We all know the National League East is a bad division this season, but I didn't realize how bad until reading Joe Sheehan's newsletter this morning. Joe checked the interdivisional record for each division since 2006. The five worst divisions:
2006 NL Central: 210-275, .433
2008 NL West: 195-255, .433
2012 AL Central: 199-251, .442
2007 NL Central: 221-275, .446
2009 AL Central: 201-249, .447
The St. Louis Cardinals won the 2006 NL Central with 83 wins (but went on to win the World Series). The Chicago Cubs won the Central the next year with 85 wins. The Los Angeles Dodgers won the 2008 NL West with 84 wins. The two AL Central winners in 2009 and 2012 also won fewer than 90 games.
Anyway, the 2015 NL East is 155-210 outside the division, a .425 winning percentage. As Sheehan writes,
"This stuff matters because of the way baseball's honors get distributed. Regardless of the strength or weakness of your schedule or your divisional opponents' schedule, the team that finishes atop its division gets into the playoffs. It's not about absolute quality; it's about relative quality to your group. So when a division is very weak -- as the 2015 NL East unquestionably is -- I think it's fair to ask a question like, "Are the Mets actually any good, or are they just less bad than the field?"
This is what I was hinting at Wednesday when discussing the mediocrity of the AL wild-card race and the bad luck of the Pittsburgh Pirates to be in the same division as the Cardinals. Well, the New York Mets or Washington Nationals are going to win the NL East and neither is a very good team. They're not as good as the Cardinals, Pirates or Cubs; they're probably on par with the Arizona Diamondbacks and maybe not even as good as the Milwaukee Brewers, who have a .426 winning percentage in baseball's best division. (The NL Central currently has the fourth-best winning percentage outside the division of any division since 2006.)
Yes, geography can be just as important as constructing the team on the field. That's baseball in 2015.