Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 at 12:00 PM
Now that we’re deep enough into the 2018 season to get a meaningful sample size, it’s time to check in on divisional strength in Major League Baseball. You longtime regulars know this is an angle JIM HURLEY has been studying for fun and profit for years. Focusing on divisional records helps you find some hidden gems worth betting on, and some money-burners that should be avoided or faded.
This year, it’s the AL West that’s been the big winner against outsiders. That’s a bit of a surprise, because this was supposed to be Houston and the Four Dwarfs entering the season, or maybe, Houston, the LA Angels, and three irrelevant teams once Shohei Ohtani was locked in to the Halos roster.
Instead, it’s SEATTLE, of all teams, that’s leading the division as we speak, the day after scoring a blowout victory over the Astros in Houston. The Angels are winning games at a slower pace. Oakland has been surprisingly competitive from off the radar, hanging around the .500 mark for a long period. Texas is bad…but no so bad that it prevents the AL West from posting the best record against the rest.
Here’s a look at the “divisional” standings with regards above or below the .500 mark.
AL West plus 24
AL East plus 10
NL Central plus 9
NL East plus 4
NL West minus 2
AL Central minus 45
What jumps out there is the horrible play this year coming from the AL Central. Cleveland is in first place despite a disappointing 31-28 start. The Indians were supposed to make a run at 95 wins. Nobody else in the quintet is over the .500 mark. Look at how the five AL Central teams have performed against the other divisions.
Chicago White Sox 11-24
Kansas City 9-26
Cleveland can probably coast into September and still win the division easily. Detroit might be able to make things interesting based on some recent success. But…on the whole, this is an awful group. No way anyone can even think about a Wildcard with second-place records in the AL East and West so far over the .500 mark.
The National League is showing a lot of parity. And, it’s a level of parity that can take advantage of all the new weaklings in the AL. If you add up the divisions by league, you’ll notice that the National League is 11 games over .500, the American League 11 games under .500. That must mean the Senior Circuit is plus 11 in Interleague play. This could be the first time in more than a decade that the National League gets the best of IL action. At the very least, keep THAT in mind as you handicap moving forward. We may have finally seen a power shift that the market will take some time adjusting to.
Another point we’ve hammered on in recent seasons…any team that’s posting a good record in a tough division is probably better than the market is giving them credit for. Teams play a lot of games within a division the way the schedules are structured. Seattle going 38-22 out of the gate in a division that also features Houston, LAA, and Oakland is extremely impressive. Nobody in the whole National League has accomplished something like that.
Keep that in mind as 2018 progresses. A team “getting hot” in the AL Central might just be playing “average” baseball against a weak schedule. A team getting hot in a power division is probably executing at a playoff caliber level. You want to invest your money in real things, not illusions.
We’ll keep an eye on this angle periodically through the baseball months. We advise you to monitor it yourself on a daily or semi-weakly basis. Handicappers who did that were able to cash a lot of tickets with a team like Seattle, or even cash underdog tickets with value-teams like Oakland, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, San Francisco. A lot of teams outperforming preseason expectations so far!
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Back with you next week to talk about more diamond delights (unless the NBA Finals last surprisingly long!). Soon, we’ll also start getting some early football preparation into the mix. The NFL exhibition slate will be here before you know it. And, the expanding universe of legal sports betting in the United States means investors like you will have more options than ever this autumn. Industry leader JIM HURLEY is ready to show YOU how to GET THE MONEY!