ALREADY A STARK SPLIT IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

ALREADY A STARK SPLIT IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE

Today's the perfect day to sit back and reflect on the National League roughly one quarter of the way into the 2013 campaign. There's only one game in the Senior Circuit on the schedule. And, it's early! Let's look at how the standings are shaping up. And, more importantly for sports bettors in Las Vegas, how the money won/money lost category is shaping up.

NL EAST
The Atlanta Braves are off to a great start. And, it's even better than you think! Heading into their day off, the Braves comfortably lead the division even though they've played 20 home games and 26 road games. When that evens up, they may have an even bigger lead. In Vegas betting terms, Atlanta is the third best profit team at this point in the NL season. Oddsmakers have been slow to price the Braves as a dominant team, even though they've been playing that way for weeks.

Most metrics we've seen are showing that Atlanta already has an almost 90% chance of reaching the playoffs. The division crown by itself could be a cakewalk. Why's that? The Washington Nationals have been a HUGE disappointment. They weren't supposed to be sitting near the .500 mark this deep into the season. They were preseason favorites to reach the World Series in this league!

Note that the Nats are down about four betting units this year even though they've played roughly .500 ball. That gives you a sense of how pricing overrated them.

The rest of the division looks like also-rans (and worse!). Philadelphia has a chance to get hot and move into the Wildcard discussion. When was the last time they looked like a team that could get hot? The disappearance of vintage Roy Halladay was a huge blow. Plus, the offense got old and didn't rebuild. Oddsmakers still overrated payrolls and"name" veterans, which means backing the Phils this year would have cost you a bundle.

Though, backing the NY Mets and Miami Marlins would have cost you bigger bundles! What a horrible division. Washington's mediocre play now seems even worse when you realize they play in a soft division.

NL CENTRAL
No surprise that the St. Louis Cardinals and Cincinnati Reds are getting results. They've turned into sure things with current management. The Pittsburgh Pirates are off to another one of their surprisingly hot starts. Bettors should stop being surprised! That being said, the Pirates still have a history of collapsing down the stretch. Take advantage of their good play now, but be on the lookout for a fade.

Also, be aware that Pittsburgh has played a home friendly schedule so far, and an East-heavy schedule too. The Pirates are probably a pretender in the Wildcard race, which you already knew. What you may not know is that Pittsburgh is THE BEST PROFIT TEAM IN THE NL so far this season...the only team in the league that's up double digit units, almost doubling second best heading into Wednesday Night action.

The Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs are interesting cases for bettors. Milwaukee's struggled, but they haven't played any games yet against the very weak East. They're probably a bit better than their record, and are still playing like they care. The Cubs offense has been more productive and consistent than the media has realized, which gives them a fighting chance to compete every game. We wouldn't be surprised if either of those teams turns into a value darkhorse for a long stretch in the coming weeks. Always be on the lookout for off-the-radar runs from teams that endured slow starts!

NL WEST
Things are shaping up for a very exciting race here in the West. The San Francisco Giants, Arizona Diamondbacks, and Colorado Rockies are all showing a nice balance of offense and defense...with pitching that can be overpowering in certain spots off the rotation. Of course, they each have some holes they're trying to fill as well. All three should be in the Wildcard race for the extended future. Any of them could win the division and impress in October, as San Francisco has made a recent habit of doing.

Also, all three are showing a profit this year in Vegas. A lot of that is thanks to the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are wasting a huge payroll on a bad team! The market gave this team respect early in the season, and it was extremely misplaced. To this point in the season, the Dodgers have cost backers almost as much as the horrible Marlins have...even though Dodger Blue would be about 5-6 games better in the standings if they were in the same division. Vegas priced the Dodgers like they were a championship contender, but the team had the same won-lost record as the lowly Cubs entering Wednesday action.

What about the San Diego Padres? Nice sleeper potential here. They've shown a slight profit for backers thus far, and continue to play with enthusiasm.

JIM HURLEY knows that every team has a story, which means that 30 Major League Teams have 30 different stories! He's in synch with every team in both leagues, which is why his clients march to the winner's circle time and time again.

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Back with you Friday to preview Game Two of the Indiana Pacers/Miami Heat series. Then it's daily hoops for the near future as that series plus Spurs/Grizzlies alternate days through Memorial Day weekend and beyond. We'll get caught up in the American League when the basketball schedule permits. You can be certain that we're already preparing for college and pro football that will be here before you know it. THE BASES ARE ALWAYS COVERED at JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK!

21
Aug

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