THT Dartboard: July 6, 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 = 105, 97): A sweep over Boston at home has the Rays now with a sizable lead in not only the AL East, but in all of baseball. However, with Percival’s injury, they may be looking to add some relief help via trade.

#2 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 100, 103): Daisuke Matsuzaka is walking nearly six men a game and so far is only being saved by an impossibly low 6.5% of flyballs landing over the wall. His xFIP stands at 5.08.

#3 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 96, 96): Alexei Ramirez has certainly come to Chicago’s rescue at second base, managing to post a 96 OPS+ where before they were relying on Juan Uribe‘s .206/.258/.326 line. Ramirez’s walk (just 6) to strikeout (25) numbers are troubling though.

#4 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 95, 97): They tried Felix Pie and they tried Reed Johnson. Who would have thought that Jim Edmonds, acquired from San Diego where he hit .178/.265/.233 would manage to be the Cubs’ answer in center field? Edmonds is boasting a .283/.379/.566 line since moving to Wrigley.

#5 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 92, 94): The Athletics boast a league worst .377 slugging percentage, but their pitching staff is showing what happens when you just never allow homeruns; only 60 so far on the year.

#6 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 91, 89): The Angels keep creeping up this list by winning, now owning the second best record in the bigs, though their BaseRuns figures keep saying that they shouldn’t. Vladimir Guerrero, though improved over April, is still showing signs of aging.

#7 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 88, 86): The Phillies sent Brett Myers down to the minors as his homerun rate was just out of control. His other numbers were fine, but he was averaging over two homeruns per game. Accordingly, rumor has it that the Phillies are hunting the trade market for a big name starting pitcher.

#8 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 86, 90): The Yankees lose Johnny Damon for awhile after crashing into the left field wall. Overall, they’re showing what happens when you rely on a team that’s heavily made up of players over the age of 30; they’re breaking down and are now in 4th place in the division and a daunting nine games back.

#9 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 86, 83): The Twins had their ten game winning streak snapped last Saturday, but forged ahead and have won four of their last five since. Too bad for them that the entire AL Central sans the Indians are streaking, but they do now sit 10 games over .500.

#10 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 86, 85): The Brewers finish June at 16-10 and are continuing that trend so far in July, taking three of their first four and situating themselves just a game behind in the Wild Card and 4.5 in the division, turning them from potential sellers of Ben Sheets into potential buyers of C.C. Sabathia (or another) in July.

#11 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 86, 85): The Cardinals’ pitching staff holds a 4.25 FIP against a league average of 4.27, but owns one the league’s best defenses. Congratulations to Albert Pujols and his 300th career homerun. How many might he end up with?

#12 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 85, 85): The Orioles bounced back from a subpar May to run a 15-12 June, but holding serve around .500 isn’t doing them any favors keeping pace with the streaking Rays and Red Sox and they are now 10 games back. The Orioles have got just a .229/.264/.293 line collectively from their shortstops this season.

#13 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 83, 85): In April and June, the Blue Jays outscored their opponents by five runs and went 21-33. By all rights, they should be third in the east and within striking distance, but a 12-21 record in one-run games is one aspect that’s been holding them back.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

#14 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 83, 83): Think the Rangers are missing Mark Teixeira‘s production at first base? They’ve managed just a .223/.306/.359 line from that position and the pitching staff has allowed 33 runs in the first four July games.

#15 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 83, 84): Justin Verlander has certainly recovered. His first nine starts: 55IP, 33K, 31BB+HBP, 7HR. His last nine starts: 59IP, 48K, 25BB+HBP, 3HR.

#16 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 81, 85): The Braves have moved Jeff Francoeur back to the minors and overall have struggled to get any offense out of their outfield; a combined .257/.318/.376 good for just an 82 OPS+.

#17 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 79, 79): A 13-4 lead on July 4th dissipated under the Rockies wilting offensive attack in a Coors Field game of old in a 18-17 Florida loss.

#18 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 79, 80): They’ve now dropped under .500 and have their division lead down to just half a game. That they can be under .500 and still leading the division speaks for itself out west.

#19 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 78, 75): The Dodgers shaved three games off the Diamondbacks lead this week thanks in part to a four game winning streak that was snapped when they got handled by Barry Zito of all pitchers.

#20 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 77, 76): After a disastrous start of the season, Carlos Delgado has regained some form and is up to around a .750 OPS, good enough to no longer be dragging the Mets down. Too bad the Mets have many other problems.

#21 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 74, 76): After being on the rise last week, the Royals have run into the Cardinal and Ray buzzsaws. The Royals game has been trying to get just enough from the rotation to turn it over to the Joakim Soria, Ramon Ramirez, Ron Mahay or Leo Nunez, all having superb seasons.

#22 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 73, 77): Falling further and further behind in the Central have dropped seven straight and now one of the preseason favorites for the division is in last place, 13 games behind. At least they finally cut ties with Joe Borowski.

#23 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 72, 72): A four game losing streak combined with health struggles from Roy Oswalt probably ends Houston’s dreams of contention for this season.

#24 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 71, 69): You think the Royals regret trading away Jeff Keppinger? Keppinger has fanned just 20 times in his last 430 at bats.

#25 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 71, 70): The Pirates finally admit that Tom Gorzelanny is not helping them out at the big league level and send him down to the minors to either work through his command struggles or finally admit to an injury.

#26 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 70, 69): They gave Omar Vizquel 138 at bats among others at shortstop and have suffered to a .195/.277/.229 combined performance.

#27 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 68, 67): In a deserved tailspin through the first three months of the year, the Rockies have stormed out in July winning their first five games by a combined 48-29 score.

#28 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 67, 64): How bad have the Mariners been at getting performance from their first basemen and designated hitters? Well, they have seen .198/.254/.292 a line from their DHs and .219/.312/.348 from their 1Bs which combined form a .593 OPS. Horrible.

#29 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 64, 65): An eight game losing streak capped off by being swept at home by the lowly Mariners have decided their fate for this season and now they should become a big time seller this month.

#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 60, 60): Their lack of talent is really showing through now in the race for the first overall selection in the 2009 draft.

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 – 105
Red Sox – 100
Yankees – 86
Orioles – 85
Blue Jays – 83

White Sox – 96
Twins – 86
Tigers – 83
Royals – 74
Indians – 73

Athletics – 92
Angels – 91
Rangers – 83
Mariners – 67

Red Sox – 100
Angels – 91
Yankees – 86
Twins – 86
Orioles – 85

Phillies – 88
Braves – 81
Marlins – 79
Mets – 77
Nationals – 60

Cubs – 95
Brewers – 86
Cardinals – 86
Astros – 72
Reds – 71
Pirates – 71

Diamondbacks – 79
Dodgers – 78
Giants – 70
Rockies – 68
Padres – 64

Brewers – 86
Cardinals – 86
Braves – 81
Marlins – 79
Dodgers – 78

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