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Wednesday, June 1, 2011
AL East sits atop divisional power rankings

By Sharon Katz

After a slow start in April, the American League East sits atop the ESPN Stats & Information Divisional Power Rankings, a performance metric that debuted last month in the SIG Blog.

Entering Tuesday, eight of the top 30 individual batters reside in the AL East, according to ESPN's Player Ratings. The east found its power in the month of May more than any other division.

Jose Bautista, David Ortiz, Mark Teixeira, Curtis Granderson and Adrian Gonzalez each hit at least nine home runs in May. No other division had more than one player hit that many. American League East teams also averaged more runs (4.7) and extra base hits (3.1) per game in May than any other division.

As a result of their offensive outburst, three of the top 10 teams in ESPN’s Power Rankings are in the AL East, and the five teams in the division combined to post the best record in non-divisional games during the month (50-39).

The National League East continued its solid start, with all five teams within a game of .500 when playing teams outside the division. That’s an impressive feat considering they played the toughest overall schedule through two months.

After a slow start in April, the NL Central jumped from last to fourth. The biggest difference was that the division’s players, specifically batters, performed at a high level. Five of the top 10 batters according to ESPN’s Player Ratings play on teams in the NL Central.

As a result of losing 11 points since the last rankings were released, the AL Central sits at the bottom of May's rankings. The April 25 Power Rankings contained no AL Central team below 23rd place, but after two months, the division now has two teams ranked 23rd or lower, and four teams in the bottom half of the rankings. Only the Chicago White Sox had a winning record outside of divisional play in May, leading to a .443 non-divisional win percentage for the month, by far the lowest percentage of any division.

As the second edition of the MLB Divisional Rankings shows, plenty can change in one month. Look for the next edition of the rankings to again change as interleague play returns on June 17, highlighted by Boston traveling to Philadelphia and Cleveland facing off with the defending World Champion San Francisco Giants in the final week of June.