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Baseball and Bat

Ranking the Divisions and how hard it is to make the Playoffs

The consensus is that the best teams will make the playoffs, but this isn’t always the case as if you win your division you have an automatic entry to the playoffs and depending on the divisions you may start at a different stage in the playoffs.

The 6 divisions are not of equal standing. Last year the Tampa Bay Rays finished 2nd in the American League East but won 99 regular season games whereas the Houston Astros won the American League West with 90 games. The Astros automatically got through to the American League division series but by the time this started the Rays had already been knocked out at the American League Wild Card Series having won 9 games more. So, although generally the best teams will make it a case can be made to say that your division can make this easier or harder.

 

This is my ranking of the leagues from the best to the worse based on the current teams in the divisions. Although each team will play more teams in their own division they each play each other in at least one series in the year so lets start with the full win loss records of each division.

2023 Division Win/Loss records

American League East                   449 – 361 .554 Win Percentage

 

American League Central               358 – 452 .441 Win Percentage

 

American League West                  391 – 419 .482 Win Percentage

 

National League East                     424 – 386 .523 Win Percentage

 

National League Central                 404 – 406 .498 Win Percentage

 

National League West                    404 – 406 .498 Win Percentage

So Which is hardest?

1. American League East --- Every team in this division is good to great even the Boston Red Sox have some great players when the worst team in the league in 2023 got 78 wins at a winning percentage of .481 nearly an even season. Although the Red Sox seem to still be the worse team in 2024 this is the only league where legitimately each team in the division could end up having a winning season and the disparity between the teams is the closest and most competitive. The Baltimore Orioles have a whole pipeline of talent ready to come up and have already called up MLB’s top prospect Jackson Holiday. They have talent to trade if they need additions at the trade deadline. The New York Yankees have added Juan Soto who has seemingly changed the whole mood of the team. The Blue Jays always seem to have a strong rotation even though injuries to some pitchers have hit in the early season and The Rays are The Rays consistently punching above their weight due to good coaching where players seem to just become better when they become a Ray.

 

 

2.National League East --- The Miami Marlins have started the season horribly but apart from that the other four teams in the division are all competitive and all have legitimate chances to claim a playoff spot. The New York Mets suggested that 2024 could be a throwaway season as they build up the farm system ready to go all out in 2025 but after a struggling start, they have settled into a nice rhythm now. The Atlanta Braves are always consistent and the fact they have a settled team that have played together for a while now always helps. Although the Marlins have struggled so far, they were a playoff team last season and should become better going forward, if this happens this will make the division a lot more competitive like the AL East. The Philadelphia Phillies have great players and after a slowish start the likes of Haper and co seem now to be back to their equilibrium and the Wahington Nationals without being spectacular could still have a winning season.

 

 

3.National League West --- The reason I have ranked the NL East higher than the NL West is the difference between the best and worst teams in the division. Last year the Los Angeles Dodgers finished a massive 41 games ahead of the Colorado Rockies the biggest differential between any two teams in any league in 2023. With the Dodgers having strengthened with Shohei Ohtani who has started on fire and enhanced their pitching rotation with Tyler Glasnow and Yoshinobu Yamamoto the gap could be even greater this year. The Arizona Diamondbacks made a surprising run to the World Series last year and look good again so far and although the Padres have lost their best player in Juan Soto players such as Fernando Tatis Jr have already stepped up from last year. The San Fransisco Giants have picked up last years NL Cy Young winner in Blake Snell who although has not set the world on fire yet should come good after missing spring training after only signing a deal in late March.

 

 

4.American League West --- The AL West provided last years World Series winner in the Texas Rangers and have the Houston Astros the other NLDS finalists. Although the Astros have started slow, they are too good for this slump to continue. With the Oakland Athletics playing in their final season before moving to Sacramento (for a few years before the big Las Vegas franchise change) you would expect them to write the season off and finish bottom. They have however proved to be a lot more competitive than expected with the bullpen including electric closer Mason Miller being much more functional than in previous recent seasons. The Los Angeles Angels have lost Ohtani and their only real superstar now Mike Trout has started the season in tremendous form he has recently picked up a knee injury that will require surgery and this could de rail the team. I expect the Seattle Mariners to stay around a .500 team. There is competitiveness in the division but its probable an 85-to-90-win season will make the playoffs and win the division.

 

 

5.National League Central --- Both Central divisions in my opinion are the weakest in MLB with the Milwaukee Brewers winning the NL central by 9 games with only 92 wins then getting bounced out in NL wildcard series by the Arizona Diamondbacks as they finished with the lowest win total of the three divisional winners in the NL. I am expecting the Cincinnati Reds to have a better year this year with a young core led by future superstar Elly De La Cruz. I would think its most likely between them and the Brewers but his will be a contested division with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals all capable of making a playoff push. In honestly though there will probably only be one team from this division making the playoffs and they will mostly start again in the wildcard game.

 

 

6.American League Central --- The weakest division in MLB and strangely enough the team that finished bottom last season the Kansas City Royals could go from being bottom last year to winning it this year. Now Bobby Witt Jr has committed long term it seems like the Royals may be playing with a bit more ambition than in 2023. The Cleveland Guardians are a good contact team and I expect the division to be mainly contested between these two teams. The Detroit Tigers have started ok but the Minnesota Twins and especially the Chicago Whites Sox have started terribly. With there being more than one poor team in the division and the Twins team last season winning with the division with 87 wins I expect a similar amount to be achieved. Teams outside the division will look to take advantage when they play AL Central teams and I expect this division to have the fewest wins in 2024 same as they did in 2023.

 

 

Let me know what you think?

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