30-Game Updates in MLB

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

DON'T LOSE TRACK OF RECENT FORM WHEN HANDICAPPING BASEBALL

This will be our last chance for awhile to check in on 30-day summaries for Major League Baseball teams. We'll be focused on marquee series in the coming days. When the All-Star Break arrives, we'll mix in a quick first half summary with the first of our college football conference previews. Mark your calendars now!

Monday: SEC West, including defending National Champ Alabama
Tuesday: SEC East, including new-look Florida
Wednesday: Big East

We'll work our way East to West across the BCS conferences over about a week-and-a-half. Our look at Mid-Major conferences will start up in the final week of July. We'll pick up with our NFL divisional previews starting on August 8th when Dallas plays Cincinnati in the Hall-of-Fame game.

Today...let's talk baseball. We have a few teams who don't look so bad in the full season standings, but are actually struggling over the past month. We have some teams who are playing very well, but the full season records disguise it.

We'll start in the American League...

AL BEST (records through Tuesday Night)
Chicago White Sox 22-8
Texas 21-9
NY Yankees 19-11
Boston 18-12
Detroit 18-12
LAA 18-12
Kansas City 16-14
Tampa Bay 15-15

That list tells a few stories, doesn't it? Chicago and Texas have been on fire. The Yankees and Red Sox are just consistently good right now. Detroit has picked up its pace again after a bit of sluggishness. The Angels make it a six-pack of teams who are playing at 60% or better over their last 30 games.

We have to say that oddsmakers have done a decent job keeping up with the powers. Texas got very expensive at home very quickly. Kudos to the guys behind the line for that. The White Sox, though, haven't been priced anywhere near the other guys even though they're playing at a high level as well. There's two parts to taking advantage of recent form. Knowing what's happening, AND finding value!

How about Kansas City?! Did you have them as a winning team? Are you counting them the same as Tampa Bay, or even the Minnesota Twins team you're about to see in the next group? It's been a tough year for underdog bettors. The Royals have the look of a team that may provide value for the foreseeable future. You had probably stopped paying attention to them several weeks ago. Put them back on your radar.

AL WORST
Minnesota 14-16
Cleveland 13-17
Oakland 12-18
Seattle 12-18
Toronto 10-20
Baltimore 10-20

Were you pricing Toronto the same as Baltimore? Over the last month, they've been playing that badly. This is fairly typical for the franchise. They bring energy early in the season, but wear down from their grueling divisional schedule. This year, they have even less depth than normal (and they lost three home games to an economic summit!).

Oakland and Seattle have been matching each other for awhile. The market has been very slow to knock Oakland down to Seattle's level. Oddsmakers wanted to think of them as a contender like the Angels and Rangers.

You can see that Minnesota is having trouble keeping pace with the other AL contenders. There's not much margin for error when there are so many good AL teams. Some of their rotation pitchers have to figure out how to get people out on the road.

 

NL BEST
NY Mets 20-10
San Diego 17-13
Atlanta 17-13
Cincinnati 17-13
Colorado 17-13

Colorado would be 16-14 if not for that miracle comeback the other night. This is a good group, but kind of a "grinder's" group outside of the Mets. A record of 17-13 really isn't that much better than .500 over a month. Atlanta's success is so home heavy that you have to be cautious thinking of them as championship material.

We have to admit that we like what we're seeing in the NL this year. It really has taken a step forward in its battle with the AL. Remember that IL action plays a big role in this particular set of numbers. Only four teams make the playoffs. Five are playing like they want to be there, and the LA Dodgers would be a sixth if not for very bad luck in their AL draw. Let's get to the teams who are treading water.

NL .500 HUNK
St. Louis 15-15
Philadelphia 15-15
Milwaukee 15-15
LA Dodgers 15-15

All three divisional champions from last year are in this group...and all three are capable of making it back to the playoffs this year. So, we really have some nice pennant races shaping up. Will be fun to hop back and forth from football to baseball with so much to talk about here in the NOTEBOOK!

Don't lose sight of Milwaukee. There's a lot to dislike about that team. They're basically playing at the same level as St. Louis and Philadelphia now. If you don't hate them, you shouldn't hate Milwaukee.

NL WORST
San Francisco 14-16
Chicago Cubs 13-17
Houston 13-17
Florida 12-18
Arizona 12-18
Washington 11-19
Pittsburgh 8-22

Not many surprises here. San Francisco cooled off...but it wasn't as bad as it seemed. It's just that they went 14-16 while so many other teams were checking in above .500. Note that Florida is probably playing worse than you realized. Low payrolls usually take their toll eventually. The lack of action at the managerial position can't be helping. We have to say we're disappointed with Arizona's response to the Kirk Gibson hiring. If you're passionate about baseball, you find a way to win home games against the Cubs.

We've been warning you about Washington for awhile. The hype about Steven Strasburg has hidden the fact that the team is about as bad as they were last year right now. We are seeing separation between Houston and Pittsburgh in this study, meaning we may have to stop linking those two together as Double-A caliber teams.

The deeper you get into a Major League season, the more misleading your newspaper standings can be. We warn you about this all the time. Given the volume of football coverage coming up in the next few weeks, we don't want you to lose sight of that! There's nothing worse than making good baseball money in the first half of the season, then losing it back in July and August with poorly considered bets that are out of touch with the changing reality of the sport.

Don't let this happen to you!

The best way to avoid this calamity is to sign up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK. Call 1-800-323-4453 right now to get on board. Pay for the second half of the season and we'll include this final week before the All-Star break at no additional charge. Be sure to check on early-bird football rates when you call.

Game day selections and service packages can also be purchased here at the website with your credit card. BIG JUICY WINNERS ARE JUST A FEW CLICKS AWAY!

Baseball coverage continues tomorrow and through the weekend as we close out the first half of the 2010 Major League campaign. We won't disappear during the All-Star Break. That's when we'll begin our look at the BCS conferences in college football moving East to West across the landscape. Sorry Pac 10 fans, you'll have to wait until July 22nd! Alabama fans, we'll be talking to you this Monday July 12th!

Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports!

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