THT Dartboard: August 10, 2008

Dartboard
Divisional Picture


Dartboard

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 = 99, 98): With their 70th win on the season Saturday night, the Rays tied their franchise best total.

#2 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 97, 96): Jacoby Ellsbury through 6/3: 28 BB, 23 K; Jacoby Ellsbury since 6/3: 4 BB, 36 K.

#3 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 97, 95): Jim Edmonds has 14 home runs in 57 games since joining the Cubs and has posted a .983 OPS helping to keep the Cubs a safe distance above the Brewers and Cardinals in the NL Central.

#4 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 97, 97): The Angels get Mike Napoli and Maicer Izturis back from injury but lose Reggie Willits at the same time. None of that is really going to matter to the Angels who get to put it in cruise control until October.

#5 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 92, 94): Back and forth now with the Twins atop the division, Ken Griffey Jr has not made the sort of impact the White Sox must have been hoping for when they made a surprising decision to trade for him in July with just a .473 OPS and to-be-expected mediocre defense in center field.

#6 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 90, 90): The starting rotation is getting rocked outside of Mike Mussina both with injuries and with ineffectiveness. Perhaps Brian Cashman will be more motivated to make a waiver acquisition for someone to help out.

#7 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 90, 89): Ben Sheets with his five-hit shutout moves his ERA back under 3 and notches his 11th victory. His winter price tag keeps getting higher with every inning pitched and at least one team is going to fool themselves into forgetting Sheets’ numerous fragility concerns.

#8 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 88, 89): Big loss for the Twins as Michael Cuddyer broke a foot while rehabbing in Triple-A and is now almost certainly out for the season. Locked in a struggle for the division (and with a possible Wild Card berth for the loser), the Twins can ill-afford any more losses like this.

#9 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 86, 86): One of the few teams with a winning record on the road though on the flip side, for a contender they are below average at home with just a 31-27 record. Joe Blanton has recovered from his rocky start in Philadelphia with his last two starts.

#10 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 85, 84): A.J. Burnett sets a career high in wins at 14 and the Blue Jays activate Vernon Wells off the disabled list but eight games out of the wild card and, more importantly, behind four teams it’s too little far too late.

#11 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 85, 85): Not so much fading as being left behind by the streaking Cubs and Brewers, perhaps they are regretting not making a splash at the trade deadline?

#12 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 85, 85): The big news for the Mets is that Billy Wagner started a throwing program and said it went fine, hoping to return in the minimum time in a little over a week. The status of Ryan Church is still far more up in the air.

#13 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 83, 83): Milton Bradley is finally back in the lineup today and Hank Blalock hopes to be back soon as well. Those two, along with Michael Young‘s broken finger and C.J. Wilson‘s bone spurs represent just how banged up the Rangers are as they cling to some Wild Card hope.

#14 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 81, 83): Just three wins out of their last ten ends whatever chances the Tigers did have at playing in October. All in all it’s been a very disappointing season for Detroit and they have some major pitching decisions ahead of them.

#15 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 81, 80): A somewhat unheralded third consecutive improving season for Nick Markakis with a much increased walk rate and career highs in line drive percentage and home run per flyball ratio.

#16 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 81, 83): They’ve dropped four straight and now have the slimmest of all leads over the oncoming Dodgers in the west and Orlando Hudson might be lost for the season with a dislocated wrist.

#17 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 81, 81): Dan Uggla is hitting just .162 since the break and is nursing a hurt ankle but with the Marlins still nominally in the playoff race, they cannot really afford to give him much time off.

#18 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 80, 79): Welcome to Los Angeles Manny Ramirez. Manny has been vintage Manny since arriving in the fair weathered city mashing everything in sight and taking his sweet time in the field, but overall he’s a net gain and the Dodgers are pushing up on the Diamondbacks now in the NL West.

#19 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 80, 83): Brad Ziegler is now up 37 consecutive scoreless innings and with Huston Street struggling, manager Bob Geren muses that Ziegler could see some save opportunities down the stretch. Oakland would have to win a game though for that to matter.

#20 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 77, 77): If you cannot win a one-run game, just try scoring 11 runs in a game! The Braves have done it three times this week as winners of four of their last five. The one loss? By one run of course.

#21 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 77, 74): Brad Ausmus was claimed on waivers by the Marlins so the Astros and Brad himself (who has 10-5 rights) have some decisions to make. With Carlos Lee now out for likely the remainder of the season with a broken pinky, the Astros should recognize it that they do not have a postseason shot.

#22 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 75, 75): Mark Grudzielanek has an ankle injury and might be done for the season. He probably shouldn’t rush back given that the Royals aren’t really playing for anything at this point except to maybe try and finish ahead of Cleveland.

#23 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 75, 74): Anthony Reyes had a promising first start with the Indians and they might be just a few weeks away from getting Travis Hafner back from the D/L. A return to his former form is essential for the Indians to recover next year.

#24 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 73, 74): Aaron Cook is quietly having a very solid season upping his strikeout rate and lowering his walk rate all while keeping away from the long ball in Coors Field.

#25 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 72, 72): The Pirates have seen quick dividends from their trade acquisitions of Xavier Nady and Jason Bay with Jeff Karstens taking a perfect game into the 8th inning and Craig Hansen taking over some closing duties. Now they just need to get both LaRoche brothers healthy and in the lineup.

#26 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 70, 72): Losers of five straight and eight of their past ten, including multiple games to Washington have the Reds fall below the Pirates into the cellar of the NL Central. Still, they managed to ditch Ken Griffey Jr, will get draft picks back for Adam Dunn and saw Jay Bruce, Joey Votto and Edinson Volquez establish themselves in the major leagues.

#27 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 66, 66): Could Tim Lincecum capture a Cy Young Award in only his second season in the league? He’s tied for fifth in wins (on a horrid team) but is pacing the senior circuit in strikeouts and ERA. He’ll probably get a boost in voting if the Arizona misses the playoffs, otherwise, voters are more likely to side with Brandon Webb.

#28 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 65, 64): Jarrod Washburn cleared through waivers which was a bit of a surprise and perhaps an indication that the Mariners overplayed their hand at the deadline.

#29 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 62, 62): Jake Peavy has come on strong over his past seven starts with 45 strikeouts in 47 innings against just 14 walks and just five home runs leading to a tiny 2.30 ERA over that span.

#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 61, 58): For a February minor league pick up, Odalis Perez has given the Nationals a very decent season now over 100 innings with a recovered strike out rate.


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.

AL EAST
Rays – 99
Red Sox – 97
Yankees – 90
Blue Jays – 85
Orioles – 81

AL CENTRAL
White Sox – 92
Twins – 88
Tigers – 81
Royals – 75
Indians – 75

AL WEST
Angels – 97
Rangers – 83
Athletics – 80
Mariners – 65

AL WILD CARD
Red Sox – 97
Yankees – 90
Twins – 88
Blue Jays – 85
Rangers – 83

NL EAST
Phillies – 86
Mets – 85
Marlins – 81
Braves – 77
Nationals – 61

NL CENTRAL
Cubs – 97
Brewers – 90
Cardinals – 85
Astros – 77
Pirates – 72
Reds – 70

NL WEST
Diamondbacks – 81
Dodgers – 80
Rockies – 73
Giants – 66
Padres – 62

NL WILD CARD
Brewers – 90
Cardinals – 85
Mets – 85
Marlins – 81
Dodgers – 80

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