What is the Most Competitive Division in Baseball?

This is a pretty close call be between the AL East and the NL East. There are a lot similarities between these two divisions. Both divisions have been won year in and year out by the same team (Yankees and Braves). In the last two years the wild card team from each division has gone on to win the World Series (Marlins and Red Sox). Here are the standings for each division:

AL East
1. Baltimore 31-19
2. New York 27-23
3. Boston 27-23
4. Toronto 27-23
5. Tampa Bay 19-32

NL East
1. Atlanta 28-22
2. Florida 27-21
3. New York 26-25
4. Washington 26-25
5. Philadelphia 24-27

What surprises me the most about these standings, besides Baltimore's first place standing, is how well Toronto and Washington are doing in their respective divisions. Who would have guessed that Toronto would have the same record as New York and Boston at this point in the season? They lose their best player, Carlos Delgado, in the off-season and they have guys like Shea Hillenbrand, Eric Hinske and Roy Halladay carrying the team.

Additionally, it appears all the Expos/Nationals needed was a change of scenery. Well that and not having to fly 3,000 miles for a home game. The Nats have some talented young guys (i.e. Jose Guillen) and are getting outstanding play from their veterans (I'm talking about you Vinny Castilla).

Right now, the NL East gets the nod, barely, as the more competitive division. And that's mostly because the fifth best team in the NL East (Philadelphia) is better than the 5th best team in the AL East (Tampa Bay). But I think the AL East will become more competitive as the season rolls on. Since the AL wild card is gonna come out of the Central or West divisions the teams in the AL East are gonna be in a dog fight for the top spot for the next couple of months. There's really no telling which team, Baltimore, Boston or New York will end up with the pennant.

The teams in the NL East don't have the same kind of pressure on them to win the pennant. The second best team in the NL East has a better chance of winning the wild card (of course San Diego's recent rise could potentially throw a monkey wrench in this idea). Any way, I think it's a safe bet to say that Atlanta and Florida will be competing for the NL East pennant at the end of the season but that which ever team finishes in second place will still get in the playoffs. I don't see the other teams in the NL East competing with Atlanta and Florida after the All Star break. It will be interesting to check out the standings for each division in another couple of months.

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