- Paul Swydan, ESPN Insider
A month of baseball is in the books, and we can see some trends starting to emerge now that all teams have played at least 12 percent of their schedules. And just as has been the case the past couple of seasons, the Central divisions are once again bringing up the rear. The question is, which division -- the AL or NL version -- is the worst in the game?
Both divisions make strong cases. For the season, the two easily have the worst average ranking in the ESPN Power Rankings, and this week Central teams occupy five of the bottom 10 spots in the rankings. In terms of average rank, the NL Central ranks slightly worse both this week and for the season, as well (see chart).
Going back to last season though, the AL Central was slightly worse from an objective perspective. Looking at average wins above replacement per division, the AL Central finished last with an average team WAR of 35.5, while the NL Central came in next-to-last at 36.0. That's essentially a negligible difference, but the difference between the AL Central's minus-49.8 run differential was slightly larger than that of the NL Central, which had a minus-36.2 average run differential.
This year has been the same story.
With a new edition of ESPN.com's MLB Power Rankings out, Paul Swydan of FanGraphs measures the strength of baseball's divisions. For the AL and NL Central, a familiar goal still applies -- try not to finish last.