The BEAST that is the AL East

Zim and Longo are amused. - J. Meric

It's close quarters in the standings, and doesn't look to be letting up any time soon.

No one can call the AL East boring this season, as all five teams are currently above .500:

W-L

PCT

GB

WCGB

L10

STRK

HOME

ROAD

Red Sox

45-33

.577

-

-

4-6

L2

23-15

22-18

Yankees

41-34

.547

2.5

-

4-6

L1

22-16

19-18

Orioles

42-35

.545

2.5

-

4-6

L4

20-16

22-19

Rays

40-37

.519

4.5

2.0

5-5

W2

22-16

18-21

Blue Jays

38-37

.507

5.5

3.0

9-1

L1

22-17

16-20

The last time this occurred this late in a season? 2012, but here's the difference:

After 74 games last season, the Rays were in third place in the AL East, but a full game farther back than they are today at 5.5 games back.

For context, the Yankees were leading the division, Baltimore was 4.0 games back in second place, the Red Sox in fourth at 6.5 games back, and the Blue Jays had the exact same record as today, 7.5 games back.

In the last 15 years, the AL East has proven to be the toughest division in baseball. The Yankees won the division by 22 games in 1998, but since then, the division champion has only won by more than 10 games twice (in 2001 and 2002). Nine times now, the winner of the AL East was decided by only five games or fewer.

Context is Everything

It's tight within the division, but how are the teams faring against the rest of the American League, and majors as a whole?

EAST

CENT

WEST

INTR

Boston

20-14

13-11

10-6

2-2

New York

18-13

10-3

8-11

5-7

Baltimore

17-18

9-7

11-6

5-4

Tampa Bay

19-23

8-11

4-2

9-1

Toronto

15-21

7-8

7-3

9-5

Out of the 30 teams in the majors, the AL East teams currently rank in the Win-Loss record like so:

Boston - 5th
New York - 10th
Baltimore - 11th
Tampa Bay - 13th
Toronto - 14th

Offensively, four of the five AL East teams rank in the top 10 in Runs Scored:

Boston - 1st
Baltimore - 2nd
Tampa Bay - 6th
Toronto - 9th
New York - 21st

Pitching is proving to be a bit less impressive, with none of the AL East teams even making it into the top 10 for ERA:

New York - 11th
Boston - 15th
Toronto - 21st
Tampa Bay - 26th
Baltimore - 29th

Other divisions...

The only other division that is even seeing some of the same close competition division wide is the NL Central, with St. Louis at 47-29, Pittsburgh at 46-30 and Cincinnati at 45-32 -- but the Cubs and Brewers round out the division both a whopping 15 games back.

The Cardinals, Pirates and Reds also lead with the three best records in the majors.

The NL West has some tight quarters with Arizona leading the division, San Diego and Colorado both 3 games back, and San Francisco only 3.5; but the Dodgers remain 8 back.

Despite both the NL Central and NL West, no other division has more than three teams with winning records this season -- except the AL East.

From a Trop-eyed view

With their current record, the Rays would rank 3rd in the AL Central, 3rd in the AL West, 2nd in the NL East, and 2nd in the NL West.

As seen in the chart above, the Rays are 19-23 against all AL East teams, with eleven of those losses being decided in the ninth inning or later; and they are 21-14 when playing all other teams outside the division.

It's been a difficult week, but the Rays have a chance to respond after going 4-5 in Fenway Park and Yankee Stadium last week. The Rays play 15 of their next 19 games before the All Star break at home, with the Blue Jays and Tigers being the only two teams who currently have winning records.

Immediately after All Star break, on the other hand, the Rays embark on another AL East road trip, where they'll face the Blue Jays, Red Sox and Yankees over ten games; guaranteeing another intense stretch of division rivalry.

It's not over till it's over

Inspired by the current AL East standings, the SweetSpot browsed the history books, and provided a look at some of the craziest multi-team races of the division era, highlighting the 1972 AL East, 1973 NL East, 1980 NL East and the wild-card era years of 2007 in the NL East and NL West, 2005 NL East and 2004 AL West.

Only one team will win the division, but the 2013 AL East could become the first AL division since 1993 to see the top four teams finish the season within 10 games of each other.

In the grand scheme of things, it's only June 25th. There's still a lot of baseball left.

A long story short: It's still anyone's division.

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