It’s no secret that the American League East has been the superior division in Major League Baseball for quite sometime. For the past decade or so the Yankees and Red Sox have ruled that division, winning either the wild-card or the division. The Tampa Bay Rays broke onto the scene in 2008 and stole the division title away from both the Yankees and Red Sox. The once powerful American League East became a three pony race. This year in 2012, the Rays are currently in the lead of the division, while everybody else is looking up at them. The disparity of the division is only 3 games from worst to first and all the teams are donning winning records. The Baltimore Orioles are in second place! Yes, the same Orioles who last year scrambled together 69 wins. Just 54 games into the season and they are almost half-way to last years win total. I previously said that through the first quarter of the season Buck Showalter was the Manager of the Year in the American League. Of course there is plenty of baseball left in the season and anything can happen. That old three pony race might come to life again. Then again the three ponies could have different names this year. It will be exciting to watch the rest of the season and to see if the powerhouse teams will ultimately outrun the once bottom feeders of the division.
The best division in the National League this year is easily the East as well. The Atlanta Braves ruled the division for what seemed like eternity until 2006, when the Mets ran away with the division title. Then in 2007 Philadelphia became the “team to beat” in the National League East and have yet to relinquish the title. The Division always seemed like it had a clear favorite to win it each year, but 2012 has brought a change to that outlook. Many experts picked the Phillies to win the division yet again, while claiming the Miami Marlins, Atlanta Braves, and the highly touted pitching staff of the Washington Nationals to fight and claw for second place. The New York Mets were written off and were doomed to claim last place in the division winning 70 games at best. My argument there is a whole other blog in itself and I wrote about it before the season started. The National League East right now as it stands is separated by 3.5 games. The favorite Phillies are holding down the last spot, mainly due to injuries, while the Nationals, Mets, and Marlins are all tied for first place. Like I said before, there is still a lot of baseball to be played and there is no telling what the dog days of summer and pennant races will do to a team’s psyche. I still believe my Mets can win anywhere from 82-90 games barring no detrimental injuries, although a few setbacks have already taken place. The Nationals pitching staff is outstanding right now and I overlooked their great manager Davey Johnson. Mets fans know him all too well. The Marlins seem to be streaking and the Braves will continue to fight.
The East is by far the best in baseball. Just check out the winning percentages of the divisions. The National League East currently has the highest winning percentage in baseball at .554 and the American League East sports the second highest with a .543 winning percentage. There are no other divisions in baseball with a winning percentage over.500 and the third closest is almost .100 points lower than the American League East. Maybe it helps that the three highest paid teams are in these divisions. Maybe it helps that in order to compete in these divisions you need to have good pitching and pitching is what wins in this league. Especially in the post steroids era where scoring numbers are down, pitching is key. The beasts in the east all have pretty exceptional rotations. With the expansion of an extra wild card team, don’t be surprised if three teams from each division make it to the playoffs this year.
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