Lopsided Division Races Dominate the 2022 Baseball Season

MLB Jul 05, 2022

As we reach the midway point of the 2022 Major League Baseball regular season, half of the division races appear to be settled.  In fact, no race is close at the moment.  What does this mean for the second half of the baseball season?

The All-Star game is still two weeks away, but we're reaching the midway point of the 2022 MLB regular season.  Most teams have reached the 81-game mark, which means we're now crossing the halfway mark for the season.

Remarkably, half of the division races appear to be settled.  Two divisions includes leaders with double-digit leads in games ahead.  This means it will difficult, if not impossible for many teams to have any shot at winning the division. Thank goodness for the Wild Card, or else MLB would be in worse trouble than it currently is.

Yankees and Astros Dominating the American League

The New York Yankees' (58-22) hot start has captured lots of attention, and rightfully so. This is the best start for any team in 20 years.  At their current pace, the Yankees would win 117 games and likely run away with the AL East crown by more than 20 games.  Right now, the Yanks hold a 13-game lead.  Oh, and stick a fork in Toronto.  The team favoured to win the AL this season is wallowing at 7 games above the .500 mark.  But they've looked nothing like a division contender.

In the AL West, the Houston Astros are making a mockery of the competition. They hold the biggest lead of any team right now, at 13.5 games.  This race is over and done, and none of the AL West also-rans will factor into the Wild Card race at the way they're struggling.

The same may also be said for the very weak AL Central.  Although the lead enjoyed by the surprising Minnesota Twins – at 3.5 games – is closer than the others, who can really get excited by either the Twins or any of the other four teams in this "race?"  The Twins deserve credit but this isn't a team anyone places in the Top 5 (and their postseason history has been disastrous).  Meanwhile the preseason favourite Chicago White Sox have been the biggest disappointment in baseball.

That leaves the AL East bundle of teams – including Boston, Toronto, and Tampa Bay – likely to battle it out for the Wild Card spots.

Mets and Dodgers Appear to be the Class of the National League

The Los Angeles Dodgers (50-29) are up by 4.5 games, but does anyone doubt they'll win the NL West?  This division was forecasted to be one of the toughest in baseball, but aside from a surge by the San Diego Padres – currently in second place – no team looks to be playoff worthy.  The San Francisco Giants look terribly mediocre after a surprise season in 2021.  This is a division certain to be won by the Dodgers.

The NL East is more wide open, and that's because the Atlanta Braves are the reigning champions and we recall what they did last season when nothing was expected of them.  However, the New York Mets (50-30) have been the talk of the NL, currently holding a 3.5-game lead versus the Braves.  What's scary is – the Mets' ace pitcher has been out all season.  However, Jacob deGrom's return now appears to be imminent.  The two-time Cy Young winner will rejoin the team, perhaps giving the Mets the edge they need to eclipse the Dodgers.

In the NL Central, it's Milwaukee and St. Louis battling in a division likely to produce a postseason punching bag for the Dodgers and Mets.  Sorry, but it's hard to get excited about either of these two teams – one of which is certain to win a mediocre division. Hence, in the National League, no race is closer than 3 games at the moment – which makes this division arguably the most "competitive" in baseball, which isn't really saying much.

As for Wild Card races, whichever contenders don't win the NL Central and and NL East  will be serious contenders here, as will likely be the Padres.  That likely means the Mets, Braves, Cardinals, Brewers, Dodgers and Padres make this year's playoffs.  

It's hard to see a surprise team rising in the standings in the second-half of the regular season, but that's certainly happened before.  Just ask the Atlanta Braves last season and the Washington Nationals a few years ago.