on A.J. Pierzynski‘s jaw (some might argue his game winning home run earlier in the year meant more, but that’s a matter of taste). Kerry Wood and Mark Prior still don’t seem to be ready to return to help, and the team’s EqA is falling closer and closer to replacement level, currently at .232 and dropping. Cubs fans, if you are tired of watching Cubs games, you can always go see Local H in concert. It’s more entertaining, and you won’t even miss people getting punched in the face. Plus, you don’t have to worry about Tommy John surgery. (It’s at 1:25 if you’re watching for it, by the way.)


I’m not nearly as eloquent about picking on the Royals as some, and I’d rather talk about what needs to be done to fix them. Joe Posnanski hopes Dayton Moore is the answer, but the chances of him agreeing to run that circus after turning down the Red Sox job in the winter seem very slim. By the way, the worse the Royals are, the better Royals Review is. I’m so torn, because I’m not sure if I want to lose that kind of snark on the web, even if I am partial to the Royals. This doesn’t make the decision any easier.

Marc Normandin is a contributor to Baseball Prospectus. You can reach Marc by clicking here or click here to see Marc’s other articles.

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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