Who is Baseball’s Toughest Division in 2013?
With less than a third of the 2013 MLB Regular Season left to play, there is no clear-cut prediction as to how things will finish up. There are currently tight races in five of the six divisions, as all contenders will continue to fight to the finish to grab a desired playoff spot and hopefully a shot at a World Series title. When looking at all of the divisions, taking into account record and team completeness, two stand above the rest: the National League Central and the American League East.
The National League Central is a division that in recent years has been dominated by the St. Louis Cardinals, as they have won 4 division titles in the last decade. While the Cards have done consistently well in the division, teams such as the Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, and Chicago Cubs have all had spurts in which they have won division titles or been extremely competitive, contributing to the toughness of the Central. 2013 is a different year, as three teams battle for the division lead, one of which was highly unexpected. This team is the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates currently sit two games back of the St. Louis Cardinals for the division lead, thanks in large part to the dominance of their pitching staff, who display a league-leading 3.06 ERA. The Pirates have not made it to the playoffs or had a winning record since the 1992 Season, but they are aiming to change that in 2013. The Cardinals, Pirates, and Reds do not seem to be letting up, as October gets closer and closer. Who will make it to the Fall Classic is uncertain, but baseball fans can be certain it will be a fight to the finish.
The American League East has the reputation of being baseball’s toughest division, especially in the last 10 years. While the New York Yankees have earned the majority of the division crowns, 7 out of the last 10, the East has been no cake walk, as the Boston Red Sox, and more recently the Tampa Bay Rays and Baltimore Orioles have created an highly competitive culture. Playing inter-division games in the AL East is like fighting a war, any team can win on any given day and even the strongest will come out the other side bruised and cut up. Out of the five teams in the division, four are at least five games over the .500 mark, which is better than any division in baseball in 2013. As is the case in the NL Central, 2013 is a different year in the AL East, as one team has not exactly lived up to the hype. This team is the Toronto Blue Jays, a team who was picked by many baseball experts to not only make the playoffs, but make it to the World Series. The Jays had a busy off season, highlighted by the acquisition of front line players such as shortstop Jose Reyes and 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey. However, the off season success has not translated to success on the field, as the Jays sit in the East Cellar with a 45-55 record.
The NL Central and the AL East are definitely the clear-cut, best divisions up to this point in 2013, but if one were to pick one, who would they choose? There are arguments for both, but the numbers point to the AL East. The Toronto Blue Jays, the same team who was picked to make a World Series run, are the lone team in the division below the .500 mark. The New York Yankees, a team who is missing the majority of its line-up, are still five games over .500 and only three and a half games out of the Wild Card. This just proves how tough the division is, as each team will scratch and claw its way towards October, regardless of what their line-up looks like or what has been said about them. With the addition of a second Wild Card spot, it is possible that three teams from the AL East will have a chance to compete for extra baseball. Who will be there when it is all said and done? We will find out soon enough.