Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 10, 2019 at 12:00 AM
NOW, HERE'S OUR AMERICAN LEAGUE REPORT CARD GRADES! ...
PLUS, THERE'S NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM UPDATES: IT'S THE COLTS, RAIDERS & EAGLES
Ladies and gents, let's round out our All-Star break with a look at the American League Report Card Grades ... so here goes:
MINNESOTA (56-33) - Let's remind one-and-all that the Twins' win projection this year was 84.5 games, so Minny cashes if it goes just 29-44 the rest of the way! Wow, Minnesota's been bashing the long ball right from season's start and so no shocker that the Twins have 166 round-trippers this year and are "on pace" to hit 302 dingers this year. Still, we salute a pitching staff of mix-and-match parts that ranks sixth in the bigs in team ERA (3.97) with RHPs Jose Berrios and Jake Odorizzi both standing tall.
NEW YORK YANKEES (57-31) - Second-year Yanks' manager Aaron Boone has waved a magic wand over this here-and-now team that played a slew of games without the likes of OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton, OF Aaron Judge, SS Didi Gregorious, RHP Luis Seveino and righty reliever Dellin Betances ... and NYY actually thrived in their absences! The Yanks are a rollicking 29-9 against fellow AL East squads and they rank in MLB's top six in batting average (.265, 6th), runs scored (5-3, 3rd) and home runs (149, 4th) with team MVP and All-Star DJ LeMahieu (.336 batting average with 113 hits and a team-best 63 RBI) the numero uno story of this offense.
TEXAS (48-42) - One of MLB's "best bets" this year, the Rangers have re-tooled in a hurry and first-year manager Chris Woodward has been a perfect fit for the Lone Star State squad that can chisel into that nine-game lead held by Houston beginning with this four-game weekend set in Arlington. The likes of injured All-Star Hunter Pence, Shinn-Soo Choo and All-Star Game home-run hitter Joey Gallo (a combined 48 dingers so far) has perked up an attack that ranks sixth in the big leagues in runs scored (485).
CHICAGO WHITE SOX (42-44) - You could see this young talent pipeline rushing to the surface the past year-and-change and now here's the Pale Hose as one of MLB's "best bets" despite the fact they are - 71 in runs differential. The Sox may have struck out in an attempt to get INF Manny Machaho this past off-season but there's plenty of pop on hand including 1B Jose Abreu (21 HR, 66 RBI). One of the top pleasant surprise teams in the bigs this year.
TAMPA BAY (52-39) - Give a rousing ovation to a Rays' team that is playing .571 ball even though reigning AL Cy Young Award winner LHP Blake Snell (5-7, 4.70 ERA) has been less than ordinary the first half of this '19 season. True, All-Star RHP Charlie Morton (10-2) has been brilliant and overall the TB staff ranks first in the bigs with a 3.32 team ERA as it's pitching / defense that continues to carry a club that is projected to win 84.5 games this season. And don't look now but OF Tommy Pham is a certifiable star (see .379 on-base percentage).
HOUSTON (57-33) - Gotta rate the Astros as the co-favorites (along with the Yankees, of course) to make it to this year's World Series but we are not handing Houston an "A" grade here 'cause the offense has not be as explosive as thought (no 2B Jose Altuve for much of the year has hurt). It helps that Houston's 26-7 in divisional games as All-Star Game starter RHP Justin Verlander (2.98 ERA) and Gerrit Cole (3.09 ERA) have been rock-solid forces at the head of this rotation.
OAKLAND (50-41) - Note that on May 14th, the A's were 19-23 and so that's 31-18 ever since with a team that ranks in the MLB's top 10 in team ERA (4.06), home runs (145) and runs scored (467) and remember this is a team that's blown 17 saves (21-of-38). All-Star 3B Matt Chapman has a quiet 52 RBI while CF Ramon Laureano (16 HR, 47 RBI) can go get 'em on defense.
CLEVELAND (50-38) - Maybe you deem this an "unfair" grade for an Indians' club that has roared back from a sluggish start. There's been major injuries / illnesses to key starting pitchers such as RHP Corey Kluber (5.80 ERA in just seven starts) and RHP Carlos Carrasco (4.98 ERA in 12 starts) and that has really hurt the cause but the Tribe still ranks 5th in MLB with a 3.94 team ERA ... hello All-Star Game MVP Shane Bieber!
BOSTON (49-41) - When the Red Sox started off this season at 6-13, it sure seemed that second-year skipper Joey Cora didn't have his finger on this club's pulse ... but ever since that April 17th loss at the NY Yankees, the Sox have gone 43-28 and wriggled their way back into the AL wild card race (yes, still 9 full games back of the Yanks). The Red Sox lead the majors in runs scored (509 / 5.65 runs per game) and oft-overlooked SS Xander Bogaerts already has 65 ribbies and a .384 on-base percentage. If LHP Chris Sale didn't start off so bad, then the defending champions might have had a shot to win the division again.
LOS ANGELES ANGELS (45-46) - The sudden death of 27-year-old LHP Tyler Skaggs has rocked the Halos who - truth be told - have been battling mediocrity all year long (see 24th in the majors in team ERA at 4.94). Sure, do-everything CF Mike Trout (28 HR, 67 RBI and a .453 on-base percentage) will finish somewhere in the top three of this year's AL MVP race but it's looking like yet another wasted year for the Anaheim guys.
TORONTO (34-57) - It's been a major dud of a '19 season for Canada's club (thank goodness for the Toronto Raptors, eh?) that can't hit (22nd in the bigs in runs scored (393) and can't pitch either (22nd in team ERA with a 4.91 mark).
SEATTLE (39-55) - Remember when the Mariners bolted out of the starting gate at 11-3? It's been a major nosedive ever since.
KANSAS CITY (30-61) - It's been a downright depressing year in Kaycee where the Royals rank 27th in team ERA (5.08) and 28th in homers (87). Plus, they are the AL's biggest cash-burner in 2019.
BALTIMORE (27-62) - Realize it's a "rebuilding / tank" season for the Birds but how about being 30.5 games out of first place by the All-Star Game break! The club's bloated 5.59 team ERA is the worst in MLB.
DETROIT (28-57) - Hard to remember the Tigers were just one game below .500 (see 16-17) on May 8th and yet now here's the Motowners with the second-worst won/loss mark in the junior circuit. Highly disappointing campaign and a thumbs-down for out-of-touch manager Ron Gardenhire.
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers keep winning big with Major-League Baseball action every day of the week. Call our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453. Pile up the profits as we head towards another great NCAA Football / NFL season straight ahead! Remember that the NFL Hall of Fame Game is set for August 1st in Canton as the Denver Broncos battle the Atlanta Falcons.
NFL TEAM-BY-TEAM / SUMMERTIME LOOKS
We finish up our annual Jim Sez NFL team-by-team summer accounts right here plus we get you some key pointspread info to boot; note a team's SU (straight-up) record is listed next to the team name. Today, we focus on the Indianapolis Colts, the Oakland Raiders and the Philadelphia Eagles. There's plenty more NFL camp news coming the rest of this Summer of '19.
INDIANAPOLIS (11-7) - Remember when the Colts could not keep star QB Andrew Luck in the upright position? Well, Indianapolis' offensive line has really undergone a positive transformation the past few years and now most "experts" rank the Colts' blocking wall as one of the four or five best in the NFL. Last year's rookie star Quenton Nelson was a game-changing player but don't forget the contributions from fellow rookie Braden Smith at right tackle. This year the Colts didn't even draft an offensive lineman till Round 7 / pick #240 when they nabbed OT Jackson Barton (Utah).
Pointspread Notes - Since the start of the start of the 2012 season, the Indy Colts are an electric 32-19-3 ATS (against the spread) for a .628 winning percentage as betting favorites. Overall, however, the Colts are a dreadful 0-7-1 spreadwise in head-to-head tilts versus AFC South rival Jacksonville.
OAKLAND (4-12) - Do you know who's gonna be getting a whole lot of camera time on the Raiders' sidelines this season? Offensive coordinator Greg Olson - just in his second year on the job under head coach Jon Gruden - will be "hearing it" from new WR Antonio Brown if the long-time Steelers' star isn't getting enough balls thrown his way but he could be a popular coordinator should Brown, WR Tyrell Williams and friends are all sharing in the wealth for a team that last year ranked 18th in the NFL in passing (averaged 253.6 yards per game) but scored 25+ points on just four occasions (and covered three of those four outings).
Pointspread Notes - Call it silver and black-and-blue as the Raiders are just 11-21-2 versus the vig since very late in the 2016 season and that includes last year's dour 6-10 spread season. This AFC West crew is also just 10-15 ATS in its last 25 divisional affairs.
PHILADELPHIA (9-7) - There was no question that the Eagles suffered some form of "Super Bowl hangover" in 2018 as Philly needed a Week 17 win in Washington to clinch a playoff berth as the Birds were forever running uphill (see 4-6 SU start) and so it's worth a mention that this year's sked is front-loaded with out-of-division foes including early-year road games at Atlanta and at Green Bay. The Eagles do have the "easiest" schedule from among the NFC East teams as the final five games includes road tilts in Miami, NY Giants and Washington and home games versus Dallas and the Giants.
Pointspread Notes - Gotta go back to the 2012 season to discover the last time the Eagles finished with double-digit spread setbacks as last year's 8-10 ATS mark included four- and three-game spread losing skids. Note Philly has covered its Week 1 game in five of the last six years.
NOTE: More MLB News in the next edition of Jim Sez. Plus, we'll have plenty of College Football News & Notes all summer long.