The Red Sox are having an incredible season so far, and currently top the American League with a 45-31 record. That's kind of hard to believe given where they were as a team within the past twelve months, but what really puts this over the top into the realm of unreality is the fact that they're doing this in the AL East.
The East has long been considered one of baseball's best divisions. Even back in the days of Red Sox and Yankee domination, the sheer size of those two giants made the east loom large. Now, though, that dynamic has changed drastically. First to a three-team race in 2008, with departure of the Devil Rays and arrival of the Rays (has a rebranding ever been so perfectly timed?) as a constant threat. The Orioles joined the party last year, and while the Red Sox took a year off, they certainly seem to be back at it now. Add in the Jays with their offseason makeover, and you've got a ridiculously tough division.
"But wait," you might say, "the Jays are horrible!" Well, it looked that way. But nine-game winning streaks can change quite a bit. All-of-a-sudden, the Jays are sitting at 36-36, five games back of a playoff spot, and seven back of the Red Sox.
You may realize that this also means the American League East has no losing teams, at least for this brief moment. The Orioles will look to change that tonight by ending Toronto's streak, but it's worth noting just how ridiculous this is. At the moment, the East isn't just the only division without a losing team, it's the only division without two. The NL Central and West each have a pair, and the other three divisions have three.
Despite that, the Red Sox have the best record in the league, and the Orioles the third. The Yankees would be a half-game back of the Tigers in the Central, and if you removed their games against AL East competition, the Rays' winning percentage would lead five-of-six divisions, the Jays four.
Does something have to give? It seems likely that something will, particularly with the Yankees' recent struggles, but it's possible that the East is simply going to be a division of winning teams. The 2005 NL East was the last division to finish the season without a losing team, and there was a bit more parity in that division than in the present-day East. The best team--the Atlanta Braves--finished with a 90-72 record, while the Red Sox are currently on pace for 96 wins. Still, a look at the division on June 28 reveals a remarkably similar picture to today's AL East.
Unfortunately, it also reveals a first-place Nationals team sitting at first place with a 45-31 record. They would finish the year at 81-81.
Y'know what? Let's stop looking for parallels.*
Read more Red Sox:
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- MLB Draft 2013: Red Sox sign first-round pick Trey Ball
- Jonny Gomes hits walk-off homer, punts helmet
*Actually, let's keep making them. Some post-publishing investigating has revealed those Nats were pretty clearly paper tigers. They'd feasted on a top-heavy AL West while playing fewer games against the NL East than any other NL East team. They also had a -5 run differential at the time. These Sox have played plenty of games against the AL East, second only to the Rays, and have a run differential of +78. So that's nice.