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May 23, 2011

Prospectus Hit List

The Tighten Up

by Jay Jaffe

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RkTeam
Overall W-L
Week W-L
Hit List Factor
Comment

1


Indians
29-15
5-2
.607
Up

All Asdrubal, All the Time: Three days after turning one of the most spectacular double plays in recent memory, Asdrubal Cabrera goes 5-for-5 with a pair of homers as the Tribe completes a three-game sweep of the Reds. Cabrera now has a career-high nine dingers to go with his .302/.363/.522 line, helping offset the loss of hot hand Travis Hafner (.345/.409/.549), who joins Grady Sizemore on the disabled list with an oblique strain. Still, the Indians barely miss a beat as they widen their AL Central lead. The team is off to its best start since 2001, with its biggest division lead at this point since 1999.

2


Yankees
25-20
5-2
.595
Up
Back on the Good Foot: Alex Rodriguez bashes a pair of homers against the Rays in Tampa Bay, helping the Yankees break a six-game losing streak, and outdoing his longball total for the previous month, over which he hit a miserable .176/.255/.275 in 102 plate appearances. He keeps the good times rolling with a pair of four-hit games, as the Yanks reverse fortune to win five out of six. Also joining the fun: Mark Teixiera, who homers in three straight games; Derek Jeter, who goes 12-for-30 with a double and a triple to snap a 5-for-30 skid; and Curtis Granderson, whose four homers in an eight-game span push him to 16, second only to Jose Bautista. Half of Granderson's homers are off southpaws, against whom he's slugging .809 in 52 PA.

3


Red Sox
25-21
5-1
.574
Up
Ageless and Timely: Forty-four-year-old Tim Wakefield notches his first quality start and first win of the year with 6.2 innings of one-run ball against the Cubs. The win gives the Sox the rubber match of a three-game set in Fenway Park, the first time the two teams have squared off there since the 1918 World Series, when Wakefield was a rookie; thankfully, it doesn't feature Boston's blank slate throwback uniforms, which set a new low in lameness. Wakefield's back in the rotation now that John Lackey and Daisuke Matsuzaka are both on the DL due to elbow woes, and at a time when Jon Lester's been bombed for 14 runs in 17.1 innings over his last three starts. Despite the rotation woes, the Sox are a major league best 23-12 since their season-opening 2-9 skid.

4


Rays
26-21
3-4
.561
Down
Changing It Up: James Shields tosses a three-hit shutout against the Marlins, tying his career high with 13 strikeouts. The win helps the Rays take a three-game series from their fellow Fish, retain a share of first place in the AL East, and snap a 2-6 skid. Rebounding from a rough season thanks to better pitch sequencing and better command, Shields now has a 2.00 ERA (fourth in the league) and a 4.86 K/BB ratio (third). Elsewhere, the team DFAs Dan Johnson, who entered the year as the starting first baseman but hit just .115/.179/.167; he's been displaced by Casey Kotchman, who for the moment is hitting .352/.419/.448 thanks to a .382 BABIP, 109 points higher than his career mark.

5


Rangers
24-23
3-4
.535
Flat
Squanderlust: The Rangers let the rest of the AL West creep within two games of them, as Neftali Feliz blows back-to-back save opportunities against the Royals; the Rangers win the first one, but lose the second. Feliz is now 9-for-11 in save opportunities, but his 8/12 K/BB ratio in 15 innings suggests he's skating on thin ice. As is an offense that's hitting just .235/.308/.327 in May while averaging 3.25 runs per game; the good news is that both Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz could be back in the lineup as early as Monday.

6


Blue Jays
23-23
3-3
.526
Down
One Man Band: Jose Bautista rips a pair of homers against the Astros, his first since last Sunday's three-homer game. Now with 18 on the year, he's on pace for 63, and is carrying an insane .451 True Average thanks to his 39 walks. Not coincidentally, the Jays go just 1-3 in the week's games where Bautista doesn't homer, scoring a grand total of 12 runs; with Adam Lind on the disabled list, the team has just two other regulars with True Averages above .260: Yunel Escobar (.288) and J.P. Arencibia (.285).

7


Angels
24-24
2-5
.525
Down
Both I's on the Ball: Torii Hunter's two-run homer powers the Angels over the Braves, ending his rough week on a positive note; three days earlier, he lost a fly ball in the sun, allowing the winning run to score, this while in the throes of a 1-for-24 slump. His homer can't cover for all of the Angels' mistakes for the week, or even the series: they lose an extra-inning affair thanks in large part to rookie Alexi Amarista, who bunts into a double play in the bottom of the ninth, makes an error en route to the go-ahead run in the top of the 12th, and wastes an out with a "successful" sacrifice in the bottom of the inning.

8


Tigers
23-23
1-5
.525
Down
Whole Lotta Zeroes: Rick Porcello tosses eight innings of one-hit ball against the Pirates, helping the Tigers halt a six-game losing streak that sweeps them back under .500. It's the sixth straight start in which Porcello has allowed two runs or fewer, tying James Shields for the majors' longest such stretch this season; Porcello has a 1.59 ERA in that span. The Tigers find themselves in great need of such stinginess, having scored just 16 runs over their past eight games after piling up 43 over the previous five; not helping matters is the interleague-driven choice—no DH, remember?—between Alex Avila and Victor Martinez, since they're currently second and third on the team in True Average.

9


Athletics
22-25
2-5
.518
Down
Rotation Decimation: Already without Dallas Braden for the rest of the season, the A's lose two more from their starting five, as both Tyson Ross and Brandon McCarthy hit the DL due to injuries. Ross, Braden's fill-in, goes down with an oblique injury just four batters into a start against the Twins; he's yielded just five runs in his past 26.2 innings while giving the A's four quality starts in a row. McCarthy succumbs to a stress reaction in his scapula for the third time in his career; he's posted a 3.39 ERA, a 3.7 K/BB ratio and a league-low 0.14 HR/9 through nine starts. Alas, McCarthy has just a 1-4 record thanks to 3.4 runs per game of support, though he's got nothing to complain about in that department relative to Brett Anderson (3.1 runs per game) and Ross (2.5).

10


White Sox
22-26
5-2
.505
Up
The Sixth Man: Jake Peavy tosses a three-hit shutout in his second start of the season (9 3 0 0 0 8), dominating the Indians in a 1-0 win. He now has two whitewashings in 22 career starts for the White Sox, compared to three in 212 for the Padres, all in 2005. That stat owes plenty to the latter team's trust in Trevor Hoffman; seven other times Peavy tossed eight innings and allowed no runs. With fill-in Philip Humber humming along via five straight quality starts and a 3.10 ERA, the Sox are using a six-man rotation since Peavy's return; they fall just one out shy of receiving quality starts through their second complete cycle of the expanded rotation.

11


Mariners
22-24
6-1
.496
Up
The New 1-2: Michael Pineda tosses 14 scoreless innings on the week, seven apiece against the Twins and Padres; he yields just five hits and one walk while whiffing 16 across the two outings. Pineda's 2.16 ERA ranks seventh in the league, while his 9.4 K/9 tops the circuit. Not to be outdone, Felix Hernandez follows Pineda's Padres punchout-fest by striking out 13, tying his career high, and pushing him to third in the league in both strikeout and homer rates (8.9 and 0.3, respectively). Though they're still two games under .500, the M's are riding a five-game winning streak that pulls them to within 1.5 games of first place in the AL West race.

12


Royals
22-24
2-5
.469
Down
Taking One For the Team: In a performance in contention for the worst of all time, Vin Mazzaro is pummeled for 14 runs in 2.1 innings out of the bullpen, becoming the first pitcher since 1998 to allow the double touchdown and the first reliever to do so since 1942. The runs come amid a 19-1 loss to the Indians, the Royals' third in what will become a season-high five-game losing streak. In happier news, Eric Hosmer helps them snap the skid: one night after bopping a game-tying ninth-inning homer off Neftali Feliz that goes for naught, he keys a game-tying ninth-inning rally capped when Jeff Francoeur (who else?) drives home Melky Cabrera (of course) with the winning run an inning later. Hosmer's hitting a solid .288/.348/.525 with three homers through his first 15 games,

13


Orioles
21-24
2-4
.449
Down
Insult and Injury Ride Again: Their staff stretched thin by a 15-inning loss to the Yankees—a game that requires them to call on the next day's scheduled starter, Jeremy Guthrie—the Orioles are battered for 30 runs in two nights by the Yanks and Nationals. Since opening the year 13-13 with a -9 run differential through May 1, they're 8-11 with a -30 differential. The drubbings happen without Brian Roberts, who's sidelined by a concussion; not that his .221/.273/.331 performance had been much help, but he'd just shaken an 0-for-26 slump with seven hits over five games before his injury, which bumps him to the seven-day disabled list. In happier news, Nick Markakis is showing signs of emerging from his own slump, going 14-for-34 across his last eight games to lift his paltry line to .260/.327/.348.

14


Twins
15-30
3-4
.364
Up
Mourning and Morneau: Michael Cuddyer's two-run first-inning single and Francisco Liriano's seven strong innings help the Twins halt a nine-game losing streak on an emotional day, with legendary slugger—and all-around good guyHarmon Killebrew having passed away earlier. The victory kicks off a modest three-game winning streak, matching the Twins' season high; the capper is an 11-1 thrashing of the A's that includes a double and a homer by Justin Morneau, the latter just his second of the season. Morneau is hitting just .237/.297/.349, while partner in crime Joe Mauer is still battling soreness, with no return date in sight, an all-too-familiar feeling for Twins fans.


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.

Jay Jaffe is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Jay's other articles. You can contact Jay by clicking here

4 comments have been left for this article.

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