There's an interesting expression out there that I like to use when talking about baseball: "the balance of power has shifted..." Maybe it's because I'm an international politics nerd as well as a baseball nerd, but I like tracking the strengths of the divisions.
In 2004, the general consensus was that the AL Central was the weakest division in baseball. The West and East were the stronger ones. But which was stronger? Here's some numbers:
The AL East went 179-163 against teams from the AL Central and AL West. Against the AL West, they went 87-86, which is essentially a toss-up. Against the AL Central, however, the AL East was dominant, winning 92 and losing only 77.
The best overall winning percentage in out-of-division games, however, goes to the AL West, which went 183-162 against the Central and East, for a .530 winning percentage.
The Central's record against its counterpart divisions, then, was an abysmal 152-189, for a .446 winning percentage.
So, in this case, the AL's balance of power was "bipolar," where the West and East fought for league-wide supremacy. Interestingly, the East was far more top-heavy. The Yankees and Red Sox went 83-53 against the non-East teams, and the rest of the AL East went 96-110. Amazingly, these 3 teams still outperformed the AL Central in winning percentage against the other divisions, with a .466 winning percentage.
The balance of power has shifted this year, I think. I think it's a bit too early to take a look at those records, but I will look at them at the end of the month. I suspect that the West will be down and the Central will be up in the "balance of power" in the American League.
Realpolitik at its finest.