Market Misses In The Major Leagues

MARKET MISSES SO FAR IN 2012 NATIONAL LEAGUE ACTION

The 2012 season hasn't played out at all in the National League like the market expected back in early April! The All-Star Break seems like the perfect time to review market misses and market hits. We'll start today with the National League because that's where most of the big surprises have been. Our Tuesday edition of the NOTEBOOK will run the numbers from the American League on the day they're favored to win the All-Star Game in Kansas City.

We start in the NL East, which is on the verge of being completely upside down from preseason market assessments...

NL EAST PRESEASON WIN ESTIMATES
Philadelphia 93
Atlanta 87
Miami 85
Washington 84
NY Mets 72

Philadelphia's 93 wins wasn't just the best projection in the division, it was the best by a mile in the whole National League. The Phils were clear favorites to represent the NL in the World Series. Nobody was seen as even being in their class. A couple of injuries here...a couple of players falling back to earth there...and suddenly the team may have to end their current era and start building from scratch.

This team is double digits below .500 entering the Break, and looks like they've given up hope on 2012 given the lack of fire in recent days vs. divisional rivals. Nobody was expecting a "first to worst" story with this franchise, at least not this quickly. There's just not much margin for error in this sport. Nobody can afford to lose their high impact players to injury.

Down at the bottom of the divisional projections are the two biggest success stories of the season. Washington basically became Philadelphia, and is now the best team in the National League thanks to the blossoming of young talent and the acquisition of Gio Gonzalez from the superior league. That's not an exaggeration. Washington has passed all the litmus tests, and now looks like the team most likely to carry the best record into the postseason (though shutting down Steven Strasburg because of an innings count will certainly hinder their championship possibilities). The NY Mets are looking at 90-72 as a real possibility instead of 72-90. Vegas was too pessimistic about the every day lineup. And, nobody saw R.A. Dickey becoming a knuckle-balling version of Bob Gibson!

You often hear skeptics say that making money in the markets is impossible because the lines are just too tough. Oddsmakers are smart. Sharps bet mistakes on the openers before you can get to them. There's no value for regular Joe's like you. Well, the MASSIVE mistakes made in this division show you that edges are there to be found if you can properly anticipate the impact of newcomers or gauge the aging process of veteran teams.

NL CENTRAL PRESEASON WIN ESTIMATES
Cincinnati 87
Milwaukee 85
St. Louis 84
Chicago 74
Pittsburgh 74
Houston 64

Nobody can argue with Cincinnati. They're still a strong contender, and they could easily end up within a stone's throw of where the market had them. The big news here involves the collapse of Milwaukee and the surge of Pittsburgh.

The Brewers lost Prince Fielder in the offseason, which definitely took a lot of the swagger away from this team. But, the biggest culprit has been the starting rotation. A unit that looked to be one of the best in the league has been very disappointing once you get past Zack Greinke. The market may have oveshot the mark by about 10 wins with the Brew-Crew unless they get hot in the second half of the season.

And, Pittsburgh...PITTSBURGH has come on very strong this season. They're currently on pace to win 90-91 games. Let's say that's too optimistic because this isn't a group that's been through the pennant race ringer before. It's still very unlikely they'd collapse all the way down to 74 wins. The pitching staff looks too strong for that (not overpowering, but strong enough to avoid collapse). And, the offense has really picked up its pace over the last month. Note that the Pirates also improved themselves by acquiring AL arms to pitch in their NL rotation.

We should probably mention that the Cubs look to this point to be a major market miss too. But, they have improved in recent days. Their All-Star Break pace has them threatening 100 losses, which is much worse than Vegas had projected. There is a chance that new blood and a new attitude will lift the Cubbies up past 70 victories when 2012 is in the books.

NL WEST PRESEASON WIN ESTIMATES
San Francisco 87
Arizona 86
LA Dodgers 81
Colorado 81
San Diego 73

The interesting story to us is in the middle. Before the season started, the Dodgers and Rockies were seen as dead even teams. Yet, now, they represent extremes in the NL West. The Dodgers have cooled off since a red hot start, but still are about 50/50 to win their division and make the playoffs. Colorado plummeted down to the Cubs/Astros level of ineptitude. The Rockies need a 20-game winning streak just to flirt with the .500 mark!

Arizona has been a disappointment so far too. You can put them in a class with Milwaukee and Miami as teams who were supposed to threaten for a Wildcard but instead have drifted off the pace because of multiple slumps. Maybe one of those teams will get hot and make a run to match preseason expectations. For now, they're all pretty bad market misses.

Normally we're telling you not to listen to sportswriters, color announcers, or cable TV blowhards on those competitive banter shows. It's true that they'd all go broke if they had to bet their opinions in Las Vegas. But, the lesson today isn't that the media is constantly surprised...it's that even oddsmakers and the sharpest Vegas bettors can be surprised when they haven't done enough homework. The market can be embarrassed...which means THE MARKET CAN BE BEAT!

Think about that as you prepare for the second half of the 2012 baseball season. Use these days off to best advantage, studying offenses, pitching rotations, and bullpens to make accurate assessments of best expectations in July, August, and September. The All-Star game is Tuesday Night. There are no games Monday, Wednesday, or Thursday. Your handicapping work this week will make sure you hit the ground running on Friday.

Or, you can take the easy way out and sign up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK. We've been hot all season in the bases, highlighted by some eye-popping runs in our HIT & RUN CLUB. You can sign up right now online. If you'd like to find out more about the program, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about two-sport combination packages when you call. Seasonal baseball packages can be combined with early-bird football offers.

Isn't it amazing that the AL can go 142-110 in Interleague play, but still NOT have home field in the Fall Classic if they lose Tuesday Night?! We'll continue baseball coverage throughout the week. Our college football conference previews resume this Saturday and Sunday with the Mid American Conference's East and West Divisions.

Baseball may take a few days off...but the NOTEBOOK will make sure you stay on top of handicapping developments all over the sports world!

MARKET MISSES SO FAR IN 2012 AMERICAN LEAGUE ACTION

The last time we were with you we discussed market misses in the National League, where many elements of the so-called "senior circuit" have been turned upside down in 2012. Today, we move over to the American League where there have been fewer surprises, but some clear shockers of note.

Don't forget that JIM HURLEY'S selection in Tuesday Night's All-Star Game will be available right here at this website in the afternoon for credit card purchase. Will the American League win as a favorite in front of friendly fans in Kansas City? Or, will the National League steal home field advantage for the World Series with an underdog victory? Don't make a move until you hear what JIM HURLEY has to say!

We'll start today the AL East, where a few surprises sit beneath the powerhouse New York Yankees in your newspaper standings...

AL EAST PRESEASON WIN ESTIMATES
NY Yankees 93
Boston 90
Tampa Bay 84
Toronto 80
Baltimore 69

New York is currently on pace to surpass what were already high expectations even though they started the 2012 season slowly, lost Mariano Rivera, then lost C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettite for extended periods. This is a great team. And, it looks like some of the locker room chemistry issues have disappeared completely.

You could call it a surprise that the Yanks have been this good while dealing with injuries. But, there's no debate about whether or not Boston and Baltimore have been surprises. The Red Sox have been down near the bottom of the standings all season...granting that you can still be over .500 but be at the bottom of the standing in the AL East! They obviously haven't been playing at a 90-72 pace. There are stretches where they look like a playoff team. But, there have been more stretches (like the 2-5 West Coast trip to Seattle and Oakland) where it was pretty clear that the team still has a lot of work to do.

Baltimore has done an amazing job this year considering they've had a very poor starting rotation. The offense has been finding ways to get on the board. The team keeps its composure in close games. It's amazing what a smart manager can do with a young hustling team (just remember that this same manager has a history of wearing out his welcome surprisingly quickly!). The O's are still a statistical longshot to make the playoffs because of their tough schedule and spotty pitching. They're not a longshot to finish over .500 though...and the preseason markets thought they'd be more than 20 games Under. Heck, the preseason markets had them with the worst record in the American League!

AL CENTRAL PRESEASON WIN ESTIMATES
Detroit 92
Kansas City 81
Cleveland 78
Chicago White Sox 74
Minnesota 73

Well, the markets got last place right! Minnesota has been the doormat of the division, though they have picked up the pace in recent weeks. Otherwise, things are topsy turvy.

Detroit was supposed to be an AL power along with the Yankees, Angels, and Rangers. They needed a recent winning streak just to get back to the.500 mark. That's a big miss.

Kansas City was projected for a .500 record (81 wins and 81 losses). They'll need a 10-game winning streak sometime soon to make that a reality. And, it's very difficult to look at this rotation or lineup and assume something like that is in the offing. For now, that's a big miss.

Cleveland may or may not be a big miss depending on what's ahead. They've been playing better thus far than projections. What's most important here though is that they're contending for the division crown because the market misread the strength of the favorite so badly. Cleveland was supposed to be way off the pace. That hasn't happened because there's not much pace in this division!

Chicago is the biggest surprise of the division, and therefore the biggest miss. Not only have they surged into the lead on a pace to win 90-91 games...but they've been holding their own against the other class teams. Chicago just swept Texas! So, this isn't a team that's getting rich off a soft schedule. Chicago is legitimately one of the best teams in the whole AL right now. That's a REALLY big miss for the markets.

AL WEST PRESEASON WIN ESTIMATES
LA Angels 92
Texas 91
Seattle 72
Oakland 71

Not much drama here. Things were out of kilter early when the LA Angels came out ice cold in the early weeks of the Albert Pujols era. Once he heated up, they started winning at a furious pace. They're now back on pace to reach their full season projection, which didn't seem remotely possible a month into the season. We should have a dogfight between the Halos and the Rangers to win the division down the stretch. Both are likely to get at least a Wildcard given their high level of play.

Seattle had a miserable stretch that's dropped them well behind the A's in your morning newspaper. There's still time to make that up. We'll see down the road if that deserves to be categorized as a miss or not. For the most part, things have gone as expected in this division in terms of contenders and also-rans. Not any reason to pick nits. 

Are you ready to pick winners! You should always be focused on that. We hope you're putting in the work this week that it takes to enjoy a strong second half of the 2012 Major League season. You should be thinking about which teams may be poised to cool off and regress to the mean after possibly playing over their heads in the first three months. You should be thinking about which bad teams are already tossing in the towel on 2012 and thinking about rebuilding for the future. And, of course, you should be looking for potential positive surprises from off-the-radar. Is somebody like Atlanta, or St. Louis, or Toronto about to get hot and make a move?

The market just showed you they can make some bad misses. Don't get the idea that everything's settled in. More surprises are in store in the coming months. And, JIM HURLEY is convinced that at least FIVE different teams are due for very serious course changes!

You can take advantage of NETWORK'S unique TEAM HANDICAPPING approach all through July, August, and September in the bases right here at this website. Great rates are available for the rest of the season. Start off that second half with a win tonight in the All-Star Game. If you have any questions about our service, call and ask about the HIT & RUN CLUB at 1-800-323-4453.

Remember to check on combination packages with football too. The All-Star Break is the perfect time to get your ducks in a row for baseball AND football!

Back with you Wednesday with more baseball coverage. We'll be checking in on some of our pet indicator stats before the games pick up again on Friday. Don't forget that our college football conference previews resume this Saturday and Sunday with the Mid American Conference's East and West Divisions. We'll cover the mid majors on weekends through July (check the archives for the WAC and Sun Belt reports from last weekend). In August we'll look at the major BCS conferences.

There may be a break in the schedule...but there's never a break in the work at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

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