One MLB Division Is Not Like the Others

The AL East does not have a single team that is below .500

The all-even AL East standings on Opening Day.
The AL East standings in MLB have changed a lot since Opening Day.
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty

If the New York Yankees (20-17) played in the American League Central, they’d be in first place. If the Boston Red Sox (21-16) played in the National League Central, they’d be tied for first place. But both of the longtime rivals are residents of the AL East, the toughest division in MLB this season, so they find themselves in last place and second-to-last place, respectively.

A division that fielded three playoff teams last season after fielding three teams in the 2021 postseason, the AL East does not have a single team that is below .500 and boasts an overall record of 114-69 (.622 winning percentage). In the rest of MLB, there are only eight teams that currently have a winning record.

One reason for the disparity in records is that the teams in the AL East, the Tampa Bay Rays, Baltimore Orioles, Toronto Blue Jays and the Sox and Yankees, are playing at a higher level than the majority of the competitors. The other reason why the AL East is outperforming the rest of the league is that the teams in baseball’s best division only have to play each other 13 times apiece after MLB cut the number of intradivisional games down from 19.

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With each of AL East’s five teams now playing 52 division games instead of 76, there’s a real chance this will be the first time since MLB’s realignment in 1993 that every team in a division will finish above .500. Last year (before the change in scheduling) was close with the Yankees (99-63), Blue Jays (92-70), Rays (86-76) and Orioles (83-79) all finishing above .500 and the Red Sox (78-84) coming fairly close.

If the AL East does collectively finish above .500 this season, the AL Central may be the division to thank. Thus far this season, the former division has a 41-14 record against the latter. As of yesterday, AL East teams were 85-39 (a .686 winning percentage) as a whole against out-of-division opponents, and the Rays and Orioles were the top two teams in the AL.

Pitcher Danny Coulombe, who was acquired by the Orioles from the Al Central’s Minnesota Twins before Opening Day, appreciates his new home and new division. “It’s absolutely an advantage for us, not having to play [19] games against every single team,” Coulombe told USA Today. “I think it helps us playing each division because you’re battle-tested. Nothing against these [teams], but there’s a lot of divisions that have one or two teams where you’re probably going to win the series. There’s none of that here. It’s definitely different than playing in the AL Central.”

It certainly is — just check the standings.

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