Extremes in the AL and utter mediocrity in the NL after one third of the 2023 season. Do you believe the MLB standings? We expect turmoil to come.
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Memorial Day weekend stands as the first checkpoint of the MLB season, and boy is this year interesting. It comes roughly one third of the way through and offers us a glimmer of what could be real. We have a large enough sample banked to make conclusions about where teams stand, where they’re going, and what is real. Supposedly, because nothing about the MLB Standings has been predictable thus far.
The standings today are no guarantee of any type of finish, but it’s enough to make some readings, begging the obvious question. Do you believe what has happened thus far?
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The first thing that jumps out is the unreal dominance of the AL East. We thought someone would tail off by now, and no one has. All five teams remain over .500 on the year, and the worst team in this division (the 28-26 Toronto Blue Jays) would be in first place in the AL Central and second place in both the NL East and NL Central as of May 29th.
Shenanigans exist deep down in the doldrums of the league as well, because Oakland is setting records for futility. The American League is a brawl amongst winning teams, while the National League is full of mediocrity. Turmoil is coming, so what do you believe?
MLB Standings Autopsy
Todd Salem: No One Is Catching Tampa Bay
Take a hard look at Toronto. The Blue Jays are, despite their reasonably solid start, already 10.5 games out of first place. It is just an insane amount of games to expect a team that is already winning more games than it’s losing to make up. There is hardly any wiggle room. As the season progresses, the lack of talent in the starting rotations of Baltimore and Boston, and the injuries to the Yankees’, could lead to swoons. Tampa has also suffered an insane amount of serious pitching injuries, but it hasn’t seemed to matter. Will anything catch up with this club?
With that said, there aren’t very many good teams in the rest of the American League to overtake wildcard positions. Right now, Houston has one wildcard spot, and it feels almost guaranteed that the East will claim the other two. If forced to choose OVER or UNDER three playoff teams for the East this year, which way do you go? I would lean under just because that feels more likely than 80 percent of the division topping the Astros. The under would require a steady push from Seattle, which isn’t unrealistic either.
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On the other end of the standings, we are witnessing historic ineptitude out of Oakland and Kansas City. The Athletics are so bad that the Royals being 22 games under .500 with a -76 run differential in two months is unworthy of mentioning. The A’s could set the league’s all-time record for most losses and worst run differential in a season. One goes with the other, but it is still uncanny.
The National League feels completely pedestrian with the craziness at either end of the AL standings. The Mets and Phillies are underachieving, but not enough to be interesting or enough to write them off in the playoff hunt. The biggest story instead is in the West and is either Arizona if you’re feeling positive, or San Diego if you’re feeling negative.
Arizona feels like Baltimore-lite to me. The Diamondbacks haven’t been as good as Baltimore, but I could see a similar swoon coming considering the lack of starting pitching depth. Zac Gallen is better than anyone on the Orioles, but the rest of the team’s options are worse. Both teams’ bullpens have been stellar in response, but how long can that last?
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The real intrigue comes in San Diego. This was supposed to be the best team in baseball, or at least in the discussion. They spent money to become the best team in baseball. They addressed all their holes. Nothing has worked out as planned. The offense is atrocious despite having four all-stars in the everyday lineup. The team’s best starting pitcher in a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Joe Musgrove, and Blake Snell has been Michael Wacha.
Of the three big NL bummers in New York, Philadelphia, and San Diego, none are too far out of the playoff picture despite also being near the very bottom of the league. As I said, everything is more relaxed in the NL thus far. Of those three, how many do you have making the postseason? Even if none vie for a division title, all three could grab wildcard spots, and I actually think at least two will. It will take a climb, but the talent is here to make up lots of ground in the remaining four months.
Dan Salem: Turmoil Awaits
Surges and swoons are coming, because they always do right before and right after the All-star break. What isn’t changing is how bad the Athletics and Royals are. I expect one more team to join their ineptitude, but nothing will stop them both from digging a deeper and deeper hole. The worst team in the National League is currently only five games out of a wildcard spot. Oakland and Kansas City will never even sniff that level of contention this season. If there’s something tangible you can tank for in baseball, I hope they are doing it.
All six of our division leaders are unlikely to change, even though Milwaukee is hanging on by a thread in the NL Central and no one truly believes the Rangers are THIS good in the AL Central. Something tells me Houston gets bumped from the playoffs this season by either Boston, Seattle, or Anaheim. I’m calling a push in terms of AL East playoff teams, because I believe three get in. One other team will keep the final wildcard from the fourth place AL East team, but it won’t be Houston.
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Not a single team in the National League is very far out of playoff contention, but only a handful are sporting a run differential that speaks to season-long success. It’s much the same as last year, where a majority of the AL held positive run differentials for most of the season, but most of the NL was in the negative. Two of the worst National League teams have a positive differential, Chicago and St. Louis, but only four other teams hold one. I expect a ton of turnover in the standings, with the exception of Los Angeles and Atlanta.
Do we believe the Rays and Rangers are truly World Series favorites? They are easily the top two teams in the league and both have insane run differentials (Rays +119 and Rangers +128). I don’t think so, simply because this level of dominance has proven itself unsustainable in recent years. Both will compete in the playoffs, but something has to give sooner than later. The American League competition is too strong and the season is too long. I’m excited for our trade deadline check-in, because I’d be shocked if things aren’t very different. Maybe not in playoff seeding, but in the top to bottom standings for sure.
Meet our Writers:
Dan Salem is Lead Editor, Writer, and Co-owner of BuzzChomp. He’s a published author, as well as an award winning Actor, Director and Producer. Visit M Square Productions for his film work, or get lost in his old-school comedy on Pillow Talk TV. You can follow him on Twitter and Instagram.
Todd Salem is a Staff Writer and Contributing Editor at BuzzChomp. He’s also a fantasy football and fantasy baseball Staff Writer for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter or comment below for his unfiltered opinions.
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