That’s why it’s so strange that Roberts stared down the American League East this week and directly challenged the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays, Blue Jays and, yes, even Orioles in an attempt to assert divisional dominance.
Not only is it untrue that the NL West is more of a barnburner than the AL East in 2022, but Roberts should also be aware by now that he’s playing the long game. Eventually, that road could very well take him past the Padres and Giants and into the path of one of the many AL East behemoths that have beaten up on each other all season long and still all emerged well over .500.
Still, much the same way he guaranteed a world title before the season started (another eyebrow-raising moment of confidence), Roberts told MLB Network that he doesn’t see “a division that’s better” than the NL West, then claimed that, as good as the AL East is, “every night [he’s] playing within the division, it’s a battle to win a baseball game.”
That’s true! It is always a battle, right down to the D-Backs and Rockies. Indisputable. It’s just … more of a battle in the AL East, where even the Orioles are outclassing the previous definition of a last-place team.
Dodgers’ Dave Roberts believes NL West is better than AL East
There’s a difference between backing your guys (“We’re the best team in baseball,” etc.) and overstating the challenge your team goes through on a daily basis, especially when the numbers tell the story. Just because the Rockies and Chad Kuhl get up for their divisional battles with the Dodgers does not mean LA will be as battle-tested this year as the Yankees, Red Sox, Rays and Blue Jays, who will face each other plenty down the stretch, all above 90-win paces at points during the season.
And the Yankees, by the way, have come out smelling better than the Dodgers thus far, whose run differential doesn’t quite match up with their record — which is excellent, but not historic.
Add in the O’s at the bottom of the AL East, and you have a fifth-place team playing better than anyone else’s fourth-place team, along with a distinct home-field advantage thanks to their new left-field wall.
2021’s NL West race was generational, and the Dodgers proved their mettle with a nail-biting Game 5 road win over a 107-win edition of their chief rival.
But in 2022, things aren’t quite the same. And if Roberts wants to win a World Series, he just might have to outgun one of the AL East teams he just underestimated.