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 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 101, 102): The Cubs came one short of making it ten straight wins this week.
#2 Tampa Bay Rays (Dartboard Factor = 97, 98): Tampa continues to battle it out for tops in the AL East but equally worth noting is that the Rays do hold a solid lead amongst the Wild Card standings and many of the teams behind them are not expected to last the summer.
#3 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 97, 96): The Red Sox turned the challenge of David Ortiz going down with an injury into an opportunity to move Manny Ramirez to DH and add Coco Crisp into the starting lineup and allowing them to run out an outfield consisting of three good defensive outfielders.
#4 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 93, 90): At this point it looks like a two-team race in the NL East between Philadelphia and Atlanta.
#5 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 93, 91): The White Sox have been a legitimate surprise this year and now with both Detroit and Cleveland losing a key starting pitcher for the season, they look the odds on favorite to take the Central. In fact the Dartboard puts them at an incredible 18 games ahead of second place.
#6 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 92, 90): Are the Athletics for real? While their offense is lacking, they’ve managed to build a front line run prevention side with great defense and solid pitching. Some rebuilding process, showing once again how Billy Beane continues to stay ahead of the curve.
#7 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 91, 92): Chipper Jones continues to roll, pushing the average up to .420, but even though he goes 1-3 with a walk and homerun on Saturday, his average drops. It’s just one small example of why maintaining a .400 average is so difficult.
#8 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 89, 89): Not expected at all to compete, holding a below average offense, a pitching staff built mostly off of unknowns and a great defense teaming with solid pitching leading to much better than expected overall performance. Welcome to the National League Athletics.
#9 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 88, 90): The Blue Jays’ offensive woes appear to be mostly tied to performance in clutch situations so far this year as OPS-wise they are very similar to the White Sox who have paired their great pitching with league average hitting while the Blue Jays continue to struggle scoring runs.
#10 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 88, 91): Drawn down in the Dartboard because so far in 2008 the Diamondbacks have faced the easiest schedule of all teams.
#11 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 85, 82): Half of all balls put in play by Angel hitters are on the ground, It’s not much of a wonder then why they slug just .383 as a team.
#12 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 85, 81): A six game win streak helps push the Brewers above .500, but a 12-6 record in one-run games does not bode well for continued success.
#13 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 83, 87): A remarkable 30% of Marlin games result in a decision of five or more runs, games in which the Marlins are 7-11. The Marlins never had the talent needed to hold atop the East, and it’s only a matter of time before the Braves pass them by as well.
#14 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 82, 83): There’s no doubting their bats, but the pitching is going to continue to be a problem as Joba Chamberlain doesn’t act as a savior in his first start.
#15 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 81, 83): The Rangers are outscoring all other American League teams by over half a run per game, but they are also yielding nearly a run more than any other AL team fueled by the AL’s worst strikeout rate and lowest defensive efficiency ratio.
#16 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 79, 77): Right now the Orioles are possessing an average defense and a mediocre offense but have managed to survive thanks to a pitching staff that has generated 25 more fieldable balls in play than average.
#17 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 79, 81): Matt Kemp has had a quality week with an OPS just shy of 1.000 as he appears to have settled into the center field role in Los Angeles.
#18 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 79, 83): A dismal 13-20 record away from Shea Stadium is not helped by three consecutive 2-1 losses to the Padres.
#19 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 78, 77): How quickly have the Astros soured on J.R. Towles? He’s hit his entire career until this year, is just 24 and under team control for the next half-decade and the Astros take a college catcher in the first round of the draft?
#20 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 78, 77): Grabbing Yonder Alonso with the seventh overall pick has people starting to wonder the future of him and Joey Votto. Are the going to try and move Votto to left field assuming both Adam Dunn and Ken Griffey Jr. are gone after this season?
#21 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 76, 76): The turnaround is going to be slow in Pittsburgh and one can only hope that Neal Huntington and company are given adequate time to do it properly. Ownership may begin feeling the attendance crunch as so far this year they have averaged just over 16,000 fans a game.
#22 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 75, 76): The loss of Jake Westbrook for the rest of the season and the start of 2009 is not going to help the Indians but they do maintain the American League’s most patient lineup, requiring just under four pitches per plate appearance.
#23 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 73, 72): The Minnesota Twins just seem to breed pitchers in the Brad Radke/Carlos Silva nature. In a rotation that aside from free agent pickup Livan Hernandez has the eldest member being just 26, the Twins are the best team in the AL at giving out free passes. Though they are worst in allowing homeruns and second to worst in striking batters out. There is a downside to throwing all those strikes.
#24 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 72, 68): The Giants do not balk at all at Buster Posey’s $12 million bonus demand. He’s sure not to get that much, but this was just one more instance in a draft full of them of teams ignoring both slot recommendations and what player’s were saying they wanted.
#25 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 71, 75): Already struggling enough with their pitching now they lose Jeremy Bonderman for the season with blood clots.
#26 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 70, 67): When you cannot score runs the solution is thus simply to not allow any. With a walk-off homerun in the tenth, the Padres became the first team in MLB history to record four consecutive 2-1 victories.
#27 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 65, 64): Brian Bannister may be a fantastic student of the game, but there is a ceiling on how far brains alone can take you once you reach the Major League level. Brian might want to try spending a little less time studying the stats and a little more time working on his stuff.
#28 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 65, 64): The Rockies nabbed potentially the steal of the draft on Thursday getting Christian Friedrich 25th overall. Given his makeup and advanced nature, he may be helping out in Colorado sooner than most other first round selections.
#29 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 61, 60): Their .307 team OBP is the worst in the majors behind even the Nationals below them. That’s team on base percentage. Given that, it’s clear why the Mariners drafted a college closer in this week’s draft.
#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 61, 64): After his disastrous first season with Washington and completely missed second season and mostly missed third season, Cristian Guzman has finally shown up in his (gasp) contract year posting a good line for a NL shortstop.
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 – 97
Red Sox – 97
Blue Jays – 88
Yankees – 82
Orioles – 79
White Sox – 93
Indians – 75
Twins – 73
Tigers – 71
Royals – 65
Athletics – 92
Angels – 85
Rangers – 81
Mariners – 61
Phillies – 93
Braves – 91
Marlins – 83
Mets – 79
Nationals – 61
Cubs – 101
Cardinals – 89
Brewers – 85
Astros – 78
Reds – 78
Pirates – 76
Diamondbacks – 88
Dodgers – 79
Giants – 72
Padres – 70
Rockies – 65