Sure, the two teams out West, the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers, have the best records in their respective leagues right now, but the National League East and the American League East are both stacked with teams that will endure a hard race all season.
If the playoffs were to start today, six teams from the AL and NL East would be moving on. And the first teams out from each league would both be from the Eastern divisions.
The only two teams in either of those divisions that are not currently over .500 are the Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies. That is just scary knowing that these teams, which were projected to finish at the top of their divisions, haven’t even met expectations yet.
The Atlanta Braves, Washington Nationals, New York Mets and Miami Marlins have combined to win 80 games so far this season, while the Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees and Toronto Blue Jays have won 81.
Of course, this trend won’t continue as they start to play each other more frequently and, as a result, beat up on each other. Of the eight teams mentioned above, only the Mets have a losing record outside of their division. But only the Mets and the Nationals have a winning record inside the NL East, while only the Orioles and Yankees are above .500 in the AL East.
The Blue Jays, Mets and Nationals all have 15 wins outside of their division. The Braves are an astounding 19-7 against teams in the Central and West. Only three of the Braves 22 wins have come from within their division, which could be a bad sign for them down the stretch.
Six of the top 10 run-scoring teams in baseball reside in the eastern divisions, while six rank in the top 16 in pitching.
Only the Detroit Tigers, Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics have a winning record against the AL East. They’ve combined to go 21-14, while the rest of the league is 20-46 against them.
In the National League, only the Pittsburgh Pirates and Los Angeles Dodgers have a winning record against the NL East, combining to go 10-6. The rest of the league is 34-58 against the powerhouse division.
Only six teams outside of the Eastern divisions have a winning record as of games played through May 13; so eight of 14 teams with winning records are in Eastern divisions.
I think we all knew coming into this season that the AL and NL East were going to be the top two divisions in baseball. That seems to be where all the money is and where most of the coverage on ESPN comes from.
Some believed the AL West would be powerful with the Angels and Rangers, but only one of those teams has proven to be a force, thus far. Even the NL West, which is a competitive division, hasn’t lived up to preseason aspirations.
The new wildcard rule was put in place so teams like the Nationals, Blue Jays and Rays aren’t left out because they play in difficult divisions. It seems like that rule will be a big boost this year for the AL and NL East divisions, but two good teams may still get left out.
Time will tell if these divisions keep up this good play, but I don’t think there is any denying that all 10 of these teams have the potential to compete. It’s going to be a fun race and some exciting baseball to watch in the East this year.