While there are still a lot of moves to be made in MLB after the lockout is lifted, we are starting to get an idea about the strongest and weakest squads.
Competitive teams make strong divisions.
Some of them, like the National League Central, the NL East, and the American League Central weren’t particularly competitive in 2021, and the situation probably won’t change much in 2022 (with some notable exceptions).
But there are two divisions in particular that will probably go down as the best in baseball when all is said and done.
2. NL West
The up-and-coming AL West division was in consideration for this spot, given the honest effort made by four of its teams to dramatically improve their rosters.
But the NL West had the two best teams in MLB in 2021, and are at least a top-two division.
The Los Angeles Dodgers won 106 games in 2021 and defeated the San Francisco Giants, winners of 107 during the regular season, in the Division Series.
The offseason isn’t over for them and they will surely re-invest some of those saved funds elsewhere.
The Giants, meanwhile, re-signed most of their starting rotation except for Kevin Gausman, who went to Toronto.
The Giants still have a strong team.
Additionally, the San Diego Padres will surely make some noise after the lockout, too, and they will have Mike Clevinger from the start of the season.
In the first couple of months of 2021, they were very good.
Since May 11, the Dodgers, Padres and Giants are 45-15 (.727). The NL West is a beast this year.
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) May 31, 2021
We shouldn’t expect much from the Colorado Rockies or the Arizona Diamondbacks, but the three teams already mentioned should be among the league’s best.
1. AL East
Most of the MLB divisions have two or three teams fighting for a spot in the playoffs.
In the tough AL East, however, there are four clubs that will be vying for a place in the postseason: the Tampa Bay Rays, the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays made the World Series in 2020 and took the division by a mile in 2021, establishing themselves as one of the premier teams in the AL.
The Yankees are perennial contenders and will likely have Luis Severino, a legit Cy Young candidate in 2017 and 2018, back in the rotation.
Boston arrived onto the scene earlier than expected in 2021, and will have Chris Sale, their ace, back for a full season in 2022.
And the Blue Jays lost an ace in Robbie Ray, but added one in Gausman.
They have the best offense in baseball and will surely bring in bullpen reinforcements.
The Baltimore Orioles will likely finish last again, but even then should be improved in 2022, with the expected debut of catcher Adley Rutschman and the consolidation of young offensive pieces such as Cedric Mullins and Ryan Mountcastle.
The AL East is wild. Best division in baseball. pic.twitter.com/VoucbPS7jR
— Jordan Moore (@iJordanMoore) August 27, 2021
The AL East will be, once again, the toughest division in baseball in 2022.