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.
#2 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 102, 103): Part of it is Wrigley Field, but 6.1 runs per game is going to win you a metric ton of ballgames when you can pair it with a roughly average pitching staff. With Alfonso Soriano back and now apparently healthy, the offense could get even better.
#3 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 99, 98): A 3.17 team ERA does a lot to make up for their offensive woes. Speaking of those, like Chicago below, the A’s are getting unsustainably high production with runners in scoring position with an .858 OPS against a .712 OPS overall.
#4 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 98, 94): Remember back in the Spring when people were wondering if the Cardinals wouldn’t be smart to shut down Pujols for most of 2008 and let him get healthy?
#5 Tampa Bay Rays (Dartboard Factor = 97, 93): Asides from James Shields, the Rays starters have been underwhelming to date, but their bullpen has been nothing short of fantastic with a 1.77 combined ERA from Troy Percival, Dan Wheeler, Trever Miller, Scott Dohmann and Gary Glover.
#6 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 95, 100): The White Sox pitching staff is pushing with the Athletics for title of best staff in the American League thus far, both of them driven by incredibly low homerun rates. The White Sox are also benefiting from timely hitting, batting .284 with runners in scoring position against just .237 overall.
#7 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 91, 98): John Smoltz has been regularly overlooked in the past. During his prime, he was a bit overshadowed by Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine and in addition to his fantastic career numbers, he’s had an entire extra season pitched during the playoffs in which he has a 2.65 ERA in 207 innings.
#8 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 91, 78): Should Andruw Jones be benched in favor of Juan Pierre? With the addition of Jason Schmidt, maybe the Dodgers should avoid taking on these types of contracts for awhile?
#9 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 88, 91): Leading the league in hits and on base percentage, the Red Sox pitchers have also been too friendly with issuing walks and overall have been pretty mediocre.
#10 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 87, 81): Oliver Perez has walked 21 in 29 innings and while his ERA is kept down by the just one homerun allowed, that’s not going to continue and history suggests the walks probably will.
#11 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 86, 91): Brad Lidge and J.C. Romero has a combined 26.2 innings and just one run, but have walked 14 batters indicating that such an incredible level of run prevention is not going to continue.
#12 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 83, 79): The Tigers pitching strikes out just 1.2 batters for every one that they walk, by far the worst ratio in the American League. No matter how much they hit, and they are hitting, they are going to continue to be inhibited by their lack of pitching.
#13 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 82, 87): Perhaps trying to make up for their inability to get hits, the Orioles are running at nearly every opportunity, leading the league in stolen bases (and have the third most caught stealings).
#14 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 81, 85): The Marlins have some actual hitting talent, and would be scoring a lot more runs if they were doing better with runners in scoring position (.227 average), but scoring runs is only half the game and the run prevention half is not pretty.
#15 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 81, 82): Yovani Gallardo‘s injury is a big blow to the Brewers’ playoff hopes especially in light of Milwaukee’s National League worst FIP.
#16 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 81, 88): Jorge Posada is likely out until mid-June at least and Phil Hughes out until around the All-Star Break. The Yankees could be heading to a third place, or worse, finish.
#17 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 80, 83): If Travis Hafner doesn’t turn it around his remaining five guaranteed years are going to look ugly. This underscores the risk of signing hitters with no defensive value to long-term contracts when they’re past the age of 30.
#18 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 80, 82): The offense has scored just five runs in the past four contests, all losses. Would they be better off with Josh Hamilton still there? Edinson Volquez has been equally terrific.
#19 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 79, 71): The pitching staff is stepping up for them this week, tossing seven straight games with two or fewer runs allowed. Roy Halladay has four complete games in just six starts.
#20 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 78, 83): Jon Garland is apparently trying to figure out the fewest number of batters a pitcher can strike out and remain in the rotation all year. He’s probably not feeling any pressure from Nick Adenhart anymore after his four-hit, five-walk in two innings debut.
#21 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 74, 74): The Diamondbacks were a perfect model when to sell the farm for a missing piece of the puzzle. The Mariners were a perfect model on when and how not to do it. At least they attempted to address their offensive woes with youth. Small steps.
#22 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 71, 82): They are still having trouble scoring runs, dropping a series to the lowly Giants and scoring just five runs in the process. Putting Brian Fuentes back into the closing role should a help a bit.
#23 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 70, 70): Michael Bourn doesn’t do much, but he does run fast. He’s 13 for 13 in stolen base attempts this year and 32 for 35 during his brief career so far.
#24 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 69, 65): After letting the Rangers drop ten runs on them last Sunday, the Twins have yielded just six runs over the past four games, all wins, to climb back over .500. They don’t strike many batters out, but they do lead the league in fewest walks allowed.
#25 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 68, 62): Sidney Ponson has never been as bad as he’s looked the past few years, but that the Rangers have turned to him shows how desperate they are for pitching. Milton Bradley is quietly having a superb rebound system especially considering he wasn’t even supposed to be healthy yet.
#26 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 67, 65): Welcome to the world’s most expensive relief pitcher, Barry Zito. Is it too early to call this the worst contract of all time? It’s the new front runner at least since Zito would have actually benefited the Giants this season by hanging out with Mike Hampton on the disabled list.
#27 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 66, 62): Tied with the Giants in offensive ineptness, at least the Padres are able to pitch and field so there’s a chance they could climb back into the race. The Wildcard race that is.
#28 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 64, 52): Adam LaRoche is off to another anemic start with Pittsburgh. The Pirates have to be hoping that he snaps out of it like his did last season when he posted a .671 OPS in April and May and then finished with an .867 OPS the rest of the way.
#29 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 62, 63): Joakim Soria has 11 innings pitched, three hits allowed, one walk and 13 strikeouts. Combined with Ramon Ramirez, who has allowed just a lone run over 12.2 innings, the Royals have the most shutdown 1-2 bullpen in the AL right now.
#30 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 57, 55): Without Nick Johnson, the Nationals wouldn’t have a single regular hitter with an OPS+ at or above 100 though Cristian Guzman continues to rebound from his horrid 2005 season and subsequent 2006 absence.
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.
Devil Rays – 97
Red Sox – 88
Orioles – 82
Yankees – 81
Blue Jays – 79
White Sox – 95
Tigers – 83
Indians – 80
Twins – 69
Royals – 62
Athletics – 99
Angels – 78
Mariners – 74
Rangers – 68
Braves – 91
Mets – 87
Phillies – 86
Marlins – 81
Nationals – 57
Cubs – 102
Cardinals – 98
Brewers – 81
Reds – 80
Astros – 70
Pirates – 64
Diamondbacks – 105
Dodgers – 91
Rockies – 71
Giants – 67
Padres – 66