MLB Power Ranking: Top Divisions in Baseball
As Interleague play approaches once again, we will see the return to the age old question: AL or NL? Interleague play isn't balanced and neither are the leagues, but when it comes to pitting division against division, things are a little more clear.
The World Series is an interesting measure of supremacy. In the last 10 years, each division has had a team win the World Series. The AL and NL are at an even 5-5 in that span.
The AL East sported three winners, the NL West and East each had two winners and the remaining three divisions had one a piece.
Let's see how each division stacks up in 2011.
6. AL Central
The AL Central is always very competitive. The division race usually comes down to the last few days. The excitement is great, but the division is really just weak.
Minnesota is horrendous this year and drags down the entire division. The Twins are the worst team in the AL and are only a half game from being the worst team in the majors. They can't score and are being rolled over by most teams in the league.
On the opposite side, the Indians have shocked the world with a hot start, but have cooled and lost their spot on top of the AL.
The reason the AL Central is the worst division in baseball this year is the terrible three through five teams. The White Sox and Twins look like completely different teams from the contenders they have been in seasons past and the Royals have surged forward a little, but have regressed and fallen.
The one ray of hope is that there is a lot of minor league talent on the horizon. The Royals have a solid nucleus coming and the Indians have a few hidden gems, but unfortunately, for now, the Central is just bad.
5. AL West
The West has only four teams, which puts them at a disadvantage because one or two mediocre teams kills the division. Unfortunately, they have one terrible team and one mediocre team, so they are last.
The Athletics are the first team to fire their manager and they did it for good reason. After many picked the A's as a division contender thanks to their pitching, they struggled because the team can't score to back the arms up.
It should also be said that the pitching has been riddled with injuries. The Angels are only a little better offensively and have good pitching, but the team just isn't winning games like they should.
Seattle has been a surprise, mostly thanks to the additions of Eric Wedge and Michael Pineda. The starters have been a lot better, but again, offense is a huge concern because Ichiro and Chone Figgins have been black holes in slugging percentage.
The Rangers are the only reason the AL West is not in last. The offense was not as good, but still pretty great without Josh Hamilton and Nelson Cruz. Now that the outfield is back at full strength, the team is looking like a lock to win the division crown. They have winning records against the East and Central, which is also a plus.
The Angels should be better than they are, so they are really what is holding back the AL West. The A's could be better and may benefit from Bob Melvin's leadership.
4. NL Central
The NL Central should be higher, but they are held back. The division with the most teams has the potential to be dragged down by the lowly teams and they are.
Houston has been unimpressive once again. Brett Myers has not been the same and the team has sunk to the cellar of the six teams in the NL Central, the 16 teams in the NL and the 30 teams in baseball.
The Cubs are not too far ahead and are the second worst team in the NL. Pittsburgh has shocked many by surging forward, but are still under .500 and have no shot at catching the top. These teams are the reason that the NL Central is higher in the ranking because the other three teams are very strong.
Starting from the next one up, Cincinnati is just over .500, but aren't playing as well as in 2010. Joey Votto is good again, but the team needs to win more. The Brewers, on the other hand, are incredibly strong and are a clear contender for the Wild Card or division lead. Zack Greinke and Shaun Marcum are a solid addition to a team that already had a great ace and two powerful superstars in Ryan Braun and Prince Fielder.
The pride and joy of the NL Central is once again the St. Louis Cardinals. They are without their best pitcher for all of 2011, but still have the best record in the majors thanks to Matt Holliday, Lance Berkman and the always amazing Albert Pujols.
Were the division not held down by the abysmal Astros and Cubs, they could be in third or second on the list, but until they have a better floor, they've reached their ceiling.
3. NL West
It's hard to hate on the division that is coming off of a year in which they sported the World Series winner.
There are a ton of stars in the NL West and all of the teams have the potential to compete. The Padres have fallen on hard times, but showed last year that they are strong enough to push for the playoffs.
The Dodgers are also a team that is in a transitional phase. Colorado is hurting because Ubaldo Jimenez is still returning to form and Jorge De La Rosa is out for the year, but Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki are back pounding the ball.
The Giants are the pride and joy of the Senior Circuit's west coast. Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain are terrific as always and the offense has started to improve. They have weathered injuries and shown their great depth to stay on top. The Diamondbacks have also emerged thanks to solid bullpen pitching and the great emergence of Justin Upton.
The NL West is not going to be taken easily, which is a good measure of depth and power for a division.
2. NL East
The only division in the NL with a winning record is the East. It boasts the second and fifth best teams in baseball. The real strength is in the arms.
There is no division that currently has as many rotations that are so deep with talent. R2C2 is pretty obvious as a terrific four man combo in Philadelphia, but Atlanta and Florida also have top talents led by Jair Jurrjens and Josh Johnson, respectively. The Mets and Nats both have aces recovering from injury, but they have okay pitchers as well.
What holds the East back from the top spot is the bottom dwellers. The Nationals are depleted by injuries, so they get a little bit of a pass, but the Mets are bad enough that the division just doesn't make the cut for number one.
1. AL East
It's been pretty well known that the AL East is a powerhouse division. The two biggest spenders are New York and Boston and it shows because they are powerful and have dominant pitching. What's incredible about the East in 2011 is that the other three clubs are significantly better.
It can be said that a division is only as strong as its weakest link. For the AL East, that has been the Baltimore Orioles for the past few years, but the birds are hanging in with the big boys, just two games under .500. The Orioles are by far the best last place team in baseball. In either other division in the AL, they would be in third.
The numbers for the East are pretty scary. It is the only division in the American League with a winning record and its by a lot. It is also the division with the highest win percentage. The best battles for each team come within the division. When facing the others, the AL East almost always comes out victorious.
The Yankees are the only team in the division with a losing record against the Central and they are just 8-9. The Rays are the only team with a losing record against the West and they are 6-9.
The AL East always boasts supremacy, but this year is special. It not only has the best team in the AL, but also the closest division race from top to bottom in the majors. Boston and New York are bullies again, but Tampa Bay, Toronto and Baltimore have emerged as very tough teams to beat.