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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 18, 2018 at 7:00 AM

The annual Major League Baseball All-Star break is a time for reflection and preparation. Let’s take a quick look at a couple of our favorite ways of measuring performance.

First, we look at the big picture. Here’s how each of the six divisions has performed this season based on games above or below .500.

AL West: plus 47

NL Central: plus 20 (plus 22 vs. AL Central)

AL East: plus 19

NL West: plus 8

NL East: minus 11

AL Central: minus 83

The American League Central is so bad, that it’s helped three other divisions seem better than they are (the other two AL divisions, plus the NL Central in Interleague play). The best division by far has been the AL West. No surprise there with Houston playing great, Seattle and Oakland being big positive surprises, and even the Los Angeles Angels holding their own against a tough schedule.

More complicated call in the National League, where the NL Central is only over .500 because of Interleague, and the NL West is over .500 despite drawing the AL West in Interleague (so far this season, ever IL matchup has been East-East, Central-Central, and West-West). We’re going to go with the NL West. We think that will grade out as the best in the NL once the full season is in the books. That’s also where the most entertaining playoff chase is likely to be.

Now, looking at individual teams, we’ll use “Wins Minus Home Games Played.” You regulars know that we use this stat to iron out temporarily imbalances in home/road split. Some teams have played more home games than road games so far, others vice versa. This approach helps give a truer read.

 

AL East

Boston: plus 21

NY Yankees: plus 16

Tampa Bay: plus 6

Toronto: minus 6

Baltimore: minus 21

Biggest news here is that Tampa Bay is better than you were probably thinking. The Rays have played 43 home games and 53 road games so far. That means 10 additional home games are on the remaining schedule Tampa Bay is already over the .500 mark anyway with a 49-47 record. Too far back of the playoff picture, but a team that can make you money. Both Boston and the Yankees also have home friendly schedules ahead. Playoff locks.

 

AL Central

Cleveland: plus 2

Minnesota: minus 7

Detroit: minus 7

Chicago White Sox minus 15

Kansas City: minus 19

Cleveland doesn’t look very good here despite playing a slightly home-heavy schedule in one of the weakest divisions ever. Indians are probably coasting, saving themselves for the playoffs. You’ll see in a moment that they wouldn’t be near the top of the AL West in terms of true performance levels. Awful division. And, it could turn out that Cleveland’s a playoff pretender rather than just a team that’s been going at three-quarter speed.

 

AL West

Houston: plus 11

Seattle: plus 10

Oakland: plus 10

LA Angels: plus 2

Texas: minus 6

Very interesting! Houston’s played a home-heavy schedule so far, while Oakland has been road heavy. Adjust for that, and the teams are surprisingly close together. The A’s winning three of four in Houston last week is less surprising in that light. Great depth here. Will Oakland make any moves that could launch them more emphatically into the Wildcard race?

 

NL East

Philadelphia: plus 7

Atlanta: plus 7

Washington: plus 2

Miami: minus 10

NY Mets: minus 12

No surprises. Worth noting, though, that all three of Philadelphia, Atlanta, and Washington have played more road games than home games so far. That positions any of them well to make a Wildcard run. Well, that and getting so many games against Miami and the Mets!

 

NL Central

Chicago Cubs: plus 12

Milwaukee: plus 7

St. Louis: even

Cincinnati: minus 4

Pittsburgh: minus 5

Cubs are in much better shape than your newspaper standings suggest, with only 43 home games played and 50 road games thus far. You can see they’re well clear of the rest of the NL right now. Milwaukee is still very much in the Wildcard hunt…but a recent fade sure has raised a lot of questions about what’s ahead.

 

NL West

Colorado: plus 5

Arizona: plus 4

LA Dodgers: plus 1

San Francisco: even

San Diego: minus 11

Very important to pay attention to the Dodgers. Though they’ve been on a solid extended run, they’ve played 52 home games and 44 road games. Their current lead in your newspaper standings will only be temporary if LAD can’t do well in the additional road games ahead.

Another reminder that an Interleague schedule only against the AL West is dampening the numbers a bit. This division is better than that composite makes it seem.

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Remember to ask about 2018 football when you call. We are fast approaching the NFL preseason…and college football gets an early start at the end of August. The early bird always GETS THE MONEY at JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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