For most of the year, the NL West has been far and away the best division in baseball. Thanks to the Dodgers and Padres both loading up after postseason runs last year, that was always pretty likely. Then the Giants burst onto the scene. Following a rather disappointing 2020, it seems like almost every player on the roster has broken out this year in a big way.
Comparatively, the AL East was floundering. Two playoff teams from the year before, New York and Toronto, were struggling to stay over .500. The Yankees dropped to 41-41 and the AL East was not nearly as formidable as it was supposed to be.
Granted, the Red Sox were far outplaying their expectations. They were one of the worst teams in baseball the last two years and all of a sudden they had the best record in baseball. The Rays were not far behind, despite losing Charlie Morton and Blake Snell from their American League championship roster.
Still, the two divisions were surprisingly far apart. The operative word there is “were”. Since then, both the Yankees and Blue Jays have caught fire thanks to some stellar trade deadline acquisitions. Toronto had arguably the best offense in baseball but no pitching to back it up. New York’s offense was floundering and the patched-together pitching staff was carrying them.
With Jose Berrios and Brad Hand, the Blue Jays bolstered their weak spots and started winning a lot of games. With Joey Gallo and Anthony Rizzo, the Yankees took off and haven’t stopped since. Unfortunately, two teams out of the Blue Jays, Yankees, Athletics, and Red Sox will miss the playoffs because, despite Boston’s current free fall, they’re all pretty much playoff teams.
As for the NL West, the Dodgers and Giants remain the best two teams in baseball. The Giants sit 2.5 games above the Dodgers who have the next best record in baseball. The Padres are still currently clinging to a Wild Card spot, but the Reds are breathing down their necks. The Red Sox and Padres have gone into slumps, but the Yankees, Rays, Blue Jays, Dodgers, and Giants have remained some of the best teams in baseball.
Who’s the best?
So which division is the best? The NL West has a combined .520 record. The AL East has a .519 record, so the difference is negligible. The AL East has four playoff-caliber teams and the NL East has three, which counts for something. However, the two best teams in baseball reside in California and the Padres are pretty solid.
The difference between these two divisions is minuscule, and I think I’m inclined to lean towards the division with the two best teams in baseball. However, the AL East is extremely good, just like they were supposed to be. It’s difficult to delineate between these two star-studded divisions. Both have abysmal teams dragging them down, too, in Arizona and Baltimore. Those two are duking it out for the dubious title of worst in baseball.
The odds that a team from one of these divisions wins the World Series is extremely high. If San Diego holds off Cincinnati, and two of the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Red Sox nab wild card spots, then that’s 50% of the playoff field. That’s impressive.