It is time for my annual BUY and SELL ratings at the All Star Break. Based on their YTD, batting, and overall pitching OPS numbers, this article will tell you which 4 teams are faux (SELL) and which are fo’ real (BUY).
Along with the list of 8 teams I will give you a thumbnail sketch of the opportunities the MLB odds will offer in the coming weeks.
St Louis Cardinals
The Cards are currently in 2nd place in the NL Central, trailing the Cubs by 7 games. At 46-42, they have just the 13th best record in MLB, but their #5 rated batting OPS and #4 rated pitching OPS at .687 say those numbers should combine for the third best record in MLB. No surprise that the Cards are 27-16 on the road, but 19-26 home record begs for reversal, as their 55 home wins last year topped MLB. St Louis a definitive BUY team on our MLB picks, especially at home.
Seattle has been underperforming their OPS numbers (#7 batting at .772 and #12 pitching at .735). The combination is good for the #9 best record in baseball. But with a record of 45-44, good for only the 18th best mark in MLB, there is huge room for Seattle to improve. The return of King Felix would be a big help in that regard.
The Diamondbacks have a 38-52 record, good for #25 in MLB. Yet the combination of their batting and pitching OPS numbers (9th and 25th respectively) say they should be the #18 team, 7 spots above their current position. Major adjustment figures to occur at Chase Field, where they are just 15-32, posting more home victories than only the Atlanta Braves. Look for a reversal of Arizona's 2-13 mark heading into the break.
Tampa Bay Rays
Another team on the downer as they headed to break was a Tampa Bay team who was on a 3-22 slide. These numbers would automatically adjust for any team in MLB. Pay attention though, for they are just 10-31 vs winning teams on the season. 20 games below .500 at 34-54 means there is no hope for the Tampa Bay season, with the 27th best record in MLB. But their 21st best combined batting and OPS numbers, and winning just 12% of their most recent 25 games, tells me there is going to be an uptick over the next couple weeks.
The adjustment has already begun on the Rangers, as I suggested in my BUY/SELL article at the end of June. They are just 3-9 of late after a 19-4 run. The downer is in no small part because they have 3 starters on the DL. Yet they still have the fourth best record in MLB at 54-36 for .600 ball. The numbers, however, say they should have a sub .500 record. Look for continuing adjustment downward, particularly until 3 of their best starters get back into the rotation.
San Francisco Giants
If it is an even number year, it must mean good things in the City by the Bay. That certainly has been true since the start of May, where after a 19-18 start the Giants are on a 40-15 run. Starting pitching can carry them a long way, but the 15th ranked batting number at .742 implies that the top record in baseball is not a reality. Combined with a 40-15 surge, there may well be an adjustment for the Giants out of the break.
Smoke and mirrors is the only way that I can describe the Phillies having the 20th best record in MLB at 42-48. That's 7 positions above where they should be based in no small part on their 29th ranked batting OPS of .690. It's a pure fade for the Phillies, who will challenge the .400 mark by year's end.
A true example of faux or fo' real. Through mid-June, the once proud Pirate relief corps was struggling with the bottom 5 relief numbers. But while the Pirates' batting numbers declined, and they called up no fewer than 4 starters from AAA ball in the last month, it was ironically the bullpen that held them together. In fact, in the last 64 IP by the pen, they have allowed just 7 earned runs. Going into the break, they were on a run of 12-4, but their combined batting and pitching numbers say they should have just the 20th best record in the league. When the relievers return to reality, the Pirates could be in big trouble; a SELL sign on Pittsburgh.
The OPS positions of each team as described above are determined by adding the batting OPS and the inverted number of the pitching OPS from .1000 (remember the LOWER the pitching OPS the BETTER). These numbers are then combined and ranked. They are then compared to the order of each team in the standings. A difference of 6 positions or more indicates an adjustment is forthcoming.