Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 24, 2012 at 8:34 PM
There’s no basketball on the Friday Night schedule. So, we can devote a full day to getting caught up in Major League Baseball. Today’s report is devoted to making REAL evaluations about offenses. Not the illusions. Note the hype. Not stats that are polluted by home ballparks. Which teams are truly the best and worst in the sport at getting men on base and moving them around.
The stat we’re going to use today is a common one. That’s OPS, which is on base plus slugging. But, to make sure that home field characteristics aren’t polluting the data…we’re only using ROAD numbers to evaluate teams. You probably know Colorado’s home park greatly increases offense because of the altitude. Can the Rockies hit in normal conditions (hint: no!). Many of you are also aware that San Diego is a great pitcher’s park because of its dimensions, lighting, and heavy marine air. What happens to the Padres offense in normal conditions?
If you’re serious about picking winners in baseball, then you need to be serious about getting true reads on all the strengths and weaknesses of all 30 teams. Unfortunately, the mainstream media does a HORRIBLE job of this…unimaginably bad. You’d think they’d never heard of ballpark effects! We’re here to steer you straight…and we’re going to start that in the National League since that’s the home of two extreme parks we’ve just discussed.
Note that, because of publication deadlines, all data is through the games of Wednesday Night…
BEST NL ROAD OPS MARKS
St. Louis .763
NY Mets .745
LA Dodgers .718
San Francisco .706
Chicago Cubs .696
There’s a huge gap from .680 to .650 in the Senior Circuit, so we’ve used that as a cutoff. Obviously, St. Louis and the NY Mets are off the charts compared to everyone else. That’s amazing considering who St. Louis lost in the offseason, and how little respect the Mets offense has been getting in the press. Remember that New York has played in an extreme pitcher’s park in recent years, and adjusting the dimensions before this season didn’t neutralize the effect. The main reason the Mets have been a pleasant surprise this year is that the offense is better than expected, and realized.
The LA Dodgers and Atlanta are in the thick of the playoff picture. The media tends to think of those teams as pitching-heavy because that was the perception many years ago. YOU need to be aware that both offenses have shown a lot of pop so far…which is a good sign for them continuing their successful campaigns.
We have to admit we’re surprised the Cubs graded out so well. That’s a bad team…but the offense isn’t as bad as you think. And, teams that the media has been harping on for poor offense, Philadelphia, Washington, and Cincinnati, actually are league average once you get them away from home.
WORST NL ROAD OPS MARKS
San Diego .648
San Diego’s still pretty bad on the road, which is why they have such huge troubles getting anything on the board vs. good pitchers at home! Colorado and Milwaukee have been disasters on the road offensively, which is a large reason why they’re underachieving so much against preseason expectations. The media always points to pitching woes when teams have a surprising struggle. Don’t you make the mistake of wearing blinders when trying to figure things out.
Miami! They’ve had some high scoring games in their new park, which might turn out to be a hitter’s paradise based on early returns. They’re making a run at the playoffs because of solid and deep pitching. The offense is anemic when you get it out of the home park.
BEST AL ROAD OPS MARKS
NY Yankees .786
Tampa Bay .734
Chicago White Sox .719
Kansas City .712
There’s generally more offense in the American League because of the Designated hitter rule, so we’ll lift the cutoff to .700 here. The fact that Texas sits at the top should terrify people. As we’ve shown you in recent seasons, the Rangers typically had a mediocre offense that created the illusion of greatness thanks to home games in Arlington. That park is a hitter’ s paradise. So far this year, EVERY PLACE is a hitter’s paradise for this potent Rangers attack. They’ve upgraded a weakness, and added Yu Darvish to the rotation. This team is even more loaded than they were when they won two straight league titles.
Cleveland’s high ranking helps you understand why they’ve been such a pleasant surprise this year in the AL Central. They are the best in that division by quite a good bit. And, it’s such a mediocre division overall that doing ANYTHING very well is going to put you in position to win it.
The AL East is well represented above, as high payroll teams usually spend a lot on offense. The Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays are top five in the league. But, surprising Baltimore is right on their heels at #6 in the AL. If you’ve seen the ERA’s of the Orioles starters, you know that this team needed to score a lot of runs to post that gaudy early season record.
WORST AL ROAD OPS MARKS
LA Angels .638
Can we just gift the Texas Rangers the AL West now? The other three teams in that division are down here in the bottom five of the league. Toronto is a surprise…and has hit so much better at home this year that you’d think that .652 might be a temporary fluke. Minnesota’s been a disaster…part of a season long disaster for a franchise that used to find ways to win with small payrolls. Now they’re worse than an expansion team.
We’ll be spending a lot more time with baseball when the NBA playoffs wind down. It’s back to the hardwood Saturday for Game Seven of Philadelphia-Boston. The Western Conference Finals start Sunday when Oklahoma City visits San Antonio. You know we’ll preview every single postseason classic right here in the NOTEBOOK until a champion is crowned.
Friday Night, the best thing you can do is build your bankrolls with BIG JUICY BASEBALL WINNERS from JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK. Matchups we’ll be focused on this weekend:
Tampa Bay at Boston
Toronto at Texas
NY Yankees at Oakland
Washington at Atlanta
Philadelphia at St. Louis
Many of those matchups will be featured in TV games this weekend. FOX is showcasing it’s Baseball Night in American gimmick again Saturday evening. Sunday, Tampa Bay at Boston will be on TBS, while Washington at Atlanta will be on ESPN. Can you believe how many national TV spots the Washington Nationals are getting this year?! There’s still hope for the Pittsburgh Pirates yet.
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Don’t you dare think about taking Friday off just because there’s no basketball. Diamond delights await. LET’S GO GET THE MONEY!