Monday, May 26, 2008

AL East Now Best Division in Baseball

In a move several weeks in the making, the NL Central falls behind the AL East in Baseball Playoffs Now's division rankings. The AL East had just topped the NL East to become the #2 division on May 19th, and scarcely a week later triumphs over the NL Central to become the best division in baseball.

The AL East boasts two teams in the top three (Tampa Bay and Boston), the no. 9 team (Toronto) which is listed as the third quickest-rising team in Major League Baseball, and the Yankees and Orioles at #14 and #18 respectively.

The Chicago Cubs anchor the NL Central as the best team in baseball, but the rest of the division fades away quickly: Houston (#11), St. Louis (#13), Pittsburgh (#17), Milwaukee (#21), and Cincinnati (#23).

Part of our division rankings is weighting the rankings of the division's middle team(s) more than the top and bottom teams. Third place Toronto's #9 ranking is therefore a very strong indicator of the East's strength, whereas third- and fourth-place St. Louis (#13) and Pittsburgh (#17) don't inspire nearly as much confidence. Bear in mind that placement within divisions is not based on win-loss record only, but on our overall rankings (which include, among other things, strength of schedule).

But before writing off the Central completely, consider that the average quality wins in out-of-division games are virtually identical between the NL Central and the AL East. The East has only a 1% advantage in out-of-division games and, before this weekend where they went 6-3, trailed the Central.

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