Many Similarities Between White Sox/Twins

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

WE STUDY ANOTHER PLAYOFF SHOWDOWN: CHICAGO WHITE SOX AT MINNESOTA

There are two high profile "pennant race" type series going on right now in Major League Baseball. Yesterday we talked about the St. Louis/Cincinnati showdown, featuring two teams who are neck and neck in the NL Central. Today, we're going to go in depth with the parallel universe over in the AL Central, where the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox were in an exact dead heat heading into their three game series that began night.

In fact, not only did the teams have the same record. They had the same home and road records!

Overall: Both Chicago and Minnesota were 63-49
Home: Both Chicago and Minnesota were 33-20
Road: Both Chicago and Minnesota were 30-29

Talk about a tight race!

Chicago blew a chance to get some distance between themselves and the Twins by dropping three of four against suddenly resurgent Baltimore. You catch both good and bad breaks during the course of a season. Chicago certainly ran into some bad luck there...facing Baltimore right after the managerial change to Buck Showalter, right after four months of virtual tank jobs!

As we did yesterday, let's run this pairing through the ringer of indicator stats that have worked out well for us over the years. We can already dispense with "road record." That's a tie. No edge for either team at this point. 

 

RUN DIFFERENTIAL
Minnesota: +0.9 runs per game
Chicago: +0.5 runs per game

Run differential has a strong correlation to success over the years, so we respect that it's showing Minnesota to be the superior side in a "tie-breaker" sort of way. Four-tenths of a run isn't huge obviously. But, it's enough to at least suggest Minnesota will be more likely to finish out on top that the White Sox will. The numbers are so close that they could flip flop if the White Sox have a strong home series this week.

ONE-RUN RECORDS
Chicago: 19-15
Minnesota: 19-17

Many statheads consider this an "inverse" indicator. By that, they mean that a team with an edge in one-run victories is probably catching some breaks that are going to even out in the other direction over time. This is most obvious in cases of extremes. We don't have that here. But, we do have an indicator suggesting that the White Sox may not be quite as good as the Twins in the big picture.

Let's explain it this way. Over the years, it's been shown that won-lost records in games decided by two or more tell you more about the quality of a team than won-lost records in one run games.

TWO-RUN-PLUS RECORDS
Minnesota 44-32
Chicago 44-34

That's what we mean. Slight edge to the Twins at this moment. Honestly, it's not enough of an edge to hang your hat on. Neither team has been "very" lucky or unlucky in close games over the course of the season.

RECORDS VS. .500 OR BETTER OPPONENTS
Minnesota: 28-24
Chicago: 24-27

Once again, the Twins show a slight edge. This may end up being a victory by water torture...with a lot of little drops of things eventually knocking the White Sox out of the discussion. History has shown that teams who beat quality are likely to go deeper than teams who abuse patsies. Let's also note though that this stat could move toward the Sox if they play well in this home series. Obviously BOTH teams are playing a huge series against a winning opponent right now. And, things are so close across the board that a dominant performance form the Sox could swing most of today's categories their way.

RECORDS VS. LOSERS
Chicago: 39-22
Minnesota: 35-25

This further confirms the point. Chicago made its move into the pennant race this year by abusing bad teams. Remember, they were 38-19 before running into Baltimore. We've talked about this in ALL sports over the years...from baseball to college football (bullies getting exposed in bowls) to the NFL (the Ravens crushing bad teams last year but struggling to beat quality) to March Madness (teams living by the full-court press dying by it when they face quality guards). There can be a bit of "fool's gold" in play when you're talking about teams who get rich by abusing bad teams. They underperform when stepping up in class.

During out periodic baseball updates all summer long, we marveled at a sustained hot streak that the White Sox enjoyed for several weeks. You may recall they went 15-3 in Interleague Play, and had a record just as good as the Yankees or Rays over a couple of months. In looking at recent form over the last month though, the Twins have basically caught up:

ENTERING THE SHOWDOWN
Last 10 games: Minnesota 7-3, CWS 5-5
Last 20 games: Minnesota 14-6, CWS 12-8
Last 30 games: Minnesota 19-11, CWS 19-11

It was common for us to type something like, "Sure, it's a tight race, but Chicago's been playing the much better ball LATELY." Here on August 11th, that's not really true any more. We don't expect the Twins to keep winning 70% of their games down the stretch. We see both as similar in terms of recent form right now though.

Yesterday, we mentioned that St. Louis seems better poised to make a run at the NL Central than Cincinnati does, even though both are certainly legitimate contenders. Part of the edge we gave St. Louis involved experience and managerial quality. We're not ready to make the same points here. Both the White Sox and Twins have some big game experience on the field...and have managers who aren't going to be overwhelmed by the challenge. Sure, Ozzie Guillen can seem a little flaky. He got his team to a World Series, and finds ways to challenge the league every so often.

We'll give the slightest of nods to Minnesota right now in terms of who's most likely to win this division. The indicators are pointing their way today. They may be pointing to Chicago a week from now. Things really are that close.

We're about to go on a football rampage in terms of NOTEBOOK entries here at the website. Tomorrow we'll pick back up with our NFL Divisional previews, as we look at the AFC East on the day the New England Patriots open their season with New Orleans. We'll look at the NFC South and the Saints the next day...and will work our way East to West across the map until we finish all eight previews (check out this past Sunday in the archives for our NFC East preview). We will take one day away from previews to crunch NFL Preseason boxscore numbers just so you can see which teams are trying to move the ball, and which are killing time until the season.

Bottom line...it's going to be a string of football for the next several days...which means this is our last chance to remind you about how great baseball has been this year!

JIM HURLEY is once again on top of the world in baseball, nailing big play winners left and right all season. He's been on top of every major storyline (as you've seen here in the NOTEBOOK), and his team of SCOUTS, SOURCES, STATHEADS, COMPUTER PROGRAMMERS, and WISE GUY CONNECTIONS has earned a fortune in a little more than four months of action.

Vegas oddsmakers have been particularly slow on the draw this year regarding teams like San Diego, San Francisco, Texas, Cincinnati, and even the Chicago and Minnesota teams we talked about today. They were slow to realize how scoring would continue to decrease as we moved away from the steroid era. They were slow to realize that the National League was making up ground against the American League in terms of who could win Interleague games. Now, football has started...and Vegas is obsessed with making sure the numbers are right in FOOTBALL rather than baseball. The easy money is going to continue rolling in!

We strongly encourage you to sign up for baseball by calling 1-800-323-4453. You've probably heard JIM HURLEY talk about the "dollars of August" in past seasons. Every dollar you make in August will multiply itself over many times between now and the Super Bowl as your bankroll builds. If you're playing Preseason Football with us...that's a few dollars, relatively speaking, that will start multiplying. If you play baseball too, the sky's the limit!

Ask about football/baseball combinations when you call. And, don't forget that game day releases are always available right here at the website for credit card purchase.

We're going to see some exciting pennant races in baseball the next several weeks. Several teams are neck and neck. That's NOT the case in sports handicapping. JIM HURLEY is the 1927 Yankees...while the Vegas oddsmakers are a semi-pro team in Dubuque. The difference between NETWORK'S expertise and oddsmaker analysis really IS that big right now.

Enough chatter. YOU'VE GOT A PHONE CALL TO MAKE!

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Aug

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