The Texas Rangers nosed ahead of a tight group to win the First Division championship in 2013. More newsworthy was the decline of the New York Yankees, who fell from the championship in 2012 to a last-place demotion in 2013.
By BILL PETERSON
Big Leagues in Los Angeles
The 2013 season marked the tightest First Division race ever, with all eight teams finishing within five games of the top.
In a scramble like this, we might expect history. In fact, the winners were the Texas Rangers, newly promoted to the First Division and playing in it for the first time. The Rangers' victory marked the second time in three years that a team won the First Division in its first year of promotion.
The Rangers finished a game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays and 1 1/2 game ahead of the Atlanta Braves and St. Louis Cardinals, while the Cincinnati Reds were two games back.
The bottom teams are the San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees. The Yankees are being demoted for the first time, while the Giants began life in the Second Division in 2010.
The only remaining First Division team from 2010 is the Cardinals, who have been a steady presence in the middle of the tier. The Cardinals have never finished better than their third-place tie in 2013, but they also never finished worse than sixth. Their overall record in four years of the First Division is 72-71.
The Yankees are 85-81 all-time in the First Division, but they were good enough in 2012 to win it and poor enough in 2013 to finish in last place.