Which Division Is MLB’s Best?
Which Division Is Best?
Spring Training is getting into full swing, and before we know it, teams are going to be traveling for their Grapefruit and Cactus League matchups. There will be storylines and prognostications galore as teams begin to take shape, prospects begin to open eyes, and injuries begin to inevitably rear its ugly head. There are also still deals to be made, as big name free agents still remain on the open market, hoping to catch on with a team in the coming weeks.
There will also be a lot of pre-season picks and there is always the optimism that comes with a new season. Will the New York Yankees, who spent handsomely once again this winter, shuttle themselves back to the top of their division? Will the Boston Red Sox, with their positive attitude and good vibes, repeat as division and World Series Champs? Will the Washington Nationals prove that 2013 was a fluke under the guidance of first year skipper Matt Williams? Are the Toronto Blue Jays actually as bad as they were in 2013, even with everyone healthy?
There will be more questions like this as the Spring develops, as well as one other, much larger question -- which division is the best? Some divisions are top heavy, and some divisions are pretty evenly distributed. Not many divisions today are really good top to bottom, but there are some divisions that have very good teams, and also teams with some very good potential.
So, here is how the divisions rank, based on last year's results.
6. N.L. West, 2013 Winner: LA Dodgers
Had it not been for a red hot stretch for the Dodgers, i.e. a 19-6 July followed by a 23-6 August, this division would not have had a team win 85 games. No team aside from Los Angeles finished above .500, so it's suffice to say the Dodgers ran away with this one.
5. A.L. West, 2013 Winner: Oakland Athletics
For most of 2013, this was the Oakland Athletics' division to lose, and they did not lose it. The Texas Rangers, their stiffest competition, have had some down years of late following their back-to-back World Series appearances, and with the addition of the Houston Astros, this division is years away from being strong. Expect a two horse race again this year. However, the Seattle Mariners are a dark horse to watch as well.
4. A.L. Central, 2013 Winner: Detroit Tigers
The Tigers made a few key subtractions this winter, though they did add Ian Kinsler. Luckily for them, their stiffest competition, the Cleveland Indians, also lost Ubaldo Jimenez and did not make any other major deals. This is easily Detroit's division to lose, and unless the younger Chicago White Sox put things together, it's probably another two horse race.
3. N.L. East, 2013 Winner: Atlanta Braves
The Braves started hot, then plateaued, but thanks to down years from every other division opponent, they were able to win the division. This year will be markedly different, as every team seems to have improved in some way, namely the Washington Nationals, and the Braves will have their work cut out for them.
2. A.L. East, 2013 Winner: Boston Red Sox
This division boasts the 2013 World Series Champions and also tied for the best last place team record wise with the N.L. West. Four of the five teams in the division finished above .500, and also with at least 85 wins. For a division to feature two 90+ win and 80+ win teams is pretty impressive. Unfortunately, it was not enough to dethrone the No. 1 division, which is...
1. N.L. Central, 2013 Winner: St. Louis Cardinals
This division features three, count em, three, 90+ win teams, the best record in the league, as well as tying with Boston for most wins. Furthermore, in a year or two, this could be a legitimate five team race, with the Milwaukee Brewers making pitching moves and all the young talent the Chicago Cubs have. Three playoff teams is impressive, which makes the N.L. Central the best division in baseball.