Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, June 14, 2013 at 7:00 PM
Through the years here in the NOTEBOOK, we’ve encouraged you to focus on “recent form” in Major League Baseball because early season action has a way of polluting your perceptions. If you’re the type of baseball fan who makes it a habit to scan the standings in the morning newspaper…you’re often missing out on developing stories that are buried by the sheer bulk of the season.
For example…do you know who the best team in baseball has been the past month? If you worked through the likely suspects, you’d be thinking about the powers in the AL East…or the St. Louis Cardinals who have been dominant for awhile in the National League. But, the best team in the past month is actually the Oakland A’s, with a sparkling 22-8 record their last 30 games.
Who’s the worst team? Miami is an obvious choice that would be exactly right. Who’s second worst? The NY Mets from the same division. Good thing those teams got to play a couple of series against each other or the records would have been even uglier.
Let’s quickly run through all six divisions so you can have a better sense of what’s happening RIGHT NOW while you handicap weekend baseball action. These are records for each team in their last 30 games leading up to their weekend matchups…
Tampa Bay 17-13
NY Yankees 14-16
Still a very strong division. Toronto has improved its play, and is no longer a weak link. The composite differential of +14 is important to notice because these teams play so many games against each other. Those naturally split out…so you can tell the group is doing very well outside of the division. Big season from Boston so far. They’ve completely turned their franchise around by dumping bad contracts and putting a fresh face at manager. Amazing what common sense can do!
Chicago White Sox 14-16
Kansas City 13-17
What a horrible division. Detroit is the only team over. 500 over the past 30 games, and they barely got there. If they fix their closer situation, they’ll coast to a divisional crown because the offense and frontline pitching is so good. Can anyone else here be competitive in a pennant race? Cleveland was supposed to be that team, but a tough recent schedule has exposed how bad they are when trying to step up in class.
LA Angels 14-16
Here are the aforementioned A’s…who have surged into first place for the year thanks to their recent hot run. Texas has been pretty generic, with an offense that isn’t as good as you think once you adjust for their home ballpark. Many of you probably guessed Houston for worst team in the AL. They’re not even worst in their division as the Mariners have cooled off during this stretch.
NY Mets 10-20
Atlanta is in much better shape in this division than it looks above. They’ve played a lot more road games than home games. And, Philadelphia only has a winning record because they get to play so many games in this crappy division! Washington has been a huge disappointment. Partly because of injuries, and partly because a few players have failed to live up to preseason expectations.
St. Louis 20-10
Chicago Cubs 13-17
St. Louis is second-best to Oakland in the Majors over the last 30 games…and is best in the Senior Circuit. Both the Reds and Pirates have been hanging right there with them. Can Pittsburgh hang tough all season now that they have some veteran pitchers? Or, will they once again fall by the wayside to create the expected two-team race.
San Diego 16-14
San Francisco 14-16
LA Dodgers 14-16
How tightly packed is that?! We basically have five dead even teams here…which is important to remember if you were thinking that San Diego was a bad team while defending World Champion San Francisco was going to run away with the division. Good tests for the teams at the top this weekend with Arizona and San Diego playing each other.
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Back with you Sunday to preview Game Five of the NBA Finals matching the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs. We’re all knotted up at two apiece, which means we’ll definitely have a Game Six Tuesday Night in Miami as well. Something big every day…so link up with the biggest name in handicapping…JIM HURLEY!