Friday, May 4, 2012
AL East dominates divisional rankings
By Sharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Info
After one month of baseball, the American League East sits atop ESPN Stats & Info’s MLB Divisional Power Rankings by a wide margin.
Dating to last season, the AL East has never held a larger lead than its current 25.6-point lead over the National League East. Strong starts by the Baltimore Orioles and Toronto Blue Jays have given the AL East five of the top 12 teams in baseball, according to ESPN.com’s most recent power rankings.
Additionally, the AL East has been close to unstoppable outside of the division, posting a 44-25 (.637 win percentage) record in games against non-divisional opponents. No other division has a win percentage above .515 in non-divisional games.
What may be most surprising about the AL East is that unheralded names are making an impact for their teams. Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion and Kelly Johnson rank fourth and 20th, respectively, in ESPN’s Player Rating system, combining for 15 of Toronto’s 32 home runs through May 2.
The AL West has its share of players off to fast starts with Josh Hamilton, Ian Kinsler, Felix Hernandez, Yu Darvish and Jered Weaver all ranking in the top 10 of ESPN’s batter and pitcher ratings. Five players from the AL West is the most from one division.
The Los Angeles Angels play 17 more games in May against teams that currently do not have a winning record. If the Angels can turn things around and live up to preseason expectations, the AL West has a chance to close the gap on the AL East.
The AL Central currently sits at the bottom of the divisional rankings with only one team above .500. Against non-divisional opponents, the AL Central is 29-48 (.377 win percent), by far the worst win percentage of any division.
The Minnesota Twins have been the worst team in baseball outside their division, winning five of 17 games against non-divisional opponents.
The weekend of May 18 presents several opportunities to shake up the rankings.
Divisional leaders clash in the National League, with the St. Louis Cardinals visiting the Los Angeles Dodgers. Interleague highlights include the Philadelphia Phillies hosting the Boston Red Sox and Cincinnati Reds visiting the New York Yankees.
For a brief recap of how we rank the divisions, click here.