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MLB’s Worst Division Has Most Teams With Winning Records

RFor years, the AL Central has been Baseball’s worst division, but in 2024, it is the only division with four teams above a .500 winning percentage. Every team except for the historically bad White Sox has more wins than losses, better than even the AL East which boasts five playoff contending teams. It’s a far cry from the 2023 division, which only produced one team above .500, and even the 87-75 Minnesota Twins had the seventh-best record in the AL.

The 2024 AL Central

The Cleveland Guardians are tied for the league’s best record at 19-10 with the Baltimore Orioles. Then there’s a trio of teams with 13 losses after the Guardians with the Kansas City Royals, Detroit Tigers, and Twins. They have 18, 17, and 16 wins, respectively. The Central combined has a winning record against the Al East and Al West, even counting the abysmal White Sox. Against the AL East, the Central has a 17-16 record at the start of May. If you remove games against the Orioles from that equation, the Central is 15-7 against the East.  The AL Central has a losing record in interleague play with a 9-17 record against the NL, but removing the White Sox from the total is much closer at 8-10.

The strength of schedule has been an array so far for the Central. According to Power Rankings Guru, the White Sox have had the third hardest schedule, while the Twins have had the third most manageable schedule. The Guardians have had the 11th hardest schedule, the Twins have the 20th hardest, and the Royals have the 23rd. White Sox have had the fifth hardest schedule remaining, while the Guardians have the fifth easiest schedule. The Tigers have the 12th hardest schedule, the Royals 13th, and the Twins 18th.

AL Central Recent Struggles

In 2023, the AL Central was the only division in the MLB without two teams that finished with winning records. It was the same story in 2022 and 2021. If you remove the shortened season in 2020 with the expanded playoff field, the Central hasn’t sent two teams to the playoffs since 2017.

The AL Central had a league-worst .441 winning percentage in 2023 and was narrowly edged out by the NL Central for the worst winning percentage in 2022 with a .471 winning percentage.

What’s Causing The Divisions Success?

The four winning teams in the AL Central have come about it in different ways. Three of the teams are doing so through pitching, with the Tigers, Royals, and Guardians at fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, in lowest team ERA. Meanwhile, the division-leading Guardians have the fifth most runs in the league. The Twins are middle of the pack in both metrics, sitting at 15th in the league in both ERA and runs.

Led by sensation Tarik Skubal, the Tigers have been the most dazzling on the mound. According to Baseball Savant, they have the second-lowest WHIP in the league at 1.10 and the third-lowest hard-hit percentage at 36 percent. The Tigers’ pitching staff is also getting batters to chase at the highest rate in the league, with 31 percent of pitches out of the zone drawing swings. The Guardians have the highest OBP in the division with a .321 average, the ninth-best in the MLB and third-best in the AL.

The Royals and Guardians are winning with young talent. The Guardians have the lowest average age of any team in the MLB, and the Tigers have the fifth youngest team. It’s a sign that prospect trading and high draft picks are paying off for the teams.

Main Photo Credits: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports


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