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East or Famine
JOE SHEEHAN
July 02, 2012
Led by the best division in baseball, the game's balance of power tilts decidedly to the right side of the map
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July 02, 2012

East Or Famine

Led by the best division in baseball, the game's balance of power tilts decidedly to the right side of the map

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With interleague play done for the year, the AL East has again established itself as the game's most fearsome division. Its 53--37 interleague mark wasn't the best in baseball (the AL West went 45--27), but considering that the AL East mostly played the strong NL East, it was an impressive performance. All five AL East teams are above .500 in out-of-division games, and the division as a whole is playing .587 baseball outside of its group. This dominance began in the early 2000s, when the Yankees set a high standard by winning four World Series in five years and the Red Sox countered with a new owner (John Henry) and a new G.M. (Theo Epstein) to win in 2004 and '07. The Rays, under owner Stu Sternberg and G.M. Andrew Friedman, have built that franchise into a perennial contender, and the Jays are taking much the same approach under G.M. Alex Anthopoulos. To compete in the AL East takes more than assembling a decent team and hoping everyone has a good year—you have to build one of the best teams in baseball. Pushing toward that standard has raised everyone's game. You can see a similar effect in the NL East, where the Phillies' dynasty has pushed that division to the second best in the majors. There is a gap between the leagues, but it's not that the AL is better than the NL; it's that the AL East is better than everyone else.

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