Divisional Rankings

28 Dec

also available at www.SethSpeaks.net and StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog:

The below article was posted on the StarTribune.com TwinsCentric blog on Monday morning. To comment (or read other comments), click here.

I hear so often that the Twins have won division titles in baseball’s weakest division, the AL Central. I have never bought that, at least not in recent years.

In reality, it doesn’t matter. A team can only play the schedule they are presented with. It’s not like the college football scheduling where a team like the Gophers can schedule USD (South Dakota) or USC (Southern California). With the unbalanced schedule, this debate can be had and there may not really be an answer at the end of the day. That said, it’s a topic that should at least be discussed.

But again, how important is it, really? I bet if you asked former Twins outfielder Marty Cordova right now how important things like where the AL Central ranks, or first-round playoff losses, or pretty much anything, he will remind us of exactly how important it is. You see, less than two weeks ago, Cordova’s daughter was in a car accident and has been in a coma ever since. According to Cordova, “They’re hoping she’ll come back 100 percent, but there’s no way to tell what her brain is going to do. There’s no magic shot. There’s no surgery to help. Only time can tell.”

So again, it’s amazing how life has a tendency to again remind us of just how important the great game of baseball is in the grand scheme of things. But it is a nice escape, and today I will spend a little time investigating and ranking baseball’s divisions. Again, this is only looking at the 2010 season. Please feel free to go back to previous years if you have some free time!

If a division is judged by its leader, it’s best team, here is how the divisions fell in 2010:

1.) NL East – Philadelphia Phillies – 97-65, 2.) AL East – Tampa Bay Rays – 96-66, 3.) AL Central – Minnesota Twins – 94-68, 4.) NL West – San Francisco Giants – 92-70, 5.) NL Central – Cincinnati Reds – 91-71, 6.) AL West – Texas Rangers – 90-72.

Or, could one say that a division can only be judged by its weakest link?

1.) NL East – Washington Nationals – 69-93, 2.) AL Central – Kansas City Royals – 67-95, 3.) AL East – Baltimore Orioles – 66-96, 4.) NL West – Arizona Diamondbacks – 65-97, 5.) AL West – Seattle Mariners – 61-101, 6.) NL Central – Pittsburgh Pirates.

We can look at it by the divisions’ overall record:

1.) AL East – 431-379 (.532), 2.) NL East – 416-394 (.514), 3.) NL West – 410-400 (.506), 4.) AL Central – 399-411 (.493), 5.) AL West – 312-336 (.482), 6.) NL Central – 462-510 (.475)

How about looking at the records against the other two divisions in its league? (AL teams won 110 out of 210 inter-league gamesin 2010. Not included because schedules way too different.)

1.) AL East – 206-154 (.572), 2.) NL East – 192-174 (.525), 3.) NL West – 195-180 (.520), 4.) AL Central – 172-188 (.478), 5.) NL Central – 188-221 (.460), 6.) 156-192 (.448).

How many teams in each division finished with a .500 record or better?

1.) AL East – 4 out of 5 (80%), 2.) AL Central & NL West – 3 out of 5 (60%), 4.) AL West – 2 out of 4 (50%), 5.) NL East – 2 out of 5 (40%), 6.) NL Central – 2 out of 6 (33%).

So there are five ways to consider which division is the strongest and/or weakest. If anyone wants to tell you that the AL Central is the worst division in baseball, ask them, “Based on what?” There is no way that the AL Central was the weakest division. Was it the best division? Of course not. Clearly the AL East and the NL East were likely the top divisions. The AL Central and the NL West likely would rank third and fourth, depending on how you want to look at it. The NL Central and the AL West were clearly worse than the AL Central in 2010.

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3 Responses to “Divisional Rankings”

  1. Keli December 28, 2010 at 10:03 am #

    I think another point that people often forget is that our division is not a bunch of small market teams… Chicago and Detroit are always in the top 10 in total salaries. Actually, with the Twins payroll climbing into the $110 million dollar range, the AL Central will be the only division with 3 clubs in the top 10 for salaries.

  2. j-sin December 28, 2010 at 11:28 am #

    Great work Seth, giving us some good numbers to debate. However, with these numbers, it seems that it is hardly debatable. I think the best way to use these numbers is to convince the Twins that they SHOULD be able to have at least a .500 record against he AL East, which they certainly didn’t.

  3. Luke December 29, 2010 at 11:04 am #

    The thing abouot spending money is, especially now, you cant just spend, you have to invest in player development.The Yankees arent even a top 5 team anymore because they dont develop players and the ones they did are from 1996. Right now they cant give Montero away, why ?? because he is Jack Cust, a slugger with no position.Phillies got 4 aces..ok they had 3 aces last year and couldnt beat a team with a waiver wire lineup and their biggest prospect hit .083 in winter ball.The Red Sox did what the Yankees did two years ago, get two of the best available players and that might get them a world series this year..but after that ? They have gutted their farm system to a point where Michael Bowden is their best pitching prospect.The Twins have a system full of options AND have spent money, their main problem is they have a #1 starter and then a bunch of 3′s and 4′s. Look at the joke of the MLB the last 18 years, the Pirates. They have 4 guys that can be the next great core. McCutchen, Alvarez,Tabata and Walker. Do you realize Walker had better stats than Chase Utley last year, in about the same amount of at bats? Alvarez has the potenital to hit 40 homers, Tabata hit 300 and has speed and McCutchen is a prototypical centerfielder,who almost scored a 100 runs for a team with the worst offense in the National League. The Pirates have 3 blue chip arms in their system in Taillon, Allie and Heredia plus a kid in Rudy Owens,who has gone 23-8 with Era in the mid two’s the last two years in the minors. Unfortunatly they spend no money and until they win , no free agent wants to go there. I really believe you have to have a balance. The Yankees and the Phillies are the two most succesful teams in the past 15 years because they built a core from their system and spent money. Who will be that next team to have that balance ?? Until the Twins get that 1a starter to pair with Liriano, it might not be the Twins.The time to strike is now, the Twins system is deep enough, since this is the year of pitchers going back to teams they played for before, get Matt Garza back and lets give it a real shot.

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