Which divisions are the best and worst in baseball?

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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.

Report: MLB could fine the Angels $2 million for failure to report Tyler Skaggs’ drug use

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T.J. Quinn of ESPN is reporting that Major League Baseball could fine the Los Angeles Angels up to $2 million “if Major League Baseball determines that team employees were told of Tyler Skaggs’ opioid use prior to his July 1 death and didn’t inform the commissioner’s office.”

The fine would be pursuant to the terms of the Joint Drug Agreement which affirmatively requires any team employee who isn’t a player to inform the Commissioner’s Office of “any evidence or reason to believe that a Player … has used, possessed or distributed any substance prohibited” by MLB.

As was reported last weekend, Eric Kay, the Angels Director of Communications, told DEA agents that he and at least one other high-ranking Angels official knew of Skaggs’ opioid use. The Angels have denied any knowledge of Skaggs’ use, and the other then-Angels employee Kay named, current Hall of Fame President Tim Mead deny that he know as well, but Kay’s admission that he knew — he in fact claims he purchased drugs for and did drugs with Skaggs — would, if true, constitute team knowledge. Major League Baseball would, of course, want to make its own determination of whether or not Kay was being truthful when he told DEA agents what his lawyer says he told them.

Which raises the question of why, apart from a strong desire to get in criminal jeopardy for lying to DEA agents, Kay would admit through his lawyer that he lied to DEA agents. Still, the process is the process, so giving MLB a little time here is probably not harming anyone.

As for a $2 million fine? Well, it cuts a number of ways. On the one hand, that’s a lot of money. On the other hand, (a) a man is dead; and (b) $2 million is what the Angels’ DH or center fielder makes in about 11 minutes so how much would such a fine really sting?

On the third hand, my God, what else can be done here? No matter what happened in the case of Skaggs’ death, this is not a situation anyone in either the Commissioner’s Office nor the MLBPA truly contemplated when the JDA was drafted. We live in a world of horrors at times, and by their very nature, horrors involve that which it is not expected and for which there can be no adequate, pre-negotiated remedy. It’s a bad story all around, no matter what happens.

Still, it would be notable for Major League Baseball to fine any team under the “teams must report players they suspect used banned substances” rule. Because, based on what I have heard, knowledge of players who use banned substances — which includes marijuana, cocaine, opioids and other non-PED illegal drugs — and which have not been reported to MLB is both commonplace and considerable.

But that’s a topic for another day. Perhaps tomorrow.