matchup and the "loneliness factor".

It's time, once again, to trot out the Loneliness Factor. Loyal readers will recall that this is a thing I came up with a couple years ago that demonstrates…well, what it actually demonstrates is open to conjecture. Some might say it shows how unbalanced a team's attack is. Others might say it's a demonstration of how much more productive a team's best player is as opposed to his teammates. Good and bad teams can end up on both ends of the spectrum, so it's not necessarily an indication of team quality. I would suggest that it could help sway a Most Valuable Player argument, provided the player in question has the proper credentials above and beyond a high LF. It is derived by subtracting the team's second-highest VORP from the highest and dividing the remainder by the third-highest. In cases where the second- and third-highest do not equal the highest, you go to the fourth-highest or, heaven forbid if it's your favorite team, the fifth-highest.
Here are the five highest offensive Loneliness Factors through Sunday's games.
Player, Team: Loneliness Factor
Lance Berkman, Astros: 3.26
Albert Pujols, Cardinals: 2.69
Frank Thomas, Athletics: 2.25
Carlos Guillen, Tigers: 2.19
Miguel Tejada, Orioles: 2.11
One of the inherent flaws in this method of accounting--and probably the main reason it has not gotten me the fellowship at the Sorbonne that I would otherwise so richly deserve--is that it can juxtapose players in dramatically different situations. On the list above, Pujols is followed immediately by the Big Hurt when their circumstances are quite different. Pujols has a VORP that is about triple that of Thomas, but Thomas is nearly as lonely, given the sad state of the A's offense. Pujols' LF was over 2.00 last year as well, as his 2005 VORP of 88 was double that of the team runner-up, Jim Edmonds. Conversely, their opponents tonight, Cincinnati, currently have the team leader with the lowest Loneliness Factor--just barely over 1.00. (The league average is about 1.50.) Here are the lowest Loneliness Factors:
Player, Team: Loneliness Factor
Scott Hatteberg, Reds: 1.00
Omar Vizquel, Giants: 1.05
Jim Thome, White Sox: 1.06
Brian McCann, Braves: 1.09
Manny Ramirez, Red Sox: 1.11
A low LF number is great when the player keeping it low is second on the team with a VORP over 50, like David Ortiz of the Red Sox or Jermaine Dye of the White Sox. The Reds' situation is less advantageous--above and beyond the inherent problem of having Scott Hatteberg as their leader.