Friday, May 22, 2009

The AL East Isn't What We Thought It Would Be. It's Better.

Last night I was thinking about the Jays.

I was thinking about the Jays, and how people are saying,

"Look at how Toronto is now 1-5 against non-Baltimore AL East opponents," as if to say that no, they're really not that good.

Now, these people are likely right. That a team that a number of experts picked to finish last in the division, or only just above it, has maintained its hold on first place for so long, deserves commendation...and also a second look.

The Jays are 16-8 against the AL Central, and 19-8 against the AL Central and Baltimore. They're 7-4 against the AL West, which is respectable enough, and, as said before, 1-5 against non-Baltimore AL East, for a total of 8-9 against non-AL Central, non-Baltimore opponents.

This illustrates two things:

1) The early Jays schedule was chock full of AL Central opponents,


2) That the AL Central is quite possibly not very good.

It's not just the Jays here, either:

The Yankees are 10-4 against AL Central opponents; two losses against the Indians and one each against Justin Verlander and Kansas City.

Then again, maybe it's not the AL Central.

Maybe it's the AL East.

The division leaders in the AL Central, AL West, NL East would all be in fourth place in the current AL East; Milwaukee in the NL Central and the Dodgers in the NL West are right now the only teams that would be in first in the AL East, and when you consider the Dodgers' competition in the NL West--and they are 20-8 in their own division--the 29 wins is a bit qualified.

As another example, consider how the other teams in the AL are doing against the AL East.

Out of the other nine teams in the American League, only the vaunted Angels have a winning record against the AL East, and they've played their favorite regular-season foe Red Sox a few times already.

I would guess, right about now, that teams in the AL Central and AL West are very thankful for the unbalanced schedule, and that getting into the playoffs is based on how you do in your division more so than overall standings...

Another way of looking at it is that the AL East has not one, but two teams over .600, and the Yankees, at .585 are not far behind.

Granted, the Blue Jays will fall back to earth, at least a little, but the Rays are only just beginning to play well. In the end, the Jays and the Rays may simply end up flip-flopping, although, right now, if one takes the record against AL East teams as a portent, the Red Sox would have to be favored, being 16-6 against the division (with five wins against the Yankees and three against the Jays).

At any rate, what this means--and what we've kind of known all along--is that the AL East could end up finishing the season with the, potentially, three or even four best records in the American League, if Toronto doesn't falter too badly, and only two will even have a shot at the playoffs.

Crazy sport, right?