The A.L. East has worn the de facto label of the toughest division in baseball for many years and, from the top to the bottom, it is tough once again this year.
But is it the best? Some would eagerly say no but ask anyone in Boston or the Bronx and you could get a different answer.
For example, Wednesday’s game on ESPN between the Red Sox and Orioles. As of this writing, both teams are under .500, and in the cellar of the division. Yet they are still very much in the race, just 5.5 games off the lead.
This week’s other game on ESPN is Sunday’s contest between the Reds and Cubs. Chicago is five games over .500 but find themselves seven games back because of the misfortune of being in the same division as the Cardinals.
Division battles don’t mean as much since the institution of the Wild Card, but no team wants to play 162 games just to have a one-game showdown to slip into the post-season. That’s why winning the division still matters quite a bit.
So which division is the toughest? Here’s how they stack up through June 7.
A.L. Central - 146-133 (.524)
N.L. Central - 143-137 (.511)
N.L. West - 145-139 (.511)
A.L. East - 144-143 (.502)
A.L. West - 140-148 (.486)
N.L. East - 134-152 (.469)
Everyone who guessed the A.L. Central would be on top, raise your hand.
No? Nobody? Not one person? Nobody could blame you.
As much as the White Sox have disappointed, the Twins have surprised in the same division as last year’s A.L. champion Kansas City Royals.
But don’t call the Twins a Cinderella team. As Orioles manager Buck Showalter says in the video above, there are no Cinderellas in baseball.
“Who you are and what you are will show itself sooner or later,” he said.
Here’s this week’s schedule, with probable starters as of Monday:
Wednesday, June 10
Boston Red Sox at Baltimore Orioles, 7pm ET (ESPN)
Rick Porcello vs Wei-Yin Chen
Sunday, June 14
Cincinnati Reds at Chicago Cubs, 8pm ET (ESPN)
Anthony DeSclafani vs Jon Lester