THT Dartboard: September 14, 2008

Divisional Picture

Last week we took a look at the least helpful hitters for each team. This week it’s the pitchers turn.


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 = 100, 101): Jason Hammel. It’s between Hammel and Edwin Jackson, but I break the tie in Hammel’s disfavor due to him being primarily in the bullpen.

#2 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 99, 97): Jon Garland. The Angels have been leaning on a good bullpen because of a thoroughly average rotation and Jon Garland is a big part of why it’s not better. If Garland lands a big free agent deal this winter it will be an example that GMs still haven’t learned how to properly evaluate pitching and are keying in on his (likely) 15 wins and mid 4 ERA instead of his 4.80 FIP and declining strikeout rate.

#3 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 98, 99): Mike Timlin. Another year and another year of Timlin’s walk rate going up while his strikeout rate stays static. Though Timlin certainly hasn’t been too bad, Boston’s pitching staff has been stellar.

#4 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 97, 97): Michael Wuertz. Wuertz has been a solid reliever for the Cubs for the previous four seasons, but his line drives this year have perked up quite a bit and he’s lost over 10 points on his strikeout rate.

#5 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 91, 92): Eric Gagne. 11 home runs allowed in under 40 innings of pitching is the main culprit but the continuing degradation of Gagne’s ability to get strikeouts doesn’t bode well either.

#6 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 91, 93): Lance Broadway. This isn’t much of a mark against Broadway, after all, he’s pitched under 12 innings this whole season for the White Sox, but their entire pitching staff is just so insanely good that his poor six innings in relief cost him here.

#7 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 90, 88): Jason Frasor. Frasor’s been remarkably consistent with his pitch results, hovering between 7.1 and 7.9% missed bat rate his entire career, but he’s seen his groundball rate plummet to under 40% this year and he’s had a surging walk rate despite overall throwing about the same percentage of pitches outside the strike zone.

#8 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 90, 89): Pedro Martinez. Lots of home runs and the strikeout rate, which has been near 25% since 2002 is under 17% this year.

#9 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 88, 85): Oscar Villarreal. Acquired from Atlanta, Villarreal has just been horrid out of the bullpen for the Astros having allowed 12 home runs in under 40 innings.

#10 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 88, 89): Brian Bass. Why exactly did the Orioles acquire Brian Bass? He spent nearly 70 innings being horrible in the Twins bullpen. He did have a very high groundball rate but still suffered from gopheritis and didn’t miss that bats even out of the pen.

#11 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 88, 89): Sidney Ponson. More walks than strikeouts with a high number of hit batters to boot. His groundball rate is good as always, but the line drives are up and he’s fallen below the 60% strike rate and he’s getting a swing and a miss on just 3.6% of pitches.

#12 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 87, 87): Kyle Kendrick. No pitcher has been allowed to do as much damage to his team as Kendrick has. That’s partly because of how poor he has pitched and partly because he’s been allowed to stay in the rotation for so long. He just flat out cannot miss any bats, under five per 100.

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#13 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 85, 85): Joel Pineiro. Pineiro hasn’t been effective as a starter since 2004 and 2008 is no exception and in fact is only second to his 2006 in terms of bad results.

#14 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 82, 81): Brad Penny. It’s been a puzzling season for Brad Penny who’s coming off three very solid seasons in Los Angeles. In 2008 though Penny just hasn’t been able to throw strikes and his home runs have risen a tick.

#15 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 81, 80): Luis Mendoza. 2008 hasn’t been much kinder to Mendoza than 2007 was. With a bigger sample this season, Mendoza’s walks have increased and while his hit batsmen has fallen, it’s still far too high.

#16 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 81, 81): Jeremy Sowers. After an encouraging rookie season in 2006, Sowers has slipped in consecutive seasons, unable to post the near 50% groundball rate that he managed in 2006. His line drive rate has shot up this season, further costing him some home runs. His strikeouts and walks are improving so if he can just get back to generating groundballs, he could return to being a good pitcher.

#17 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 81, 81): Scott Olsen. Olsen has picked it up a bit from 2007 and was getting a lot of press early this season for his “turn around” which I was cautioning all along was a mirage. He’s remaining very lucky, posting just a .260 BABIP.

#18 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 78, 78): Todd Jones. Todd Jones had a fine season. In Florida. Three years ago. Since then, it’s been a pretty rapid decline for Jones, missing fewer and fewer bats and seeing his rate of missing the strike zone spike up by about four points this season.

#19 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 77, 80): Doug Slaten. It’s tough for a relief pitcher to make this list unless they are truly horrible, but this one, like the White Sox above, is a testament to just how great Arizona’s pitching staff is. Slaten’s big issue this year has been hitting too many batters, contributing to the number of batters he puts on base for free.

#20 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 76, 76): Gio Gonzalez. Pressed into the Athletics rotation for a spell, Gonzalez showed that he still has room to grow before he’s going to be able to meaningfully contribute. Of course, nine home runs allowed in just 28 innings is insane.

#21 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 75, 76): Daniel Cabrera. Cabrera started the year with a higher groundball rate to compensate for his dropping stuff, but now that has regressed and is in fact lower than it was in 2007 and he’s still hovering around a 5% swinging strike rate.

#22 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 72, 71): Josh Fogg. Escaping Colorado just to head to Cincinnati is not much of a move and the Reds haven’t received much value for their signing of Fogg. Fogg’s never missed fewer bats or thrown more balls or generated fewer groundballs. Three for three in bad signs.

#23 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 71, 74): Greg Reynolds. 12 home runs in just under 60 innings. Yeah, it’s Coors Field, but still. Reynolds does have a decent groundball rate, but he cannot miss bats and cannot strike hitters out.

#24 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 71, 70): Tom Glavine. I didn’t think it was a good move for the Braves to bring back Tom Glavine and he’s not been an asset for them this year as he’s getting fewer strike calls than ever this season and 11 home runs in 63 plus innings is never a good thing.

#25 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 70, 70): Brian Bannister. Most of this poor ranking comes from a high homerun rate which would likely regress on its own in the future, but Bannister is seeing his groundball rate drop with a corresponding increase in line drives which is not a good sign.

#26 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 70, 67): Kevin Correia. Correia had a successful 2007 campaign after years of dismal performance but he has regressed back to his former self this year as the strikeouts have fallen well back and the walks have climbed back up.

#27 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 67, 69): Tom Gorzelanny. 2006 and 2007 established Gorzelanny as one of the crop of young starting pitchers that Pittsburgh looked like they might be building off, but 2008 has been a lost year for Tom as he’s lost the ability to throw strikes, doing so just 57.5% of the time.

#28 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 64, 65): Miguel Batista. Talk about falling off a cliff. Some of it might be due to injuries which have reportedly plagued him all season. But if that’s true, why is he still pitching? Batista is getting smacked around and allowing far too many walks.

#29 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 61, 61): Matt Chico. Chico was able to up his groundball rate this year, but the homerun have just killed him with 10 in just over 40 innings of play.

#30 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 61, 61): Josh Banks. Given the opportunity to start in San Diego’s revolving rotation, Banks, who came over from Toronto this season, has just been thoroughly mediocre. He throws too many balls and misses too few bats and has an overall mediocre batted ball profile.

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 – 100
Red Sox – 98
Blue Jays – 90
Yankees – 88
Orioles – 75

White Sox – 91
Twins – 88
Indians – 81
Tigers – 78
Royals – 70

Angels – 99
Rangers – 81
Athletics – 76
Mariners – 64

Red Sox – 98
Blue Jays – 90
Twins – 88
Yankees – 88

Mets – 90
Phillies – 87
Marlins – 81
Braves – 71
Nationals – 61

Cubs – 97
Brewers – 91
Astros – 88
Cardinals – 85
Reds – 72
Pirates – 67

Dodgers – 82
Diamondbacks – 77
Rockies – 71
Giants – 70
Padres – 61

Brewers – 91
Astros – 88
Phillies – 87
Cardinals – 85

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