The division no one wants to win

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The Yankees have underachieved so far this season. A number of players have underachieved on an individual level — has anyone other than Boone Logan and Cory Wade exceeded expectations? — and being three games over .500 with a dinky little +14 run differential through 49 games isn’t what we expected. Or at least what I expected. I should stop saying we.

The good news is that no one is running away with the AL East. The Orioles made a cute little run at it for a few weeks but they’ve lost seven of their last nine games and have predictably crashed back to Earth. All five teams are separated by no more than three games in the loss column, so literally any of those teams could be in first place by the end of the week. It’s completely wide open right now.

It’s trendy to say otherwise, but the AL East is the toughest division in baseball. Anyone that claims otherwise is kidding themselves. All five clubs are over .500, have at least a +10 run differential, and have scored more than 200 runs. None of the other five divisions can make even one of those claims*. The O’s and Rays have the best intra-division records, the Blue Jays and Red Sox the worst, and the Yankees are right in the middle at .500. That’s why the division standings are the way they are right now.

At some point the division is going to start to sort itself out. The Orioles and Jays will continue to slide to the back of the pack and that familiar three-team race will again develop at the top. The Yankees haven’t played anything close to their best baseball yet, but they’ve managed to stay right in the AL East hunt. Treading water isn’t going to work forever though, at some point soon they’re going to have to go on a run and create some separation between themselves and everyone else.

* Update: My bad, didn’t realize every NL East team is over .500 as well. Points stands, AL East is still the toughest division.

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  • http://twitter.com/jmhs Jake S

    I think this guy “Derek Jeter” also exceeded expectations.

    • Jonathan

      I knew I’d have to be the first commenter to get this in….I will however add Ibanez to the list.

      • Greg

        I’d like to add Chris Stewart and David Phelps to that list – They’ve been a positive contribution which nobody thought was possible.

        • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

          Chris Stewart has been terrible. I don’t see how anyone can consider him a positive.

          • Gonzo

            His Dr. said he has Rh positive blood.

          • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

            He’s been better than Martin. In his limited time, he’s come through with more clutch hits than Martin on the season. Plus, the two are even defensively. When I read the question posed in the first paragraph of this article, the first guy I thought of was Stewart…which is actually a pretty sad commentary on the Yankees as a whole.

            • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

              Big deal, four well-timed singles — two in one game the Yankees won big — in April mean nothing. He’s got a .244 OBP and he’s second in the AL in passed balls despite being a part-time player. He might be the worst catcher in the league.

        • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls)

          defensively sure, stewart has been what we expected. his offense is somehow worse than we were expecting.

  • Chad Gaudin the Friendly Ghost

    Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention to it, but this is the first year where I felt like the teams in the division were just beating each other up. So far it doesn’t feel like there has been a whipping post in the East.

  • Ted Nelson

    Was pretty similar last season. Orioles were awful in 2010, but otherwise the division has been pretty close on May 30 for the last 5 years.

    2012: http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/date/20120530
    2011: http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/date/20110530
    2010: http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/date/20100530
    2009: http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/date/20090530
    2008: http://espn.go.com/mlb/standings/_/date/20080530

  • Ken

    They need to shave before the game. Show some pride and look good. I’m serious. Don’t people who don’t care end up looking like bums?

  • A.D.

    You know things are screwy when your place in the standings is inversely proportional to your rank in terms of run differential

  • Jerry R

    All five clubs are over .500, have at least a +10 run differential, and have scored more than 200 runs. None of the other five divisions can make even one of those claims.

    *except the NL East

    • gc

      I think the Mets have a negative run differential.

      • Jerry R

        “None of the other five divisions can make even one of those claims.”

        One of those claims would be “All five clubs are over .500″

  • OldYanksFan

    I’d say Grandy has slighly exceeded expectations, and to date, Gritner has.

    • Rainbow Connection (futurely Dummies Playing With Balls)

      gardner has produced .4 WAR thanks to not staying healthy. i dont see how you can make a claim hes exceeded expectations.

    • hogsmog

      By being exceedingly injured?

  • OldYanksFan

    Also, Melky and AJax have WAY eceeded expectations.

  • Jose M. Vazquez..

    While beating up on Oakland which we should do, does not prove we are a good team. Losing to the Angels in their home park does not surprise me because better Yankee teams have had trouble there. What will determine how good this team can be will be the next few games against the Tigers and when they play Boston again. Those are good teams that got off to bad starts. Thus far we have not played too well against our own division and that is where you have to win. Most teams in the East have gotten younger while we have gotten older. That is not a good sign for the future.

    • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

      If we get healthy (other than Mo) and the Sox get healthy the division should straighten out with us on top eventually.

      October is the bigger concern.

      • Dan

        The Sox replacements have actually performed pretty well when you consider how Nava and Ross have performed with Crawford and Ellsbury out, and Byrd hasn’t been too bad either. Their biggest problem was oddly enough their front 3 starters so its more of a matter of if Beckett, Lester and Buchholz can turn it around and the first two have not been that bad. Also, them getting healthy could end up working against them, for example getting Youk back potentially forces Middlebrooks out of the lineup and he had been one of their best hitters.

        • mt

          They can also trade Youk for more help and play Middlebrooks especially since they may not pick up Youk’s option next year.

          Also Bailey comes back – they are already scoring lots of runs even without Crawford and Ellsbury.

          Not sure of Pedroia thumb injury impact – last I heard he was not going on DL.

          • Dan

            Yeah, I didn’t mention Bailey but he is another case of the replacement players doing just fine as Boston has had one of the best bullpens since demoting Melancon and making Aceves their closer.

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      There has to come a time when the statements such as, “The NEXT series (or few series) will determine how good this team is,” come to an end and they just start winning today. I’m tired of hearing about how good the team should be or how the “true tests” are coming up. Also, excuses such as “They always have trouble in Anaheim,” have to stop. The Angels, aside from their starting rotation, are not a very good team.

  • RetroRob

    Eventually, one of the teams in the AL East will go on an extended winning streak and put some distance between the other teams. Be nice if that team was the Yankees.

  • steve s

    For all those comparing 2012 to 1965 perhaps the better comparison is to 1972 (based on the current standings) when 4 teams (in a 6 team East) finished within 6.5 games of the top (Det winning by a half-game because teams ended up not playing any of the cancelled strike games).