It seems like the majority of people generally accept that the AL East is the best and/or toughest division in baseball, and rightfully so in most seasons. Not this year, however, as the combined division standings show:
W L W%
AL West 322 268 .546
AL East 378 357 .514
NL East 380 359 .514
NL West 363 374 .493
NL Central 422 464 .476
AL Central 347 390 .471
Not only does the AL West have by far the best record of any division, it has three teams with 80-plus wins already despite only having four teams, period. Texas leads the league with 87 wins, Oakland ranks second with 84 wins, and third-place Los Angeles has the same number of wins (81) as first-place Chicago does over in the AL Central. As a division the AL West has a .555 winning percentage against the other AL teams and a .611 winning percentage against NL teams.
It’s pretty amazing that the NL Central avoids having the worst combined record considering the Astros are 48-100 and a full 10 games worse than any other team in baseball. Having a total of six teams certainly helps dilute the Astros’ impact, but mostly it’s a testament to just how underwhelming the AL Central has been … again. As a division the AL Central has a .449 winning percentage against the other AL teams and they went just .500 against NL teams despite the other two AL divisions getting fat off interleague play.
Update (7:01 PM EDT): David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports the deal has been completed.
ESPN’s Keith Law reported on Saturday evening that a bad contract swap involving the Braves’ Hector Olivera and the Padres’ Matt Kemp was “getting close.” Olivera has been pulled off the field, per Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY. Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that only a last-second medical would kill the deal at this point, and that the Padres will be sending money to the Braves.
Kemp, 31, will have $64.5 million remaining on his contract through 2019 after this season, but the Dodgers will pay $3.5 million annually over those remaining three years, so the $64.5 million is really $54 million. The veteran has compiled a .262/.285/.489 triple-slash line with 23 home runs and 69 RBI in 431 plate appearances for the Padres this season.
Olivera, 31, will have $28.5 million remaining on his contract through 2020 after this season. The outfielder was handed an 82-game suspension, beginning on May 26, for his involvement in a domestic dispute on April 13. The suspension is up on August 2. He has a .501 OPS in 21 major league at-bats this season and a .278 OPS in 37 PA at Triple-A.
Dennis Lin of the San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the Padres will consider designating Olivera for assignment. The trade is all about the salary dump for the Padres, as they’d rather give outfield playing time to prospects Hunter Renfroe and Manuel Margot.
The Athletics and Royals swapped outfielders on Saturday. The Athletics sent Billy Burns to Kansas City and the Royals sent Brett Eibner to Oakland.
Burns, 26, doesn’t provide much in the way of offense, but he runs the bases well and plays solid defense. He was hitting .234/.270/.303 with 11 doubles, four triples, and 14 stolen bases in 274 plate appearances.
Eibner, 27, was batting .231/.286/.423 with three home runs and 10 RBI in 85 plate appearances. He has spent most of the season with Triple-A Omaha, where he’s put up a .902 OPS in 219 PA. Eibner played the outfield corners in the majors, but racked up a ton of time playing center in the minors, so his versatility will be valuable to the A’s.
Burns will become eligible for arbitration for the first time after the 2017 season while Eibner has hardly accrued any service time, which might explain part of the motivation behind the trade for the small-market Athletics.