Yankees and the AL East: 25 years as baseball’s best division

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

Yankees and the AL East have spent the last quarter century as basball’s best division. And the boys from the Bronx have been the best of the bunch.

The 2017 Yankees have an excellent chance of making the playoffs, and doing damage if they do, while the Red Sox are one of the post season favorites. There is even a chance the Tampa Bay Rays will win the second wild card spot. That would put three teams from this one division in the playoffs.

That’s nothing new for baseball’s best division: The American League Beast. This division has earned that moniker for the years 1992-2016 by consistently winning the most games during the regular season, and the most championships in the post.

Baseball is All About the Numbers

The AL East has placed 42 teams in the AL playoffs during that run, out of a total of 101 opportunities. Next closest is the NL East, which has had 35 qualifiers in that league’s 101 opportunities. That’s a drop from 42 percent to 34.

And the success rate once in the playoffs paints a more powerful picture. The Yankees and the AL East have been responsible for 25 of the 48 teams that have made the ALCS, more than half the combatants. Once again the NL East is second with 17 in their NLCS.

Staying in second to the Beast, the NL East has sent eleven teams to the previous 24 WS, while the AL Eastern Division has sent 13. Still, not a great disparity.

No, it is the winning of championships that shows the chasm between the AL East and all other divisions: Their teams have won ten of the previous 24 World Series championships. As expected, the next closest is the NL East. And how many have they won, this second best division? Four.

Winning is Everything

Adding to all of this is that ten of the thirteen times an AL East team went to the WS, it won. But the NL East teams could only win four out of their eleven opportunities.

It also means the AL East has won 42 percent of all the MLB championships since 1992, while the next best showing is 16 percent. That’s domination of an entire sport.

And the Yankees have been the best of the lot. That’s all a bit dry, but it sets us up for more interesting reading (or at least that’s the hope).

One more note before moving on, though: this article is about winning consistently over the entire time span. Although the NL East is deservedly second on this list, it bears pointing out that the vast majority of its success is due to the Atlanta Braves.

And their glory days ended several years ago, as did most of the success of this division.

That division has sent only thirteen teams to the playoffs in the last decade (2007-2016), out of a possible 45, and made the WS just three times. The last team from this division to win it all was the Phillies, way back in 2008. And the next year that same team was beaten by the Yankees.

That takes care of the overview. But before we can get on to looking at how each AL Beast team has contributed to the greater good, there are some methodology matters that need to be explained.