I don't want to get into this too deeply since it was debated ad nauseum in the Trout vs. Cabrera thread, but ultimately divisional alignment is essentially arbitrary. Yes, it's based roughly on geographic alignment, but it never pretended to make any effort towards balancing talent. Certainly wasn't designed to balance talent in 2012. So using divisional positioning as a basis for expectations is laughably ridiculous. I mean, at least you can argue that winning your division and making the playoffs entails accomplishment of a tangible goal - that is, reach the postseason. And in spite of being far behind the other AL playoff teams in terms of wins, just reaching that tangible goal was enough to push the Tigers into the postseason. But if your goal going into the season was just "hey, let's not finish last this year!" then congratulations, both teams made it!
Seriously, preseason if you asked people who would LOSE more games, Baltimore or Oakland, I'm betting about 75% would have said Oakland. Particularly if you added "McCarthy is going to be hurt and only make 18 starts, and Bartolo Colon is going to get busted for steroid use after 24 starts." This is in spite of the fact that they play in at least a slightly softer division. So people would predict Oakland to lose more games against a softer schedule, but because the rest of the AL East was supposed to be pretty good to really good you'd say the expectations were lower for Baltimore? That's bullshit and I would hope you know it. You yourself made the statement as "Everyone picked Baltimore dead last in a tough division."