Time for the TRUTH about MLB



by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

We've stayed fairly quiet about the Major League Baseball postseason. There's been a ton of stuff to work through in college and pro football on our daily NOTEBOOK pages. Today we're going to sidestep our typical college football review because we believe it's very important to set the record straight about what's happened so far in the playoffs.



The networks...the mainstream media...the local media...famous oddsmakers getting quoted in articles...your buddies at the local tavern...your dog or cat...are all WRONG about the two teams battling it out starting Wednesday night for baseball's world championship.

It's not 'the pitching of San Francisco' versus 'the hitting of Texas.'

It's a tribute to how little the stat revolution has influenced media coverage (and oddsmaking) that even one person could think this. Instead, it's as if EVERYONE thinks this is the storyline heading into the series.

*The Texas Rangers supposedly have a great offense and a middling pitching staff, with Cliff Lee being a superstar but everyone else sucking eggs.

*The San Francisco Giants supposedly have a great pitching staff and a horrible offense, with some sort of special 'we love torture' knack for pulling close games out of the fire time and time again.

Those misperceptions have been fueled by:

*Ballpark effects: Texas plays its home games in a great hitter's park, which makes it easier to accumulate strong hitting stats even if you're offense is average or worse...and makes it very difficult to accumulate good pitching stats. You know about San Francisco's influence on scoring hopefully. It's generally a tough place to hit because of weather conditions and ballpark dimensions. This helps pitchers and hurts offense.

*Opposing pitching in the last round: Texas got a higher number of playoff at bats against types of guys like Hughes, Burnett, and lousy long relievers than is normal for a playoff series. Plus, their road games were at the new Yankee Stadium...meaning it wasn't hard to hit home runs in EITHER park. San Francisco got a heavy dose of Halladay, Oswalt, and Hamels...in parks that weren't as friendly (Philly's home park isn't the hitting paradise it's made out to be when you study the actual evidence).

So, we had the media entering the LCS rounds with the thought that Texas had a great offense and San Francisco had a lousy one...which was then reinforced by ballpark influences and opposing pitching as those teams sprung their upsets.


Both teams have great staffs. Both teams are pitching first teams. Both teams are 'pitching and defense' wins championships squads right now. It's tougher to see with Texas until you adjust for context. And...jeez...Texas had the third best ERA in the American League even if you didn't adjust for context! HOW COULD ANYBODY MISS THE FACT THAT TEXAS HAS BEEN GREAT ON THE MOUND THIS YEAR?!

Both teams have average offenses. This will be the most difficult assertion for you to swallow today. But, if you only look at the road hitting stats for Texas, you'll see that they grade out at league average. Playing in Arlington inflates their stats and causes illusions. 'Average' offenses are going to post good numbers in a hitting paradise. Give them 81 games in a hitting paradise, and they seem like a juggernaut. San Francisco isn't some Punch and Judy squad that needs miracles to score. They have an average offense too when you do the math.

Check this out from the last series. You know, the one where the superhuman Phillies were going to squash the Bay Area weaklings like a bug.

Regular Season Road Offense
Team A: .250 average, .315 on-base, .400 slugging
Team B: .256 average, .330 on-base, .397 slugging

Which was the Giants and which was the Phillies? Does it matter? They were so close as to be dead even. For the record, the Giants are on top. Yes, the Giants outslugged the Phillies once you took home games out of the mix. Wouldn't it have been nice for a network to point that out?

San Francisco and Philadelphia played a pure coin flip series because both teams had average offenses and great frontline pitching (scoring was a virtual dead heat over six games).

Texas dominated the Yankees because of a much superior frontline pitching staff. The Yankees did have the better offense...but that doesn't matter if the bats can't make contact. Frontline pitchers trump frontline hitters in October as a general rule.

San Francisco doesn't have a crappy offense. Texas doesn't have a great offense. Both teams have average offenses and great pitching. You need to handicap the series and each game with THAT reality in mind.

The Jim Hurley Network is locked in to all the best side & total action each night in the World Series. Click here to win with us from Game 1 until the last out is registered and the champagne flowing!

Other issues to remember:

*The American League has generally been superior to the National League in recent seasons, though the distance has been shrinking.

*The National League has home field advantage this year because they finally own an All-Star game.

*Giants opening night pitcher Tim Lincecum pitched in relief over the weekend, and is more likely to be tiring from his postseason burden than Cliff Lee of Texas. Since those guys are going to probably meet again in Game Five, this could be an issue that influences your thinking on a daily basis.

*Texas will have to make a bigger adjustment playing in San Francisco's unique conditions than San Francisco will have to make in Texas most likely. Now, the Giants PITCHERS will have to make some adjustments to Arlington. They'll be throwing in comfortable weather at least. Pay attention to the daily forecasts for potential edges.

We've had another great season here at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK because we take baseball seriously. We know it's the most profitable wagering sport in terms of action because you have busy daily schedules for six months even before you get to the playoffs. Once you're in the playoffs...its our insights of REALITY going up against media illusions (spurred along by various oddsmakers who get quoted in the media). We're going to have a big World Series starting with the opener Wednesday Night. You can purchase day-by-day selections online a few hours before first pitch. Or, sign up for the full series at a discounted rate. Call the office at 1-800-323-4453 to add the World Series to any existing football package.

It's a very busy week in the world of sports. Tonight's schedule features Louisiana Tech/Boise State plus the start of pro basketball (we'll try to carve out some time to talk pro hoops in the very near future). BIG JUICY WINNERS will be available late afternoon here at the website. Coming up this week in the NOTEBOOK:

WEDNESDAY: Our weekly review of key stats from the NFL, including the late numbers from the Giants/Cowboys game Monday Night.

THURSDAY: A preview of Florida State/NC State on ESPN, which is shaping up as a very entertaining contest.

FRIDAY: A preview of either Michigan State (8-0 and #5 in the BCS) at Iowa in the biggest game left on the Spartans schedule...or Missouri (7-0 and #6 in the BCS) at Nebraska in the defacto Big 12 North championship game. Maybe we'll just preview BOTH because both Saturday afternoon TV games are so important in the BCS race.

SATURDAY: A preview of Oregon (7-0 and #2 in the BCS) at Southern Cal, in what may be the toughest test remaining for the Ducks as they try to earn a spot in the national championship game. New #1 Auburn (8-0) has a tough road test at Ole Miss on TV in the evening too...so we'll try to incorporate that as well. What a week in the colleges! Four major powers have dangerous road games that could create even more BCS Chaos!

Sorry NBA...we'll get to you...but it ain't going to be this week!

With so much going on this week and in the coming days, be sure you're in touch with what's REALLY happening in the world of sports with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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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