Submitted by Jim Hurley’s Network on Wednesday, July 12, 2017 at 1:21 PM
ONLY A HANDFUL OF REAL CONTENDERS CURRENTLY IN THE NATIONAL LEAGUE
Two days ago, we used one of our pet stats, "Wins Minus Home Games Played" to get a read on the American League. As promised, we're back today to do the same thing for the National League. You regular readers know that we like to burst false media storylines whenever teams have been greatly helped by, or greatly hurt by the home/road dynamics of their schedules.
There's not too much drama in the regard in the senior circuit. But, a few surprises are coming up that should help your handicapping in the second half of the 2017 season.
NL EAST (Wins Minus Home Games)
NY Mets -4
Important for you to realize that Atlanta pretty much is "for real" as a generic .500 caliber team. Few were expecting that. So, at least we can put the Braves in the "value" category for betting when they're not getting enough respect. Washington is clearly playoff caliber, but not as good as the powerhouse Dodgers (as you'll see in a moment). Even our pet stat can't keep this division from being boring!
NL CENTRAL (Wins Minus Home Games)
St. Louis -7
This is shaping up as a very interesting race because of relative parity in the mid-section of America. And, this division brings us the first surprise sports bettors should be aware of. Look at St. Louis! The Cardinals were seen by the media as a team that was finally figuring things out in recent days. But, how much of that was due to a very home-friendly schedule that's had them play 50 at home, just 38 on the road so far. The Cards may have created an illusion that they're in the divisional race. Will they still be seen as hard-chargers once they play those dozen extra road games that are coming up? Milwaukee has also had a home friendly schedule...which has made them seem more in command of the race than they really are. At the break, the Brew Crew has played 49 at home, only 42 on the road. This pet stat of ours is suggesting Milwaukee, Chicago, and Pittsburgh are all close to being equal threats moving forward. Should be a fun race to follow and handicap, even if it doesn't feature high level baseball.
NL WEST (Wins Minus Home Games)
LA Dodgers +11
San Diego -6
San Francisco -7
Tricky call here for the Dodgers. While they are truly a great team...they're a great team that's played 10 more home games than road games! When that 50/40 ratio through 90 games evens out, there's at least a chance that either Colorado or Arizona could catch them. And, there's also a chance that Washington won't seem so far behind them in the overall NL pennant picture. Note that Arizona also has a favorable split, with 48 home games and only 41 road games through the break. Colorado is slightly road heavy (three games), which means they're better situated in the Wildcard race than your morning newspaper suggests.
Oh, quick note on San Francisco. They've played only 41 home games, with 49 road games. They are bad...but probably not as bad as the standings make it look. The Giants at least have a chance to offer value in the second half of the season if they can get their heads on straight.
For now, the playoff picture almost seems locked in stone. We know that Washington and the LA Dodgers will be there. Somebody's got to win the Central. Arizona and Colorado are well above the pack for the two Wildcard spots...and have such strong pitching staffs that it's hard to see somebody like Atlanta or an NL Central runner-up chasing them down from behind.
Today's exercise hasn't shed much light on the playoffs. But, we can at least alert you to the road-heavy schedules ahead for the Cardinals, Dodgers, Brewers, and Diamondbacks. The daily moneylines are largely based on team perceptions. Perceptions could be off for those teams by enough to create value for day-to-day bettors.
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Back with you Friday with a series preview of that huge NY Yankees/Boston Red Sox matchup that kicks off the second half. Next Monday, we'll be choosing from several interesting matchups in the pennant chance, including Washington/LA Angels, NY Yankees/Minnesota, Toronto/Boston, and Texas/Baltimore.
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