Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at 8:40 PM
Yesterday we looked at the picture one of our pet stats painted in the National League. We’re back today to do the same exact thing in the American League. If you missed that report because you’ve taken some time away from the website for the All-Star Break, please check the archives. It’s important to have as clear a picture as possible of Major League teams as the second half begins.
The reason we like Wins Minus Home Games so much is that it forces you to penalize teams who have played home friendly schedules…and then also forces you to recognize the value potential of teams who have been on the road more often. Oddsmakers and many bettors assume the standings are telling the story. Smart handicappers make their living off poor assumptions by others!
We’ll start in the American League East, where the Yankees have run off and hidden despite playing a schedule that’s had more road games than home games…
NY Yankees +11
Tampa Bay +2
Wow…huge lead there for the Yankes…and numbers that really aren’t that impressive from the rest of the field. You’ll recall that the National League had some Wildcard contenders in the +4 range. Baltimore’s just below that. Tampa Bay is just a couple of games above equality. This division as a whole hasn’t lived up to its early season hype. Or, maybe it’s better to say that teams in the other divisions have turned out to be a little better than expected, which has made it hard for teams like Tampa Bay and Toronto to stand out.
Boston is the big story to us. Losing three of four at home to the Yankees to end the first half of the season hit them hard in this stat. The Red Sox have now played 40 road games, but 46 home games. How are you going to catch the Yankees from 9.5 games back when you have more road games left on the schedule?! Reaching the Wildcard is going to be harder than it looks too based on what we see in this stat. The media has pointed out that Boston is just a few games out of a playoff spot even with their inconsistent play. That inconsistent play has come against a home-heavy schedule! Big deal.
Boston probably isn’t as close to relevancy as you were thinking. They can start climbing back into the mix at Tampa Bay this weekend. A poor result there…and it will be tough to take Boston seriously as a true threat.
Chicago White Sox +1
Kansas City even
The White Sox have been playing great ball for several weeks now. But, it’s the Tigers who grade out best in this stat even though they sit in THIRD place in your newspaper standings this morning. Here’s why they grade out so well:
CWS: 46 home games, 39 road games
Cleveland: 45 home games, 40 road games
Detroit: 42 home games, 44 road games
It’s not that the Tigers have run into an abusive schedule. But, the other two teams have had very friendly schedules (particularly CWS). The Indians actually drop all the way from second in your newspaper standings to fourth in this stat because of that +5 differential in home games. You can see why Detroit is getting respect in the futures markets for their divisional hopes. They might actually lead the division now if everyone had played balanced schedules in the first half.
Two more things in this division…Kansas City grades out at even, which is just a hair behind what you saw with Toronto and Tampa Bay in the East. The Royals are seen by many as a baseball doormat this year. That’s because a slow start stuck them with a lousy early record. They’ve been holding their own for a couple of months now…which means you should look for value spots with them as underdogs.
Minnesota also had a horrible start to the season. They’re nowhere near as bad in this stat as the doormats you saw in the National League were yesterday. Value can be found all over the card in this sport…and the BEST value in the second half of the season often involves off-the-radar teams who start winning some games without getting media coverage.
LA Angels +5
Right now both Texas and the LA Angels are on the short list of probable American League champions. They don’t quite match the Yankees in this stat. But, the Yankees are older and more injury prone (as you’ve seen repeatedly already). As long as Albert Pujols stays healthy, the Halos are going to be in the mix. Texas has dealt with several pitching injuries already, and may go on a second half surge if they can ever get their rotation in order. We should point out that the race between those two is tighter here than in your newspaper standings.
Texas: 45 home games, 41 road games
LAA: 43 home games, 43 road games
Texas just got swept in Chicago. If they struggle in those four extra road games to be played, they may be looking at a Wildcard instead of a divisional crown.
Note that Oakland is similar to Kansas City in terms of being a team that gets no respect but isn’t that far behind more respected names at the moment. How many teams would be fighting for a divisional crown if they played in the AL Central?!
PLAYOFF PICTURE (only 5 teams qualify)
NY Yankees +11
LA Angels +5
Tampa Bay +2
Chicago White Sox +1
We expect somebody to break out of that pack from +3 down to +1 and become more of a force in the second half of the season. Tampa Bay or Detroit are the most logical nominees. It’s still hard to imagine Baltimore being in the playoffs with their current starting rotation. The team deserves a lot of credit for being on the right side of zero this deep into the season with their poor starting pitching.
Probably the most important thing to note here is that media favorite Boston is WAY off the pace at -3. And, Cleveland…who’s in an actual divisional race at the moment in the Central doesn’t grade out as a playoff team by this measurement. We only listed teams at equality or better. They didn’t make the list.
When you’re making a list of the best handicappers in the world, nobody sits on top of JIM HURLEY! He and his team of scouts, sources, statheads, angles guys, computer programmers, and Wise Guy connections are putting the All-Star Break to very good use as they get ready for the start of the second half on Friday. Sign up for the rest of baseball for a great rate right here at the website. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. When you ask about our HIT AND RUN and BLUE RIBBON clubs, be sure to check on early-bird football as well.
We’ll be back with you Friday with Showcase Series coverage of the Los Angeles Angels visiting the New York Yankees. That could be an ALCS preview the way things are going. Saturday and Sunday are reserved for college football as we continue our summer series of weekend previews. This week, it’s the Mid-American Conference under the spotlight. We’ll do mid-majors through July, and then cover the majors in August. Be sure you print those out so you can have them handy when the college seasons starts (check the archives for the WAC and Sun Belt if you missed those last weekend).
Football on weekends…baseball on weekdays…be sure you’re with us EVERY DAY in the NOTEBOOK so you know what’s REALLY going on in the world of sports!