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SB Nation Reacts: Division Champions

The D-backs may not have much hope in the West, but they can certainly play their part in other divisions...

MLB: Texas Rangers at Arizona Diamondbacks Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The poll this week was about predicting the division champions, with around 35 games to go. In a lot of cases, this is not particularly hard. In half of the divisions, the leaders are up by five games or more, with the NL East (13.5 games) and NL West (12) considerably more. Those are basically all over bar the shouting, and that’s reflected in the poll results. In some ways, more interesting are the 15% who think the Twins won’t win the AL Central, the 3% who believe the Braves don’t have the NL East locked up, or the 7% who cling to the belief this isn’t - yet again - the Dodgers’ year in the NL West. That includes 3% who reckon the D-backs will triumph. I’ll have what you’re drinking.

But that does leave three divisions where things are not so clear-cut. Firstly, there’s the AL East, where the Orioles are two games up over the Rays. That’s a small gap, but is not reflected in the poll results, where better than four of five people say the Orioles will come out on top. It’s a lot more clear cut than, say, the Fangraph odds. These still favor Baltimore over Tampa, but only by about a 4:3 ratio. Put it this way, if I got 4-1 odds against the Rays winning the division, I think that might be worth a flutter. Still, got to be impressed that these two are fighting it out, especially in such a competitive division as the AL East, with the 28th and 27th-ranked payrolls in baseball.

Those who picked the Rangers might be regretting that choice now. The D-backs played their part in any such buyer’s remorse, sweeping the Rangers in two games at the start of this week. That reduced their division lead to just half a game over the Astros at that point, though Houston has lost twice since to give Texas slightly more breathing room, even as the Rangers have an active six-game losing streak. But considering they had held sole possession of the AL Central lead since May 6, and were as far ahead as 6.5 games on June 23, it’s going to be an increasingly nervy last month for Rangers’ fans. Fangraphs has the Astros as favorites (41.3%), ahead of the Rangers (32.1%) and Mariners (25.8%).

There’s only one NL division with a title race worth discussing, though it’s quite a good one. The Brewers are 3.5 up on both the Cubs and the Reds, and the Diamondbacks have a chance to influence this battle too, as they start a four-game series against the last-named at Chase Field tonight. In this case fans are under-estimating the Brewers’ odds compared to Fangraphs, which has Milwaukee at a 76.2% chance of winning the division. While Chicago and Cincinnati have the same record, the former has more than three times the Fangraph odds, at 18.1% vs. 5.6%. A factor may be that the Brewers have the easiest remaining schedule among the nine NL teams above .500.

Which division race are you following most closely? Here’s a poll, and feel free to tell us why in the comments.


Which division race are you watching most closely?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    AL Central
    (0 votes)
  • 26%
    AL West
    (6 votes)
  • 26%
    NL Central
    (6 votes)
  • 47%
    None of them!
    (11 votes)
23 votes total Vote Now

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