PDA

View Full Version : AL Central Still The Toughest Division?


nug0hs
05-23-2008, 11:15 AM
For the past few years, the perception (or at least my perception) has been that the AL Central is the toughest division in baseball. Two of the past 3 American League representatives in the World Series have come from our division, and in '06 when we finished 3rd in the division we had still won 90 games. In recent years, it had become clear that the AL Central was the toughest, and in some ways the best division in the Majors (obviously, AL East fans would argue this). Lately, things don't seem to be the case. Although the huge disparity between 1st and 5th appears to be dwindling (we all may lose less than 95 games this season), does anyone out there still think we are the toughest division in baseball? An "article" was written on CBS Sportsline the other day in their power rankings section entitled "Don't look now, but the NL is better (http://www.sportsline.com/mlb/story/MLB_SC-POWER)" and no AL Central team is in the top 10 of the power rankings (this was written after game 5 of the current 8 game streak). Just wanted to hear your thoughts on these comments...

Edit: if this should be in Talking Baseball, feel free to move.

Oldfellah
05-23-2008, 11:31 AM
I don't for one minute believe the NL is stronger than the AL., as for looking at their laughable power rankings... Opinions are like *******s... (you've heard that before I'm sure)

As to the Central League being the Power House,, right at this juncture, it's not, but it will be.. It's like a bad skid on a club, except it's Division wide minus the Sox.

btrain929
05-23-2008, 11:35 AM
It's all going to depend on if CLE and DET can get back to their dominating ways. If they do, along with our solid play and the Twins scrapiness, then yes. If CLE and DET never reclaim their glory, then no, it's not. And I'll be absolutely happy if the 2nd option played out :)

areilly
05-23-2008, 11:41 AM
I don't for one minute believe the NL is stronger than the AL., as for looking at their laughable power rankings... Opinions are like *******s... (you've heard that before I'm sure)

As to the Central League being the Power House,, right at this juncture, it's not, but it will be.. It's like a bad skid on a club, except it's Division wide minus the Sox.

The disparity is closing, but the AL is still the superior league. That's not a knock against how the Braves, Marlins, Cards, D-Backs or (sigh) Cubs are playing, but if I were a baseball team, I'd be more afraid of facing the class of the AL versus the class of the NL.

That said, I'm not sure the ALC is the same animal it was two or three years ago. Take the loss of key players, a decline in production from those who stuck around, and no mass influx of consistent talent to take its place and you've got the recipe for a weakened division. Things may change, but the ALE as a whole looks like the one to beat out of this league (although my money's still on the Angels to take the pennant).

Chicken Dinner
05-23-2008, 11:43 AM
If you would of told me at the beginning of the season that only 1 team in the AL Central would be over .500 after 47 games...............:?::?:

sox1970
05-23-2008, 11:47 AM
I wouldn't say any division is tougher than any other.

There's more parity than ever.

White City
05-23-2008, 12:28 PM
I think it's hard to make an objective case for the AL Central having ever been the best division in any recent year, much less on a cumulative basis.

The evidence seems to suggest that the AL West and the NL East are the best divisions top to bottom in recent years, with the AL West the clear top division in the 2004-2007 timeframe (didn't feel like going back further, and 4 years is an eternity ago in comparative quality terms).

First of all, it's clear to see: The NL Central has been the worst division in the last four years, with a .490 winning percentage and just 9 teams with winning records out of 24 chances (37.5%). And yet that division has supplied three of the last four pennant winners for the NL (Cards twice, Astros once). Would anyone argue that the postseason success of single teams from that division excuse the division as a whole from its dreadful reputation?

No?

Well, then, we can't do the same for the AL Central, or in reverse, deny what the AL West has done despite flaming out in the postseason. The AL West has a .517 winning percentage in the last four years versus a .498 for the AL Central. The AL West has posted nine winning records out of 16 tries (56.3%), wheras the AL Central posted 10 out of 20 tries (50%).

The one year when the case can be made for the AL Central was 2006, when three teams combined to win at least 90 games. and yet the AL West that year had a better winning percentage (.525) than the AL Central (.520). Even if you give the AL Central a slight edge because it won the Wild Card and the pennant (but lost the World Series to a lousy NL Central team), then what of the other three years, when the AL West had either the first- or second-best winning percentage every time?

Simply put, that division rarely has a 100-game loser like the Rays or the Royals. It typically has two solid teams, one that flirts with .500, and one that wins around 70 games. As a top-to-bottom division, it is by far the best in baseball. Only its postseason failures keep people from recognizing that.

I'd argue that the single best division of the last four years was the NL East in 2005. That division had a .525 winning percentage, four of the five teams with winning records, the last place team at 81-81, and just nine games separating the division from top to bottom. Clawing past that gauntlet of just-better-than .500 teams to win the Wild Card is what catapulted the surging Astros into the World Series against our Sox.

SOXfnNlansing
05-23-2008, 12:29 PM
I wouldn't say any division is tougher than any other.

There's more parity than ever.

I concur

guillen4life13
05-23-2008, 01:08 PM
No.

The AL East is, with Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Boston all being decent teams this year.

TDog
05-23-2008, 01:27 PM
For the past few years, the perception (or at least my perception) has been that the AL Central is the toughest division in baseball. Two of the past 3 American League representatives in the World Series have come from our division, and in '06 when we finished 3rd in the division we had still won 90 games. ....

Your perception has been wrong. In 2006, the AL Central was perhaps the strongest division, although the leader for most of the season totally collapsed and gave up the lead at the end. The Tigers went to the World Series, but they haven't played like a great team since the height of their 2006 regular season run.

Last year, the Sox had a winning record against the AL Central. They had a losing record against the AL East, AL West and against the NL teams they played. I think they were 2-7 against NL Central opponents.

The unbalanced schedule hasn't taken its full effect yet because the Sox haven't played the Royals at all. It is still early. But the Sox are six games above .500 against the two teams that were supposed to dominate the AL Central. They are playing three games below .500 against the rest of the AL and three games above .500 against their lone and struggling NL opponent.

Last year I didn't believe the AL Central was close to being the strongest division in baseball. Coming into this year, I thought it might be the weakest of the three divisions. Certainly the Sox are better off in the Central than the East or West in my view.

I also don't see the disparity between the AL and NL that a lot of people here like to celebrate. When I was a kid, Cubs fans used to talk about the wide gap between the leagues with their league being better. It was the AL's lack of hitting that led to the three-year DH experiment.

Now I see Sox fans talking about how the NL is in the shadow of the AL and the AL Central is the toughest division in the toughest league because I believe it preserves a rationalization if the Sox don't win and makes winning feel like an even greater achievement.

nug0hs
06-28-2008, 12:29 PM
Semi-follow up, focusing on the AL's dominance over the NL

http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2008/writers/john_donovan/06/27/donovan.alnl/index.html?bcnn=yes

Lip Man 1
06-28-2008, 01:13 PM
T-Dog:

Since 2005 check out the records of the clubs in both the regular season and more importantly what they've done in the post season. In 2006 the division had THREE teams with 90 or more wins for example.

Now this division is starting to play like everyone thought they were going to at the start of the season. When Kansas City for God's sake has won 9 out of 10 (maybe more...) you're on to something.

This divisional winner may "only" have 88 wins or so but that's because these guys are going to beat up on each other that doesn't mean the teams are bad or the division is mediocre.

This is the toughest division in the A.L. in my opinion because of the quality of the pitching staffs on the teams or individual pitching talent even on a bad club in the division (say Sabathia...)

Lip

TDog
06-28-2008, 01:54 PM
T-Dog:

Since 2005 check out the records of the clubs in both the regular season and more importantly what they've done in the post season. In 2006 the division had THREE teams with 90 or more wins for example.

Now this division is starting to play like everyone thought they were going to at the start of the season. When Kansas City for God's sake has won 9 out of 10 (maybe more...) you're on to something.

This divisional winner may "only" have 88 wins or so but that's because these guys are going to beat up on each other that doesn't mean the teams are bad or the division is mediocre.

This is the toughest division in the A.L. in my opinion because of the quality of the pitching staffs on the teams or individual pitching talent even on a bad club in the division (say Sabathia...)

Lip

Indeed in 2006, the AL Central was the toughest division in baseball. In 2007, six of the nine teams from the AL East and AL West had winning records against the AL Central. During the last fortnight, the AL Central teams have been playing well. They also have been playing National League teams. This season, I feel more confident with the Sox playing teams from their own division than teams from the East and West. In the Central, only the Tigers, at 10-8 have a winning record against the West and no team in the Central has a winning record against the East.

Kansas City is 7-15 against the East, 5-11 against the West and 12-14 against the Central. But like the Twins, they are 13-3 in interleague play.

It is possible, of course, that the AL Central teams have begun playing superior baseball and just happen to be doing it against the NL teams, that they will continue to play superior baseball, but next week the Indians and White Sox and Twins and Tigers will beat up on each other. And I expect Verlander and Sabathia to be better pitchers in August than they were in April.

But I expect the Indians Lee and Laffey won't be in August what they have been to date. I can only hope the grind of the season doesn't wear down Danks and Floyd, who have never pitched this well this deep into a major league season. Beyond Verlander, the Tigers rotation seems fragile. The Twins only have an average rotation to complement average (above average by division standards) hitting. And Central teams have been hit with injuries.

You may be right. It may be that the Twins, rather than not being an exceptional team, prove to be well balanced. The bottom line is winning, not batting and pitching averages. Maybe they have what works and only need a healthy Liriano to take off. Maybe a rotation with Hernandez, Baker and Blackburn simply won't get it done. The Tigers have streaked before, winning eight of 10 from April 21. They might be a streaky team who plays up and down all season.

When the season is over, the toughest division will become apparent. I think it will turn out to be the AL East.

PKalltheway
06-29-2008, 01:51 AM
When the season is over, the toughest division will become apparent. I think it will turn out to be the AL East.
Unfortunately, I'd have to agree with you on that one. By the end of the season, there is a good chance that four out of the five teams in the AL East will finish at least .500 (barring if the O's collapse during the second half).

sox1970
06-29-2008, 01:58 AM
Unfortunately, I'd have to agree with you on that one. By the end of the season, there is a good chance that four out of the five teams in the AL East will finish at least .500 (barring if the O's collapse during the second half).

The average AL team will win close to 83 games this year because of interleague play. If the Red Sox and/or Rays start sliding, we're going to see a huge race for the wildcard in September.

But yeah, I'd say the East is the strongest since they have two teams with close to a .600 winning pct.

oeo
06-29-2008, 04:10 AM
Nope.

The Twins, Tigers, and Royals just padded their records during interleague. Doesn't mean a damn thing unless they plan on changing leagues.

PaleHoseGeorge
06-29-2008, 11:37 AM
These comparisons are pretty worthless ever since MLB went to an unbalanced schedule in the 90's. The Sox will win the A.L. Central (or not) based on the outcome of those 19 games played against each of the Tigers, Twins, and Indians. The "victor" might be the team that pounds the most lumps on Kansas City, too. Everyone gets 19 tries.

Before unbalanced schedules it was common for at least one division champ to have a mediocre record of less than 90 wins. Back in the 70's and 80's it was easy to measure how much better the old A.L. East was than the old A.L. West because the schedules were virtually identical and one division had twice as many teams over .500 than the other.

This isn't the case anymore. When Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati, somebody is going to emerge with 1, 2 or 3 wins out of it no matter how much both team suck. With an unbalanced schedule games like these happen more often than ever before.

I could go on about what a traveshamockery MLB's wild-card system is, but I won't. Suffice to say the Sox need to beat Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City -- in that order -- if they are to emerge from the second-half of the season as 2008 division champs.

sox1970
06-29-2008, 11:42 AM
These comparisons are pretty worthless ever since MLB went to an unbalanced schedule in the 90's. The Sox will win the A.L. Central (or not) based on the outcome of those 19 games played against each of the Tigers, Twins, and Indians. The "victor" might be the team that pounds the most lumps on Kansas City, too. Everyone gets 19 tries.

Before unbalanced schedules it was common for at least one division champ to have a mediocre record of less than 90 wins. Back in the 70's and 80's it was easy to measure how much better the old A.L. East was than the old A.L. West because the schedules were virtually identical and one division had twice as many teams over .500 than the other.

This isn't the case anymore. When Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati, somebody is going to emerge with 1, 2 or 3 wins out of it no matter how much both team suck. With an unbalanced schedule games like these happen more often than ever before.

I could go on about what a traveshamockery MLB's wild-card system is, but I won't. Suffice to say the Sox need to beat Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland and Kansas City -- in that order -- if they are to emerge from the second-half of the season as 2008 division champs.

18 games each, not 19. And I agree that it will come down to the inter-division records.

The Sox and Tigers play the Indians and Royals 24 games total the rest of the way. It could come down to that.

PaleHoseGeorge
06-29-2008, 11:57 AM
18 games each, not 19. And I agree that it will come down to the inter-division records.

The Sox and Tigers play the Indians and Royals 24 games total the rest of the way. It could come down to that.

I stand corrected. Thanks.

voodoochile
06-29-2008, 12:59 PM
No.

The AL East is, with Toronto, Tampa Bay, Baltimore and Boston all being decent teams this year.

Yep and don't look now but NY is 7 games over .500 (huge shock, I know).

The whole AL looks bloated right now because we are just ending IL play and the AL is enjoying another year of feasting on inferior NL teams. It's going to finish as one of the biggest discrepancy seasons since they started IL play.

The concept that the NL is the better league is laughable.

The argument that the ALC is the toughest division can be made, but the ALE looks a tad deeper top to bottom.

sox1970
06-29-2008, 01:17 PM
Yep and don't look now but NY is 7 games over .500 (huge shock, I know).

The whole AL looks bloated right now because we are just ending IL play and the AL is enjoying another year of feasting on inferior NL teams. It's going to finish as one of the biggest discrepancy seasons since they started IL play.

The concept that the NL is the better league is laughable.

The argument that the ALC is the toughest division can be made, but the ALE looks a tad deeper top to bottom.

Yeah, basically .500 in the AL will be 83-79, not 81-81.