THT Dartboard: September 2, 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 = 98, 100): Congratulating to Clay Buchholz on the no-hitter. It is kind of weird that celebrate so many luck-driven events in baseball. Johan Santana strikes out 17 Rangers and walks none and 8 innings, but because he gave up two harmless hits along the way, not many people will remember his performance. Buchholz strikes out only 9, walked 3 and hit a batter. But since he yielded no hits, his day will be much talked about.

#2 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 96, 93): AL team number two to pretty much lock up their division as the Angels finally have the pesky Mariners off their tail, due in no small part to a three game sweep of the Ms in Seattle.

#3 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 93, 89): With an 8-2 streak, the Indians have pulled away in the Central and suddenly, the smallest division lead in the AL lies with the Indians at a healthy 5.5 games.

#4 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 92, 93): Playing just .500 ball, the Yankees had a chance to really put some distance between them and the free falling Mariners, but now have to face them at home with just a two game lead in the wildcard.

#5 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 90, 89): Now jockeying with the Mets for the best record in the NL, and with a meager winner coming out of the Central no matter which team, San Diego and New York seem like the best NLCS matchup.

#6 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 89, 92): The Mets slipped against the Phillies, but steamrolled through the Braves and pushed their division lead back out to four games. With Pedro coming back, the Mets look like they’re hanging on for good at this point.

#7 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 88, 92): Wow. Nine in a row. Despite that, if the Mariners somehow manage to right the ship in time for the upcoming series against New York and Detroit, they could recover some of their playoff hopes.

#8 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 87, 87): The Tigers now find themselves just three games behind in the wildcard, but are behind two teams which diminishes their odds.

#9 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 87, 87): They’ve slipped into a tie with the Padres, a sign that they could be near to a Mariner-like regression given their run differential.

#10 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 86, 83): The Phillies are going to at least try and make it interesting in the NL playoff races.

#11 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 85, 84): Part of the murky picture in both the NL West and the NL wildcard, but behind two teams in the division and two in the wildcard and with two more on their heels, it seems unlikely that the Dodgers find themselves playing in October.

#12 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 84, 83): A sweep of the Mariners gives the Blue Jays some last gasping breath at 5.5 games back of the wildcard.

#13 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 83, 85): Swept by the Mets, the Braves have seen the last of their chances at the NL East crown. They’ll have to turn their attention to the wildcard where they face five teams to climb over.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

#14 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 83, 83): The Rockies are just 13-17 in one-run games. They sit a game behind the Dodgers (27-17) and five games back of the Diamondbacks (30-17).

#15 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 82, 82): Defense, defense, defense. The Cubs are below average at both hitting and pitching, but their defense is knocking off nearly a run every two games and keeping the Cubs ahead in the Central.

#16 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 82, 83): Similar to the A’s the Twins have a solid pitching staff and defense, but flat out lack the offensive weapons the compete in the AL. With the loss of Torii Hunter seeming certain, the Twins need to make some radical changes to their team-building philosophies this offseason.

#17 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 81, 82): Say goodbye to Eric Chavez and a few others for the rest of the season as the Athletics look completely towards next season.

#18 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 80, 80): The Brewers score a run every four games more than the Cubs and their team FIP is almost 0.2 runs better than the division leading Cubs. However, their defense, as opposed to the Cubs, are holding them back.

#19 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 79, 78): They continue to hang around, but there just doesn’t seem any logical way that they’ll win out in this race.

#20 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 76, 73): Once again the ballpark hides the fact that it is not the Rangers pitching staff that is harmful (98 ERA+), but their offense with just a paltry 93 OPS+.

#21 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 75, 74): Owners of the second worst offense in the NL, but a solid 4.03 team ERA even with Barry Zito’s 4.5+ ERA give the Giants at least some hope for next season; though what the eventual loss of Barry Bonds will do to the already flat offense is frightening.

#22 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 74, 77): Leo Mazzone, whatever his talents, cannot make gold from lead. The Orioles simply suffer from a lack of talent on all sides of the field.

#23 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 73, 73): The Reds’ pitching staff have a 4.58 FIP but are yielding 5.35 runs a game. That’s what happens when you have the worst defensive efficiency ratio in the National League.

#24 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 72, 72): The Royals have actually managed to cobble together a league average pitching staff. With some payroll room clearing this offseason and perhaps some improvements from Butler and Gordon could lead the Royals higher up in the AL Central in 2008.

#25 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 71, 69): On the heels of the Reds in terms of not turning balls in play into outs, the Astros have the double whammy of also having a mediocre offense.

#26 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 70, 71): The Marlin hitters continue to do well, scoring about 0.2 runs more a game than the average NL team, but their atrocious defense and injury have deep-sixed their pitching staff.

#27 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 69, 71): Another prolonged losing spell now has the White Sox firmly entrenched in last place in the Central and just two games ahead of the Rays for the worst record in baseball.

#28 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 69, 71): Five consecutive losses has the Pirates occupying the worst record in the National League for the time being, though there is stiff competition for that dishonor.

#29 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 69, 71): More of the usual business this week with the Nationals as they settle back into last place in the NL East.

#30 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Dartboard Factor = 67, 64): A nifty 8-2 mark over the past ten is nice, but it doesn’t change the idea that the Rays are almost certainly to pick first in next year’s 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.

Red Sox – 98
Yankees – 92
Blue Jays – 84
Orioles – 74
Devil Rays – 67

Indians – 93
Tigers – 87
Twins – 82
Royals – 72
White Sox – 69

Angels – 96
Mariners – 88
Athletics – 81
Rangers – 76

Yankees – 92
Mariners – 88
Tigers – 87

Mets – 89
Phillies – 86
Braves – 83
Marlins – 70
Nationals – 69

Cubs – 82
Brewers – 80
Cardinals – 79
Reds – 73
Astros – 71
Pirates – 69

Padres – 90
Diamondbacks – 87
Dodgers – 85
Rockies – 83
Giants – 75

Diamondbacks – 87
Phillies – 86
Dodgers – 85
Braves – 83
Rockies – 83

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