Given the assorted other advances in the game, it’s a little weird we’re still talking about divisions. Divisions have been there all along, so it’s not like they’re some unusual concept, but a perfectly balanced version of baseball doesn’t have them. It’s because of the divisional structure that we had the Cubs and the Pirates forced into a wild-card showdown despite finishing second and third in the National League standings. There’s a good argument to be made that divisions should be completely abolished.
But, you know, that’s not on the horizon. Divisions are presumably here for a while. There are practical considerations that get in the way of idealized baseball. Our reality is one with divisions, and with unbalanced schedules. Sometimes that helps a team, and sometimes that hurts a team. The hope is that in the long run it all evens out.
As long as there are divisions, the makeup of the divisions is going to matter. And as long as there are divisions, they’ll be easy enough to analyze. For example, what follows is a plot of 2015 divisional strength. I thought about doing this in a more advanced way, by, say, folding in WAR or something, but I settled on comfortable simplicity. There are six divisions, yes? In the plot, each division’s overall winning percentage, and also each division’s winning percentage in games against opponents from outside the division. Within, the teams always go .500, by necessity, so that reduces the spread.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.