THT Dartboard: August 12, 2007

Divisional Picture


Welcome to The Hardball Times Dartboard, our weekly attempt to rank all the teams in baseball. The Dartboard Factor is how many wins a team would be expected to have at the end of the season if it played a neutral schedule. Next to that, you’ll find the Dartboard Factor from the previous week. An explanation of our method can be found here.

#1 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 100, 101): It might be time to consider taking their game off cruise-control. The yanks are just four back and the prospect of losing the division lead has to be looming in every Red Sox fan’s mind. If Boston blows the AL East this is mark a bigger collapse than the 2004 ALCS in my mind.

#2 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 93, 92): Well, well, well. Look who we have here. The Yankees have been flat out crushing the ball, to the tune of a 125 team OPS+. They’ve climbed into a tie for the wildcard and are sitting just four games back of the Red Sox in the east. I sure would like to see only one of these teams make it to the postseason for the rest of the league’s sake.

#3 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 93, 91): They cannot seem to build out a comfortable lead in the AL West and with a series showdown looming at the end of August, we could see the Angels slip to second place by September first. They really need somebody on offense to step up besides the usual suspects.

#4 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 90, 91): The Mets are holding onto a three game lead over the Braves and 3.5 over the Phillies. All three teams have similar talent levels, and if you went by pythag’s record they would all be within 0.5 games of each other. This could be one wild finish.

#5 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 89, 87): Like Mikey McD, the Mariners just keep hanging around, enduring multiple losing streaks of over five games and bouncing right back. If this Raul Ibanez recharge is for real this time, the Mariners are going to have to get creative to find playing time for Adam Jones, who has looked fantastic so far, both at the plate and on the field.

#6 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 89, 91): The Tigers are falling fast, thanks in large part to some overdue regression, and it’s not going to get any easier as their next four series are home and aways against the Indians and Yankees.

#7 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 89, 91): Meanwhile, the Indians took some advantage of the Tiger’s slide, but not much. Like the Tigers, their upcoming schedule is not favorable, but overall, they look like the better team than the Tigers, so I’m sticking to my original prediction of an Indian division crown.

#8 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 87, 86): Will Mark Teixeira provide enough of a boost? They better hope so because Andruw Jones‘ departure still lingers on the horizon and the Braves have effectively tapped out their farm system for the near future.

#9 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 86, 87): The Padres look like the best team in the West, but who knows what that will end up amounting to come October. Brian Giles‘ resurgence (five homeruns in the last three games) would go a long way towards getting the Padres back into the playoffs where they can lose in the first round again.

#10 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 86, 84): Did you know the Diamondbacks own the best record in the National League? Yet they’re only tenth on this list. Surprising isn’t it? Well, that’s what happens when you’ve allowed 21 more runs than you’ve scored and yet somehow are still 13 games over .500.

#11 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 85, 84): Third place in the NL East, the Phillies own a better record than the entire NL Central. That’s just how it goes for the Phillies, who seem destined for another mid-80 win, miss the playoffs season.

#12 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 85, 87): The free fallin’ Dodgers. Winners of just two of their last ten, the Dodgers have fallen all the way to fourth in the west and sit six games back. They are still within reach of a very crowded wildcard, but they have a lot of teams to climb over.

#13 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 84, 83): The Rockies keep plugging away doing nothing really spectacular, but playing nice steady, winning baseball. Wouldn’t it be a shock if they emerged on top at the end? Not because they don’t have the talent, but because they’ve been mostly dismissed as an afterthought all season.

The “R” in WAR
How a person can be a hero by being a zero.

#14 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 84, 86): Struggling mightily, the Brewers have clawed back a minor cushion in the NL Central, but they need to right the ship in a hurry as their run spread approaches even.

#15 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 83, 84): The Blue Jays represent the demarcation line in the American League, as the six teams better than they are (all within the top 7 overall) are the playoff contenders, and from Toronto on down there’s really no legitimate hope.

#16 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 83, 85): They made a charge up to the top of the NL Central, but have gone just 3-7 over their past ten games and have slipped to a game and half back of the Brewers. Their schedule is a bit tougher than the Brewers down the stretch so they will have to rely on themselves.

#17 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 82, 83): Four games ago the Twins might have been entertaining some rally thoughts. Four straight losses later and they’re seven back in the dvision and under .500.

#18 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 81, 81): There is the Angels level of offensive ineptitude, which is a level that is sufficient for mediocrity, but seems inadequate for contention, and then there’s the Athletics level of offense which is sufficient for nothing.

#19 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 79, 80): The Orioles are the next victim for the Yankee buzz saw. So far they’ve been playing dead for the playoff hopefuls. Are they going to be able to adapt a spoiler attitude?

#20 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 76, 75): A wasted year for the Marlins as their pitching staff was decimated by injury and ineffectiveness. The young hitters are solidfying themselves, but like the Rays in the AL East, the Marlins need to find the pitching in order to challenge in a tough division.

#21 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 75, 74): Take the Athletics, subtract even more offense, subtract most of the good pitching and you have the White Sox. This is a team that Hawk Harrelson deserves to announce 162 times.

#22 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 74, 72): All hail the return of Rick Ankiel, who already have three homeruns. Rumor is that the Cardinals would love for Ankiel to be their starting centerfielder next season. What a story. Meanwhile, no, I’m still writing them off for 2007.

#23 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 72, 73): The Rangers need to start over from scratch. They have nothing resembling a pitching staff and their ballpark hides the fact that most of their offense is incredibly overrated. Problem is, would you trust Jon Daniels to spearhead such a reorganization?

#24 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 72, 72): In what’s been another of the many good races this season, the Royals sit two games back of the White Sox for fourth place in the Central. If you went by pythag record alone, the Royals would be 6 games up. GO get ’em guys.

#25 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 71, 71): Until the Marlins hold another fire sale, it’s hard to see the Nationals progressing out of last place until at least 2010. They were just run far too poorly under MLB’s control.

#26 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 71, 73): Well, at least they have Barry Bonds for the rest of the season and Tim Lincecum for the some seasons ahead.

#27 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 70, 69): Ken Griffey Jr. is on pace for his highest number of games played since 145 in 2000 and if he manages to stay on the field the rest of the way, there’s a chance he got hit number 600 this year.

#28 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 69, 68): So Morgan Ensberg has hit a pair of homeruns already for the Padres, though he’s paired that with zero walks against ten strikeouts. A good let go by the Astros? Probably too early to tell.

#29 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 66, 64): Jason Bay remains mysteriously without any trace of power down from his usual ~.550 slugging down to .433.

#30 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Dartboard Factor = 65, 64): The Devil Rays race to avoid 100 losses is going to be close. Honestly, coming into this season, I might have pegged the Rays to be abound the mid 20s in terms of rank, but I never thought they’d be all the way at the bottom. Their system is already ridiculously loaded, they really don’t need another first overall selection.

Divisional Picture

The playoff picture takes the above ranking and reforms the teams back into their leagues and divisions including the wild card. This is in no ways a prediction, this is an assessment of how teams have played so far this season, not how each team is going to play.

Red Sox – 100
Yankees – 93
Blue Jays – 83
Orioles – 79
Devil Rays – 65

Tigers – 89
Indians – 89
Twins – 82
White Sox – 75
Royals – 72

Angels – 93
Mariners – 89
Athletics – 81
Rangers – 72

Yankees – 93
Mariners – 89
Indians – 89
Blue Jays – 83

Mets – 90
Braves – 87
Phillies – 85
Marlins – 76
Nationals – 71

Brewers – 84
Cubs – 83
Cardinals – 74
Reds – 70
Astros – 69
Pirates – 66

Padres – 86
Diamondbacks – 86
Dodgers – 85
Rockies – 84
Giants – 71

Braves – 87
Diamondbacks – 86
Phillies – 85
Dodgers – 85
Rockies – 84
Cubs – 83

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