Is there room enough in the A.L. East for everyone to win?

The Orioles’ inspired play under Buck Showalter has reignited hopes in Baltimore that the team’s prolonged chase for a winning record can mercifully end sooner rather than later. While the ultimate goal – the dream, really – is to reach the top of the division ladder, playing .500 baseball or better over the course of a full season is the first rung on that climb. After all, it hasn’t happened for 13 consecutive seasons.

But would a .500 record be satisfying for fans if it still left the Birds in last place? It’s entirely possible – though perhaps not probable – that such a thing could happen. 

Only once since Major League Baseball introduced the Central Division in 1994 has every team in a division finished .500 or better. The Washington Nationals finished in last place in the N.L. East in 2005 with an 81-81 record.

The Nationals essentially had as good a chance at winning their division in 2005 as they did at winning the Wild Card. The entire N.L. East was separated by only nine games in the standings that season while the Nationals finished eight games off the Wild Card pace.

On five other occasions there have been divisions where four teams finished .500 or better: the 2000 N.L. West, 2003 N.L. East, 2007 N.L. West, 2008 N.L. Central, and 2008 A.L. East. The Blue Jays (73-72) are chasing a sixth occasion, but the Orioles are making it difficult for them. It seems every division series offers the O’s a chance to play some version of a spoiler role here down the stretch.

Would you be satisfied with a .500 record in 2011 if the Orioles still finished in last place? Vote in the poll on the sidebar.

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Baltimore Orioles


Division Races with four or more teams playing .500 baseball or better

2000 N.L. West
San Francisco Giants       SFG     97     65     .599     —
Los Angeles Dodgers       LAD     86     76     .531     11.0
Arizona Diamondbacks   ARI      85     77     .525     12.0
Colorado Rockies             COL     82     80     .506     15.0
San Diego Padres             SDP     76     86     .469     21.0

2003 N.L. East
Atlanta Braves           ATL     101     61     .623     —
Florida Marlins          FLA        91     71     .562     10.0
Philadelphia Phillies  PHI        86     76     .531     15.0
Montreal Expos         MON     83     79     .512     18.0
New York Mets         NYM     66     95     .410     34.5

2005 N.L. East
Atlanta Braves             ATL         90     72     .556     —
Philadelphia Phillies     PHI         88     74     .543     2.0
Florida Marlins             FLA        83     79     .512     7.0
New York Mets            NYM       83     79     .512     7.0
Washington Nationals WSN        81     81     .500     9.0

2007 N.L. West
Arizona Diamondbacks     ARI      90     72     .556     —
Colorado Rockies               COL     90     73     .552     0.5
San Diego Padres              SDP      89     74     .546     1.5
Los Angeles Dodgers        LAD     82     80     .506     8.0
San Francisco Giants        SFG     71     91     .438     19.0

2008 N.L. Central
Chicago Cubs             CHC       97     64     .602     —
Milwaukee Brewers MIL       90     72     .556     7.5
Houston Astros        HOU       86     75     .534     11.0
St. Louis Cardinals   STL        86     76     .531     11.5
Cincinnati Reds        CIN         74     88     .457     23.5
Pittsburgh Pirates   PIT         67     95     .414     30.5

2008 A.L. East
Tampa Bay Rays      TBR      97      65      .599      —
Boston Red Sox        BOS      95     67     .586     2.0
New York Yankees  NYY     89     73     .549     8.0
Toronto Blue Jays    TOR     86     76     .531     11.0
Baltimore Orioles     BAL      68     93     .422     28.5

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About mptaylor11

Roar from 34, a Baltimore Orioles Blog. Humor. History. Homerism. Since 2006.
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2 Responses to Is there room enough in the A.L. East for everyone to win?

  1. Andy7 says:

    Honestly I can't see it happening. There is way too much competition. It's the toughest division in baseball.

  2. Like you say, it would be a good start. I think the most satisfying aspect of the turnaround under Showalter has been the improved play against division rivals. The new attitude: yes, the teams are good but that's no excuse for rolling over. Maybe being less scared of divsion rivals will also help the team hold onto the young players as they mature.

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