AL Central is the worst division in baseball: It’s what makes the Detroit Tigers exciting

Detroit Free Press

The Detroit Tigers will take the field at Comerica Park on Friday night against with the Seattle Mariners in second place in the American League Central and just three games back of the Minnesota Twins.

And while the Tigers (17-19) have won three straight series, including a sweep of the New York Mets, the primary reason Detroit is three games out of first place is because of the division itself.

The AL Central is the worst division in baseball and it’s not particularly close — at least as of mid-May. Let’s take a look at why:

It starts with the bats, or lack thereof

It’s no secret the Tigers have struggled to score this year, especially with runners in scoring position. However, they’re not alone in their division. The Tigers are batting .213 in those RBI opportunities in 2023, which is 28th in the MLB, but the Kansas City Royals (.235) and the Cleveland Guardians (.241) are also among the bottom eight teams in the league in that category.

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The Tigers (30) and Guardians (19) are also in the bottom four in home runs.

The AL Central is last in the MLB in total runs scored by a pretty wide margin. As of May 10, the division had scored 739 runs, with the NL East being the next closest at 795.

At the top, it’s even more jarring. The AL East, the best division in baseball and the only one with all five teams over .500, has been an absolute smash fest (which Tigers fans are well aware of). The AL East has scored 985 runs for an average of 5.24 runs scored per game. Compare that to the measly 3.97 from the AL Central, and it’s easy to see why the division also has a wins advantage of 117-78.

Please, no more games against the AL East

The Tigers are below .500, in part, because of their opponents so far this season which featured, you guessed it, a lot of teams from the AL East.

The Tigers have played 16 of their 36 games against the AL East, including seven against the Baltimore Orioles, and are a putrid 2-14. That means against divisions that aren’t the AL East, the Tigers are 15-5. Not too bad.

The other good news for Tigers fans? They don’t play a team from the AL East again until the Toronto Blue Jays visit Comerica Park on July 7.

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The Tigers aren’t the only team in the division who have struggled against the dominant AL East this year. None of the five teams in the AL Central are above .500 against teams from the AL East, including the Chicago White Sox who are 2-11 against them.

We’re all the same and we’re all different

The Tigers have far from a perfect roster. They’re definitely missing some fire power at the plate and could use some more consistent bats. But so could the rest of their division and in baseball, that’s all that matters.

After taking two of three from the Guardians in Cleveland this week, the Tigers are in the race for the AL Central. Their biggest weakness, hitting and driving in runs with guys on base, is shared by much of their competition.

It might just be enough for the Tigers to compete.

Here’s a breakdown of every division’s offensive stats through May 10:

AL East

Wins: 117

Runs: 985

Average runs per game: 5.24

AL Central

Wins: 78

Runs: 739

Average runs per game: 3.97

AL West

Wins: 87

Runs: 887

Average runs per game: 4.77

NL East

Wins: 96

Runs: 795

Average runs per game: 4.27

NL Central

Wins: 87

Runs: 834

Average runs per game: 4.48

NL West

Wins: 94

Runs: 878

Average runs per game: 4.72

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