MLB On-Base Update

JIM HURLEY'S HANDICAPPING NOTEBOOK

DON'T FORGET TO HANDICAP OFFENSE WHEN MAKING MLB PICKS

Too many do-it-yourself baseball handicappers focus most of their energy on starting pitchers because "the line is based on the starting pitchers."

First, that's WRONG!

A baseball moneyline is based on:

  • Public perceptions of the teams involved
  • The caliber of the offenses
  • The caliber of the starting pitchers
  • Home field advantage
  • Additional minor influences

If Boston keeps murdering right handed pitching, they're going to be more expensive against righties. That's what we mean by "additional minor influences." Random things that pop up during the course of a season.

You probably already have a good sense of the public perceptions of teams. And, we started today with the assumption that you know the starting pitchers pretty well. We believe you'll pick MORE winners if you also study offenses. You'll back off teams you shouldn't be betting. You'll take more shots on hidden gems that are better run producers than the market has realized.

Today we're going to talk about what's historically proven to be the single most important offensive stat. That's on-base percentage. You have to get guys on base to score runs. The more guys you get on base, the better you're merry-go-round is going to work. If you've been struggling this year with your own picks, we believe you'll find some of the reasons why in today's article. You've been betting on too many bad offenses!

Let's start in the American League. All numbers you see today were through the games of Thursday Night because of publication deadlines...

BEST AL ON-BASE PERCENTAGES
Boston: .345
NY Yankees: .339
Cleveland .333
Kansas City .327

No surprise here. The richest teams in baseball do the best job of getting guys on base. The media talks about big money trying to buy pitching all the time. Well, the rotations of the Yankees and Red Sox aren't automatic to overpower people. Their offenses do a very good job of getting on base and scoring runs though. Being rich means buying OFFENSE. The numbers may have been higher during the steroid era. It was the richest teams who could afford to pay the cheaters!

Cleveland's been the big success story so far this season in the bases. They've got some good pitchers. But, look at how that offense is outclassing most of the league. One reason they've been so cheap to bet in Las Vegas is the fact that oddsmakers look more at the names of the starting pitchers than the production of the offense. Already, we have a quick example of why YOU shouldn't fall into that trap.

Kansas City has played better than expected so far. It's not because of All-Star level pitching. The unheralded Royals are fourth best out of 14 AL teams at getting runners on base.

CLOSE TO AVERAGE OBP IN AL
LA Angels .324
Texas: .324
Toronto .324
Detroit: .323
Baltimore: .317
Chicago White Sox: .316

The AL average heading into the weekend was .320. So, we've included everyone here who was within four points of that level. The big surprise to us is that Texas doesn't grade out well. They get to play their home games in a great scoring park. Yet, here they are hanging out near league average (which means they're less impressive on the road). We do expect things to pick up again now that their biggest offensive threat is back from an injury. Just remember that last year's Rangers team was much more about pitching than hitting once you adjusted for ballpark influences. Given the lack of personnel changes, that's probably going to be true again.

You can win a division, or even a league without a great offense as long as you have top pitching. This is a group that won't be able to get the job done with offense alone. The Angels and Rangers will be battling in the West with balanced if not spectacular teams. Detroit will try to make a run in the Central, but they can only pencil in the name "Verlander" once every five days.

WORST AL ON-BASE PERCENTAGES
Tampa Bay: .309
Oakland: .303
Seattle: .302
Minnesota: .294

There are ballpark influences in all four of these cases (particularly the bottom three). But, even if you adjust for that we're not talking about juggernauts. You should be looking to bet Unders with these teams when their best pitchers are on the mound. You should be looking to bet against them with their worst pitchers on the mound because the offenses won't score enough to get a win. Minnesota is the disaster story of the season. It's not surprising they rank dead last. We've already seen the keys to the flip flop between Cleveland and Minnesota in the AL Central this year. And, this is something the media isn't even talking about because those teams are rarely on TV!

BEST NL ON-BASE PERCENTAGES
St. Louis: .357
Chicago Cubs: .337
Cincinnati: .332
NY Mets: .325

Interesting group here. We have two NL Central contenders in St. Louis and Cincinnati. Then, we have two teams your normally want to go against rather than take. What happened? Chicago gets some help from playing a few day games in Wrigley Field. They also have done a better job this year of emphasizing getting on base. Their pitching has been so inconsistent that they've stayed off the pace anyway. The Mets are actually playing better than the disaster level some had expected. This is at the heart of why that's occurred. If you get guys on base, you can hold your own even if your franchise is falling to pieces and your owner got scammed in a Ponzi scheme.

CLOSE TO AVERAGE OBP IN NL
Florida: .323
Milwaukee: .322
Colorado: .317
Arizona: .316
Philadelphia: .316
Houston: .315

The NL average so far this year is .319. This is everyone within four points of that mark. The big surprise to us here is Philadelphia. They're seen as a juggernaut that is dominant in all facets. That really hasn't been true this year. They have an amazing starting rotation that truly is dominant, and which will put the Phils in good stead come playoff time if everyone stays healthy. The offense is generic at best right now. This is not an explosive team. It's a grinder team with a historically strong starting rotation but mediocre offense.

Florida and Milwaukee are on the right side of the average...and that has them in the thick of races right now. It's amazing how many years Florida has offered extended Vegas betting value because they've been better than the market has realized for long periods of time. They don't often keep it going through the full 162 games. If you can recognize when they run out of gas, you can do a lot of damage with the Marlins.

WORST NL ON-BASE PERCENTAGES
LA Dodgers .311
Pittsburgh: .311
Atlanta: .308
San Francisco: .307
Washington: .299
San Diego: .297

Atlanta and San Francisco are playoff contenders because of their pitching, not because they light up the scoreboard. Look to play Unders when their best pitchers are on the mound. Be careful asking them to do too much with the back end of their rotation. San Diego lost their offensive star in the offseason (and he's helped Boston explode in this stat!). That and a killer home park makes it very difficult for this offense to do much right now. Washington has surprised us. They weren't supposed to be this bad!

We strongly encourage you to write down these numbers by each team's name in your handy schedules today and tomorrow. You'll be surprised at how many winners jump off the page when you're staring at offensive differentials. Also, we think you'll talk yourself out of some losing bets because this data will remind you which teams don't have the production you need to make an investment.

If you're still not confident you can pick winners Saturday and Sunday during these ripe schedules, link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK! Our daily picks can be purchased here at the website with your credit card. Be sure to take care of business early because of all the afternoon action. We also have great rates for baseball through the All-Star Break of the rest of the season. Complete details are available at 1-800-323-4453.

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23
Nov

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