Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, June 29, 2013 at 7:00 PM
The end of June and the beginning of July generally bring about a flood of “midway point” analysis in Major League Baseball. Teams have played about 81 of their 162 games. There’s all sorts of lore about what happens to teams who are in first place on July 1st or July 4th. Handicapping isn’t about overall generalities. YOU want to focus on who’s playing well NOW rather than who played well (or poorly) back in April.
That makes this a perfect time to remind you to focus on the last 30 games rather than the last 82. You’ll be surprised how your perceptions change when you focus on recent form. There are teams who are currently seen as “contenders” who are below .500 the last month. There are teams who are billed as “among the worst in baseball” who are actually at .500 or better (hello Houston!).
Here are records for all 30 Major League teams in their last 30 games (through the action of Friday Night because of publication deadlines).
BEST IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE
After a slow start to the season, Toronto’s been one of the best teams in baseball over the past month. You see how great the AL East is…with three teams still grading out well even though that division keeps running into each other (you’ll see the toll that’s taken on the Yanks in a minute). Great job by Oakland to get back in the AL race with Texas. Brace yourselves…you won’t believe what’s next!
NEAR 50/50 IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE
Kansas City 16-14
Tampa Bay 15-15
LA Angels 14-16
That’s right…Kansas City, Minnesota, and Houston have been better the past month than Texas, Tampa Bay, and Detroit! That fact may have cost you some money in recent days…because the public loves betting on Detroit, and to a lesser extent the Rangers and Rays. Texas did get things turned around after a long slump…and is better than 50/50 within a shorter recent sample. Did you know Houston was over .500 the past month? How about the Kansas City and Minnesota?
WORST IN THE AMERICAN LEAGUE
NY Yankees 12-18
Chicago White Sox 9-21
The White Sox have fallen apart, with that doubleheader loss to Cleveland Friday Night representing a new low point for recent history. This team always finds a way to lose! The Yankees need to get healthy quick, or they’re in danger of falling out of the AL East race. No margin for error in that loaded division.
BEST IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Diego 18-12
You were probably aware that Pittsburgh’s gotten hot lately. Have you been on top of the developing story in San Diego? Amazing that the only two teams playing really well right now in the Senior Circuit are these two long derided franchises.
NEAR 50/50 IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE
St. Louis 16-14
NY Mets 15-15
Chicago Cubs 15-15
LA Dodgers 15-15
If you’re having trouble making heads or tails of the National League in recent weeks, this why. Almost every team is playing coin flips every night! Atlanta, St. Louis, and Cincinnati cooled off. Lesser lights like the Mets, Cubs, and even the Marlins have lifted their level of play. Did you know that the Cubs and Mets were better than the Reds over the last month? Or that seemingly helpless Miami was even with them?
WORST IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE
San Francisco 11-19
Very tough stretch for San Francisco. And, in an era of parity…losing a step means EVERYONE moves past you. That NL West race is shaping up as an intriguing one…simply because nobody’s really very good right now…but nobody’s so bad that they can be counted out. San Francisco’s won two World Championships in the past three years!
Please consider what you’ve learned today as you make your handicapping decisions through the week. We’ll continue to check in periodically with these recent form numbers (which you can follow for yourself on the expanding standings pages at baseball-reference).
If you’d like some help finding the best plays on the Vegas board, link up with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK every day here at this website. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
Back with you Monday to talk more baseball. Our summer series of college conference previews begins Tuesday and Wednesday with a look at the Mountain West Conference (starting with the league of UNLV for our Vegas audience! Then we’ll hop between baseball and football through the month of July. Note that our major conference previews will begin during the All-Star Break when baseball takes a few days off.
Football will be here before you know it. Make the most of a sizzling summer with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!