'Correcting' Misleading MLB Standings

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

ILLUSIONS ABOUND IN
YOUR MORNING NEWSPAPER

It's time for us to get caught up in Major League Baseball again. We devoted a lot of energy to the NBA Playoffs (and that will resume Thursday when the Lakers host the Celtics in Game One of the Finals). And, this past weekend we even talked some football to get you in the right mindset to enjoy those early bird savings for NETWORK gridiron winners.

Today, let's focus again on the bases. You regulars know one of our favorite 'indicator' stats is WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED. At any point in a given season, teams will have played unbalanced schedules that have more home games than road games or vice versa. If you don't adjust for this, you're likely to draw some very bad conclusions about various teams.

*The 'home heavy' teams won't be as good as you're thinking.

*The 'road heavy' teams won't be as bad as you're thinking.

*Vegas lines are based on what people are thinking...so it pays to know what's ACTUALLY happening!

This is very important right now because almost every team has a slight imbalance in one direction or another. Your Memorial Day newspaper standings were rife with illusions that we need to correct. We'll run through all six divisions today, starting with the best division in baseball...

AL EAST (all data through Sunday's games)
NY Yankees +8
Tampa Bay +7
Toronto +5
Boston even
Baltimore -8
NOTEBOOK: Tampa Bay has been in first place for a very long time in the newspaper. The Yankees actually have the better differential right now once you adjust for home field. Even with a home series with Cleveland over the weekend, the Yanks had played just 22 home games compared to 28 road games through Sunday action. That's 44% home games and 56% road games through the first 50! Maybe the league is doing this on purpose so the resource heavy Yankees can't run away from the field and kill interest in the sport. They had the best differential in baseball in this pet stat of ours through Sunday, if not the best overall record.

Also of note in this division, Toronto is posting very strong numbers again. That's par for the course for them, until they run into the division-heavy part of their schedule that eventually takes a serious toll. Boston's probably not playing as well as you think. They were 29-23 through Sunday, but had 29 home games and 23 road games. So, they're MUCH worse than the Yankees than the newspaper makes it seem. That will be clear once both teams have reached equality in their schedule splits.

The AL East has rivalry games tonight with Tampa and Toronto and Baltimore trying to play spoiler in the Bronx. And the Jim Hurley Network is armed and ready with a parlay! Click here to get on board!

AL CENTRAL
Minnesota +3
Detroit +3
Chicago White Sox -2
Kansas City -2
Cleveland -4
NOTEBOOK: Minnesota has been helped a lot by a home heavy schedule this year, particularly with the enthusiasm and home field edge that comes with a brand new park. Visitors have no familiarity at all with Target Field. The Twins have made the most of that with 27 home games and 23 road games to start the season. Detroit is 23 and 26 the other way, meaning our stat has them in a dead heat even if your newspaper shows a comfortable Twins lead. It's also worth comparing the Twins to the Yankees. Both teams had records of 30-20 through Sunday...yet the Yankees version was much stronger because of their schedule challenges.

It's worth noting that the bad teams in this division may not be as bad as you think. All have played more road games than home games.

AL WEST
Oakland even
Texas -1
LA Angels -4
Seattle -6
NOTEBOOK: This has been a home heavy division, which means your newspaper standings make EVERYONE look a little better than they are. Once you adjust for the schedule, nobody's over .500! This is important when you're handicapping the AL also-rans. It's easy to get the idea that the worst teams in the AL Central are way behind the contenders in the AL West. This stat shows there's not much difference between somebody like the White Sox and Texas. Kansas City grades out better than the Angels. This is why we want you constantly looking at these numbers! You really should make some notes on your newspaper every day while eating your Cheerios.

NL EAST
Atlanta +6
Philadelphia +5
Washington +1
NY Mets -2
Florida -3
NOTEBOOK: Atlanta has made a great run of late in this stat and the actual standings. They had played just 22 home games compared to 28 road games through Sunday. Given their great home record, that's going to serve them well when things even out. Both Florida and the Mets aren't as good as they seem, as each has enjoyed a home heavy schedule so far. Yes, Washington's for real! They're not good enough to be a contender. But, they're run at the .500 mark is legitimate, and things may be getting more interesting soon when the hotshot draft pick hits the rotation.

NL CENTRAL
St. Louis +6
Cincinnati even
Chicago Cubs -3
Milwaukee -3
Pittsburgh -3
Houston -10
NOTEBOOK: We've talked a lot this year about how bad the NL Central is. Here's another way of drawing the same conclusion. Only one team has a positive differential through Sunday. Probably the single biggest illusion in baseball right now is the Cincinnati Reds. They had played 30 home games and just 21 road games through Sunday. A 30-21 record in the newspaper is nice...but it's just mirrors the home/road split. The Reds will have to do some serious damage on the road to 'catch up' with the Cards. St. Louis had a 23/28 home/road split through the weekend.

Note that the Pirates and Cubs grade out evenly here. Would you have guessed that based on the standings? Pittsburgh's played 28 road games, compared to just 24 for the Cubs. Houston has a better won-lost record than Baltimore in the race for 'worst in the majors.' This stat shows that it's Houston that's actually the worst team once you account for the schedule. And, that's not even mentioning the difference between leagues, or divisions. Houston's actually the worst by a mile!

NL WEST
LA Dodgers +5
San Diego +3
Colorado +2
San Francisco even
Arizona -3
NOTEBOOK: You may hear some pundits who are still under the illusion that this is a bad division. Is it? Only one team is below equality, and that could turn around when Arizona has a long homestand to cancel out a 23-28 home/road split. The way they're playing that may not matter! But Arizona's recent slump has been against divisional foes, in a division that's clearly better than it's getting credit for. The Dodgers have been playing playoff caliber baseball for several weeks now. San Diego is holding its own. Colorado is a proven quantity with its current roster.

PLEASE pay attention to the home/road splits as the season progresses. We'll pop in every few weeks to give you an update. But, we're not going to do this once a week or so. There are too many other things to talk about with the NBA Championships starting soon, and our summer series of football previews coming up just around the corner.

Baseball numbers have been tricking people for years. They still trick the oddsmakers! If you can see through the illusions, you're going to be on the right teams...at the right times...at the right prices...and you'll always be ahead of the curve when new storylines break. If you just sit back and look at the newspaper a couple of mornings a week, you're always going to be pulling up the rear eating the dust of people in the know!

JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK is creating that dust! Thanks to our SCOUTS, our SOURCES, our STATHEADS, our COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS, and our WISE GUY CONNECTIONS, the team is always several steps ahead of the line. You've seen that during our recent hot streak. You've seen that during more than 20 years of award-winning success through all sports.

If you'd like to get on board for the baseball package now, call 1-800-323-4453. We've got great rates for the month of June that will get you all the baseball AND basketball. You can also sign up for the full season at very affordable rates.

Game day releases and club packages can be purchased here at the website as well. BIG JUICY WINNERS ARE JUST A FEW CLICKS AWAY!

Back tomorrow to talk more baseball. Our first NBA FINALS report will be on Thursday to get you ready for the series and Game One at the Staples Center. Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

23
Nov

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