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A Baseball Blog - Scientific and Speculative Thoughts from Third Base

Monday, July 30, 2012

Are AL East Teams Being Cheated From the Playoffs?

As it stands right now, the AL East, the so-called “best division in baseball”, would only get one playoff team. The Orioles and Rays are tied for fourth in the Wild Card right now. Take that, East Coast Bias, right?

Except the AL East probably is the best division in baseball. The Yankees do have the best record in baseball. Against non-AL East teams, the AL East is 175-147, a .543 winning percentage. And that’s the division as a whole. They have a 122-110 record (.526 win percentage) against the other AL divisions. The AL Central is 55-72 (.433) against AL East teams. The AL West has a winning record against them at least 55-50 (.524). However, given all the bad luck Tampa Bay, Boston, and Toronto have had, I think it’s very possible that the AL East may have two or three of the five best teams in the AL. However, since they don’t get any easy in-division teams to beat up on in the unbalanced schedule, their records look a little worse. If so much is riding on the Wild Card spots (and especially since there are two of them), maybe MLB should consider more inter-divisional games.

2 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more that the Wild Card (and the second Wild Card even moreso) doesn't make sense with the unbalanced schedule. In fact, I whined about that here:

    http://replacementlevel.wordpress.com/2012/07/18/divisions-may-make-a-mockery-of-second-wild-card/

    ...but I think you may be a little cavalier in your dismissal of the possibility that the AL West is better than the East. It's hard to say with a straight face that the A's are better than the Rays, Red Sox, or Blue Jays, but they're young, healthy, and winning games. And with Greinke in the fold, it's possible that the Angels and Rangers are the two best teams in baseball right now.

    If we're taking out the pitchforks, our target should be the second-place team in the AL Central, who may very well steal a bid from a much better team. And if that team has Justin Verlander to start the one-game play-in...

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    1. Yeah, I suppose it wasn't fair to write of the entire division. But I do think the AL East is still stronger overall. The Yankees have a comparable record to the Rangers, And the Rays, Red Sox, and Blue Jays are all comparable to the A's even with injuries (and the Orioles have a similar record, although I'm still not positive how much of that is a fluke). Even if the Angels are better (and their record is more or less the same as the A's right now), that still gives the AL East three to four teams equal to or better than the AL West's third best. I would bet that if you traded, say, the Blue Jays for the Mariners, though, the Angels and A's are in an even closer race with two or three teams currently in the East.

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