Four teams in the AL East and three teams in the NL West are considered in the running for division titles, according to the annual unofficial Deseret News survey of baseball publications and pundits (see chart at right).
In the other divisions, the NL East and AL West, the predicting was a lot easier. The Mets were a unanimous choice of the 14 sources surveyed, and the A's missed being unanimous only because Tony Kubek of NBC likes the Royals.The Padres got the nod in the NL West, but narrowly, garnering 27 points (the fewer points, the better) to the Reds' 30 and the Dodgers' 31.
Milwaukee was the prognosticators' pick in the muddled AL East, where four teams received first-place votes. Last year's winner in this division, Boston, not only received two first-place votes but two sixth-place picks as well. The experts shared similarly varied opinions of the Yankees and Blue Jays, and with good reason. This race will be won by the lesser of seven evils.
Three teams besides the Mets received unanimous support, however. Everyone expects the Braves, Phillies and Orioles to finish dead last in their respective races.
Other items of note:
- The real race in the NL East is expected to be for second place, where the Cards (39), Pirates (45) and Expos (45) are only separated by six points.
- Ditto in the AL West, where the Twins received 34 points and the Royals 38. The Royals were pulled down by low votes from Street & Smith's and Inside Sports magazines.
- If you read Deseret News' sports editor Lee Benson's recent column wherein former major leaguer Dane Iorg predicted the division winners, you'll remember that Iorg liked Detroit in the AL East. He's all alone with that one. The highest our 14 experts put the Tigers was third, and Detroit was a consensus fifth-place pick. Of course, the experts made their picks before the recent blockbuster Detroit acquisitions of big names Mike Brumley, Ken Williams and Charles Hudson. We're sure that would have altered the experts' thinking drastically.