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


Second Chance: Ivan Rodriguez spends a couple innings at the keystone–his first time there since Little League, though he frequently takes infield practice–after Placido Polanco separates his shoulder while making a run-saving diving catch. Polanco wasn’t enjoying a banner year with the stick; his .294/.325/.359 (-0.113 MLVr) is light years below last year’s combined .331/.383/.447, but his loss–possibly for the rest of the regular season–will cost the team runs in the step-down to Omar Infante (-0.175 MLVr) or newly-contracted (as in an illness) Neifi Perez (-.254 MLVr). Meanwhile, despite a nice series win against the Red Sox, the Tigers have lost nine out of 12 to shave about eight percent off the Postseason Odds Report chances of winning the division (from 96.0 to 87.7), though they still have a 97.8 percent chance of making the playoffs.


Bombers Away: the Yankees go to Fenway and crush the Red Sox in the first four games of their much-hyped five-game series to widen their AL East lead to 5.5 games and up their Postseason Odds to 95.8 percent. Johnny Damon goes 9-for-18 with 20 total bases and eight RBI in the first three games, and Robinson Cano adds 10 RBI in a two-day binge during which the Yanks score 39 runs and walk 28 times. Jason Giambi leads the way with a pair of homers in a tighter fourth game. He’s hitting .346/.514/.788 in August, his 0.336 MLVr is seventh in the league, and there’s no proof that the glop in his hair is a performance-enhancing substance.


Despite a 14-game lead that should allow them to close out the regular season on cruise control, the Mets rotation suffers a serious scare as Tom Glavine and Pedro Martinez, the team’s top two pitchers according to both VORP (29.6 and 24.0, respectively) and SNLVAR (4.0, 3.6), face health issues. First, a calf strain sends Martinez to the DL; fortunately, his injury is the kind of thing a team with a big lead can afford to sort out slowly. But the possible blood clot in Glavine’s pitching shoulder threatens to end his season. In his absence, the Mets have to hope Orlando Hernandez can give them the kind of magic he gave the Yankees upon returning in 2004, but despite his part in Sunday’s shutout, El Duque’s ERA as a Met is still 4.85 and his VORP is in the single digits (8.2).


Johan Santana pitches through a blister and a split nail to help the “Little Pirhanas” take a weekend series from the White Sox, bring them one game closer to the Wild Card lead and bypass them on the Hit List. Nick Punto may not deserve the “Ty Cobb” billing bestowed on him by White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, but his performance (.316/.400/.418, 19.7 VORP) has offset the awful offseason signing of since-released Tony Batista and shored up a sinkhole where the Twins were less than two runs above replacement in 2005. And speaking of offsetting early-season mistakes, where in the race would the Twins be with another 2.5 months of Jason Bartlett (.350/.415/.457, 19.5 VORP) instead of Juan Castro (.231/.258/.308, -7.6 VORP as a Twin)?


White Sox
Slipping Sox: a series split with the Royals and a loss to the Twins keep the White Sox from gaining any ground against their AL Central foes, but at least they’re providing plenty of fodder for a classic Ozzie Guillen rant on stealing signs and the comparative weakness of the NL. Despite the team’s first quintet of 10-game winners since 1990, this rotation pales when compared to last year; prorated to 162 games, it comes in at 18.3 SNLVAR, six wins off of last year’s 24.4. Jon Garland puts together a fine pair of back-to-back starts (14.2 IP, 1 ER), but the rest of the pitching staff posts a 5.87 ERA for the week, continuing a second-half trend in which Garland has been the only Sox starter with an ERA better than league average (3.89).


Red Sox
Boston Massacre II: having trimmed the Yankees’ AL East lead to 1.5 games, the Sox nonetheless drop the first four games of their five-game Fenway series with the Yanks. Worse, they get blown out of the first three, allowing 39 runs in all and at least 12 in each–a first in the team’s 106-year history. Starters Jason Johnson, Jon Lester and Josh Beckett surrender 20 of those runs while lasting just 13.2 IP, taxing a bullpen that could have used some relief itself given how thin the Sox rotation has become. Beckett yields nine walks and nine runs in 5.2 “brutal” frames, the fifth time in nine starts he’s allowed at least five runs. Lester continues the trend noted here last week; over his last six starts, he’s coughed up an 8.13 ERA in 31 IP. Johnson’s poor outing causes him to be designated for assignment for the second time this year, serving to remind us all that most pitchers who strike out 3.99 per 9 IP (as he did last year) aren’t good bets for future prosperity. Also DFA’ed amid the carnage is Rudy Seanez, whose -1.164 WXRL is second-worst in the AL. And speaking of WXRL, MLB leader Jonathan Papelbon, who blew the save in Sunday night’s loss, is dealing with fatigue and mechanical issues.


Blue Jays
Sweet 16: Roy Halladay retires the first 16 Orioles and notches his MLB-leading 16th win; he leads the majors in Expected Wins (13.6) and is second in the AL in VORP (57.4). But with the Jays 10 games in back of the surging Yankees, J. P. Ricciardi has begun donating players to other contenders, adding Scott Schoeneweis to Wayne Krivsky’s ever-expanding colleciton of relievers and gifting the resurgent Eric Hinske (.264/.353/.513) to Boston to cover for Trot Nixon, who like Hinske’s Toronto platoon partner Alex Rios has been felled by an icky staph infection. Not so kosher, says Christina Kahrl, who invokes the name of Arnold Johnson in assessing the deal. In any event, the Jays’ Postseason Odds have reached Reduced Fat Milk status levels, and that can hardly help J.P. Ricciardi’s long-term prospects in Toronto.


Blue Streak: the Dodgers stretch their recent run to 19-3 and widen their NL West lead to four games. Chad Billingsley strikes out a career-high nine hitters; despite walking 17 in his past four starts (24 IP), he’s allowed just three earned runs, and his 17.0 VORP is sixth among NL rookie pitchers; Takashi Saito is second at 25.3, and Jonathan Broxton is fourth at 19.4. Greg Maddux retires 32 straight hitters over a twostart span, the longest streak since Randy Johnson mowed down 39 straight from May 12 to 23, 2004 and the majors’ second “Hidden Perfect Game” of 2006 (John Lackey had the first). And Nomar Garciaparra is back in full swing, hitting .364/.452/.545 since returning on August 9 after an injury-marred July (.215/.319/.354).


Perhaps fired up by a brawl with the Angels, the Rangers ride into Detroit and kick Tiger tail, holding the Hit List’s #1 team to 12 runs in four games. The Rangers have now won nine out of 11, and everything’s coming up Milhouse. The hitters storm to a .304/.375/.525 showing during this streak, scoring 7.36 runs per game; Mark DeRosa leads the way with 15 RBI on top of his .372/.417/.651. The pitching has limited opponents to 3.91 runs per game, with Adam Eaton putting together back-to-back quality starts for the first time since last September and Robinson Tejeda combining on a five-hitter in his return from Triple-A. If there’s a bum note to be sounded, it’s that they’ve shut down the disappointing Brad Wilkerson (.222/.306/.422, -6.7 VORP); he’ll have season-ending shoulder surgery soon.


Not So Angelic: Adam Kennedy charges the mound after being hit by a Scott Feldman pitch, turning a beanball war with the Rangers into a bench-clearing brawl which leads to eight suspensions, including Angels’ manager Mike Scioscia for three games. The Halos take out their frustrations on the sinking Mariners, sweeping them to keep pace with the A’s. Jered Weaver becomes just the second AL rookie (after Whitey Ford, 1950) to win his first nine decisions; he’s now 15th in the AL in VORP (35.2) despite tossing just 78.1 innings thus far. Maicer Izturis leads the way with the stick; he’s hit in 25 of his last 28 starts and is batting .363/.397/.581–yes, that’s an Izturis with a slugging percentage north of .350–during that span.


The Indians continue to pare their payroll and their major-league worst bullpen (-3.541 WXRL) by foisting Guillermo Mota (6.21 ERA, -0.155 WXRL) on the Mets. Mota is the seventh player traded by the Tribe since they hoisted the white flag in late June, a series of moves that’s made them the AL’s youngest team at 27.03 years. The youth movement has produced mixed results thus far. The Good: Jeremy Sowers (third on the staff with 17.4 VORP after just 64.2 IP), Joe Inglett (.298/.333/.433 in 104 AB), Shin-Soo Choo (.273/.349/.442 in 77 AB), and Ryan Garko (.326/.412/.581 with three homers in 43 AB). The Bad: Franklin Gutierrez (.247/.264/.326 in 89 AB) and Andy Marte (.208/.276/.340 in 53 AB, helping the Indians maintain third base as the AL’s biggest vortex of suck). That leaves Fausto Carmona (-1.390 WXRL, worst in the majors) as the Ugly, in case you were hearing Ennio Morricone themes while reading this.


Despite dropping both ends of a doubleheader against the Royals, the A’s run the rest of the table to keep their 4.5-game AL West lead and are now 19-5 since July 25. Dan Haren continues to dazzle, having allowed just five earned runs in 34 IP during this spree; he’s now second in the AL in SNLVAR (5.4), while teammate Barry Zito is fifth (5.1). Even as a groin strain sends Huston Street to the DL, the A’s can take comfort in the fact that their bullpen–second in the AL in Reliever Expected Wins Added (11.107)–is a balanced one. Street’s 2.789 WXRL is only 13th in the league, but Kiko Calero (2.362, 17th), Justin Duchscherer (2.018, 18th) and three other relievers are all in the league’s top 30, and with Rich Harden throwing again, they may find themselves with an interesting setup option.


The Padres drop four straight to the Giants and briefly fall under .500 before a weekend series win against the Diamondbacks allows them to salvage some dignity. Still, since July 26, they’ve lost 11.5 games in the standings to the now West-leading Dodgers, and there’s trouble on the home front: the Pads are just 30-36 at Petco Park, the worst home record of any of the eight teams within five games of the NL Wild Card slot. More trouble: anonymous players questioning the front office’s recent moves, particularly the release of popular Vinny Castilla despite the fact that San Diego’s hotcornermen are the third-biggest offensive drag in the majors this year. Even more trouble: Chris Young is dealing with a strained rhomboid muscle that may send him to the DL; he’s ninth in the league in SNLVAR (4.7), helping the Pads lead the league with 17.2. Yet more trouble: also hitting the DL is Khalil Greene, who’s 1-for-23 while fighting his latest finger injury.


Sinking Like a Rox: after clawing their way back to within one game of .500, the Rockies have lost 10 of 15, including the longest game in team history, an 18-inning, 2-1 affair that took 5:21 to decide. Again the offense is sputtering, scraping together just 25 runs for the week–and remember, that’s with an extra game worth of innings. And again the humidor is drawing attention via a spate of articles, including an in-depth New York Times piece. But if the Rox are swapping in dry balls to help their hitters, as Jeff Cirillo alleges, someone will have to explain why they’re still 14th in the NL in Equivalent Average (.254).


With Jim Edmonds battling post-concussion syndrome, the Cards pick up Preston Wilson, who homers in his debut. But even as the Cards increase their NL Central lead, the injuries continue to add up–David Eckstein is out with a strained oblique, Albert Pujols is missing 10-20 feet on contact, and Mark Mulder is returning to the rotation despite a less-than-stellar rehab. Providing the most help in the Cards’ hour of need is that Son of a Pitching Coach, Chris Duncan, who hits .583/.593/1.125 with four homers on the week, including three hits in each game versus the Reds and dingers in three straight games against the Cubs. He’s now hitting .345/.401/.661 with 14 homers in 168 at-bats, and his VORP is fourth among NL rookie hitters (24.1).


Embattled 62-year-old Charlie Manuel gets up in 72-year-old Dallas Green’s grill (just where is Brett Myers when you need him? Ah, yes, clueless in Palookaville) and leads the Phils back into a Wild Card race they looked out of three weeks ago. Shifting from fire-sellers to bargain-basement buyers, they add Jamie Moyer, but the 43-year-old may be an ill fit for Citizen’s Bank Park given his flyball tendencies; his 38.7 GB% is the ninth-lowest in the majors among qualifiers. Moyer joins a rotation in which Jon Lieber and Cole Hamels have been stellar of late (1.13 and 1.33 ERAs in August, respectively), but Randy Wolf (5.48), Myers (9.45) and Scott Mathieson (9.56) decidedly have not; the latter trio has yielded 17 homers in 57.1 innings this month.


They can’t trump the Cards, but the Reds manage to maintain their NL Wild Card lead despite even more injuries to their perpetually rebuilding bullpen; this time it’s Eddie Guardado hitting the DL with elbow inflammation and newcomer Scott Schoeneweis showing up after he “blew some stuff out in the back of his knee.” Yikes. Hurting inside is Ken Griffey, who puts up a .438/.550/.813 week amid the sobering news that both parents are battling cancer. Griffey is hitting just .250/.310/.489 for the year; injuries or no, he hasn’t put up an OBP below .351 since his rookie year in 1989.


Adam LaRoche bunts into a ninth-inning double-play to help spoil the Braves’ chances of sweeping the Marlins. LaRoche’s decision is all the more surprising given that the first baseman has been hitting a scorching .321/.395/.726 since the All-Star break, with 12 HR in just 106 AB. It’s a topsy-turvy week for the Braves all the way around. John Smoltz is battered by the Nationals, who hang him with his first loss since June 13; he’s eighth in the NL in SNLVAR (5.2). The next day the pitching-depleted Braves hand the ball to Oscar Villarreal for his first start in over three years; he responds with five innings of one-hit shutout ball. We’d swear somebody might be channeling Leo Mazzone somewhere, even if only for a moment, but with the Braves running something like 17th in the NL Wild Card race, it’s too little, too late.


A five-game winning streak helps to break the Jints’ 3-16 freefall, but their Postseason Odds are still in the single-digit range; let’s face it, being in a five-way tie for fifth in the Wild Card standings is more crackpipe than pipedream anyway. With all the hubbub about Barry Bonds’ future in orange and black, the team is facing tough decisions on whether to re-sign their leaders in pitching and hitting VORP (Jason Schmidt and Ray Durham, respectively). Schmidt now ranks second in the NL at 53.1 VORP, and his SNLVAR is tops in the league, though his ERA since the All-Star break is nearly a run higher than before (3.72 vs. 2.78). Durham trails only Chase Utley among NL second basemen (36.1 VORP); he’s hitting .362/.432/.644 since the break and is one homer away from tying his career high, set in 2001.


Shawn Green has reportedly waived his no-trade clause and may be dealt to the Mets once the money considerations (he’s owed $9.5 million for next year, with a $2 million buyout on a $10 mil option) are ironed out. That should help the Snakes given that Green is hitting just .234/.335/.343 since July 1; even while scuffling for at-bats, rookie Carlos Quentin is hitting .246/.347/.538 thus far. Quentin has four homers in 65 AB, while Green has just three in that 137 AB stretch. Speaking of rookie outfielders, the Snakes finally recall Chris Young, who hit .276/.363/.532 with 21 homers in Triple-A after being slowed by a spring-training wrist injury. Kevin Goldstein rates Young as the second-best center field prospect in the game.


The ‘Stros are shut out twice in three games by the Iowa Cubs and endure a 21-inning scoreless drought, plummeting their Postseason Odds into single digits (6.4 percent). Even sitting Brad Ausmus–majority shareholder in the fourth least-productive position in the majors, according to Jim Baker–and enjoying Willy Taveras23-game hitting streak, the offense (with “more holes than a syphilitic’s brain,” sez Baker) hits just .213/.306/.310 and scores a meager 22 runs for the week. Not that the pitching doesn’t have its problems either; Brandon Backe, who’d posted a 2.42 ERA in four August starts, is backe on the DL after reinjuring his UCL. Replacement Wandy Rodriguez returns from the minors and it’s like he never missed a beating–he’s put up just one quality start in his past seven.


In which the Marlins score more runs in one game–a 15-4 pounding of the red-hot Dodgers–than they do in the entire rest of the week (10 runs in five games). Miguel Olivo enjoys a nice week, going 7-for-20 with two homers and starting a rare 2-5-4 double-play that helps preserve their other win. Olivo is hitting a respectable .292/.313/.488 for the year; his 15.6 VORP is eighth among NL catchers. Meanwhile, the man he displaced from the backstop at the outset of the season, Josh Willingham, has enjoyed a solid .269/.343/.481 campaign, with a 15.0 VORP that’s 12th among NL rookies. Speaking of displacement, Joe Girardi refuses to offer any clues as to his future with the organization, while Maury Brown sizes up owner Jeffrey Loria.


Dial ‘M’ for Mayday: the Mariners set a major league record by losing 20 straight games within their own division and run their losing streak proper to 11 straight after being swept by all three AL West rivals in successsion on their latest road trip. They’ve been outscored 77-34 during this skid; tellingly, Ichiro Suzuki has scored just one run while hitting .261/.300/.261. With the ship sinking, the M’s gracefully escort the ancient Mariner, 43-year-old Jamie Moyer, to a lifeboat of his own, sending him to Philly (some lifeboat). As noted last week, Moyer’s been getting hit hard lately; his quality start on Thursday was just his second since the calendar turned to July. He leaves after a decade in Seattle, holding franchise records for wins (145), starts (323) and innings (2,093); Felix Hernandez has his work cut out to top those.


Who’s Your Daddy? Prince Fielder (son of Cecil, of course) and David Bell (son of Buddy, grandson of Gus, and Bride of Frankenstein) both drive in game-winning runs this week, Fielder with a walk-off homer, Bell with a 13th-inning single. Alas, Tony Gwynn Jr. misses his shot to do the same; he was sent back to Nashville on August 10 despite a 7-for-15 showing. Fielder’s had a modestly successful rookie season, hitting .279/.349/.490 with a 19.1 VORP, seventh among NL rookies, while Bell is giving Aaron Boone a late run for the Washed-Up Third-Generation Player of the Year award; his .235/.312/.294 as a Brewer simply hasn’t helped much, recent hit notwithstanding.


Rare Bird: the O’s post a winning week for the first time since May 14, back when Cal Ripken still had dark hair and nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. Kris Benson garners his first win since late June; back then, Earl Weaver was still the manager, and a turkey was known as a “walking bird.” Daniel Cabrera keeps his control long enough to shut out the Blue Jays (9 5 0 0 2 10). Must have been the onion he was wearing on his belt…


Alfonso Soriano reaches the 30-30 Club for the fourth time, just the third player after Bobby and Barry Bonds to do so, and with Brad Wilkerson cooked for the year, it’s safe to say that the Nats have come out ahead by at least six wins in the trade given the two players’ WARPs (7.3 to 1.2). That’s about all the Nats are winning these days, however; they’ve dropped 14 out of 22 after opening the second half 8-4. The staff is strafed for 48 runs on the week, with Ramon Ortiz (15 ER in 6.1 frames over two starts) beaten like he stole something and ejected for plunking Aaron Rowand.


Neifiless: an era of needless outmaking ends when the Cubs deal Neifi Perez to the Tigers for a bucket of yak spit and a rusted-out tuba. In exactly two years as a Cub, Perez’s .297 OBP was the fifth-worst in the majors among hitters with at least 900 PA. Indeed, it’s the dawn of a new age in Chicago; thanks to a strong week, the Cubs have actually played .500+ ball since the All-Star break (19-16). They use all 25 players–including the next day’s scheduled starter, Rich Hill–in an 18-inning win over the Astros. Shorthanded, they recall Ryan O’Malley from Triple-A; he merely tosses eight shutout innings in his major-league debut to complete a sweep of the Astros. Since the break, Aramis Ramirez is hitting .326/.395/.690 with 13 homers (tied for second-best in the majors), Michael Barrett is hitting .346/.397/.626, and Juan Pierre is starting to resemble the one in the catalog (.309/.350/.443).


Fresh off a sweep of the Cardinals, the Pirates go back in the tank and drop a pair of series to less robust NL Central teams. They’ve got a solid excuse for dropping the first of those: Jason Bay is limited to just one at-bat versus Milwaukee due to illness, ending a string of 307 consecutive games; he returns to the lineup and goes 5-for-12 with a pair of homers in Cincy, to little avail. Still, the Bucs are showing progress; they’re 17-17 since the All-Star break and have been allowing just 4.61 runs per game, down from 5.27 before the break. Ian Snell, Paul Maholm and Zach Duke have put up second-half ERAs better than 4.50, with Tom Gorzelanny (2.95) leading the way on the strength of five straight quality starts. Alas, elbow stiffness has caused Gorzelanny to miss a start.


Devil Rays
The Rays snap a seven-game losing streak, but they’re still just 10-24 since the All-Star break. Jorge Cantu (2-for-22) continues to slump; he’s hitting just .182/.247/.312 since July 1, and his VORP has fallen below zero (-2.3). He’s got plenty of company there among this lot; of the 20 non-pitchers to bat at least 25 times for the Rays this year, 11 of them are subreplacement, including what’s now the entire starting infield of Travis Lee, Cantu, Ben Zobrist and B.J. Upton. Meanwhile, as the Rays face the question of whether to promote Delmon Young, Kevin Goldstein notes that despite his .315/.340/.481 line, the highly-regarded prospect has an unacceptable 93/18 K/BB ratio in 542 AB in Triple-A this year.


Eight Games a Week: the Royals thrive despite an overcrowded schedule, splitting series with both the White Sox and A’s. Luke Hudson rebounds from the worst start in more than a century, while Runelvys Hernandez recaptures his old style (skinny Elvys?) in a rare winning effort. Mark Grudzielanek‘s so happy he even re-ups via a $4 million player option (hmmm, no “Under the Knife” reports of Grudz suffering a head injury recently). More cause for exuberance: the continued progress of third base prospect Alex Gordon, who’s shredding Double-A pitching (.320/.424/.585). On the other hand, while Mike Sweeney hasn’t gone on the disabled list yet, my estimate of August 19 for the Guess When Mike Sweeney Goes Back on the DL parlor game has proven eerily prescient.

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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