Submitted by Kelso Sturgeon on Tuesday, May 15, 2012 at 3:50 PM
With Interleague play coming up this weekend, I wanted to make sure and remind you that not all divisions are created equal in Major League baseball. There are certainly some divisions Advanced Handicappers will be focusing on in this first set of games, and when IL action resumes in a few weeks. And, there are clearly some go-against divisions that you should be avoiding at all costs.
A quick an easy way to evaluate the quality of a division is to look at how many games over .500 or under .500 they are at any point in a given season. Obviously any game played within a division will result in a 1-1 record for that grouping. If the Yankees beat the Orioles, that’s a win and a loss for the AL East in that game, so evaluating the division doesn’t get influenced at all. It’s what happens OUTSIDE divisional play that tells you how good or bad a division is.
You’ll see that very clearly when we look at the numbers through the final scores of Monday Night.
We’re only a month and a half into the season…in an era where unbalanced schedules create a lot of divisional games. But, already the AL East has stormed out to 20 games over .500 against the West and the Central…while it’s already clear that the Central is horrible.
Obviously, in interleague play, and in normal cross-divisional play within the AL, you want to consider the teams from the East at value prices…and you want to fade the teams from the very disappointing Central. If you’re like most bettors, you’re already chasing the Yankees and Red Sox (probably too often because they’re so expensive). Be sure you’re considering Tampa Bay, Toronto, and even Baltimore this year at reasonable rates. Baltimore in particular has been a steal because they started off well and kept right on winning.
The Central has been a disaster. Detroit was supposed to be the best of a sorry bunch. They’ve had trouble getting to .500 and staying there. Do you want to take any flyers on these teams in Interleague play this weekend? Before answering that with confidence we should look at the National League.
Once again the power is in the East. This is no surprise because that’s where the big money is in this sport. Of course, surprising Atlanta and Washington are the teams doing the heavy lifting this year rather than recent power Philadelphia. But, it’s clear that everyone but Philly is doing some lifting. The Phils are the only team under .500 at the moment.
The NL Central has mostly struggled outside of St. Louis. The Cards haven’t lost a step in the post-Pujols era. But, Milwaukee sure has fallen back this year. The West has been pretty bad outside of the LA Dodgers. A few disappointments in that group too.
Clearly we have some tendencies to consider for Interleague play based just on this data today:
Take: AL and NL East
Fade: AL and NL Central, NL West outside of the Dodgers
Actually, the Dodgers play St. Louis this weekend as the two odd teams out in the NL…so Friday-Sunday is even easier! Look for ways to fade the AL Central and West.
Ideal series where a strong division faces a week one:
NYY Yankees vs. Cincinnati
Miami at Cleveland
Texas at Houston might offer value on the Rangers because you have an AL power that often isn’t badly priced visiting an NL Central struggler. That’s one of many rivalry games, or matchups where the divisions line up. Atlanta and Tampa Bay will be a great head-to-head series. Too bad the schedule maker stuck those teams against each other! The same could be true for Baltimore-Washington. Who’d have thought we’d ever say something like that?
I’ll talk more about Advanced Principals in baseball in the coming weeks. We’re still alternating basketball and baseball throughout the NBA Playoffs. My My next College of Advanced Handicapping edition will be go up Friday when we’ll talk some more about the baskets. There’s a good chance I’ll touch on the issue of back-to-backs, which will be coming up in the Western brackets this weekend.
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Thanks again for your continuing attendance at my free College of Advanced Handicapping. It’s an honor to serve you, and I greatly appreciate how many of you are coming back each and every time for these twice-a-week reports. See you again on Friday afternoon.