Final BUY/SELL Signals of 2016
By Joe Gavazzi, Winning Sports Advice
Monday, July 25, 2016
This is the final article regarding 2016 MLB BUY and SELL signals based on the team’s combined pitching and batting OPS numbers. Beginning next week, these ratings will be replaced by our SUPER SURGERS vs TOWEL TOSSERS. For those first timers who are reading this article, may I remind you that the OPS is the combination of the OBP (on base percentage) and the SLG (slugging percentage) for each team’s collective batting, pitching staff, or individual batter or pitcher. In recent years, I have authored articles that have proven that the OPS is the most reliable indicator of a team’s rank.
To determine whether a BUY or SELL signal has flashed, I first rank the teams by their actual W/L percentage. I then compare that ranking to a ranking which combines each team’s batting OPS with their INVERTED pitching OPS (remember that the LOWER a pitching OPS, the BETTER it is). Once those numbers have been established for each team, I add them together then rank them best to worst to give a true indication of where the teams should rank from 1-30 in their OPS rankings.
When a team’s batting + pitching OPS ranking is 6 positions or lower than their actual W/L ranking, it means the team is due to go on a hot streak, and then actively represent their true OPS rating. Thus, it is given a BUY rating. The reverse then is also true; that a team flashes a SELL signal when their batting + pitching OPS rank is 6 or more points higher than their actual W/L rank. The following is a list of the (4) BUY teams and the (4) SELL teams who each qualify under these parameters, along with a brief thumbnail sketch of the reasons why these ratings should hold true.
The Rangers remain our #1 SELL team in MLB despite their recent 7-14 slide. With the 6th best record in MLB, they are just #12 in batting with a .750 OPS, but #22 in pitching, because of a .801 bullpen index and the fact that no fewer than 3 of their best starting pitchers remain on the sideline, or have underachieved since their return (Darvish). Rangers currently have a 2.5 game lead on the Astros, but their true OPS ranking of #16 says they are due for a fall.
Baltimore has the 3rd best record in MLB at .588; that is well supported by the #3 batting OPS at .783. But the #21 pitching OPS of .761 combines with that batting number for only the 12th best ranking in MLB. Unless their pitchers pull it together, it is doubtful the Orioles will maintain their lead against a Boston team who has the #2 ranked combined OPS numbers, a full 10 positions better than Baltimore.
San Francisco Giants
The team with the best record at the ASB fell victim to our SELL sign post break with a 1-7 record entering Monday night. Their #7 pitching OPS of .705 is greatly influenced by a pair of Aces, Bumgarner and Cueto. But the lower end of their rotation struggles, and they only have the #17 ranked batting at .736. This is good for what should be the 9th best record in MLB, 7 slots below their current W/L rank. Stay away from fading Bumgarner and Cueto, but everybody else at bloated favorite prices is fair game.
Just 1 game separates the Pirates and the Cardinals in their efforts to track down the Cubs. St Louis has the #13 actual W/L rank, closely followed by the Pirates’ #14 rank. But while St Louis has the #4 combined batting and pitching OPS, Pittsburgh has the #21 combined ranking. The Pirates’ batting has fallen off in the last two months to accurately reflect their #14 actual W/L rank. It is the bullpen that was bottom 5 in MLB for the first two months, which has led the way in a recent Pirate resurgence, as they have allowed just 20 ER in their last 100 1/3 IP. Choosing among 8 potential starting pitchers makes it a pure guessing game for Clint Hurdle to manage this team properly. He will be a genius if he finds the right combination to steer the Pirates into a fourth consecutive Playoff invitation.
Tampa Bay Rays
This is just mind boggling. The Rays have the #19 batting OPS and #14 pitching OPS, meaning they should have the 17th best record in MLB. Rather, they are 38-60, the 27th best record in the league because of a 7-27 recent record. At the beginning of last week, it looked like the Rays were pulling out of it, but 3 consecutive losses to Oakland snapped them back in their funk. Huge upside for the Rays if they do not toss the towel.
St Louis Cardinals
The Cards have been flashing a BUY sign for the last 6 weeks, but have been doing little better than treading water. They should have the 4th best record in baseball (compared to their actual #13 W/L rank), because of the #4 batting OPS and #5 pitching OPS. Five consecutive wins on their underachieving home field last week produced major profit. A pair of weekend losses to the Dodgers will only increase the value on this team, who in my opinion will be challenging the Cubs for Divisional superiority in September. Surely they will have a major mental advantage based on history.
Much like St Louis, the Mariners have been treading water while flashing a BUY sign. The 16th best record is 50-48, but they should have the 8th best mark in the league based on the #7 batting of .768 and the #12 pitching of .735. Now that King Felix has returned, he may well stabilize the rotation and make the Mariners a player in the AL West against the slumping Rangers and a red hot Houston team, whom they trail by only 4 games.
Rockies currently have the 20th best record in the league at 47-51. Their 14th ranked batting and pitching OPS implies improvement is to come. But we must take the true rated batting OPS with a grain of salt, considering it is skewed by their appearances at Coors. Likewise, however, is the #28 pitching performance with a .788 OPS. Currently on a 4 game win streak, they have started the uptick, which may continue until they reach the .500 mark.
Please note that in the past, these numbers have provided some solid profit. For example, our All Star Break SELL teams included the Texas Rangers, who are on a 7-14 slide, and the San Francisco Giants, who are 1-7 post break. A couple of our BUY teams have also performed well, with the St Louis Cardinals winning 5 straight games last week before stumbling this weekend, and the Seattle Mariners on a 4-2 run entering Monday night action.
Do not use these BUY and SELL signals as your ONLY method of making plays. Rather, they should be used in CONJUNCTION with your complete handicapping arsenal as indicators of success or failure. History says they have been very accurate in doing so.
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