Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Friday, May 29, 2015 at 12:00 AM
The mainstream media has done a very poor job in recent years in terms of keeping fans really up-to-day with what’s happening in Major League Baseball. The emphasis is still too much on the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox. If neither of those teams is particularly great, then ESPN and their competitors just move onto something else. Baseball only MATTERS in their minds if the Yankees or Red Sox are doing something…or if there’s some dramatic soap opera involving key players on those teams.
As a result, many casual fans…and too many of you regulars here in my College of Advanced Sports Betting and Handicapping…are unaware of how well the American League CENTRAL division is playing this season. That should be obvious from the standings. But, too many people rely on reputation rather than performance when thinking about sports betting.
Let me do this for you…here are the won-lost records of the five AL Central teams this season when NOT playing each other (through Wednesday night’s games)
Kansas City: 13-8
Chicago White Sox: 8-5
Nobody’s under the .500 mark. The combined record through Wednesday was 54-34…a full 20 games over .500. And, isn’t it amazing that the team with the biggest reputation, DETROIT, has the worst record of the quintet at 10-10. Would you have guessed that Minnesota has won 80% of their non-divisional games this season?!
Smart handicappers should pay attention to the differences between the leagues…and the differences between divisions within those two leagues. Oddsmakers are notoriously slow to react to reality in this sport. You may recall, a few years ago, that the American League was just crushing the National League in interleague play. Yet, you’d hear oddsmakers on radio shows or see them quoted in the newspaper about how they thought the leagues were even…or that the NL might be slightly better. They were just yakking with each other and parroting what the other guys were saying instead of actually looking at results.
Here’s how all six divisions had performed this season outside of their divisions through Wednesday:
AL Central: 20 games over .500
NL West: 3 games over .500
NL Central: 3 games under .500
AL West: 5 games under .500
AL East: 7 games under .500
NL East: 8 games under .500
In terms of the leagues, the AL is 8 games over .500, while the NL is obviously 8 games under .500. Early evidence giving a nod to the AL in interleague play…but it’s a small sample size compared to what we’ll have deeper in the season. And, of course, that AL edge is largely because the Central has been so dominant. That division is 19-9 vs. the nationals…which leaves the rest of the AL two games below the 500 mark.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you that the AL Central is going to maintain this pace, and end up 60 games over the .500 mark by the end of the season. There’s a lot of baseball to be played. We could have some serious injuries to these hot starters. We may have a clubhouse implosion in Cleveland or Chicago that just hasn’t happened yet (compared to those that have already happened in Miami, Cincinnati, Milwaukee early in the season, and possibly Philadelphia before the season even began). But, it’s very clear that there’s value to be enjoyed on AL Central teams until the market catches up.
Your homework this week is to create a framework where you can monitor how each division is doing vs. the others…then develop a plan for using what you learn there in your daily handicapping. Don’t just sit down and watch SportsCenter every night and think that you’re handicapping. And, you’ve probably learned by now that many of those preseason and online stathead publications are just talking in circles about how “everything’s luck.” Kansas City was supposed to have been the lucky team last year…yet they’re still playing like champs here in 2015.
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The Dean of Sports Handicapping will be back with you again on Monday to talk more baseball. My look at “How to Handicap the NBA Finals” featuring the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors is scheduled to go up online next Thursday just in time for Game One. Be smart about building your bankrolls with BASEBALL during this down time before the NBA Playoffs resume. Hard work…and SMART work always pays off here in Las Vegas!
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