MLB's best and worst divisions

Fresh of his World Baseball Classic heroics, pitcher Marcus Stroman hopes to lead the Blue Jays back to the postseason in a stacked AL East. Butch Dill/USA TODAY Sports

The two final teams standing last season, the Cleveland Indians and World Series champion Chicago Cubs, each reside in the Central Division in their respective leagues. However, no division in baseball had more playoff teams than the historically tough AL East, with the Blue Jays and Orioles facing off in the wild card and the Red Sox taking the division crown. Meanwhile, the NL West and NL East each had two playoff teams compared to the NL Central's one.

Welcome to the Yardbarker roundtable, where we wonder what makes for the toughest division. Is it a top-heavy division with a couple dominant teams or one in which there is no pushover from top to bottom? Everyone looks at that differently, so we asked our panelist:

Which is the best and worst division in each league?

Phillip Barnett: AL Best: AL East. AL Worst: AL Central. NL Best: NL West. NL Worst: NL East.

Shiloh CarderI hate saying this, but the AL East is the best and most interesting division. The Red Sox are the class of the division, but the loss of David Ortiz will be bigger than some think. The Blue Jays, Orioles, Yankees and Rays can all make some noise, and the division could see three teams in the playoffs.

The AL West is the worst. For one, I just don't see anyone in that division that is truly a threat to win the World Series. I think every other division has at least one. The Astros, Mariners and Rangers figure to battle for it, but do any of those really move the needle? Then the A's and Angels are sitting in the basement.

Houston Astros center fielder George Springer looks to help his team rebound from a disappointing 2016 season. Troy Taormina/USA TODAY Sports

David Matthews: The AL East is pretty strong from top to bottom, though the Red Sox and Blue Jays are the clear contenders. However, only one of those teams will play in October because the AL West might have three playoff teams in the Astros, Rangers and Mariners. The AL Central is the Indians' to lose, and they'll be able to pile up the wins playing against the White Sox, Twins and Royals.

In the NL, the Central is probably the weakest. The Cubs are going to most likely run away with that division, and I don't think there's a wild card contender behind them. Strongest division is probably the East as the Mets and Nationals are both probably playoff teams, and the Marlins and Braves are not going to be pushovers.

Demetrius Bell: Even though the Cubs are bona fide contenders and have the World Series hardware to prove it, let's be honest here — they do not have too much resistance coming from their divisional rivals. The Brewers and Reds are two teams who are clearly in the throes of a rebuild, the Cardinals could be rebuilding soon, and the Pirates are a wild card contender at best. If the Cubs weren't the Cubs, we'd be talking about this being one of those "Well, somebody has to win it" divisions.

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta are heavy favorites once again the NL Central. Rick Scuteri/USA TODAY Sports

Jamie NealThe AL West is a miserable division — just disgusting. The A's, Angels and Astros all played below expectations and brought down the division as a whole. Beating up on each other isn't a good enough excuse; this division needs to pull itself together and make something happen.

The AL East looks to be phenomenal again, and I can't say I am surprised. The Orioles, Red Sox, Yankees and Blue Jays were all over .500 last year and could easily do the same again this year. If the Rays could recover from losing manager Joe Maddon, the East could be one of the best divisions baseball has ever seen.

The NL West was a disaster last year, even with two teams making the playoffs. The Giants and Dodgers both made moves to try and get better, but the Padres, Diamondbacks and Rockies all need to do something to bring themselves into contention. All three of those teams were 16+ games back from the Dodgers last year, and it looks to be the same in 2017.

The NL Central is stacked, especially if the Pirates can capitalize on a couple bounces here and there and bring themselves back into contention. The Brewers aren't too far off from making some noise, and while the Reds, Pirates and Brewers are all looking up at the Cardinals and the Cubs, that division could be really good really soon.

Matt WhitenerThe NL East is the best division in the National League. There are two postseason-worthy teams in the Nationals and Mets, as well as a pair of teams that could be tough to kill in the Braves and Marlins.

The worst division is the NL West, with the Dodgers closest competition being the Giants, followed by a steep drop-off to the Diamondbacks, Padres and Rockies.

In the American League, it's not even a question of which division is the best; rather it is about just how dominant the AL East will be. It's not hyperbolic to say that the fourth-place team in the division could annually compete to win either the AL Central or West if it was relocated.

The worst division in the AL is the Central. The Indians should be fantastic again, but the identity of both the Tigers and Royals is shifting, while the Twins and White Sox are destined to end up picking high in the 2018 MLB Draft.

Most important player on every MLB team heading into 2017
QUIZ: Name the last manager to lead each MLB team to a pennant

A manager is the off-field leader of a baseball team. He is a statistician, strategist, general, alchemist, psychologist, mentor, friend. A good manager can be the difference for a team winning when it counts or falling apart. Can you name the last manager to lead each MLB team to win the American or National League Championship pennant?

Clue: Team-Year

Note: The Seattle Mariners and the Washington Nationals have not won the pennant in their respective franchise histories.

Bob Brenly
Bobby Cox
Joe Altobelli
John Farrell
Joe Maddon
Ozzie Guillen
Lou Piniella
Terry Francona
Clint Hurdle
Jim Leyland
Phil Garner
Ned Yost
Mike Scioscia
Tommy Lasorda
Jack McKeon
Harvey Kuenn
Tom Kelly
Terry Collins
Joe Girardi
Tony LaRussa
Charlie Manuel
Chuck Tanner
Bruce Bochy
Bruce Bochy
Mike Matheny
Joe Maddon
Ron Washington
Cito Gaston

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