A.L. East Update
WHAT WAS ALREADY THE STRONGEST DIVISION IS ABOUT TO GET EVEN MORE INTENSE
We've spent a lot of time over the years ragging on the media for spending too much time an energy on the American League East division at the expense of other great teams. For a variety of reasons, that division really isn't getting much hype through the first third of the 2013 season.
The Yankees were missing many key players, and the media tends to focus on a few superstars.
The Red Sox were coming off a very disappointing season, and the media hadn't predicted a big comeback this year. The media tends not to celebrate stories they had predicted wouldn't happen!
The Orioles were seen as very lucky last year, so they weren't being taken seriously as threats in 2013.
The Rays draw small crowds and small ratings. The media only pays attention if they HAVE to when Tampa Bay reaches the postseason.
The Blue Jays were positioned to be a big story because of free agent signings but fell flat on their face and have yet to get up.
Amazingly OFF THE RADAR, the AL East has proven to be very compelling and successful. The group as a whole is dominating the other divisions in head-to-head play. Here were the win differentials heading into weekend action...
DIVISIONAL WIN DIFFERENTIALS
AL East +27
AL Central +16
NL West +3
AL West -9
AL Central -13
NL East -24
And, within the division, you have a tight four-way race that's even tighter than your newspaper standings are suggesting. You regular readers know we devote space periodically to a stat called "Wins Minus Home Games Played." This adjusts for misleading schedule splits that happen in the middle of a season where there can be an imbalance of home games vs. road games. In the AL East right now, the leaders have had friendlier schedules. Check this out.
WINS MINUS HOME GAMES PLAYED ENTERING WEEKEND SERIES
Tampa Bay +5
NY Yankees +3
It's the often disrespected Orioles who sat atop the group before Friday's action. And, all of what is now a "big four" were within two games of each other before Friday Night.
And, all that sets up a big weekend of action in the race. Here's what's on tap for Saturday and Sunday:
Baltimore at Tampa Bay: games within the big four will be huge the rest of the way because every win is also a loss that you stick on somebody else. Huge series for a pair of teams who are winning despite very poor overall starting pitching. If either team can find some consistent arms...they might pull away from the pack.
Boston hosts the Los Angeles Angels in a day-night doubleheader Saturday after Friday's rainout. You've got to take care of business when you host losing teams because the margin for error is going to be so slight come pennant race time.
New York visits Seattle...which isn't a notable series beyond the fact that the Yankees are finally starting to get some regulars into the starting lineup...and it's really showing up on the scoreboard. If the O's and Rays have a chance to ignite by improving their pitching...the Yankees are even better positioned because they will OBVIOUSLY have better hitters in the lineup moving forward than they did in their first 55 games.
JIM HURLEY loves handicapping the teams in this division because he has trusted sources and scouts with all the teams. That plus the great work from his statheads...his computer programmers...and his Wise Guy connections ensure that NETWORK clients get the best plays on the board every night all over the Major League card.
You can purchase top plays right here at the website with your credit card. Be sure you GET BUSY TODAY because it's BASEBALL & THE BELMONT highlighting the Saturday schedule. Call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 for ways to win the final Triple Crown race of the year and in the bases. And don't forget that Game Two of the NBA Finals is on deck Sunday!
We'll be back with you Sunday for a look at key numbers in that Spurs/Heat rematch. Don't make a move in any major event this weekend until you hear what JIM HURLEY HAS TO SAY!
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