The American League Central is one of the worst divisions in MLB in 2021.
The Chicago White Sox currently have an 11.5-game advantage over the second-place Cleveland Indians.
— MLB bot (@MLBbot2) August 20, 2021
Chicago is the only team in the division with a winning record.
The AL Central is the only division in baseball with just one team (#WhiteSox) owning a winning record.
— Ted (@tlschwerz) August 19, 2021
Needless to say, the White Sox aren’t going to break a sweat the rest of the way.
With more than a month remaining, that’s pretty alarming when evaluating the state of the MLB division.
Sure, Chicago deserves credit for its impressive campaign, but the team has undoubtedly benefited from its weak schedule (which is a product of the weak division).
Sadly, this is a trend for the AL Central.
It seems like something similar almost every year.
Let’s see if we can find some data to back that up.
The Division Winner Usually Wins With Ease
The AL Central is typically a runaway.
Ideally, you’d like to see two or three teams in the mix until the final week of the regular season, but that’s almost never the case in this division.
Let’s take a look at the past few seasons in the AL Central.
For this exercise, we’re going to throw out the COVID-shortened 2020 season.
- 2019: The difference between the top two teams was eight games.
- 2018: The difference between the top two teams was 13 games.
- 2017: The difference between the top two teams was 17 games.
- 2016: The difference between the top two teams was eight games.
- 2015: The difference between the top two teams was 12 games.
Clearly, the AL Central rarely yields a competitive division race.
Excluding the 60-game 2020 campaign, we haven’t seen a tight race in the AL Central since the 2014 season.
That’s a pretty shocking data point.
The AL Central Has Produced Just Two World Series Champions Since Its Inception
MLB shifted to a six-division format in 1994.
That’s when the AL Central was introduced.
Since then, the division has produced just two World Series champions.
The first one came in 2005.
That year, the White Sox went 99-63 in the regular season and ran through the postseason en route to a World Series title.
After that year concluded, the division went 10 years before producing another World Series champion.
The Kansas City Royals ended that drought in 2015 with their second title in franchise history.
They went 95-67 in the regular season before making history in the playoffs.
The Central hasn’t won a World Series since then.
It will be very interesting to see how the White Sox fare in the 2021 postseason.
Is their success merely a product of their division, or are they actually built to contend for a title?
We’re going to get an answer, and when we do, we will likely learn a lot about the rest of the AL Central, too.
The division hopefully has brighter days ahead.
For the sake of the game, fans should hope that another team emerges in 2022 and at least makes the AL Central relatively interesting.
A lot of rebuilding teams in the division have solid foundations in place, so it’s not far-fetched to think that things could change in the near future.
But for now, the White Sox are running the show.
In the upcoming playoffs, they’ll look to win the division’s first World Series title since 2015.