Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, June 23, 2013 at 7:00 AM
There’s a very interesting dynamic occurring right now in Major League Baseball that could create illusions handicappers need to be aware of. Many of the worst teams in the sport are actually even WORSE than you thought. And, many of the best teams are even better.
Here’s a look at the five easiest schedules heading into weekend action, based on the composite won-lost percentage of opponents.
MLB’S EASIEST SCHEDULES
Chicago White Sox .481
NY Mets .484
LA Angels .486
You knew those were crappy teams. But, they’ve had bad years while playing relatively easy schedules! The NL East has been pretty abysmal this year, which allows the Marlins, Mets, and Phillies to all show up in the bottom five of the schedule rankings. Their records range from disappointing (Philadelphia) to horrible (Miami) even though they had easy schedules. What would have happened vs. average or tough schedules?!
This is important for those of you who like to make “value” bets on underdogs. There are certain approaches that might isolate any of those five teams above in underdog spots. Once you adjust for strength of schedule, you may not get the same grading. You’ll find that the market price is right…those teams really are as bad as they’re being priced.
What a horrible season so far for the Los Angeles Angels. They supposedly had enough talent to win the World title. For now, they can’t even get close to .500 while playing the second easiest schedule in the American League.
Let’s look at the other end of the spectrum
MLB’S TOUGHEST SCHEDULES
Tampa Bay .520
San Francisco .512
NY Yankees .511
We’ve talked often this Spring and Summer about the power of the AL East (including yesterday!) All five teams show up in the top six for schedule strength. They’re all good (particularly now that Toronto is on a roll). They’ve all posted winning records despite having to play at lot of games against each other in the league’s toughest division.
San Francisco is the only non-AL East team in the top six…which is probably an early warning that you need to pay attention to them moving forward. They’re better than you realize because they’ve been dragged down a bit by facing the toughest schedule in the National League.
Let’s look at some of the percentages for other contenders, ranking the teams from toughest schedule down to easiest within the elite.
St. Louis .498
Detroit just missed hitting the .510 mark entering the weekend, and they’ll probably get there after playing Boston Saturday and Sunday. They play in a soft division…but a schedule quirk has given them a tougher schedule so far than you would have expected.
There’s a hunk within an arm’s reach of a balanced schedule. Those teams are what they are to this point. They’re as good as their records, and deserve to be in the playoff discussion.
There may be cause for concern about Atlanta and Oakland at the bottom of that list, as they’ve padded their records against easier schedules. Atlanta…of course…is in the woeful NL East. Oakland has had it easier than Texas even though both teams play in the AL West…a division currently with two good teams and three bad ones.
We emphasize this point year round in ALL sports. Handicappers MUST be aware of schedule strengths if they want to get a true read on teams. You win by understanding REALITY. You lose by betting illusions.
JIM HURLEY is ready to step in and help you find the best bets on the daily board. You can purchase BIG JUICY WINNERS right here at the website with your credit card every day.
Among the marquee matchups Sunday:
Boston at Detroit
Baltimore at Toronto
Tampa Bay at NY Yankees (on TBS)
Cincinnati at Arizona
Texas at St. Louis (prime time on ESPN)
If you have any questions about baseball or early bird football, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you in the NOTEBOOK Monday for a series preview (probably Toronto/Tampa Bay because the Jays have become important again). Tuesday will bring another series preview. We’re still deciding between Texas/NY Yankees and Cincinnati/Oakland. Note that there’s an expanded Interleague schedule this week…and those are always fun to handicap.
Sunday’s going to sizzle…so link up with the red hot JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!