MLB: A 5-year analysis of each American League club’s 60-game start since 2015

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Tracking their last four 60-game starts (dating back to 2016), Rafael Devers (left) and the Red Sox own stellar averages of 35 victories.

Alright baseball fans, are you ready for a 60-game sprint to Major League Baseball’s postseason, even though the owners and players inexplicably couldn’t agree on an expanded playoff format?

(Instead of 16 total clubs reaching postseason glory, the American and National leagues will stick to their current system of five playoff teams apiece — two wild cards and three division winners.)

Are you ready for an Opening Day of July 23 and 24? (Here’s a link to MLB’s daily schedule.)

Are you willing to sacrifice the major league clocks of your team’s top prospects in the minors, if it means surprise contention for a division crown?

And as fans, how will you react when your favorite team incurs a losing streak of five, six or seven games, believing such a string of defeats could vanquish any playoff hopes in October?

As a means of adjusting to this one-time-only anomaly of playing out merely 37 percent of a standard 162-game campaign, BATSBY Sports offers a five-year capsule review of every American League club since 2015, relative to their 60-game starts from each season:

CLICK HERE FOR THE NATIONAL LEAGUE’S 5-YEAR BREAKDOWN

AL EAST

YANKEES

2015: 33-27
2016: 30-30
2017: 37-23
2018: 41-19
2019: 38-22

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 36-24

RED SOX

2015: 27-33
2016: 35-25
2017: 33-27
2018: 41-19
2019: 31-29

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 33-27

RAYS

2015: 32-28
2016: 28-32
2017: 29-31
2018: 28-32
2019: 37-23

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 31-29

BLUE JAYS

2015: 30-30
2016: 31-29
2017: 29-31
2018: 26-34
2019: 22-38

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 28-32

ORIOLES

2015: 30-30
2016: 36-24
2017: 31-29
2018: 19-41
2019: 19-41

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 27-33

AL CENTRAL

INDIANS

2015: 28-32
2016: 34-26
2017: 31-29
2018: 32-28
2019: 30-30

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 31-29

TWINS

2015: 33-27
2016: 18-42
2017: 32-28
2018: 27-33
2019: 40-20

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 30-30

WHITE SOX

2015: 28-32
2016: 30-30
2017: 26-34
2018: 20-40
2019: 29-31

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 27-33

ROYALS

2015: 35-25
2016: 30-30
2017: 26-34
2018: 21-39
2019: 19-41

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 26-34

TIGERS

2015: 31-29
2016: 30-30
2017: 29-31
2018: 28-32
2019: 23-37

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 28-32

AL WEST

ASTROS

2015: 34-26
2016: 28-32
2017: 42-18
2018: 37-23
2019: 40-20

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 36-24

ATHLETICS

2015: 23-37
2016: 25-35
2017: 26-34
2018: 31-29
2019: 30-30

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 27-33

RANGERS

2015: 31-29
2016: 37-23
2017: 28-32
2018: 24-36
2019: 32-28

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 30-30

ANGELS

2015: 30-30
2016: 26-34
2017: 29-31
2018: 32-28
2019: 29-31

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 29-31

MARINERS

2015: 27-33
2016: 33-27
2017: 30-30
2018: 38-22
2019: 25-35

5-YEAR AVERAGE: 31-29

CUMULATIVE CHAMPS (5-YEAR STUDY)

AL EAST: Yankees
AL CENTRAL: Indians
AL WEST: Astros
WILD CARD #1: Red Sox
WILD CARD #2: Rays vs. Mariners (one-game playoff)

OBSERVATION #1

For those in the gambling mood, bet the proverbial farm on the Astros posting the American League’s best record at season’s end.

Here’s why:

a) The Astros and Yankees notched the highest winning percentage (.600) of the five-year study.

What’s more, Houston was the only AL club to enjoy multiple runs of 40 or more victories through 60 games.

b) Houston tallied an absurdly good 56-20 intra-divisional record last year, including a staggering 18-1 advantage against the Mariners.

c) Remember all the negative media attention thrown the Astros’ way during the March Spring Training, shortly after Major League Baseball’s investigation into possible (OK, likely) cheating in 2017?

Well, since then, the Red Sox and Yankees have been implicated into similarly sticky situations.

Of equal value, America’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic has essentially washed away any lingering feelings of bitterness toward the Houston players and front office.

OBSERVATION #2

The Yankees should also be penciled in as playoff participants, despite residing in a difficult division … and encountering the National League East as Interleague crossover foes (20 games total with the Nationals, Braves, Mets, Phillies, Marlins).

For starters, New York represents the only American League team of the last five years to avoid an under-.500 start to the initial 60 games.

Also, given the somewhat-fortuitous downtime of the Coronavirus shutdown, bankable stars like Gerrit Cole (last season’s Cy Young runner-up — 20-5, 2.50 ERA, 326 Ks), James Paxton (15-6, 3.82 ERA, 186/55 K-BB rate last year), Giancarlo Stanton (97 HRs, 232 RBI from 2017-18) and Aaron Judge (106 homers since 2017) have sufficiently recovered from their respective ailments and injuries.

And last but not least …

Similar to the Astros, the 2019 Yankees were prolific inside division play, collecting double-digit victories against the Orioles (17-2), Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays (54-22 overall).

OBSERVATION #3

The American League Central produced two teams of 93-plus victories last year (Twins, Indians) … but that doesn’t necessarily guarantee .600-level success for this season’s division champion.

Why is that?

The Indians are the only AL Central squad with a cumulative winning record, when charting the 60-game starts from the last five years.

What’s more, the Royals, Tigers and Twins have respectfully averaged 27, 28 and 30 victories over the last five campaigns of 60-game starts, putting extra pressure on the Indians to open 2020 on a strong note.

(Remember, superstar Francisco Lindor could be traded to a big-market contender within the next six months.)

Of course, if any AL Central club has the capacity for 35, 36 or even 37 wins during the regular season, it might be the burgeoning White Sox.

With a young core of high-upside talents (Eloy Jimenez, Yoan Moncada, Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Dylan Cease, Luis Robert, Michael Kopech, Nick Madrigal) joining forces with veterans Dallas Keuchel (free-agent signing), James McCann and Jose Abreu, the South Siders might be ready to take a seismic step forward this season.

OBSERVATION #4

On paper, the Athletics (97 wins last year; five months of 15-plus victories last season; top-five AL rankings with runs, homers, RBI, on-base percentage, OPS rate) should be viable World Series contenders.

But ay, the rub:

Oakland has recently posted back-to-back campaigns of 97 victories; and yet, for the respective 60-game starts, the Athletics were merely two games above .500.

Along those lines, the A’s are only 15-13 in their last 28 Interleague encounters with the National League West (this year’s crossover opponent).

OBSERVATION #5

There’s been a lot of springtime chatter of Mike Trout (five-year averages: 37 HR, 89 RBI, 106 runs, 20 steals, .305 batting, .435 on-base, 1.041 OPS) carrying his team to postseason prominence during the 60-game flurry, while also capturing AL MVP honors (already three trophies in the hopper).

Where’s the evidence of such an occurrence?

The cold reality: The Angels have sloughed through three under-.500 starts over the last five seasons, when factoring in the 60-game launch period; and for the lone winning start in 2018, Anaheim’s 32-28 record was merely good enough for third place in the AL West.

On the flip side …

The Angels’ rotation of Shohei Ohtani (finally ready for two-way dominance), Andrew Heaney, Julio Teheran (3.86 ERA since 2016) and former Orioles star Dylan Bundy (just 27 years old) might be the club’s best starting front four of the Trout era.

For those with short memories (the Coronavirus blur has affected us all), the 28-year-old Trout, who’ll be entering his 10th major league season, notched a career-best 45 homers last year.

About The Managing Editor

Jay Clemons remains the only sports writer on the planet to capture Cynposis Media’s national award for Sports Blog Of The Year (beating out NBA.com, MLB.com, PGATour.com, The Players’ Tribune in 2015), along with the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s pre-eminent award for Best Writer (2008). Through the years, Mr. Clemons has been a key figure with numerous blue-chip sports/media brands, namely the Detroit Lions, Sports Illustrated, FOX Sports, Bleacher Report and the NBC/Universal family. With Sports Illustrated (2006-11), Clemons served a triple role with SI.com‘s heralded football coverage—editing Peter King’s famed ‘Monday Morning Quarterback’ column, penning award-winning pieces for NFL and then writing/narrating scripted videos within the NFL and baseball realms. In 2013, Clemons’ first year with the company, FOX Sports South enjoyed a monumental increase of approximately 34 million Web hits in a 12-month cycle—merely posting 11 million hits the previous year. 

Then, over a two-month span in 2014, FOX Sports South amassed 19.5 million Web hits—a 60-day record for any FOX affiliate. And in 2015, Clemons claimed the aforementioned Cynopsis Media award on FOX Sports’ behalf, the company’s only national writing award during that period. Clemons, a graduate of Michigan State University  and Wayne State University, has been an on-camera Web-TV host for Sports Illustrated, Bleacher Report and FOX Sports. In 2015, he also became the first-ever sports journalism professor at Kennesaw State University in suburban Atlanta.

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