THT Dartboard: August 26, 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 = 100, 99): The Red Sox roll over the White Sox, outscoring them four million to six and pushing their lead over the Yankees back into the 7 game territory and virtually guaranteeing them the AL East crown.

#2 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 93, 92): The Yanks tread water around .500, but that’s not good enough as they fall behind the Mariners for the wildcard lead. The Yankees have a pretty easy schedule remaining but they’re going to have to take advantage of it fully as with 35-odd games left, a three game deficit is bigger than it first appears.

#3 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 93, 93): The Angels head towards a showdown in Seattle in a big series. The Angels are only 32-34 on the road so they need to take advantage of the games they do get to play at home.

#4 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 92, 89): One of these top four teams are going to watching the playoffs on TV. For Seattle, the hope is in their great bullpen continuing to hold up and keep them winning more games than simply their run differential would indicate.

#5 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 92, 91): The Mets widen out their lead considerably this week, gaining three games on the Phillies and four on the Braves over the last ten.

#6 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 89, 87): At this juncture, the Padres can no longer afford to sit back and wait for the inevitable Diamondback collapse. They are going to have to go out there and win games

#7 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 89, 89): The Indians capitalize on the Tigers faltering and run up a 2.5 game lead. They seem a good bet to hang on there.

#8 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 87, 87): Owners of the best record in games decided by one or two runs, the Diamondbacks just don’t seem to be going away.

#9 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 87, 89): What’s up with Jeremy Bonderman? His strikeouts are gone and his homeruns are up leading to an ERA flirting with 5.

#10 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 85, 86): While the Phillies and Mets face off against each other, the Braves get an upcoming series against the Marlins to try and work their way back into the division race.

#11 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 84, 84): If you looked only at the pitchers and hitters themselves, there’s not much separating the Dodgers from the Padres. But the Padre hitters are much better with the glove than their LA counterparts and that’s accounting for a half-run per game.

#12 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 83, 86):

#13 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 83, 82): The Twins have picked up steam, winning five straight and are heading off to division leading Cleveland. The Twins are only 5.5 back and if they sweep the Indians they would find themselves right back into the race.

The Pianist and Satchel Paige
A pianist finds inspiration in games from his childhood.

#14 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 83, 85): Would you ever guess that the Blue Jays are the only AL team other than Boston with a sub-4 team ERA? They excel on that side the field. Hitting… not so much.

#15 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 83, 83): The Rockies are doing their best to hang around in the postseason race. They’re off to San Francisco next where they’ll have a good chance to gain ground on the clashing top two teams in the west.

#16 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 82, 82): What does Jack Cust’s future hold? His peripheral rates appear unsustainable, but Cust’s approach is so different that we really have no comparables here if he sticks with it.

#17 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 82, 82): If the Cubs outlast everyone else in the Central, they’ll have their defense to thank which has gone strides all year to make their pitching staff look way better than it actually is.

#18 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 80, 80): As much as the Cubs can thank their defense, the Brewers can curse it. According to THT’s stats, the defensive spread between the Brewers and the Cubs stands at 81 plays.

#19 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 78, 77): Chris Duncan is certainly showing that his bat is legit, but his glove is returning a lot of that offensive value back to the opposing team.

#20 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 77, 80): Congratulations to Kevin Millar for reaching base in 50 consecutive games. Especially notable for the fact that his batting average dropped 20 points during the effort, it’s a testament to Millar’s ability to draw walks.

#21 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 74, 71): Matt Cain’s groundball rate continues to climb, which is good because if it didn’t he wouldn’t survive in the major leauges.

#22 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 73, 71): The Reds rattle off six straight wins and suddenly they’re just 6.5 games back in the Central. With the division all playing within each other the next few series, there’s a lot of room for some team, any team at this point, to make a big move.

#23 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 73, 73): Vicente Padilla. Example 746 on why you don’t give lucrative long term contracts to habitual troublemakers or noted head cases who manage to string together one solid year.

#24 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 72, 72): Alex Gordon check-in. Since June 1st: .282/.330/.469. That’s more along the lines of what we were expected at the beginning of the season.

#25 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 71, 75): A nifty little 1-9 stretch sees the Marlins drop to last in the NL East, a place I’m pretty sure few people thought they would find themselves in after last season and the dire predictions of the Nationals’ season back in Spring.

#26 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 71, 67): The Pirates ride a good week into passing the Astros for fifth place in the Central and then immediately drop a game to fall back into a tie for last.

#27 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 71, 72): What a heist the Jim Thome trade has turned into as Thome has posted OPS+ of 156 and 139 so far in his two years on the White Sox. He’s just seven homeruns away from 500.

#28 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 71, 71): The Nationals get out sucked by the Marlins into last place, but make no mistake about which team is further from future contention. The Nationals have years to go in a tough rebuilding process.

#29 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 69, 71): The Astros are 15 games under .500 and are still just nine games back of the division lead. Ridiculous.

#30 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Dartboard Factor = 64, 64): Some press love to a guy who’s been rather unnoticed among the bigger imports within the division to Akinoi Iwamura. If he follows the established pattern, we should see his slugging rise next season too.

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 – 100
Yankees – 93
Blue Jays – 83
Orioles – 77
Devil Rays – 64

Indians – 89
Tigers – 87
Twins – 83
Royals – 72
White Sox – 71

Angels – 93
Mariners – 92
Athletics – 82
Rangers – 73

Yankees – 93
Mariners – 92
Tigers – 87

Mets – 92
Braves – 85
Phillies – 83
Marlins – 71
Nationals – 71

Cubs – 82
Brewers – 80
Cardinals – 78
Reds – 73
Pirates – 71
Astros – 69

Padres – 89
Diamondbacks – 87
Dodgers – 84
Rockies – 83
Giants – 74

Diamondbacks – 87
Braves – 85
Dodgers – 84
Phillies – 83
Rockies – 83
Brewers – 80

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