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Which divisions are the best and worst in baseball?

Sep 19, 2012, 1:18 PM EDT

westside connection

It seems like the majority of people generally accept that the AL East is the best and/or toughest division in baseball, and rightfully so in most seasons. Not this year, however, as the combined division standings show:

                 W       L       W%
AL West        322     268     .546
AL East        378     357     .514
NL East        380     359     .514
NL West        363     374     .493
NL Central     422     464     .476
AL Central     347     390     .471

Not only does the AL West have by far the best record of any division, it has three teams with 80-plus wins already despite only having four teams, period. Texas leads the league with 87 wins, Oakland ranks second with 84 wins, and third-place Los Angeles has the same number of wins (81) as first-place Chicago does over in the AL Central. As a division the AL West has a .555 winning percentage against the other AL teams and a .611 winning percentage against NL teams.

It’s pretty amazing that the NL Central avoids having the worst combined record considering the Astros are 48-100 and a full 10 games worse than any other team in baseball. Having a total of six teams certainly helps dilute the Astros’ impact, but mostly it’s a testament to just how underwhelming the AL Central has been … again. As a division the AL Central has a .449 winning percentage against the other AL teams and they went just .500 against NL teams despite the other two AL divisions getting fat off interleague play.

  1. deadeyedesign23 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:31 PM

    Wouldn’t the better way to determine this to be looking at a given division record vs. the rest of baseball? It’s seems silly to include games against divisional teams.

    • kopy - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:35 PM

      Shouldn’t matter, every division is going to to have a cummulative .500 record in divisional games.

      • deadeyedesign23 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:40 PM

        But the total amount of divisional games is different isn’t it? Since There’s a division with 4 teams and one with 6? I could be wrong though.

      • tcombs10 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:46 PM

        I think that’s right. More inter-divisional games will add more weight to the number of games played at the 0.500 level and, therefore, will mean that divisions with more teams will be relatively closer to 0.500 than divisions with less teams.

  2. kopy - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    And then along came the Astros…

  3. stex52 - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Another suggestion. We all know that the Astros committed institutional suicide at the start of the season, finishing off the job (like opening another vein) at the trade deadline. How does each division stack up if you leave out the worst team? I’m too lazy to do it myself. (Actually, I’m at work).

    • jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 1:57 PM

      Intentions don’t matter. The NlL Central is almost the worst division because one team salted and burned the bones of its roster, sure, but they’re still part of the division until 2013.

      And I think the rest of the AL West will gladly take the hit to the divisional W-L record for a chance to feast on at least a few years of stunningly easy pickings.

      • stex52 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:03 PM

        Well, of course they won’t mind. We’re the only people who care about division cumulative won-losses. Individual teams certainly don’t.

        And thanks for the warm words of welcome to the AL.

  4. mvp43 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:07 PM


  5. mkd - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:13 PM

    I know that projections like this aren’t worth the paper their written on, but intuitively I would guess that the AL West is going to be even better next year. The Rangers aren’t going anywhere, the Angels are badly underperforming this year, the Athletics look crazy legitimate and if the Mariners build on the averageness they displayed in the second half well there’s no weak link in the division. (except for the Astros of course. The Astros are gonna stink)

  6. sjsharks66 - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:18 PM

    Westside Connection!

  7. citynative - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    It is shocking that actual facts debunk east coast myths once again. For example, the Phillies have a loyal fan base. Truth is they only show up when they win.

    • powder29 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:12 PM

      Phils = #1 in overall attendance and #2 in home attendance.

      • citynative - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:31 PM

        Please do more homework and get back to the discussion. In losing eras, the Phillies had bad attendance, sometimes nearing the bottom in the National League. In winning years, or the year after a winning year when the tickets were already sold based on the previous years results, the Phillies’ attendance is/was up.

        Your knee-jerk reactionary answers are funny. According to fans in the east, if a west coast team does not support their franchise at the gates then they are a bad fan base. If an east coast fan base does not attend their team’s games, they excuse it by blaming the high ticket prices or the fact that they are not supporting a bad product to justify their apathy. That is called a double standard.

      • rarson - Sep 20, 2012 at 1:02 PM

        Your average home attendance is down by around 1400 this year, and Phillies numbers are suspect anyway:

  8. lessick - Sep 19, 2012 at 2:54 PM

    Gotta give a somewhat significant edge to AL Central over NL Central due to a much more difficult intraleague interdivisional schedule. Not enough to bump them over the NL West though.

  9. pmiller1129 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Im surprised to see no Yankee fans here saying there division is the hardest in the universe or something. Dont they always have something to say?

  10. makeham98 - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    I guess cityboy is one of those blind phillies haters, but philly attendance is down this year because they didn’t sell out every game. Yet will still be at or near the top of attendance.

    Categorizing fans by how their attendance is lower when the team plays poorly is almost as dumb as being a Cub fan who blindly attends games regardless of the quality of the product. Why reward lousy results?

    If your team isn’t competing in a given year, you’re not morally flawed by finding more interesting places to spend your money. You’re probably in better mental health.

    • rarson - Sep 20, 2012 at 1:06 PM

      Yeah, but for a Phillies fan to brag about attendance is bullshit, because their attendance numbers are bogus anyway. They count thinks like charity tickets and Stub-Hub sales even if the tickets end up going unused.

  11. Mark - Sep 19, 2012 at 3:24 PM

    It’s a pretty poor way of looking at it. The AL West only has 4 teams in the division – if they had a fifth team with a win % of 430, the overall division would be 521%.

    The AL West would still be the best division, obviously. But it wouldn’t nearly be as large a gap as you show here. And for what it’s worth, I bet the AL East would be tops again next year.

    • jarathen - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:06 PM

      What a strange argument.

      • Mark - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:34 PM

        Why is it strange to argue that if the AL West had 5 teams like everybody else they’d have virtually the same win % as every other division? The Astros are moving to the division next year – with the Astros there the win % is 507%.

        So I said that the numbers provided are misleading, and that I wouldn’t expect them to continue having the top numbers with the Astros joining the division.

  12. makeham98 - Sep 19, 2012 at 4:48 PM

    I’ve never seen a fanbase that obsesses more about fan support than Cardinal fans.

    Cityboy. try speaking for yourself instead of being an imaginary spokesman for those east coast fans you apparently dislike.

  13. mazblast - Sep 19, 2012 at 5:49 PM

    The Cubs should get down on their knees and thank God (or whoever) for the presence of the Astros in the NL Central. Unfortunately for them, that protection expires at the end of this season.

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