Braves More Dominant than You Realize

HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

ATLANTA THRIVING DESPITE PLAYING
9 EXTRA ROAD GAMES SO FAR!

by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

It's time to check in on one of our favorite stats for monitoring developments in Major League Baseball. You regulars know that's WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED.

This simple to figure, simple to use, simple to update statistic is surprisingly effective at painting ACCURATE pictures of divisional races. It's very easy to get lazy and just look at everybody's won-lost records when outlining a pennant chase. Don't forget the home road splits!

Were you aware before reading our headline that the Atlanta Braves had played 9 extra road games to this point in the season? Sure, you knew they were leading the NL East...and you knew they were among the elite in the National League as a whole. Did you realized they were doing all that with one arm tied behind their backs? Nobody in the Major Leagues has played fewer home games than the Atlanta Braves as you read this.

Even if you knew they were good...they're better than you think!

Let's run the numbers for all 30 Major League teams in this stat. This week will feature a gauntlet of our most used indicator stats in the bases. Our summer series of college football conference mirrors is in the rearview mirror. Our NFL Divisional previews will pick up next week once the pro exhibition slate starts. That means THIS week is reserved for baseball. Learn how to use these indicator stats...because it will be difficult for us to devote much time to baseball here in the NOTEBOOK once the football regular season is under way.

Because of publication deadlines, we're using the standings at the end of Sunday Night's action. Note that Atlanta had a 10-game home/road split at the time these numbers were calculated. Since they're the most extreme team of the contenders, we'll start with the Braves and the NL East...

WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED (thru Sunday action)

NL EAST
Atlanta +12
Philadelphia +8
NY Mets +1
Philadelphia -1
Washington -6
NOTEBOOK: Atlanta's further ahead of Philadelphia than it seems in your morning newspaper, and those two teams are further ahead of the pack. Note that Philadelphia has a 49-56 split in the wrong direction, meaning they're better than everyone realizes too. We're shaping up for a great Wildcard race in the NL based on what we're seeing in the East and West divisions. Let's give Washington some credit for being the best cellar dweller to this point in the season. They've come along way from the doormat days, even if there's still a long way to go to become a divisional contender.

NL CENTRAL
St. Louis +6
Cincinnati +3
Milwaukee -4
Chicago Cubs -7
Houston -10
Pittsburgh -13
NOTEBOOK: This has been a horrible division all year...and this stat really helps showcase that. Only two of the six are on the right side of zero. And, the two worst teams are each more games below break even than the top two teams are combined. St. Louis and Cincinnati catch a break in the Wildcard race because the unbalanced schedules will have them playing a lot of games vs. crappy teams. Remember that when they're playing outside the division.

NL WEST
San Francisco +8
San Diego +6
Colorado +2
LA Dodgers +1
Arizona -14
NOTEBOOK: We actually have a NEW leader in this division! Your newspaper shows the Padres on top but our pet stat has the Giants because they're at 53-53 for the home/road split, while San Diego is at 55-48. If the Padres don't thrive on the road trip that evens things out, they'll lose the division lead. It's worth noting that San Diego is the best road team in the NL this year though, which gives them a shot to get where they need to be in this stat and the standings.

It's showdown time in the NL West! Padres-Dodgers and Giants-Rockies go tonight, and Jim Hurley is locked in a big parlay! Click here to learn more!

 

We've told you all year this was strong division. Four of the five combatants are on the right side of zero. This stat shows the West falling behind the East though. Arizona is much worse than Washington at the bottom...and the leaders in California aren't matching Atlanta and Philly as a tandem. More on divisional strengths later in the week.

AL EAST
NY Yankees +16
Tampa Bay +12
Boston +7
Toronto +2
Baltimore -19
NOTEBOOK: Boom! Two teams at +12 or better. The Yanks and Rays are clearly the class of the sport this year. Sure, TB and Atlanta have the same +12 differential. Tampa Bay is doing that in a better division...in a better league. Note that the Yankees are even better than the +16 suggests because they've played four more road games than home games. That will even out later this week. They've been chasing a negative split all season, which has kept many pundits from realizing how truly strong this group is.

Poor Boston. Their +7 would lead the other two divisions in the AL. This stat is suggesting the Sox, despite injuries, are the third best team in the American League...and they're probably not going to make the playoffs.

AL CENTRAL
Chicago White Sox +6
Minnesota +6
Detroit even
Cleveland -6
Kansas City -7
NOTEBOOK: Nice symmetry here, with Cleveland and Kansas City being the inverted images of Chicago and Minnesota. No surprises to report with this group, other than the fact that reality is more bunched together than your newspaper standings. The leaders have played more home games than road games by a smidge...the trailers are on the other end of the spectrum.

AL WEST
Texas +4
LA Angels even
Oakland even
Seattle -13
NOTEBOOK: If Atlanta's true strength is the big 'good'surprise of this study, the relative mediocrity of Texas amidst the division leaders is the 'bad'surprise for somebody. Texas has a 57-48 home/road split, which has allowed them to create the illusion of greatness when the Rangers are just a nice team taking care of business. Texas isn't in the same neighborhood of the Yankees and Ray, even if they look that way because of the win column. They're actually behind the Sox and Twins in this stat, and just as close to the Blue Jays as they are to those guys.

That means the AL West isn't quite wrapped up yet, and the Rangers may not be the success story that their recent surge has led everyone to believe. If they play well on the road when the split evens up...then we'll see where everything stands. Put an asterisk by the Rangers now in terms of all the 'Texas is the big story of 2010'hype.

A quick review:

BEST IN THE NL
Atlanta +12
Philadelphia +8
San Francisco +8
San Diego +6
St. Louis +6
Cincinnati +3
Colorado +2

BEST IN THE AL
NY Yankees +16
Tampa Bay +12
Boston +7
CWS +6
Minnesota +6
Texas +4

We'll run through a few more of our favorite indicator stats this week, including 30-game performances and 'the battle of divisions.'JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK has been on a great run in the bases lately...as you've been reading about here at the website. Our August combination package includes both baseball and football for the full month. Don't forget that the NFL Preseason begins Sunday Night with Dallas vs. Cincinnati in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio. Call 1-800-323-4453 for complete details.

If you like reading about baseball but only like betting football, you can purchase the full NFL Preseason slate for $60, or the full season of BLUE RIBBON BOMBSHELLS in college and pro football for just $199.

Given the recent hot streak, YOU REALLY SHOULD BE PLAYING THE BASES! You can purchase game day releases right here at the website if you want to try things out. Games of interest tonight include:

NY Mets at Atlanta
Philadelphia at Florida
San Diego at LA Dodgers
Minnesota at Tampa Bay
Chicago White Sox at Detroit

LET'S GO WIN SOME MONEY!

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.

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Aug

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