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Saturday, November 07, 2015

Sullivan: The Worst Division in a Decade

The NL East vexes me … I’m terribly vexed.

If you look at winning percentage outside of the same division, then the NL East slides into fourth-worst. At .428, it’s no match for the 2002 AL Central’s .412, but it does dip past the 1999 AL Central’s .439. I feel like I don’t need to keep hammering this. The division was bad. It was probably the worst in 10 years. In the season ahead, it’s likely the Phillies and Braves will once again struggle. The Nationals will lose some personnel, and the Mets could lose both Daniel Murphy and Yoenis Cespedes. It’s way too soon to try to forecast how the division will play in 2016, but the probability is that the best team in it will benefit from a relatively soft schedule.

In case you’re curious about the other side, the NL Central was strong, but it ranks tied for 11th in the interleague era. It was the strongest division in two years, since the 2013 AL East. The No. 1 strongest division was the 2002 AL West, with a very slim lead over the previous season’s AL West. (In third place: a different season’s AL West.) In fact, the top nine divisions all come from the American League, but that’s not a total surprise, given the AL’s run of league superiority. This is of little consolation to the Reds and the Brewers, who are looking up at their rivals and wondering what hope they have. If there are two teams in baseball that could stand to try to start over, it would be those. The Brewers have arguably already begun.

Just for the sake of a few closing thoughts: Over the 19 years, the AL Central has never once been baseball’s strongest division. This past year was the first time in the window that the NL Central ranked No. 1. And this was the first time that the NL East ranked No. 6. A year ago, we saw more parity between divisions than we had since at least 1996. There was very little spread in divisional quality. This year was a bounce-back in that regard. Or an anti-bounce-back, depending on your perspective on parity. There was less parity, basically. That’s all.

So, we’re coming off a recent first for the NL Central. And we’re coming off a recent first for the NL East, which was just the worst overall division baseball has seen in a decade. This has all been a reflection, but in the process of writing this, I saw that the Mariners and Rays completed a six-player trade, so now it’s officially time to look ahead. Contained within is information about the 2015 baseball season. That season won’t be bothering you anymore.

JE (Jason) Posted: November 07, 2015 at 09:10 PM | 1 comment(s)
  Beats: barves, marlins, mets, nationals, nl east, phillies



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