Sports Stats ‘on Tapp’ is a sports statistics blog published multiple times weekly focusing on stats that go beyond the numbers.
Take a look at the standings today and you’ll see a few surprises: Baltimore, not expected to make much noise in the A.L. East, has a two-game lead in that division. The Cleveland Indians are three games up in the A.L. Central. Not surprising is the Texas Rangers’ five-game lead in the A.L. West.
Over in the National League, the Braves and Nationals are 1-2 in the East. The Cardinals, even after losing Albert Pujols, sit atop the Central, and the Dodgers have the biggest division lead, six games over the Giants.
The other surprise is last year’s division champs. As previously mentioned, the Rangers continue their solid play. But take a look at the other five defending division champs: The Yankees are 21-18, but are currently in fourth place in the A.L. East; Detroit has a losing record at 19-20, although they are in second in the A.L. Central; Arizona is 18-22 and third in the N.L. West; Philadelphia has a winning record at 21-19, but they are last in their division; and the Milwaukee Brewers, winners of the N.L. Central last season, are off to a horrible start. They Brewers are 16-23 and in fifth place in the division.
Since 1994 when Major League Baseball went to three divisions in each league, 46 teams repeated as division champs the following year, just under 50 percent of the time. Of the teams that won their division since ’94, 21 of them were under .500 the following season, and 35 dropped from first place to third place or lower the following season.
Here’s a look at the teams since 1994 that won the division title and then saw their winning percentage drop the most the following season.
Win pct drop, Team, Year of Division title, win pct that year/win pct next year
.191 Montreal, 1994, .649/.458
.191 Minnesota, 2010, .580/.389
.155 Houston, 1999, .599/.444
.149 San Diego, 1998, .605/.457
.148 Texas, 1999, .586/.438
.142 Seattle, 2001, .716/.574
.136 Los Angeles Dodgers, 2004, .574/.438
.121 Chicago White Sox, 1994, .593/.472
.117 Baltimore, 1997, .605/.488
Six franchises have not won a division title since 1994. They are:
* Colorado: Has won the Wild Card three times
* Kansas City: Came in second in 1995
* Florida/Miami: Won the Wild Card twice; won the World Series both of those years.
* Toronto: Finished second in 2006
* Montreal/Washington: Finished second in 2002.
Did you know? Since 1994, the New York Yankees have won 13 A.L. East titles. They have never dropped lower than second place the year after winning a division championship.
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