Long seen as the toughest division in MLB with the two biggest franchises in the sport, you'd be forgiven for thinking that its this years worst and least competitive with Boston already amassing a ten game lead on the second place Yankees. However, if we look at whats going on behind the scenes we will see how a lot of factors have gone into making this division such a debacle.
Of course the main issue has been injuries.
We all know about the problems the Yankees have had in the rotation which has resulted in eleven different guys starting games for the side. In fact only Andy Pettitte has been ever present in the rotation since opening day and even with the resources the Yankees have, no team can expect to be consistent with that kind of turnover. Even guys like Wang and Mussina haven't been able to get settled into the season yet and they were seen as the stable elements of the staff going into the year.
Then we have the obvious dark horse in the division in Toronto who are missing three of their top starters including one of the best in baseball (Roy Halladay), their leadoff man (Reed Johnson), the principal catcher (Greg Zaun) and their ace closer BJ Ryan. So that's their most important starter, their most important bullpen guy, their leader in the field and the sparkplug of the order. Who'd have thought that would dampen a teams season?
Even the Orioles, who got off to such a hot start, have suddenly tappered off. They shot out of the gates on the back of a very good rotation and then they lost Jaret Wright (not necessarily a big loss) and Adam Loewen (now he is a big loss) and what was a very good rotation has become a rotation with a couple of good guys and a bunch of who?
Much was made of Tampa's new influx of young talent and even with Elijah Dukes subbing for Baldelli, that's still one of the best outfields in baseball. But the DRays are still the DRays and a contender for the worst record in the AL. Its also fun to look at the depth charts on MLB.com and see that the primary first baseman, second baseman and shortstop are all BJ 'E6' Upton since Iwamura went on the DL.
Thus far the BoSox have only recently picked up their first injury to an impact guy with the inevitable spell on the DL by Josh Beckett (is he their new Pedro?) and we're all still waiting for the injuries to Drew and Papelbon and Dice-K's inevitable fatigue down the stretch.
In these days of the ridiculous unbalanced schedule (how they can justify that in the days of the Wild Card is beyond me) should we be surprised that Boston are winning so many games now? They already had a very talented roster and then you handicap all the half decent teams they have to play the majority of their games against and it's going to happen. Imagine how happy Detroit would be if Santana, Ortiz, Sabathia, Carmona, Westbrook, Pierzynski, Podsednik, Buerhle and Jenks all went down?
I still say it's early and I still think the Yankees will make a race of it come September but all you people who look at Boston with those league leading 31 wins and are saying they'll win the World Series, get ready for some disappointment. To say they have a lot of things going their way is an understatement.