Is the East the toughest division in the AL anymore?
by, 10-08-2012 at 10:50 AM (688 Views)
For too long, the East has been known as the power division in the AL. Everyone knows that the Central is a "weak" division, and has really had a hard time in the playoffs. There were usually two playoff teams to come out of the divison (for the last decade, the Yanks and Sox), and they had a good time of it. Going back to 2000, the AL has won the World Series six times. Of those six times, four of them came from the AL East, and they were the Yanks (twice) and the Sox (twice). This string of success is now being challenged by a newly powerful AL Division, the West.
I say this because there were two teams that were expected to (and by expected to I mean somehow play the World Series against each other) make the playoffs from this division, and only one of the two that was expected to made it in.
The Angels, with offseason acquisitions in Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson, were suddenly considered World Series candidates after their acquisition of those two. They "disappointingly" won "only" 89 games (still more than the Central Divison Champs Tigers), and missed the playoffs.
The Mariners, not really ever considered for the playoff picture, dealt the face of their franchise, Ichiro, to the Yankees, which has worked out better for the Yankees than the last trade these two teams made (see Michael Pineda), and they won 75 games, more than the Royals, Twins, and Cleveland.
The Rangers, who also became even bigger (if it is even possible) candidates to go to the World Series for the third straight year after they signed Yu Darvish out of Japan. After a season filled with injuries to key players (especially in their pitching staff) and the impending free agency of Josh Hamilton, the Rangers collapsed down the stretch, winning just 3 of their last 10 games. They fell to the Wild Card and were eliminated by the scrappy-as-hell Baltimore Orioles.
The Oakland A's were never expected to contend in this division. Picked to finish 3rd or 4th by nearly everybody, they had one of their Moneyball-esqe second halfs (with the best record since June 30, I believe, but don't quote me on that) and defeated the Rangers in the race for the AL West Division crown. They did this despite having suspensions and injuries to key pitchers, one of the worst batting averages in the game, and ending the year with an all-rookie pitching staff. They are currently down 2-0 in the ALDS to the Tigers, but never count the A's out. They have been coming back from worse all season long.
While the Yankees may have the best record in the AL, the fact that every team in the West won 75+ games is just astounding. Move over AL East, here comes the West.