Submitted by Jim Hurley on Tuesday, October 1, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Because the Los Angeles Dodgers were SO impressive once they got their full lineup intact this year, the market has installed them as favorites to win the National League even though they won’t have home field advantage in the first round against the Atlanta Braves…nor in a projected NLCS series against St. Louis for the right to play in the World Series.
Is that justified? Let’s run some numbers…
FINAL RECORDS FOR NL PLAYOFF TEAMS
St. Louis 97-65
Pittsburgh 94-68 (wildcard)
LA Dodgers 92-70
Over the full 162 game schedule, St. Louis and Atlanta clearly did what it took to earn home field in the first round. No arguing about that. Pittsburgh has a great record for a Wildcard team…and also managed to outperform the Dodgers over six full months.
Now, let’s check what happened since Yasiel Puig joined the Los Angeles Dodgers. We don’t want to attribute all of the team’s success to Puig. There was a lot going on in terms of injured players returning, lineups gelling, and top-to-bottom quality of the team. But, that’s the general mark on the calendar when the Dodgers became the DODGERS and kicked things up several notches.
RECORDS SINCE PUIG JOINED DODGERS
LA Dodgers 67-38
St. Louis 60-46
That’s why the Dodgers are market favorites to win the NL. With lineups and starting pitching rotations constructed fairly closely to what we’ll see in the postseason, they were clearly the class of the contenders. And, that’s with a quiet last few weeks where the team coasted after a historic couple of months where nobody could touch them. If the Dodgers “had” to go 70-35 in that stretch, they probably would have made it.
Note how Cincinnati falls off the pace during this partial but extended sampling. You could argue that the Reds haven’t been a playoff caliber team the past four months.
You regulars know we like breaking down large sample sizes into more meaningful bits. One way we’ve done that in all sports through the years is to look at what playoff teams have done during the regular season vs. other winners. You’ll recall articles focusing on that theme in past NFL and NBA seasons. Let’s see what the five NL playoff combatants did in 2013 when facing teams who were at .500 or better.
2013 RECORDS VS. 500 OR BETTER
LA Dodgers 26-18 since Puig joined roster
St. Louis 39-36
Atlanta really jumps up here, though they played a lot fewer “tester” games because they were in such a horrible division. Cincinnati couldn’t manage a winning record when challenged. St. Louis was barely over .500…and that’s with a late surge in some big divisional games. Percentage-wise, the Dodgers weren’t as impressive as the Braves…but were still a clear winner vs. quality.
Too bad the best two teams in that sampling have to face each other out of the gate! Because St. Louis had the best record over 162 games…and a knack for crushing the worst teams…the Cards will draw the winner of the Wildcard play-in game later this week.
The current NL schedule for the next few days…
Tuesday Night’s Wildcard Play-in Game
Cincinnati (Cueto) at Pittsburgh (Liriano)
Pittsburgh won when it mattered this past weekend in Cincinnati. But, all that got them was home field for a one-game coin flip! Cueto of the Reds will be fresh after extended layoffs due to injuries. Liriano was a surprise start this year for the Bucs, but will be facing immense pressure in Pittsburgh’s first home playoff game in a couple of decades.
LA Dodgers (Kershaw) at Atlanta (Medlen)
Cincinnat/Pittsburgh Winner at St. Louis (Wainwright)
One reason the Dodgers are favorites in the NL is because they have the best pitcher in the NL, Clayton Kershaw! Frontline pitching is huge in the postseason because aces throw more innings than everyone else. The Dodgers will get to throw Kershaw twice in this series, and are hoping to do the same in the next round if they can advance past the Braves.
JIM HURLEY loves the baseball playoffs because midweek action allows his clients to build their bankrolls for big football weekends. You can take advantage of that all through October with the divisional rounds, the league championship series, and eventually the World Series. Purchase game day selections with your credit card right here at the website. If you have any questions about baseball/football combination packages, talk to a NETWORK representative in the Vegas-Sports-Masters office at 1-888-777-4155.
Back with you tomorrow to run some numbers for the American League brackets. Then, big game football previews will resume Thursday through the weekend. An exciting sports schedule just got more intense! Be sure you keep GETTING ALL THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!