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Baseball Realignment

Posted by: Mark Nichols

01 Jul 2011


The Low Down

 

There have been reports out there that Major League Baseball is considering realigning some teams and divisions. Here's the current setup of the League:

 

American League

East

Central

West

Baltimore Orioles

Cleveland Indians

Los Angeles Angels

Boston Red Sox

Chicago White Sox

Oakland A's

New York Yankees

Detroit Tigers

Seattle Mariners

Tampa Bay Rays

Kansas City Royals

Texas Rangers

Toronto Blue Jays

Minnesota Twins

 

 

National League

East

Central

West

Atlanta Braves

Cincinnati Reds

Arizona Diamondbacks

Florida Marlins

Chicago Cubs

Colorado Rockies

New York Mets

Houston Astros

Los Angeles Dodgers

Philadelphia Phillies

Milwaukee Brewers

San Diego Padres

Washington Nationals

Pittsburgh Pirates

San Francisco Giants

 

St. Louis Cardinals

 

 

You'll note that MLB has 30 teams. Fourteen are in the American League, 16 are in the National League. That means you have less of a chance to reach the World Series if you're in the National League. Some might see that as unfair but it's not because the National League stinks.

 

Regardless, there might be an opportunity to make things seem more fair, or to make travel easier for everyone. Can this be done while keeping some historically linked teams together? Let's take a looksee. For the visual among you, here's where each team is located (image from CBSSports.com).

 

 

Options for Realignment

 

1) Only 2 divisions, 15 teams each

 

According to a report from Reuters, one of the options being kicked around is making each league 15 teams and having the top 5 from each league make the playoffs. Currently only 4 teams from each league make the playoffs (the winner of each division and one wildcard). Other professional sports leagues have a higher percentage of teams making the playoffs, which is perhaps one reason to increase the number of baseball playoff teams.

 

If baseball wants to give teams with less revenue and theoretically less likelihood of producing a winning team an "equal" chance of making the playoffs and thus winning the World Series, then you shouldn't get rid of divisions. The best five teams in the American League right now are the NY Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, the Tampa Bay Rays... and two others. So the top 5 is now (and likely would be) dominated by teams from the east. (And if the schedule were balanced so that teams played each other an equal number of times, maybe Toronto would be included in that top 5 right now. I haven't done the analysis to be able to say that definitively.) The way it stands now, a subpar team from the West, the Texas Rangers for example, could get into the playoffs and with a little luck make the World Series. They're only competing against 3 other teams to get in. Realign, though, and 11 or 12 teams would compete for 1 or possibly 2 spots.

 

Enh.

 

Note: this realignment scenario isn't so bad for the current National league because who is good from year to year varies so much. That's what happens when the teams stink.

 

 

2) Same 6 divisions, just move 1 team to the American League

 

This seems awesomely simple, and would leave things in tact the most. I've read from multiple articles that the Houston Astros would most likely make the switch. They could move to the American League West, and thus Texas would get an in-state rival.

 

Milwaukee could move, too, since they were originally in the American League, but location-wise it doesn't make much sense.

 

Moving Houston seems like a good idea.

 

 

3) Some other choice

 

If I were any kind of writer, I'd be touting my own well-researched opinion here. Since I'm not, here's my opinion only. It'd be neat to go back to 2 big divisions within each League - an East and a West. But only in my mind. To avoid having a good 3rd place team miss the playoffs when a worse 2nd place team gets in, you'd have to increase the number of teams that make the playoffs. But increasing the number of playoff teams would either water down the playoffs or create the need for 1st round byes, which are unfair. Cold teams lose their momentum.

 

Instead of 2 divisions, you could rewrite all 6 current divisions. Check out these divisions based on location only:

 

American League

East

Leftovers

Midwest

Baltimore Orioles

Cleveland Indians

Chicago Cubs

Boston Red Sox

Detroit Tigers

Chicago White Sox

New York Yankees

Pittsburgh Pirates

Cincinnati Reds

New York Mets

Toronto Blue Jays

Milwaukee Brewers

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

Minnesota Twins

 

National League

South

Leftovers

West

Atlanta Braves

Arizona Diamondbacks

Los Angeles Angels

Florida Marlins

Colorado Rockies

Los Angeles Dodgers

Houston Astros

Kansas City Royals

Oakland A's

Tampa Bay Rays

San Diego Padres

San Francisco Giants

Texas Rangers

St. Louis Cardinals

Seattle Mariners

 

You could even fiddle with changing the league and division names. Might as well if we're going to throw 100+ years of history down the crapper.

 

Final Recommendation

 

After pondering the possibilities and all the implications (sorta kinda not really), my final recommendation is to just move Houston to the American League and leave everything else the same, including the playoffs. But given baseball's commissioner (Bud Selig) has a history of screwing up simple decisions, and that an entire bevy of MLB management people have to justify their own salaries and all the meetings they attend, look for a major shakeup in divisions, leagues, and playoffs.

 

© 2011 Dime Brothers

Printed on: 12-14-2017