AL East leads early divisional rankings

With three teams each finishing at least 16 games above .500, the American League West was the strongest division in 2012 according to the ESPN Stats & Information MLB Division Power Rankings.

And although it’s only one month into the season, the AL West is looking up at the five other divisions in the first edition of the 2013 rankings.

Each month during the season, ESPN Stats & Information will look at how the divisions stack up against each other to determine which one is the best … and the worst.

The formula used is made up of four variables that measure team and divisional strength: ESPN.com power rankings, non-divisional win percentage, strength of schedule and individual player rankings.

Power Rankings For April

Based on the four variables, each team receives a score from 4 to 120 (1-30 for each variable). The total score of each team in a division is added together then divided by five, which is the number of teams in a division.

And right now, the American League East is first the rankings thanks to hot starts by the Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees and Baltimore Orioles. The perceived demise of the AL East has not yet been realized; four of its five teams rank in the top 16 of the most recent ESPN.com power rankings.

The AL East ranks first in all four categories measured by the divisional rankings, including the player rater.

The division has the top-ranked hitter in Baltimore’s Chris Davis, and the second-ranked pitcher in Boston’s Clay Buchholz.

The NL West is second, 12.4 points behind the AL East. The Colorado Rockies are off to a hot start with their bats. They scored 141 runs in April, the most of any National League team. As a result, the Rockies have five batters ranked in the top 30 of ESPN’s batting player rater, by far the most of any team.

As for the AL West, the addition of the Houston Astros and the early season struggles of Los Angeles Angels and Seattle Mariners have the division in last place in the divisional rankings. In April, the AL West went a combined 18-30 (.375 win percentage) in games outside of the division, by far the lowest win percentage of any division.

Since the season is still young, expect the ratings to drastically change in the next month. Look for inter-divisional matchups between the Braves and Reds, Yankees and Rockies, and Tigers and Rangers to impact the May rankings.