MLB Road OPS

A GREAT UNPOLLUTED STAT FOR MEASURING MLB OFFENSES

There are no 'perfect' stats in major league baseball when it comes to evaluating team offenses because various ballparks are so different in terms of how they favor the pitcher or hitter. One of the best ways to 'unpollute' the data is to focus on ROAD games only for each team. Again, it's not ideal because teams don't play identical schedules. But, we've found over the years that focusing on ROAD numbers is the best way to get a true read on offenses.

And, within the various road possibilities, we believe that OPS…which is on-base percentage plus slugging percentage…is the single best indicator. If teams are accumulating a high sum of those stats on the road, they're very likely to have a good offense. If they're accumulating a low sum, then they have a bad offense. If you're trying to pick baseball winners in Las Vegas, it's good to know how the offenses 'really' rate!

Let's start in the American League...

BEST AL ROAD OPS
NY Yankees .776
Boston .765
Detroit .761
LA Angles .753
Tampa Bay .720
Kansas City .711

We'll use .700 as a cut-off here. No surprises at the top…with the Yankees and Red Sox as the best in the American League thanks to their high priced hitting talent. Detroit is a contender in the Central division thanks to a strong offense and great stuff from Justin Verlander on the mound. The LA Angels are a surprise. You'd think an offense like that with their pitching staff would be tearing up the league. They haven't been. The pitchers haven't been quite as effective as it seems. And, the Halos are having some trouble turning their base production into consistent scoring.

Tampa Bay and Kansas City round out the top six. The Rays always find a way to play well even without spending an arm and a leg on salaries. Kansas City is a surprise here. Their pitching has been HORRIBLE, which accounts for their poor record. Look for spots to take Overs when the Royals are on the field. The offense is better than you think…while the rotation is short of arms.

WORST AL ROAD OPS
Baltimore .699
Chicago White Sox .696
Toronto .696
Texas .680
Cleveland .658
Seattle .637
Minnesota .635
Oakland .613

The biggest surprise to many of you in this group will be Texas. They're seen as a team of sluggers because they play in a fantastic hitting park. Get them out of that park, and they're suddenly in the bottom hunk of the league. We talked about this last year. They were a pitching and defense team that won the league, but the stats hit that because it's so easy to hit home runs in Arlington…particularly against opposing pitchers who wear down because they're not used to the heat. The Rangers become very mortal in other places (though last year's pitchers had stretches where they looked like the all-star staff of the Phillies).

Cleveland is another surprise given their spot in the pennant race this year. Their offense has been poor on the road, but their pitching better than you think. We're still pessimistic about their first place hopes in the Central because they're so far behind Detroit offensively in terms of head to head performances.

Look for Unders with Seattle, Minnesota, and Oakland. Their overall offensive struggles this year aren't a result of their home parks (which is usually the case for Seattle and Oakland). These guys can't hit ANYWHERE! The Twins have had serious injury issues. Oakland lost its knack for finding offensive stars when the steroid era ended! The A's have the worst road OPS mark by a mile in the MAJORS not just the AL. That's astonishing when you get to use a DH.

BEST NL ROAD OPS
St. Louis .783
LA Dodgers .748
Pittsburgh .706
Chicago Cubs .705
Arizona .699
Cincinnati .693
San Diego .693
Colorado .690

Here's where the value of Albert Pujols really jumps out. The Cardinals play home games in a pitcher's park. On the road, they surge to the very best in the NL…and the MAJORS with a .783 mark. Hmm…maybe there is something to batting your pitcher eighth. Amazing that the Cards grade out better in this stat than the Red Sox and Yankees of the AL. Of course, Pujols is now going to be out for more than a month, so the Cards will sink like a rock in this stat.

Pretty much everyone else is probably a bit of a surprise to you. We talked some about the Los Angeles Dodgers yesterday. Once you adjust for their home park, the offense has actually been very good. It's the troubles with the rotation (after Kershaw and Kuroda) that are doing the most damage. The Cubs are scoring runs away from home, but are unable to get consistent pitching. Pittsburgh? Now you know why they haven't yet had their annual collapse. The offense has been one of the most productive in the league away from home.

Let's note, like we do every year, that San Diego's offense isn't quite as bad as you think. They play in the best pitcher's park in baseball, which makes their offense look helpless in full season stats. Even with the loss of their stud first baseman, the Padres are holding their own by league standards outside their home park.

WORST NL ROAD OPS
Houston .673
San Francisco .671
NY Mets .671
Florida .669
Philadelphia .661
Milwaukee .658
Atlanta .657
Washington .647

Very strange to see the first place teams down here. That tells you how much pitching has mattered for teams like Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and San Francisco. We've written recently about the mediocre offense of the Phillies. You can see here that they grade out as 13th best in the National League if you only look at road games (out of 16  teams). Very poor for a team with an offensive reputation. Milwaukee's bats have been huge at home this year (it's like they've turned into Texas!). We were very surprised they ranked third from the bottom when we tabulated the road numbers. Hey, they're right above Atlanta who's in position to win the Wildcard based on their recent form.

Look to take Unders with the NL contenders this year when their best pitchers are on the mound.

We hope you learn something new every time you read the NOTEBOOK. There's A LOT to digest today with this stat that you probably weren't familiar with. That's how you learn things. Get out of your comfort zone!

And, if you want to win some money this summer, GET OUT OF YOUR PASSIVE ZONE! The season is flying by and you're just sitting there watching the games. JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK can help you make big money in Vegas by finding the best plays on the board every night. Game day selections go up a few hours before first pitch every day. We have great rates on our season package too.

Games of interest for us today include:
Cleveland/San Francisco in prime time on ESPN
Colorado/New York Yankees nationally televised by TBS
Boston at Pittsburgh
Arizona at Detroit
LA Angels at LA Dodgers

Oh, don't forget that football is around the corner. If it's hot outside, that means early bird rates are available! Call 1-800-323-4453 for more details. The earlier you sign up, the more you save.

Back tomorrow to check in again on the Interleague record. A week ago we documented the very strong start posted by the American League. The NL bounced back strong, stunning many in the market, and actually took the 2011 lead in money late Friday Night. We have one week of Interleague left. So, it's vital that you stay on top of developments as they happen!

Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what's REALLY happening in the world of sports!

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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