THT Dartboard: June 24, 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 = 105, 104): Good hitting, good pitching and reasonable defense. There’s not much to pick on here. Even J.D. Drew is finally hitting, which means it’s probably time for an injury. One thing to note is the pitcher/catcher combo throwing out only 17% of would-be basestealers.

#2 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 98, 97): The offense is benefiting from a probably unsustainable .321 BABIP despite a league average line drive rate, but the pitching remains top-notch and it says more about the free agent crop than about the man himself but Gary Matthews Jr. looks like the least bad centerfield signing of last year so far.

#3 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 95, 94): Their offense has it all; the most runs scored per game, the highest line drive rate, the highest iso, the highest BABIP and the highest batting average with RISP. Magglio Ordonez is still on pace (77) to shatter the all-time doubles record.

#4 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 93, 95): The pitching staff, led by Fausto Carmona, C.C. Sabathia and Paul Byrd (in this sense) is walking just 2.6 men per game, the only team in the AL with a rate under 3.

#5 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 93, 95): Chris Young is a freak (in a good way) and Jake Peavy just flat out rules at pitching. The conversation about the Padres can start and stop with their 2.97 staff ERA. What is this 1967?

#6 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 92, 92): The pitching staff has been rejuvenated thanks in part to a climbing strikeout rate from Chien-Ming Wang, but overall the team is still striking out just 5.5 men a game, lowest in the AL. Yankees are also a league worst 6-20 in close games.

#7 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 92, 95): Batting an atrocious .228 with runners in scoring position, the A’s don’t have enough offense to afford to waste their chances with men on base. Back in third place now, they do get a boost from the return of Rich Harden, but their need is in offense.

#8 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 91, 98): Above average hitting, above average pitching and great defense is always a pretty good recipe for high win totals. Now if only Carlos Beltran would kick out of his extended June slump.

#9 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 91, 87): The second best pitching staff in the NL with a 3.63 ERA and an astounding 7.9 strikeouts per game has been doing it all without much contribution from big offseason acquisition Jason Schmidt and they will have to continue doing so as Schmidt heads to at least season-ending and possibly career-altering surgery on a torn labrum.

#10 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 89, 83): Ryan Braun hasn’t skipped a beat coming up from Triple-A, though one wonders how much he can sustain that level of success while striking out once a game. Meanwhile, Ben Sheets is back to rolling even with much reduced peripherals, though no one could sustain a 10.5 strike out to walk ratio.

#11 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 83, 85): How can you not enjoy the Diamondbacks? They’re young, full of great potential and employ Eric Brynes who’s providing a lot of offensive value despite popping up a quarter of his flyballs.

#12 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 83, 83): One of the few teams with a staff strikeout rate that’s over twice their walk rate, the Blue Jays have the most prolific strikeout pitchers in the AL at 7.2 per game. If they can figure out how to stop allowing 15% of fly balls to go for a home run you could see the already low 4.31 staff ERA fall even more.

#13 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 83, 87): Hey Andruw Jones, anytime you want to stop hitting .198 and killing both your offseason contract and my fantasy team I and your agent would be most appreciative. Also, what’s up with Brian McCann? Good thing Jarrod Saltalamacchia hasn’t had a problem stepping in for the struggling McCann.

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#14 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 82, 87): A nifty six-game losing streak saw the Mariners plunge back to where their talent suggests they belong. Ichiro Suzuki continues another hitting streak. He is in for a huge payday and likely not from Seattle which will only deteriorate the already poor defense even further. They need to find a way to get Raul Ibanez out of left field and Adam Jones into it.

#15 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 82, 78): Matt Holliday is on his fourth consecutive season of improvement though his home/road splits always raise a red flag for a Rockie hitter.

#16 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 81, 83): One of three teams (Minnesota and Kansas City the other two) with a team SLG% under .400 in the AL. With his power fallout and loss of consecutive games streak that helped overrate him, it looks like the Orioles waited one year too long to deal Miguel Tejada.

#17 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 81, 78): The offense is there, being the only team in the NL to exceed 5 runs a game and leading the league in OBP at .348, but the pitching, supposed to the be protected with all the depth has been completely decimated by injury. Lost among that is Cole Hamels solidifying his place as the ace of the now and future. And hey, Jamie Moyer is still doing his thing. He could crack 300 wins by 50.

#18 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 81, 81): Alfonso Soriano has been worth the money so far (big caveat) as is Aramis Ramirez and Derrek Lee and the pitching staff has been good as well, bolstered by a solid defense. With a positive run differential, don’t count out the Cubs yet despite a losing record at the moment.

#19 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 80, 79): For the love of Johan Santana, get some power hitting. Tied with Baltimore above with the lowest ISO in the AL they essentially have a lineup of Ichiro Suzuki‘s minus 90 points of batting average. That’s not a winning way.

#20 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 78, 78): They have a more than adequate offense with Miguel Cabrera, Hanley Ramirez and others, but the pitching staff is being undermined by a terrible defense.

#21 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 75, 79): The pitching with Matt Morris (surprisingly), Matt Cain and Noah Lowry with sub 4.00 ERAs and defense are good, save for Barry Zito (unsurprisingly to some of us), but the offense lacks any pucnh outside of Barry Bonds. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.

#22 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Dartboard Factor = 70, 70): The pitching has been atrocious, but it’s not as bad as it seems on the surface. Terrible defense, and I cannot stress terrible harder at 70 plays below average, and a flukey high 14% of flyballs landing over the wall are contributing to a bloated 6.12 runs allowed per game.

#23 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 69, 68): Pitching and defense, pitching and defense. Once again, the Rangers actually assembled a worthwhile bullpen in Eric Gagne, Joaquin Benoit and Akinori Otsuka, but the rotation has been worse than watching the Devil Rays play defense.

#24 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 69, 67): Their offense crushes the ball to a league leading .177 ISO, when the make contact, which isn’t often enough (leading the league in outs). Batting just .231 with RISP leads to nothing more than an average offense despite the league lead in home runs.

#25 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 68, 71): Owning the worst offense in the AL at just 4.01 runs per game is going to make it hard to go anywhere. The White Sox need to realize that they’re going nowhere this season and it’s better to sell sooner on the likes of Mark Buehrle and Jermaine Dye in order to maximize possible return.

#26 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 67, 65): The Cardinals own the 2nd worst run differential in the NL at -70. Meanwhile they acquire Mike Maroth and Tomo Ohka? Time to face reality St. Louis.

#27 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 66, 65): Look out White Sox, the Royals are just 2.5 games behind you for 4th place in the AL Central. The pitching isn’t all that bad, but the offense is. Alex Gordon has stagnated again and the deal for Milton Bradley fell through so I wouldn’t predict much improvement in the short term here.

#28 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 66, 62): They’re bad, but they’re not this bad. The defense is hurting the pitching staff, but that might just be the price to pay for getting Hunter Pence‘s bat in the lineup.

#29 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 65, 65): Thanks to the White Sox at 4.01, the Nationals are the only team in baseball averaging less than 4 runs per game at 3.90. It’s no fluke with the lowest ISO and OBP in the NL.

#30 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 62, 59): They don’t hit, they don’t pitch, they don’t field and they got shutout by Jeff Weaver. This is a justified ranking.

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 – 105
Yankees – 92
Blue Jays – 83
Orioles – 81
Devil Rays – 70

Tigers – 95
Indians – 93
Twins – 80
White Sox – 68
Royals – 66

Angels – 98
Athletics – 92
Mariners – 82
Rangers – 69

Indians – 93
Yankees – 92
Athletics – 92
Blue Jays – 83

Mets – 91
Braves – 83
Phillies – 81
Marlins – 78
Nationals – 65

Brewers – 89
Cubs – 81
Reds – 69
Cardinals – 67
Astros – 66
Pirates – 62

Padres – 93
Dodgers – 91
Diamondbacks – 83
Rockies – 82
Giants – 75

Dodgers – 91
Diamondbacks – 83
Braves – 83
Rockies – 82
Phillies – 81
Cubs – 81

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