MLB Report & AFC South Spread Notes

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL REPORT
AFC SOUTH SPREAD REPORT

Okay, so everyone knows that the National League and the American League hand out Most Valuable Player awards each and every year in Major-League Baseball … but do they always go to the real MVPs?
In this weekend edition of Jim Sez we'll get you our half-way point 'Most Important Players' around the bigs – five of 'em in all and all are everyday lineup guys too – and we'll tell you why their respective teams simply can't live without their star players for very long plus it's the latest installment of our NFL Spread Reports as we get you the AFC South with an up-close and personal look at the Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans … so enjoy!

First, this truly important message: Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers release Major-League Baseball Winners each/every day and you can be part of all the action -- just remember to call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or go online right here and make sure you're all aboard for a summer filled with all our MLB winners! The calling/check-in times are after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays; anytime after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday Baseball action; and than anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the weeknight action. Now go ahead and pile up all your summertime Baseball winners!
Don't forget there are an absolute slew of matinee games on the July 4th baseball docket and so make sure you check in with us Monday morning for all the holiday winners!

BASEBALL'S MOST IMPORTANT PLAYERS

ALBERT PUJOLS, 1B, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS – Please don't hand us any nonsense regarding the fact that the Cards just swept a three-game Interleague series in Baltimore earlier this week all while playing without this three-time NL MVP. Hey, the Redbirds didn't exactly thrive when Sir Albert first went down with that wrist injury (lost five of their first six games in the post-Pujols injury stage) and we'll never doubt this guy's greatness/importance even though it's quite possible St. Louis will still be on top of the NL Central when Pujols (17 HRs and 45 RBI with 52 runs scored) makes his return to the lineup sometime following this month's All-Star Game.

JOSE REYES, SS, NEW YORK METS – The do-everything leadoff hitter of the Mets is enjoying a break-out year to end all break-out years: The 28-year-old Reyes entered this weekend's Subway Series against the New York Yankees with the following eye-popping stats: An NL-leading .352 batting average with 65 runs scored, 32 RBI, 22 doubles and – get this – 15 triples. Throw in the fact the Mets have become 'relevant' again in Gotham City (you couldn't say that the past couple of years) and it's quite obvious that NYM must sign this free-agent-to-be or risk swimming at/near the bottom of the NL East for many years to come.

JOEY VOTTO, 1B, CINCINNATI REDS – You may argue that the here-and-now Reds have enough pop in their everyday lineup to sustain a long-running absence from last year's league MVP but we'd tend to disagree. In fact, Votto (11 HRs, 50 RBIs and batting .319) is the man who makes everyone else in this Cincy lineup so much tougher because they all get better pitches to hit with him in the middle of the order. Consider that Votto – who continues to show great opposite-field and straightaway centerfield power – has a team-leading 95 hits and he's played in 81 of the team's first 82 games this year.

ADRIAN GONZALEZ, 1B, BOSTON RED SOX – The first AL player we've listed here on 'Most Important' is the first-half runaway winner of the MVP award and this slick-fielding lefty first baseman has been just what the doctor ordered for a Bosox team that had been playing mix-and-match at first base for the past three years. Gonzalez (.352 batting average with 16 HRs and an MLB-best 71 RBI) already has 115 hits and any thought that playing in front of a big media throng in Boston as opposed to his time in San Diego would 'expose' his game was an absolute fallacy following a beginning-of-the-year batting slump.

EVAN LONGORIA, 3B, TAMPA BAY RAYS – The potent third sacker of the Rays did miss some 28 games earlier this year with injuries plus he hasn't exactly been a consistent force this 2011 season but note his game-winning, walk-off home run the other night against Cincinnati gave him 15 RBI over his last eight games and note his batting average has 'climbed' to .249. The 25-year-old has eschewed batting gloves lately and it's been a magical run at the plate – plus Longoria's defense is always a major plus and another reason why he finds himself on our Jim Sez list of 'Five Most Important Players' this season.

NFL UPDATE: A POINTSPREAD REPORT ON THE AFC SOUTH

We fully trust that there will indeed by a 2011 NFL season and so let's get off the silly lockout talk and instead discuss recent Pointspread Trends.
Now, let's take a look at the AFC South:

HOUSTON – It's a fact that the Texans have sported only one plus-.500 pointspread season in the past six years (see the 9-7 spread log posted back in 2008) but last year was a case of hitting rock-bottom. The 2010 campaign had plenty of rotten moments but how about the fact the Texans finished an ugly 5-10-1 ATS (against the spread) thus giving this franchise an all-time spread record of 68-73-3 (a .482 winning rate)? Date back to the start of the 2009 campaign and you'll note that the Texans are 5-10-1 ATS at home and they're 6-10-1 ATS as betting favorites during this exact time frame. If you want to get a positive spread stat on Houston than know this: The Texans have notched spread wins in 11 of their last 19 AFC South games while dating back to the end of the 2007 season.

INDIANAPOLIS – Since 2003 the Indy Colts have produced four different double-digit winning spread seasons (see 11-7-1 ATS in '03; 10-7-1 ATS in '04; 12-8 ATS in '06; and 12-7 ATS in '09) but last year the 'Horseshoes' were your prototypical dead-even/vig-losing team at 8-8-1 versus the vig. One of the reasons the Colts didn't get to twin figures in pointspread wins was the fact this AFC South crew registered a 2-4 ATS mark against divisional foes and – strange but true – that marked the fourth time in the past five seasons that the Colts finished 2-4 ATS within the AFC South.

One stat fact that jumps out as us is the one showing Indianapolis covered both of its games last year when placed in the underdog role -- a 26-24 'backdoor' cover at 3-point fav Philadelphia and a 31-28 cover as 4-point road dogs in New England. So, if you trace back to the start of the 2006 season (when Indianapolis won its one-and-only Super Bowl) you'll see the Colts are a collective 10-4 vig-wise whenever in point-grabbing role (an electric .714 winning percentage).

JACKSONVILLE – No question about it: The 2010 season didn't exactly end with a bang for the J'ville Jaguars who lost their final three games in both SU (straight-up) and ATS fashion but still the 'Ville managed a 9-7 spread mark a year ago and that's a whole lot better than the combined 9-23 ATS log from the 2008-09 seasons. Overall, the Jags are an ugly10-20 ATS in non-divisional affairs the past three seasons -- and that includes last year's 6-4 ATS log outside the AFC South – and note last year's team covered three-of-four games when placed in the chalk role and that's heady stuff considering the 2008-09 Jaguars combined for a 1-12 spread mark … ugh! One final note on Jacksonville: The Sunshine State squad is a haughty 9-2 ATS in season-opening games while dating back to the 2000 season.

TENNESSEE –
Jeff Fisher's 16th and final year as boss-man of the Titans produced a ho-hum 8-8 spread log and talk about being 'consistent': Tennessee finished last year 4-4 ATS at home and 4-4 ATS away. The 2010 Titans proved to be a tough nut to crack spreadwise within the AFC South as they delivered a 4-2 ATS mark and so Tennessee's a collective 20-10 versus the vig in divisional play while dating back to the start of 2006. On the flip side, Tennessee is just 25-26-1 vig-wise outside the AFC South these past five seasons. On that theme of 'season-opening games' you'll note the Titans have covered six of their last nine lid-lifters including last year's 38-13 triumph over 6-point road underdog Oakland.

NOTE: More NFL Spread Reports in the next Jim Sez – catch the NFC North and the defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers!

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