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.

30 SLIDES
Most important player on every MLB team heading into 2017
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
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.

Score:
0/28
Time:
7:00
ARI-2001
Bob Brenly
ATL-1999
Bobby Cox
BAL-1983
Joe Altobelli
BOS-2013
John Farrell
CHC-2016
Joe Maddon
CHW-2005
Ozzie Guillen
CIN-1990
Lou Piniella
CLE-2016
Terry Francona
COL-2007
Clint Hurdle
DET-2012
Jim Leyland
HOU-2005
Phil Garner
KCR-2015
Ned Yost
LAA-2002
Mike Scioscia
LAD-1988
Tommy Lasorda
MIA-2003
Jack McKeon
MIL-1982
Harvey Kuenn
MIN-1991
Tom Kelly
NYM-2015
Terry Collins
NYY-2009
Joe Girardi
OAK-1990
Tony LaRussa
PHI-2009
Charlie Manuel
PIT-1979
Chuck Tanner
SDP-1998
Bruce Bochy
SFG-2014
Bruce Bochy
STL-2013
Mike Matheny
TBR-2008
Joe Maddon
TEX-2011
Ron Washington
TOR-1993
Cito Gaston
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Draymond Green, Kevin Durant: Warriors do not care about having best record

Brian Cushing announces NFL retirement on Instagram

David Price warns JD Martinez that fans in Boston will boo him

Yelich: ‘Everything changed’ for Marlins after Fernandez’s death

NCAA upholds penalties against Louisville related to scandal

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Mattingly fires back at Harper over Marlins criticism

Report: Jets could pay Kirk Cousins $60 million in 2018

Doug Martin released by Buccaneers

Cuban: Losing is Mavs' 'best option' for rest of season

Figure skater Scott Moir jabs Brett Favre with retirement talk

Report: Nets owner backing lawsuit against Russian doping whistleblower

The 'All muscle hamsters go to heaven' quiz

A.J. McCarron might be the best consolation prize in free agency

MLB's top 10 second basemen for 2018

Offseason needs for every NFL team

Donovan Mitchell's limiting nostalgia

Negro Leaguers every baseball fan should know

Top 30 NFL free agents

MLB's top 10 starting pitchers for 2018

Grading the deal: Eric Hosmer finally finds a home with Padres

MLB's top 10 catchers for 2018

The 'James gang walks away with a win' quiz

Sports & Politics Intersect: NBA united against racial divide

MLB News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Yardbarker Privacy Policy and Terms of Service. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Offseason needs for every NFL team

MLB's top 10 second basemen for 2018

The 'All muscle hamsters go to heaven' quiz

A.J. McCarron might be the best consolation prize in free agency

The 'James gang walks away with a win' quiz

Negro Leaguers every baseball fan should know

Top 30 NFL free agents

Sports & Politics Intersect: NBA united against racial divide

The 'Emerald City on ice' quiz

NHL Weekender: Blackhawks, Rangers continue to free fall

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker