THT Dartboard: July 27, 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 = 99, 99): 6-3 since the break, the Rays have managed to regain their division lead with some help from New York.

#2 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 98, 99): Coming off the break the Red Sox were swept in Los Angeles, then came over and swept the bottom-feeding Mariners and are now on the verge of being swept by the Yanks.

#3 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 95, 96): With their division lead in danger after a three game losing sweep and the Twins hot streak, the White Sox have responded with a four game winning streak of their own to hold on at the top of the AL Central.

#4 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 94, 92): Winners of nine of their last ten and with the Athletics both selling talent and dropping games, the Angels are now all but assured a playoff berth.

#5 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 93, 94): Struggling post-break, the Cubs now find themselves in a dogfight with Milwaukee with St. Louis still hanging around. However, the Cubs still possess a far superior run differential over their division foes.

#6 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 92, 88): The Yankees have gained an incredible six games on the division lead over the past 14 games and with a couple new additions from the Pirates and possibly Mariners, the Yankees are making a real go of it.

#7 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 91, 88): Talk about an immediate impact. Since coming over from Cleveland, C.C. Sabathia has four starts, three complete games, 31 strikeouts and just eight walks.

#8 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 86, 90): Joe Blanton and Rich Harden are gone, Huston Street may be next and the Athletics just received some massively bad news regarding Eric Chavez and the health of his shoulder, namely that his days at third base may be over.

#9 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 86, 85): Any other division and the Blue Jays probably would still have a legitimate shot at the playoff berth, but stuck in the AL East, they face three more talented teams ahead of them. They should be considering moving A.J. Burnett.

#10 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 86, 84): Still neck and neck with the Phillies who upped the ante by acquiring Joe Blanton, the Mets have apparently turned their attention to acquiring a corner outfield bat. If the rumors out of Boston are true, could Manny Ramirez be on the way to Queens?

#11 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 86, 88): The Twins sniffed the division lead and then promptly dropped five straight. At this point it’s just a matter of time until they recall Francisco Liriano and time will tell if he’ll enough of a push.

#12 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 85, 88): Joe Blanton got a rough introduction to National League play and exited after just two innings on Sunday. It’s clear that they’re going to need much more for him.

#13 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 84, 83): They’ve managed to gain a little bit of ground back on Minnesota and Chicago ahead of them, but the Tigers are flat out running out of time. Miguel Cabrera has been a disappointment in his first season and Dontrelle Willis has been an unmitigated disaster.

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#14 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 84, 87): The Cardinals need to chase down at least one of Chicago or Milwaukee while holding off Philadelphia and Atlanta in the east and unless they do something at the 11th hour to get an improvement in their pitching, it’s unlikely to happen.

#15 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 83, 84): Could the Rangers make a play at the Wild Card? They’ll have opportunity to beat up on the Mariners and Athletics down the stretch, a possible advantage over teams in the other two stronger divisions.

#16 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 80, 78): Mercifully back over .500 and with the division lead in the west, it would be nice to avoid having to deal with the media craze if a sub-.500 team makes it into the playoffs.

#17 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 80, 81): Owners of the majors best defense at this point. Still sitting in fourth place as their luck on one-run games hasn’t yet turned, the Braves are pushing the buy/sell decision to the deadline.

#18 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 80, 79): The days keep ticking by and the Marlins keep hanging around the NL East lead thanks still to their high-powered offense.

#19 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 79, 81): Slowly and inexorably returning to their predicted finishing spot in the cellar of the AL East, Baltimore has some pieces to the puzzle for 2009 but they’re entering a prime window for the Rays and with the Yanks and Red Sox as well, it’s going to be tough pickings for the next five or so years.

#20 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 78, 79): Needing to fill a hole on the left side of the infield, the Dodgers went with Casey Blake which means Andy LaRoche is again odd man out and Nomar Garciaparra is going to continue playing “shortstop”.

#21 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 76, 74): The Indians are trying to do something with Paul Byrd but that’s hard to fathom. Andy Marte will finally get a prolonged look in the majors now with Casey Blake gone and Cliff Lee keeps on trucking.

#22 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 75, 75): It sure didn’t seem likely at the time to have manifested so quickly, but has there been a bigger talent for talent swap in recent memory than Josh Hamilton for Edinson Volquez?

#23 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 73, 69): With nine wins in their last ten, the Rockies are not quite out of it in the dismal NL West. Will this influence how Brian Fuentes and possibly Matt Holliday are treated this week regarding trade talks?

#24 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 73, 73): The ageless Mark Grudzielanek has been providing Kansas City with another mostly unheralded quality season for a second basemen.

#25 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 72, 73): The Astros behavior of acting like a buyer when they are far out of the race is curious for even if they just wanted a leg up on possibly signing Randy Wolf this winter, how many teams are going to be after his services anyways?

#26 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 71, 70): Xavier Nady and Damaso Marte are gone, will Jason Bay be next? It’s unlikely, but the Pirates do have much more work to do before they’ll even have a realistic shot at a .500 record.

#27 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 67, 67): Barry Zito had managed to avoid taking any losses in July until Sunday, running his total up to 13 on the year, but that’s going to be make it hard-pressed for him to reach 20.

#28 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 64, 67): With assets to sell off in Raul Ibanez and Jarrod Washburn and possibly Arthur Rhodes, the Mariners have an exciting week ahead of them off the field at least.

#29 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 62, 63): With Randy Wolf already gone and Greg Maddux not looking like he’s moving the Padres may be done dealing this summer. Have they set themselves up enough for 2009?

#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 59, 59): Despite a nearly even run differential in July, the Nationals are 5-16 and losers of six straight, maintaining their lead on the race for the first overall draft pick next June.

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 – 99
Red Sox – 98
Yankees – 92
Blue Jays – 86
Orioles – 79

White Sox – 95
Twins – 86
Tigers – 84
Indians – 76
Royals – 73

Angels – 94
Athletics – 86
Rangers – 83
Mariners – 64

Red Sox – 98
Yankees – 92
Athletics – 86
Blue Jays – 86
Twins – 86

Mets – 86
Phillies – 85
Braves – 80
Marlins – 80
Nationals – 59

Cubs – 93
Brewers – 91
Cardinals – 84
Reds – 75
Astros – 72
Pirates – 71

Diamondbacks – 80
Dodgers – 78
Rockies – 73
Giants – 67
Padres – 62

Brewers – 91
Phillies – 85
Cardinals – 84
Braves – 80
Marlins – 80

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