THT Dartboard: July 13, 2008

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 Tampa Bay Rays (Dartboard Factor = 101, 103): Heading into the All-Star Break the Rays face their toughest challenge, a season long losing streak. How they regroup after the break will be closely scrutinized for people that concern themselves with team chemistry.

#2 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 99, 100): Boston looks to jump back on top the AL East today for the first time since June 28th while they have to be searching for at least a platoon partner for Jason Varitek that can provide some offense.

#3 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 96, 95): The Cubs couldn’t have asked for much more from Rich Harden is his debut. If he stays healthy, he’s a solid bet to help the Cubs maintain their hold on the NL Central lead.

#4 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 95, 96): Jim Thome has a 1.100 OPS sicne June 27th but it continues to be the White Sox’s amazing run prevention skills that are winning them ballgames. The same formula they rode to a World Championship in 2005.

#5 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 92, 92): They’re a 96 win team according to BaseRuns which is a remarkable 16 games better than division leading Los Angeles. Does the Harden trade mean they’ve given up?

#6 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 90, 91): Based on BaseRuns, the Angels are a below .500 team at 80 wins. They’re going to have to figure out something to do with Gary Matthews Jr. since they’re stuck with him for the next three plus years. Meanwhile Casey Kotchman has just a .638 OPS since May 7th.

#7 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 88, 86): A four game winning streak helped pick up their ranking this week, but even with the Rays struggles, they remain well behind the top two teams in the East and they may have to make the choice to sell this month.

#8 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 87, 88): Doing their best to hold off both the Marlins and the Mets, it is actually the Mets that represent the biggest threat to the Phillies. To that end, the rumors are flowing that they’re looking for pitching help on the trade market.

#9 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 87, 86): The Twins have just a 78-win BaseRun projection on the year but after a three game hiccup in Boston they’ve jumped right back on the horse by taking the first three games from Cleveland.

#10 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 87, 86): C.C. Sabathia wins his first outing as a Brewer and Russell Branyan has his slugging percentage up over .600.

#11 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 85, 83): Roy Halladay tosses his league leading (amongst teams even) seventh complete game and the BaseRuns list has the Blue Jays at over 89 wins on the year.

#12 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 85, 83): The Rangers just flat out pummel the ball but amidst all the MVP talk for Josh Hamilton it should be noted that his defense in center field might be average at best and his OPS away from Arlington is just .768.

#13 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 85, 86): A 1.084 OPS since July 1st has Ryan Ludwick back in the groove trying to help the Cardinals hold off the Brewers but with Milwaukee’s acquisition of Sabathia the Cardinals might be pressing for a trade of their own.

Retroactive Review: Ace
Looking back at some of Justin Verlander's most interesting moments.

#14 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 83, 83): The calendar turned to July and since then the Tigers have faced the Twins five times and lost all five though the last three defeats have all been by a single run.

#15 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 83, 77): Winners of eight in a row have the Mets being the big upward mover this week and have closed five games on the Phillies for first place in the NL East but more problems with Pedro and Moises Alou means the Mets need both an OF and might need an additional starter.

#16 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 82, 85): A five game losing streak tumbles the Orioles a bit down this list, but they legitimately hover around .500 and the trade winds brewing say they might be looking to buy this deadline. For what, I’m not sure because no matter how much luck they have their miles away in talent from the Rays and Red Sox.

#17 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 80, 79): The Marlins offense has been a juggernaut so far this season, but BaseRuns thinks they’ve been overachieving to this point, which would not bode well to their chances of holding in contention.

#18 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 79, 81): Now down to 5-22 on one-run games, their actual record is now overtaking their BaseRuns won-loss record which holds at 88 wins.

#19 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 79, 79): The leaders of the NL West both in real standings and here in the Dartboard which is pretty sad for the division at large. What’s up with Eric Byrnes? Beyond his offensive value plummeting (though that’s pretty much just his average), his steals have disappeared.

#20 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 77, 78): They managed to get as close to the top as a tie with the Diamondbacks in the NL West but have since fallen back a bit as they scramble for a replacement shortstop.

#21 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 74, 71): Jeff Keppinger, since resuming regular duty with the Reds on June 22nd has just a .542 OPS.

#22 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 74, 74): Joey Gathright has 59 hits, three of which have gone for extra bases leading to an incredible .017 isolated slugging percentage.

#23 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 73, 73): Mired in a ten game losing streak (eight of them on the road), the Indians come home and rip up the Rays by a combined 26-6 score.

#24 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 71, 71): The Pirates might deal Xavier Nady and Jason Bay but want to hold on to Jack Wilson? I’m not sure I get it.

#25 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 71, 72): 13-24 since the calendar turned to June and Miguel Tejada has an OPS of .622 since May 4th. He’s going to be quite an asset for Houston for the next year and half.

#26 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 68, 68): The first of the incredibly terrible NL West trio, the Rockies might be able to worm their way further down the list if Brian Fuentes gets dealt as the rumors seem to go.

#27 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 67, 70): A six game winning streak has the Giants tumbling down the Dartboard. Since his first start of the year, Tim Lincecum has lasted tossed at least six innings on every occasion except for one where he went five.

#28 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 66, 67): Brandon Morrow had been one of the few bright spots on the Mariners this season and was having a largely overlooked great season. He might be grateful for that now after blowing two saves on walk off home runs. Maybe it will help motivate the team to move him to the rotation where he belongs.

#29 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 65, 64): Chase Headley has certainly made a quick impact on the Padres especially on the power front, but 92 plate appearances into the season, he has but one walk to 28 strikeouts.

#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 60, 60): The Nationals break their losing streak at six among them with Steven Shell nabbing a save in a 10-0 win. I’m so glad that rule is on the books.

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.

Rays – 101
Red Sox – 99
Yankees – 88
Blue Jays – 85
Orioles – 82

White Sox – 95
Twins – 87
Tigers – 83
Royals – 74
Indians – 73

Athletics – 92
Angels – 90
Rangers – 85
Mariners – 66

Red Sox – 99
Angels – 90
Yankees – 88
Twins – 87
Blue Jays – 85

Phillies – 87
Mets – 83
Marlins – 80
Braves – 79
Nationals – 60

Cubs – 96
Brewers – 87
Cardinals – 85
Reds – 74
Pirates – 71
Astros – 71

Diamondbacks – 79
Dodgers – 77
Rockies – 68
Giants – 67
Padres – 65

Brewers – 87
Cardinals – 85
Mets – 83
Marlins – 80
Braves – 79

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