Fixing MLB Misperceptions
A FEW TEAMS BEING MISPRICED
BECAUSE OF BIZARRE HOME/ROAD SPLITS
You regulars know that we like to pop in periodically on a pet stat of ours called 'Wins Minus Home Games Played.' It helps you recognize advantages or disadvantages teams may be experiencing at a given time because they've played a lot more home games than road games or vice versa.
Right now in the majors, most teams are fairly balanced. But, there are a handful of teams that have endured BIZARRE differentials between home games and road games. As a result, perceptions of these teams may be significantly off the mark. Today we want to focus on those extreme teams so that all of you will have all 30 teams rated properly heading into the critical months of June and July. All data is through the games of Wednesday Night…
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (27-31)
23 home games
35 road games
The Chisox have been a disappointment this season. Cleveland has moved out to a huge advantage in the AL Central. The White Sox were supposed to be in the mix this year, but have had trouble making it past the .500 mark. Well, if you've only played 23 home games and 35 road games, it's easy to see why getting to .500 is so hard! Frankly, the White Sox have a very good record considering this tremendous early disadvantage. Pencil in a 12-game homestand that evens up the ratio. What would Chicago's record look like then? An 8-4 record would get them back to .500 and at least within striking distance of a Wildcard. Based on what you just saw Chicago do at Fenway Park vs. previously red hot Boston, that wouldn't be a shocker. When it's all said and done, they may not be a contender. It's very likely though that they're better than you had been thinking.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS (30-25)
21 home games
34 road games
Whoa, the Giants are over .500 despite a brutal early schedule! These are your defending World Champions. And, they're playing like World Champions despite a won-lost record that doesn't knock anyone's socks off. Imagine a 13-game homestand for a team that's already over .500…and is playing better than .600 ball at home already this year. Suddenly the Giants are more like 10 games over .500 rather than just five games over .500…and they're back in the discussion of best teams in baseball. They would be in those discussions already if not for this unfriendly schedule. Don't make the mistake of thinking the Giants have lost their edge this year. They're still playing very well. That will be more clear when the schedule gets back in balance.
KANSAS CITY ROYALS (25-30)
33 home games
22 road games
Bad news here for Royals fans. The team is five games below .500 and has enjoyed a very friendly schedule. What's going to happen after those 11 extra road games are played? The Royals are only 6-16 on the road this year! They're going to fall back to where everyone had them initially. What's looked like a big step forward this year for the Royals has largely been a schedule illusion. Let's give them credit for a small step forward. And, you have to respect a team in the moneyline who can win home games at affordable prices (Royals prices are usually affordable because they don't have any frontline starting pitching). But, this is a team you have to be very careful with in terms of 'live dog' possibilities. We can buy that at home. Just remember that the team is much worse than the newspaper standings suggest. Don't place Vegas bets based on illusions. You have to be in touch with reality!
MINNESOTA TWINS (17-37)
21 home games
33 road games
Minnesota's struggled everywhere, so we're not going to blame their collapse on the schedule. But, they're probably not as bad as you had been thinking. They're due to get some of their ducks in a row…and they'll have a +12 differential in home games as that's happening. This is a team we'll be looking at for value bets when the schedule begins equalizing. They're currently on pace to be a 51-win team if you don't adjust for the road/home split. They're better than THAT, even if this is still destined to be a down year.
CHICAGO CUBS (23-31)
31 home games
23 road games
The Cubs and Royals are having similar seasons. Except, the Cubs were expected to be better than this, and they have a worse record than the Royals! There are some ownership groups in MLB (and all sports for that matter) who have no idea how to spend their money. Chicago has wasted another decade with boneheaded decisions. That would be a bigger story this year but an unbalanced schedule has helped hide the debacle. Maybe a 3-6 homestand against the Mets, Pirates, and Astros will get the mainstream media's attention. Probably not. Oddsmakers sure aren't paying attention. Be sure you're looking for ways to go against the horrible Cubs. They're eight games below .500, and have eight additional road games on the remaining schedule.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES (26-28)
23 home games
31 road games
Hey, we get to end with some good news. Pittsburgh has been a pleasant surprise this year (though they've become known for the occasional pleasant Spring that's followed by a summer collapse). They're actually playing better than it seems. Imagine an eight-game homestand that equalizes the split. Pencil in a 5-3 mark and you suddenly have an unheralded .500 caliber team a third of the way into the season. Considering how little respect the Pirates get in Vegas, a .500 mark would make backers a lot of money. The starting pitching has been effective all year. This team is better than you think. Make sure they're on your radar each day.
Those are the extremes in play right now. We have room to quickly run through each division in this stat. Here's how things currently look in Wins Minus Home Games Played on a divisional basis:
AL East: NY Yankees +1, Boston +1, Tampa Bay -1, Toronto -1, Baltimore -4
AL Central: Cleveland +8, CWS +4, Detroit +1, Minnesota -4, Kansas City -8
AL West: LA Angels +3, Texas even, Seattle -1, Oakland -2
NL East: Philadelphia +5, Florida +5, Atlanta +1, Washington -2, NY Mets -3
NL Central: St. Louis +7, Milwaukee +2, Pittsburgh +3, Cincinnati even, Houston -6, Chicago Cubs -8
NL West: San Francisco +9, Arizona +2, Colorado -2, LA Dodgers -5, San Diego -5
Wow…who would have guessed the AL East would be that tight, and would lack a breakout team. Outside of Cleveland (who still may be a team that's a bubble waiting to burst), there's not much consistent greatness going on in the AL right now. You have consistent consistency with amazing parity! We wouldn't have guessed coming into this update that the White Sox and Angels were going to grade out second and third in the league. That's why it's so important to stay on top or reality in this sport. It's easy to let the media pollute your perceptions.
Now that we see the whole National League, it's obvious that San Francisco is still very much a championship caliber team. St. Louis has improved. Florida could make like interesting for Philadelphia. On the other end of the spectrum, There are four teams at -5 or worse…and the Mets may be in the early stages of a prolonged slump that has them dropping that far eventually too. Handy information to have heading into the resumption of Interleague play in the very near future. Bad NL teams are going to have real trouble against the balanced AL this year.
Back with you Saturday to talk more baseball. Sunday brings Game Three of the NBA Finals, and the first game in Dallas. If you want to make the most of your warm weather weekend, link up with JIM HURLEY for BIG JUICY WINNERS! Daily selections are always available for credit card purchase. We have great rates for longer term packages. Don't forget that the Belmont Stakes, the last leg of the Triple Crown is only a week away. And is it ever too early too talk football?! Our early bird rates for this fall, the best we'll have available online, are ready with our Touchdown Club right now. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.
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