MLB Status Report

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

LET'S REVIEW WHERE EVERONE STANDS IN ONE OF OUR PET STATS

It's easy to lose your bearings once regular league play resumes after the fun and excitement of Interleague action. You forget that the Dodgers are pretty good when not facing the Yankees, Red Sox, and Angles. You forget that Oakland had fallen off the pace before sweeping the hapless Pirates.

Winning handicapping is based on understanding reality, not succumbing to illusions. One of our favorite stats for showcasing reality is WINS minus HOME GAMES PLAYED. It gives you a quick and dirty look at how teams stand once you take out schedule quirks in the home/road splits. You probably know that Atlanta's playing well at home this year. Did you realize they had played only 34 home games but 42 games through the past weekend? Cincinnati's a first place team. Are they really that good? Or, is it because they've played 43 home games and 33 road games.

There are obviously some big home/road splits in play as we speak given those two examples, so it's VITAL that you do that math and get the teams lined up properly. We always encourage you to spend a few moments doing that yourself with your morning newspaper while you're eating your Cheerios. Today, we'll save you the trouble!

We're using the end of IL play as a stopping point for the numbers below. All data you see will be through Sunday Night's action...

AL EAST

NY Yankees +12
Boston +5
Tampa Bay +5
Toronto even
Baltimore -15

NOTEBOOK: This has come up every time we run the numbers. The Yankees are better than you realize! They've been behind the eight-ball a bit with their schedule because it started out road heavy. Their main competitors have played more home games than road games right now. In your newspaper, it looks like a three team race for the crown. Once you adjust for the schedule, the Yankees are WAY ahead of the field...with Boston and Toronto having to sweat a Wildard race with Detroit and the Angles. Your morning newspaper doesn't even do justice to THAT race because Boston has a 41-36 split right now in favor of home games. So...Boston has been playing great ball lately. They're not as safely into the playoff mix as it seems though.


AL CENTRAL

Minnesota +5
Detroit +4
CWS even
Kansas City -4
Cleveland -5

NOTEBOOK: What's important to note here is that the red hot White Sox only got back to respectability with their recent streak, rather than climbing back in the pennant race. The newspaper makes it look like they're knocking on the door. But, they've played 39 home games and 35 road games. Minnesota and Detroit are roughly the reverse of that. Once the schedules even out, the Sox are likely to be a bit further back. Note that Kansas City and Cleveland aren't quite the doormats they seem either. Cleveland has a 32-42 split the wrong way! Tough for a bad team to deal with a -10 differential from an unfriendly schedule-maker.


AL WEST

Texas +6
LAA +5
Oakland -3
Seattle -7

NOTEBOOK: Now that we've seen the whole AL, you have better context for what that +12 from the Yankees really means. Nobody else is close. Others teams are having very good seasons. They're not up in the class of the Yankees at this point. Note how close this Western race becomes when you even out the schedules. Texas has been a bit home friendly, while the Angels have a few more road games. That will basically even out NOW because Texas is visiting the Halo's as we speak. What a huge series! Oakland's slump has basically dropped them down to where Cleveland and Kansas City are. It doesn't look that bad in your morning newspaper because of the home road splits. If you've been watching a lot of baseball lately, you know that Oakland is playing at a very poor level (though they caught a break when horrible Pittsburgh came to visit).

As we approach the halfway point of the season...we're looking at potentially two great divisional races, and a war for the Wildcard spot. Will be fun to see how it plays out. Now, onto the National League...


NL EAST


Atlanta +10
Philadelphia +5
NY Mets +3
Washington -3
Florida -6

NOTEBOOK: Look at Atlanta! That's basically a New York Yankees season being hidden by a 34-42 home/road split. The Braves are playing great at home, and will eventually get eight extra home games to even out their schedule. Your newspaper shows them neck and neck with the Mets. New York is 40-35 the other direction, looking at five additional road games coming up. In fact, our pet stat shows that Philadelphia is the second best team in the division rather than the Mets. Note also that Washington climbs out of the cellar here. Florida has a very friendly 41-34 home/road split that's hidden some of their issues. How did their owner think this was a playoff team?!


NL CENTRAL


St. Louis +6
Cincinnati +1
Milwaukee -2
Chicago Cubs -3
Pittsburgh -10
Houston -11

NOTEBOOK: Look at how far Cincinnati plummets when you adjust for schedule. Their 43-33 split is extremely favorable. We don't expect them to lead the Cardinals when everything evens out. In fact, they're closer to Milwaukee and the Cubs than they probably realize. There are 100 ways to show this is a horrible division. A combined mark of -19 in our pet stat helps make the case again. The unbalanced divisional schedules will give the Cards or Reds a leg up in the Wildcard race come September.


NL WEST

San Diego +6
Colorado +2
San Francisco +1
LA Dodgers +1
Arizona -6

NOTEBOOK: San Diego continues to surprise. And, home/road split may not end up being as big a concern for them because they're 22-14 on the road this year. What a great story. We have three teams all within striking distance if the Padres falter (which young teams often do after great starts). Colorado, LA, and SF are also threats for the Wildcard too, though the Phillies are in better shape for that spot than people realize.

Okay, NOW you're caught up!

Soon we'll do another 30-game or 30-day report that emphasizes recent form (this will make Tampa Bay look like a non-playoff team to anyone with eyeballs). We strongly encourage you to stay vigilant when evaluating Major League teams. This is a sport that's constantly trying to trick you. Develop tools (and use OUR tools) to avoid falling into any traps.

If you'd like some help making final decisions each night on the best plays, call JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK at 1-800-323-4453. We've got great rates for the month of July or the full season. Be sure to ask about early bird football and our BLUE RIBBON service when you call. Game day releases are also available here at the website for credit card purchase.

Interleague action was fun and profitable. Now it's time to get back to traditional baseball. The league has put together some interesting matchups for us to ponder. Among those getting serious consideration tonight and tomorrow:

Tampa Bay at Boston
Detroit at Minnesota
Texas at LA Angels
LA Dodgers at San Francisco
Philadelphia at Cincinnati
Colorado at San Diego

JIM HURLEY'S gravy train is still going strong. GET ON BOARD!

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