The under-the-radar rule change that has the AL East dominating baseball
- Covers MLB for ESPN.com
- Former deputy editor of Page 2
- Been with ESPN.com since 1995
MLB looks a lot different in 2023. The average game time has decreased 27 minutes. Stolen bases have increased 37%. Batting average is up four points. For the most part, the rule changes have worked as intended, with a faster pace and more action on the bases.
The most impactful change, however, has been the one least discussed: the new schedule, which has each team playing the other 29 in at least one series a season for the first time in MLB history. The biggest lesson so far from the schedule? The American League East is absolutely destroying the competition, with all five teams over .500.
Check the out-of-division record for each division (through Saturday):
AL East: 92-44 (.676)
NL East: 72-69 (.511)
NL West: 63-64 (.496)
NL Central: 73-80 (.477)
AL West: 60-70 (.462)
AL Central: 57-90 (.388)
The entire AL East, when not playing one another, is playing at a 110-win pace over 162 games. Pretty incredible, although maybe we shouldn’t be surprised. Last season, the AL East was 248-182 against non-division teams, a 93-win pace. Even the Boston Red Sox, who finished 78-84, were 52-34 when not playing their division rivals. The change in the schedule from 19 games against division opponents to 13 means 24 additional games outside the division — creating the possibility that, for the first time, every team in the same division finishes over .500.
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