THT Dartboard: September 23, 2007

Dartboard
Divisional Picture

American League

Formalities aside, the AL playoffs will comprise the Angels, Indians, Red Sox and Yankees. The seeding is completely up in the air, which does have a lot of impact considering the revamped schedules this offseason. The Angels possess the underrated duo of John Lackey and Kelvim Escobar along with a good supporting cast and a lineup that is solid top to bottom in the post-Shea Hillenbrand era. They do have big defensive woes in the outfield (No, Gary Matthews Jr. is not a good defensive CF. He’s average at best.) but with Vladimir Guerrero‘s injuries pushing him to DH and Juan Rivera back, the defense might be improved in the postseason.

Continuing on the underrated theme, there’s C.C. Sabathia and, for this season, Fausto Carmona, who give the Indians their own fearsome duo atop the rotation and a pitching staff that’s very stingy on walks and homeruns. The Indians are one of the most patient offenses in the game and also one of the most flyball-heavy.

The Red Sox offense seems to get the most attention, likely due to the personalities of Manny Ramirez and David Ortiz, but it’s the Red Sox pitching that has kept them atop the Dartboard rankings all year and the AL most of the year. With Jon Papelbon waiting at the end of the game along with the incredible depth in the starting roles, the Red Sox own an advantage over pretty much every team on the mound. And their offense is obviously no slouch either.

Quite the opposite of their eastern rivals, the Yankees have all about hitting; and what hitting. A team 824 OPS (121 OPS+) powered by the legitimate MVP, Alex Rodriguez has been steamrolling over pitching staffs all year and once the decimating injuries to the pitching staff returned to normal, the Yankees winning ways returned to the expected levels. More than perhaps any other team, the Yankees are helped out a lot by the ability to reduce the number of pitchers taking the bump during the postseason.

National League

The NL is noticeably murkier than the AL. The Mets, Phillies, Cubs, Brewers, Padres, Diamondbacks and Rockies all have legitimate shots at the postseason and pretty much only the Diamondbacks look assured of a playoff spot, as unlikely as that is for a team that still has allowed more runs than they’ve themselves scored.

The Phillies pace the NL in offense, averaging almost an entire run more than the NL as a whole, but a large part of that is the ballpark, as evidenced by their 5.13 runs allowed per game. If they prevail, that ballpark could provide trouble to visiting pitchers.

The Mets are riding incredible defense, notably on their left side infield, a deadly overall combo of offense and defense with David Wright and Jose Reyes. The Mets offense is above average and the pitching staff is good enough to take advantage of the defense in order to look good.

Long removed from the days of Mark Prior and Kerry Wood, the Cubs continue to win with pitching including a league leading strikeout rate of 7.5 men per game.

The Brewers are right about league average in offense, defense and pitching. Is it any wonder that they have about a .500 record? They have the smallest shot of making the playoffs of any of the teams mentioned, they have to overcome the Cubs for the division crown or they’re out. They’re not likely to accomplish that goal, but the Brewers are here to stay for awhile.

The Diamondbacks do have a lot of youth on the team, but they also possess a pretty weak offensive attack. They’re build on their run prevention and while it does look like they’re going to find their way into the postseason, it seems difficult to imagine them making it through to the pennant.

Colorado boasts the second best runs scored figure in the NL, but you know, Coors Field. What you might not know is that Colorado also boasts a pitching staff ranked above average in the NL even with the Coors Field effect. If they can get through into the playoffs, their offense and front line pitching can get them through a series or three.

San Diego allows less than four runs a game and sport a team 3.61 ERA. Incredible, but only two teams in the NL score less often than the Padres, but they make up for it with flat out incredible pitching, including a fantastic bullpen top to bottom. The Pads however, are probably hurt the most switching to short series as their pitching depth isn’t much of a factor. However, as we’ve seen before with Chicago, all they need to do is get hot with the bat for a three-week stretch.


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 Boston Red Sox (Dartboard Factor = 97, 99)

#2 Cleveland Indians (Dartboard Factor = 96, 94)

#3 Los Angeles Angels (Dartboard Factor = 95, 95)

#4 New York Yankees (Dartboard Factor = 94, 94)

#5 Arizona Diamondbacks (Dartboard Factor = 91, 89)

#6 San Diego Padres (Dartboard Factor = 90, 88)

#7 New York Mets (Dartboard Factor = 90, 92)

#8 Seattle Mariners (Dartboard Factor = 88, 87)

#9 Philadelphia Phillies (Dartboard Factor = 88, 85)

#10 Detroit Tigers (Dartboard Factor = 88, 89)

#11 Colorado Rockies (Dartboard Factor = 87, 84)

#12 Atlanta Braves (Dartboard Factor = 85, 84)

#13 Los Angeles Dodgers (Dartboard Factor = 84, 86)

#14 Chicago Cubs (Dartboard Factor = 84, 82)

#15 Toronto Blue Jays (Dartboard Factor = 83, 82)

#16 Milwaukee Brewers (Dartboard Factor = 81, 80)

#17 Minnesota Twins (Dartboard Factor = 79, 79)

#18 Oakland Athletics (Dartboard Factor = 78, 80)

#19 Texas Rangers (Dartboard Factor = 75, 77)

#20 St Louis Cardinals (Dartboard Factor = 74, 75)

#21 Cincinnati Reds (Dartboard Factor = 73, 74)

#22 San Francisco Giants (Dartboard Factor = 72, 74)

#23 Chicago White Sox (Dartboard Factor = 72, 71)

#24 Kansas City Royals (Dartboard Factor = 71, 70)

#25 Baltimore Orioles (Dartboard Factor = 71, 72)

#26 Washington Nationals (Dartboard Factor = 70, 70)

#27 Houston Astros (Dartboard Factor = 70, 68)

#28 Pittsburgh Pirates (Dartboard Factor = 68, 71)

#29 Florida Marlins (Dartboard Factor = 68, 70)

#30 Tampa Bay Devil Rays (Dartboard Factor = 67, 68)


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
Red Sox – 97
Yankees – 94
Blue Jays – 83
Orioles – 71
Devil Rays – 67

AL CENTRAL
Indians – 96
Tigers – 88
Twins – 79
White Sox – 72
Royals – 71

AL WEST
Angels – 95
Mariners – 88
Athletics – 78
Rangers – 75

AL WILD CARD
Yankees – 94
Mariners – 88
Tigers – 88

NL EAST
Mets – 90
Phillies – 88
Braves – 85
Nationals – 70
Marlins – 68

NL CENTRAL
Cubs – 84
Brewers – 81
Cardinals – 74
Reds – 73
Astros – 70
Pirates – 68

NL WEST
Diamondbacks – 91
Padres – 90
Rockies – 87
Dodgers – 84
Giants – 72

NL WILD CARD
Padres – 90
Phillies – 88
Rockies – 87
Braves – 85

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