We are rapidly coming to the midpoint of the baseball season and the second major milepost as Independence Day approaches on July 4.
By the end of next week all teams will have completed half of the 162 game regular season.
The ability to win on the road is often a key indicator of teams that have real shots to contend for the postseason. Teams that are able to win 60 percent of their home games and split their road contests are almost always in contention for a Wild Card and, often enough, for a division title.
Through Sunday, 17 of baseball’s 30 teams had winning records at home with another two clubs at .500. However, just nine teams have won more road games than they have lost. Two other teams have won or lost an equal number of games away from home.
The linemaker compensates for the huge disparity in home and road performance. Just two teams, Milwaukee and Cleveland, have netted at least 10 units of profit in home games this season.
Backers of Milwaukee in home games have netted just over 12 units of profit while Indians backers have won slightly more than 11 in their home games.
At the same time, five teams (led by San Diego) have cost backers more than 10 units in losses by supporting them in home games this season. In going just 14-26 at home, Padres backers have lost nearly 13 units to date.
Also showing double digit losses are Houston, Florida, Colorado and the LA Angels.
Backers of Pittsburgh have profited just below 10 units. The Pirates have gone 20-18 on the road, often as huge underdogs. Also showing profits of more than seven units on the road are the New York Mets and Tampa Bay.
Two teams have shown losses of more than eight net units on the road this season – Milwaukee and Oakland.
The Brewers show the greatest disparity between home and road performance, netting 12.6 units of profit at home while surrendering 8.6 in losses on the road for a net difference of 21.2!
Cleveland and Philadelphia also show a net positive difference of more than 10 units between home and road performance.
Interestingly there are seven teams that have monetarily fared better on the road than at home by at least 10 units. Usually it’s because of poor home and road records that are close to average. Those teams are Florida, Houston, the Angels, the Mets, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Tampa Bay.
Of this group only Houston has shown a net loss on the road while the other six – because they are often huge underdogs on the road – each show profits away from home.
Being aware of the differences between home and road performances should be a key component of your handicapping. Look to play on bad teams that, for whatever reason, perform well on the road. Likewise, look to play against good teams that the home ballparks.
Interleague play is one third complete and through the first 84 games the American League has asserted its position as the stronger of the two leagues, at least as measured by regular season results.
After the leagues split the first 42 Interleague games in May, American League teams went 29-13 this past weekend (including an outstanding 16-2 at home) to hold a 50-34 edge over National League teams.
Perhaps the one positive note that can be stated about the senior circuit is they’ve been able to win at home. Thus far, National League teams are 23-19 in home games vs. AL teams.
Blindly betting AL teams in Interleague play this season would have produced a profit of nearly 13 units. So far, 36 of the 84 games have gone OVER the Total with 42 staying UNDER. Currently six have resulted in pushes.
Interleague play continues uninterrupted through Sunday, July 3.
Here’s a look at four Interleague series this weekend.
Reds at Orioles: This was expected to be a season of marked improvement for Baltimore. That improvement has yet to materialize as Baltimore starts the week five games below .500. Cincinnati is barely above break even as the Reds seek to repeat its NL Central title of last season.
Both teams have fairly decent lineups although they’ve each struggled at the plate over the past week or so. But both also suffer from a lack of pitching depth and that could portend some high scoring games. Baltimore’s most productive starters have been veteran Jeremy Guthrie and rookie Zach Britton.
The Reds have been anchored by Johnny Cueto and the currently injured Homer Bailey. Mike Leake has also fared well since his recall from the minors, having made five starts and lasting at least six innings in each while allowing no more than three runs.
• Cincinnati +130 or more against Guthrie or Britton.
• Cincinnati as underdogs of any price against any other starter.
• Cincinnati as -120 favorites or less in starts by Cueto or Leake against anyone other than Guthrie or Britton.
• Baltimore as underdogs of any price not facing Cueto or Leake;
• UNDER 8 or higher if Guthrie or Britton oppose Cueto or Leake.
• OVER 9 or lower if none of those four pitchers are involved.
Rockies at Yankees: This handicaps as an entertaining and high scoring series as both teams are stronger at the plate than on the mound. Yankees ace CC Sabathia has pitched well but his starts are rather ordinary for a pitcher of his stature (3.39 ERA and 1.24 WHIP). The rest of the rotation has been average at best with only the currently injured Bartolo Colon putting up above average starts.
Colorado’s best pitcher has been Jhoulys Chacin (2.81 ERA and 1.08 WHIP) although last season’s ace, Ubaldo Jimenez, has started to show signs of recovering from a poor start to his season. And he’s actually pitched like an ace in all five road starts.
The Yankees continue to lead the majors in homers with 105, 21 more than the second best team. Colorado has decent power although stars Troy Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez have not been as productive as expected back in April.
• OVER 9 in any matchup.
• Colorado as +130 underdogs or more in starts by Chacin or Jimenez.
• New York as -160 favorites or less against other than Chacin or Jimenez.
Mets at Rangers: New York has overcome a 5-13 start to be in Wild Card contention despite being without a pair of key offensive contributors for more than a month with David Wright and Ike Davis sidelined. Their improvement has been largely due to some solid starting pitching that has fared quite well since early May.
Most notably, Dillon Gee has pitched well and though not overpowering he has posted impressive stats. Most impressive of all is the Mets have won all 10 of his starts. Texas has one of the more potent lineups in all of baseball but has also gotten solid pitching to back up those bats. Lefty CJ Wilson is considered the staff ace although rookie Alexi Ogando continues to impress, especially with his WHIP of 0.98 in 88 innings.
Despite the fine pitching on each side, both teams have played more OVER than UNDER games this season with the Mets 12 games above .500 and the Rangers +4 (including nine more OVERS than UNDERS at home).
• NY Mets as +150 underdogs or more in any matchup.
• Texas as -150 favorites or less in starts by Wilson, Ogando or Matt Harrison.
• OVER 8 or lower in any matchup.
• OVER 9 or less if Gee, Wilson, Harrison or Ogando are not involved.
Angels at Dodgers: The first installment of this season’s Freeway Series finds both teams playing losing baseball. The Angels have had the greater success and at 35-38 are just three games out of first in the AL West. The Dodgers start the week 7½ games out of the lead in the NL West and stuck in fourth place.
The Angels have a solid rotation that is anchored by Jered Weaver and Dan Haren, two of the top starters in the AL. The rest of the rotation is decent enough and if the Angels can find more offense they’ll contend for the playoffs. The Dodgers’ most effective starters have been Clayton Kershaw and Hiroki Kuroda. They also have struggled on offense and are averaging less than three runs per game at home.
Both the Dodgers and Angels are averaging over a run per game more on the road than at home. Dodger Stadium has long been a pitchers’ ball park and thus it’s reasonable to expect the Angels will not have similar success here offensively as they have had at other venues this season.
• UNDER 7 or higher in any matchup.
• UNDER 6½ or higher if Weaver or Haren oppose Kershaw or Kuroda.
• Dodgers as underdogs of any price against Haren or Weaver.
• Dodgers -125 or less against other Angels starters.
• Angels as +120 underdogs or more against any Dodgers starter.