Wild-card race tougher for AL East

Wild-card race tougher for AL East
September 24, 2013, 11:15 pm
Share This Post

With the Orioles limping to the season’s finish line and having taken themselves out of playoff contention, maybe you don’t even want to think about what might have been. But Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal raises a compelling point about how for the Orioles and other American League East teams, it hasn’t been a fair fight when it comes to the wild-card race.

The unbalanced schedule, which means teams play within their division more than outside it, presented the AL East with a bigger challenge this season. The O’s, Rays and Yankees have had to face better teams more often. Among the wild-card contenders, the strength of schedule in the majors broke down like this: Yankees, No. 3; Orioles, 4; Rays, 10; Royals, 11; Indians, 17; Rangers, 26.

“The unbalanced schedule allows the Indians and Royals to play nearly one-fourth of their games against two of the three worst teams in the AL, and the Rangers to play nearly one-fourth against the worst and fourth-worst clubs,” Rosenthal writes.

The Rangers, in particular, have had the decided advantage of playing in the same division as the woeful Astros, and they have gone 16-2 against Houston.

For anyone troubled by this disparity, the question is how to balance the value of the unbalanced schedule. Does it make sense for the Orioles to play the Yankees the same number of times they play the Mariners? There is something to the idea of a division champion needing to play well within its own division.

So, if we’re going to maintain the intradivision competition, maybe we just have to live with the wild-card inequity. For the Orioles, it’s just another factor that makes life in the AL East such a test.