THT Dartboard: June 22, 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 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 101, 98): Daisuke Matsuzaka continues to struggle with command and Curt Schilling is officially done for this season and likely his career. Let the Hall of Fame speculation begin.

#2 Tampa Bay Rays (Dartboard Factor = 99, 97): Scott Kazmir hasn’t missed a beat and now that the Rays are winning perhaps he’ll start to get some of the respect that he’s rightfully been earning for the past two seasons.

#3 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 98, 101): Geovany Soto made quite an impression in his 18 games last season and he’s done a thorough job of raising to expectations in 2008 with a tremendous .282/.365/.523 line.

#4 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 95, 93): Mark Buehrle has finally picked up his performance enough to join his four other rotation mates in possessing an ERA+ over 100 and is part of a staff that holds a team ERA+ of 129. 129! Yeah, the defense is good, but the pitching is legitimately outstanding as well.

#5 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 92, 91): Rich Harden officially has the filthiest stuff in the majors at least as far as an overall package goes. He is pushing a swinging strike rate of well over 15% which is beyond insane.

#6 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 90, 95): Jimmy Rollins doesn’t have the slugging percentage up to last year’s levels but one aspect that he has improved upon is his plate discipline with his walk to strikeout rate over 1 for the first time in his career, a remarkable feat given that he had never before been close.

#7 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 89, 84): The Yankees surge forward with a lengthy seven game winning streak, but suffer greatly from it, losing Chien-Ming Wang for perhaps the entire 2008 season and at least 2 months.

#8 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 87, 86): The Angels keep winning, but make no mistake about it, their overall BaseRuns rating remains fairly constant and it’s that of a .500 team. Time will tell if they are able to either raise their performance level to match their record of if the record will crash down to their performance level. We saw both results last year with the Mariners and Diamondbacks.

#9 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 86, 89): Ryan Ludwick and the bullpen have cooled off, but the rotation continues to do it’s best job of mimicking the White Sox, with all five above a 100 ERA+. All the more impressive with the league low strikeout rate, but it just goes to show what happens when you limit walks and home runs, both second lowest in the NL.

#10 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 85, 83): The Brewers were somewhat forgotten as they slipped down the standings in the Central but a 14-6 mark over the last 20 games has them solidly back above .500 and within contention of the wildcard which could play a factor in where Ben Sheets ends the season.

#11 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 85, 80): Just when it seemed like they were finally slipping down to their expected level, they win four straight and again hold themselves over .500. But rest assured, with a 17-10 record in one-run games, it’s not going to last.

#12 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 84, 88): Still just 4-19 in one-run games, expect the Braves to see a reversal of fortune on the other scale from that of the Orioles above in the months to come.

#13 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 84, 92): Since starting the season 10-3, the Diamondbacks have gone 29-33 and they’ve played a remarkable 28 games decided by five or more runs. Lucky for them, the rest of the division has been slacking allowing them to still hold onto a division lead.

A comparative study on an unwritten rule of baseball.

#14 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 83, 86): Seven straight losses and counting have the Blue Jays sitting in last place in the AL East despite one of the best run prevention units in baseball.

#15 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 82, 84): How have the Marlins managed to hang around the top half of the league? Despite the loss of Miguel Cabrera, they’ve still been able to mash to the tune of nearly five runs a game, ranking third in the NL and their defense, while still mediocre, is improved over last year’s travesty.

#16 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 80, 82): No team in baseball scores as many runs as the Rangers, and no team in baseball allows as many runs either. Unfortunately the latter outweighs the former by a healthy margin assuring that the Rangers aren’t going to be surprising anyone further than hanging around .500.

#17 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 80, 77): The defense has stepped up all the way to league average, but the pitching has the lowest strikeout rate and the highest walk rate in the American League.

#18 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 80, 79): The manager is gone and rumors are wild that the GM is soon to follow. Like the Mariners (far) below them, the Mets are suffering from wild disappointment from lofty expectations. The glare from New York makes it all the more worse.

#19 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 76, 76): The Dodgers have played just 17 one-run games, but 30 games decided by five or more runs. Quite ironic given the Dodgers low scoring offense and good run prevention, they seem built to battle out more low scoring contests.

#20 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 76, 71): A .679 DER is ahead of only noted defensive clunkers Seattle and Texas, but while their offense is more potent than the Mariners, they are nowhere near the Rangers which is what they would need to sustain that level of defensive ineptness.

#21 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 75, 78): Rumors continue to abound that C.C. Sabathia will be wearing a different uniform before the season is out despite the Indians only sitting 6.5 games back in the Central.

#22 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 73, 78): Jay Bruce‘s hot start has significantly cooled with a .547 OPS over the last ten games.

#23 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 72, 77): Picked by some people to finish as high as third in the NL Central, the Astros now reside in the cellar.

#24 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 72, 76): At 4.68, the Pirates own Major League Baseball’s worst FIP and at .674, the Pirates own Major League Baseball’s worst DER.

#25 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 71, 74): Another loss in just a two-inning outing puts Barry Zito on a projected path for a 4-24 record.

#26 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 70, 64): A five game winning streak makes them 11-9 since they snapped their 12 game losing streak at the end of May.

#27 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 70, 68): The Rockies infield defense is survive despite missing Troy Tulowitzki, but you need more than that to win and despite his outstanding 34 of 36 stolen base success rate, Willy Taveras‘s .611 OPS is just one example of poor bats.

#28 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 70, 74): Somehow still not out of the race in the NL West even with a four game losing streak this week, but their record hasn’t been depressed via luck like the Braves so they should be viewing themselves as sellers this summer.

#29 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 63, 62): Erik Bedard is hurt again, though he might not ever have been healthy, but Felix Hernandez is starting to get on a roll with consecutive excellent outings.

#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 61, 59): Last in the National League in batting average, on base percentage and slugging percentage. Not much surprise then that they’re last in runs as well.

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 – 101
Rays – 99
Yankees – 89
Orioles – 85
Blue Jays – 83

White Sox – 95
Tigers – 80
Twins – 76
Indians – 75
Royals – 70

Athletics – 92
Angels – 87
Rangers – 80
Mariners – 63

Rays – 99
Yankees – 89
Angels – 87
Orioles – 85
Blue Jays – 83

Phillies – 90
Braves – 84
Marlins – 82
Mets – 80
Nationals – 61

Cubs – 98
Cardinals – 86
Brewers – 85
Reds – 73
Astros – 72
Pirates – 72

Diamondbacks – 84
Dodgers – 76
Giants – 71
Rockies – 70
Padres – 70

Cardinals – 86
Brewers – 85
Braves – 84
Marlins – 82
Mets – 80

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