Your Bi-Quarterly A.L. East Domination Post

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ALeastmay.PNG

What you see above is a copy of the standings (via ESPN) from Friday afternoon. All 5 teams in the American League East entered play on Friday afternoon coming off wins, 4 of the teams riding win streaks of 4 or more. The Red Sox and Yankees played head-to-head, meaning one of their streaks ended Friday. The Jays and Rays, however, both won on Friday night meaning three of the teams in The Best Division In Baseball then rode 5 game winning streaks.

Predictably, the division is stacked. The Rays own oodles of buzz as the best team in baseball, with their lofty run differential, tidy defense, and ability to lay down for skinny gangsters from Stockton, CA. The Yankee juggernaut rolls on while the Red Sox operate on a plane of existence all their own. Much of the discussion over the weekend surrounded the BoSox woes and how on Earth would they catch the two juggernauts above them? Good question, but one thing: they trail three teams in their division.

Nobody in their right mind expects the Toronto Blue Jays to continue winning games at a .580 clip. That the Jays are doing so in the first place is something of a worsening miracle. Canada's team pulled this very trick last year, beating down the weak sisters of the American League for the first few months, patiently waiting for the Yankees and Rays to come to down and destroy their hopes and dreams.

Take hope, Beantowners. The Red Sox might scuffle now, but a quick run through the middle of the country and they'll be fine, trust me. They'll run roughshod over the A.L. Central horror show and find themselves riding a tidy winning streak. A nice West Coast trip, smacking around teams who will all finish within three games of .500 and each other by the end of the season.

The unfortunate side of this dominant division: it is also baseball's least competitive. Home to baseball's worst record (your 2010 OriLOLes!) the two frontrunners are already rendering this race over. The Red Sox —still shoe-ins to win at least 85 games— have less than a 5% chance of winning the Wild Card, according to Coolstandings.com. Rhetorical question time: is this competitive imbalance good for baseball? The universe at large? Should we break up these juggernauts in the name of all that is just or let these savages battle among themselves until the end of time and revenue sharing?


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10 Comments

Alex Gonzalez's ISO (.331) is higher than his OBP (.300). How unsustainable is it?

That's as unsustainable as pouring McDonald's coffee in your lap to cool off!

Johnny Carson said it.

Rob's boyfriend Adam Lind is 0 fer May, that ain't sustainable either. The Jays tradition of irrelevant excellence continues. It's the Canadian way.

I lost 10-0 in WoW fantasy baseball last week. That is sustainable.

If we pretend, for a minute, that the Tampa Bay Rays are the Devil Rays of old, ie: a doormat for the rest of the division, then their 12-4 divisional record suddenly becomes 6-10, at best. Take those six extra wins and re-distribute them throughout the division, and the landscape is quite different, although not at all. HUH?

The Rays are 5-1 this yr vs. Baltimore. Make that 3-3. BAL is +2
The Rays swept Boston, 4-0, so far. Make that 1-3. BOS is +3
The Rays went 2-1 vs the Jays, so flip it around, 1-2. TOR is +1
The Rays are 1-2 vs. the Yanks. Ok, we'll leave that alone.

The point of my rambling what ifs? The resurgence of one team - one - has made this division "stacked." Before it was just the Yanks and Red Sox and three other teams fighting for .500.

But according to coolrunnings.com the Red Sox have a 70% chance of winning gold in bobsled.

"Hey Papi, you dead?"

"No man, I'm not dead."

I think emergence is a slight understatement. That 3 teams have a legit chance to win 90 games, nearly every year, is something. That the fourth place Blue Jays won 86 games two years ago, is proof of stackedness.

When 60% of a division are legit World Series threats, it's stacked. When moving any of those teams into any other division would COMPLETELY shift the balance of power, it's stacked.

For the record I delivered BCTF's 10-0 beat down.

/no one cares about my fantasy baseball team

Also: this is more about how these stacked teams smack the living shit out of the other divisions year in and year out. Even if the Rays are 8-8 within the division this year, their out of division record remains.

My bigger point was that it's more about how the Rays have made this division topheavy. Yes, three teams have a chance to win 90, but two of them are the constant (BOS/NY). Even in '03 or '04, if you shifted one of those two to another division, the balance of power would have completely changed.

And when I supposed that the rays would be 5-11 in the division, I supposed that their inter-division record would fall, too, but didn't mention it because it wasn't relevant to their standings in the division (They'd be 4th either way. Maybe 5th).

If the Red Sox go 85 and 45 the rest of the way, my prediction holds and they win over a hundred games. There's way more than a five percent chance of that happening. I'd say it's at least a two or three percent chance....

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