Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, July 2, 2015 at 1:54 PM
THE BASEBALL REPORT: HANDICAPPING THE LEAGUE LEADERS
PLUS IT'S ANOTHER INSTALLMENT OF OUR NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM SUMMER QUICK-HITTERS AS WE TRACK THE DOLPHINS, SAINTS & VIKINGS
Okay, so stay with us as we're on this mid-year theme now that we just entered the merry month of July. In yesterday's edition of Jim Sez, we brought you our comments/opinions on three of Major-League Baseball's best/hottest teams through the season's first three months of play and now we'll spend a few moments handicapping the individual races for a batch of key stats:
Batting Average - Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt is leading the way with his .354 average but gotta believe more and more hurlers will steer clear of giving "Goldy" good pitches to hit ... here's a vote for Colorado SS Troy Tulowitzki (currently hitting .320 and getting revved up) to make a major run for the NL batting crown and win it by a few points over Goldschmidt.
Home Runs - Miami OF Giancarlo Stanton (27 dingers) still sits on top of the heap despite missing the past couple of weeks with a broken hand and no doubt health is the key here 'cause injury-prone Washington OF Bryce Harper (24 home runs) would be our favorite providing he stays off the DL. Heck, let's go with Harper to nudge over Stanton by a dinger or two.
RBI - Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado leads the NL with 68 runs batted in and he'll get plenty of opportunities to win the RBI crown with the aforementioned Tulowitzki getting on base plenty ... but we'll still go with Harper (58 RBI) to come back and win this key stat category.
Wins - Pittsburgh Pirates' RHP Gerrit Cole entered July with an NL-best 11 wins and there's no denying he's been a major stud but we'll look for Washington's Max Scherzer (9 wins right now) to storm back and possibly win 20 games despite a slow start attributed to lack of run support/poor defense.
Earned Runs - Los Angeles Dodgers RHP Zack Greinke right now leads the way with a tidy 1.58 ERA but Scherzer (1.79 ERA) is breathing down his back and we'll bank on the Nationals' star hurler to nab the crown by edging out Greinke and New York Mets righty Jacob deGrom (2.15 ERA).
Saves - Surprise, surprise but Pittsburgh's Mark Melancon (24 saves) leads the senior circuit in this category but he won't be the winner at the finish line as former Bucs' closer Jason Grilli of the Atlanta Braves (21 saves at press time) gets our call.
Batting Average - Detroit 1B Miguel Cabrera's .349 batting average currently leads the way in the junior circuit but - like Goldschmidt - he'll get pitched around plenty in the second half of this here-and-now season and so look for Cleveland 2B Jason Kipnis (.346) to edge out "Miggy" and Texas star Prince Fielder (.347).
Home Runs - Is Los Angeles Angels 1B Albert Pujols going, going, gone in the AL's home run race? Pujols enters July with 24 dingers - four more than Angels' CF Mike Trout and Detroit's J.D. Martinez (who had three home runs in one game at Yankee Stadium last month) - and we'll call for him to hang on over teammate Trout.
RBI - Right now New York Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira (54 ribbies) leads the way but there's a major logjam with four other hitters including Cabrera (53 RBI) and Fielder (49 RBI) in the hunt but we'll opt for Toronto's Jose Bautista (50 RBI) to win this stat category when all the dust settles in October.
Wins - Houston lefty Dallas Keuchel and Seattle RHP Felix Hernandez are knotted at 10 wins apiece but our money's on Tampa Bay RHP Chris Archer (9 wins) to snag the wins total for the AL this year as he's been the real best righty in the league this season.
Earned Runs - Keuchel's dazzling 2.03 ERA is tops in the league right now (remember he's thrown back-to-back shutouts) with Oakland RHP Sonny Gray (2.09) and the aforementioned Archer (2.31 ERA) close behind and we'll tab Archer the ERA winner at year's end.
Saves - Minnesota's Glen Perkins (25 saves) was last year's closer in the American League's All-Star Game win (he's still saying thank you to Boston manager John Farrell) but don't bank on him holding off Baltimore LHP Zach Britton (22 saves) who could make the case for being the Orioles' MVP so far.'
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers are banging outs lots of winners in Major-League Baseball these days and all you need to do is check in either right here online or via our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 any time after 1 p.m. Eastern time for the weeknight action, after 11 a.m. ET for weekday games and after 10 a.m. ET for Saturday/Sunday/Holiday Winners. Plus, the Football Season isn't that far off as NFL Preseason action swings into gear in early August - can't wait!
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM GLANCES
It's summertime and that means the annual Jim Sez report on all 32 NFL teams with our quick-hitter looks continuing today with the Miami Dolphins, the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings ... and check out our quickie pointspread ditties too:
MIAMI (8-8) - Last year the Dolphins were the epitome of a .500 team with identical 4-4 SU (straight-up) records both home and away plus Joe Philbin's club only outscored opponents by a + 15 (that's 388 points for and 373 points against). So, the Fish will begin their trek towards what they hope will be the club's first winning season since 2008 with DT Ndamukong Suh the centerpiece player but pay attention in camp to how fourth-year DE Olivier Vernon performs as his 6.5 sack total a year ago should go up, up, up this year.
Pointspread Notes - The Fish floundered badly down the stretch last year while finishing the 2014 campaign on a five-game spread losing streak and did you know Miami is 4-9 ATS (against the spread) in divisional play since late in the 2012 season?
NEW ORLEANS (7-9) - Lots of new faces in Saints-land these days including former Buffalo Bills' RB/KR C.J. Spiller who should be prepared to catch a boat-load of passes coming out of the backfield and when lined up wide. Note Spiller has caught 158 passes for 1,195 yards in his five-year career but odds are he'll catch half that amount alone here in 2015 providing the injury-prone back stays healthy. It's gonna be interesting to see how Spiller is utilized in the preseason this summer ... so pay attention you fantasy league geeks!
Pointspread Notes - New Orleans is just 18-26 ATS away since the start of the 2010 season but note the Saints actually covered four of their final five road games last year.
MINNESOTA (7-9) - In case you had not noticed, the Vikings placed their early-draft emphasis on defense as the NFC North crew selected CB Trae Waynes (Michigan State) with the #11 overall pick, ILB Eric Kendricks (UCLA) with its second-round choice and DE Danielle Hunter (LSU) in Round III and so defensive-minded head coach Mike Zimmer will be pushing all three of these rookies in camp later this month although Waynes recently told media folks he's been getting "coached by six different people during every play" as the Vikes force-feed the former Spartans star who is expected to start opening day.
Pointspread Notes - Here's something you likely didn't know: The Vikings are an electric 23-13 vig-wise in their last 36 regular-season games while dating back to the final quarter of 2012.
NOTE: More NFL team-by-team quick hitters in the next edition of Jim Sez.