FanPost

Houston, You've Got a Realignment Problem. (updated)

When Houston joins the American League next year, they probably won't enjoy having to play the divisional schedule against quality teams like the Texas Rangers and the Los Angeles Angels. But their toughest opponent will be their travel schedule - significantly longer trips, the worst being between Houston and Seattle.

Baseball did Houston no favors in this realignment.

If baseball wants to realign teams for a sense of fairness, they could/should look to resolve other issues such as geographical rivalries, the designated hitter issue, the cost and competitive effect of travel on teams.

Set of Issues

The first step in resolving these issues is to do away with the concept of separate leagues - that is an arbitrary and outdated concept. (Umpires have combined into one group).

The second step is to resolve the DH issue since you can only have one rule. Either way, just decide.

The third issue of travel cost and the effect of travel is a realization that this is a business and that you can create an alignment of teams that result in less travel costs and less negative effect on team play.

With the general acceptance of using the wild card concept for playoffs, the number of divisions becomes arbitrary. You could have six divisions with five teams, five divisions with six teams or three divisions with ten teams. Which makes the most business sense?

Current Alignment (2013)

For the current 30 baseball cities, the six divisions with five teams is a geographical Rorschach test reflecting the evolutionary nature of franchise movement.

Ba-0_medium

The sample divisional alignments below were generated by calculating a minimum travel distance between divisional teams for all possible combinations of teams in a division of the specified size. Legend: The number shown is roughly the sum of direct miles between stadiums for each pair of teams in the division - think of it as a ‘relative travel weight'.

Option 1: Six Divisions

Keeping six divisions, teams can be realigned to have minimal intra-divisional travel.

Ba-6_medium

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Toronto Blue Jays

1262

Chicago White Sox

1045

Los Angeles Angels

1517

Boston Red Sox

919

Cleveland Indians

639

Seattle Mariners

2863

New York Yankees

537

Pittsburgh Pirates

854

Los Angeles Dodgers

1449

New York Mets

542

Cincinnati Reds

839

San Francisco Giants

1222

Philadelphia Phillies

686

Detroit Tigers

669

Oakland Athletics

1209


Division 4

Division 5

Division 6

Atlanta Braves

1857

Milwaukee Brewers

984

Colorado Rockies

2565

Tampa Bay Rays

2016

St. Louis Cardinals

1120

Houston Astros

2976

Miami Marlins

2296

Kansas City Royals

1297

Arizona Diamondbacks

2403

Washington Nationals

2020

Chicago Cubs

958

San Diego Padres

3126

Baltimore Orioles

2103

Minnesota Twins

1325

Texas Rangers

2534

Option 2: Five Divisions

An alignment using five divisions would result in six teams each. The 162-game schedule would be 18 games against the five divisional teams, and three games each against the other 24 teams.

One benefit of this option is that Seattle gets grouped with the California teams. However, one competitive issue is the relative travel within a division - the northeast cluster of six teams would have significant less travel than the midwest division.

Ba-5_medium

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

St. Louis Cardinals

3072

Milwaukee Brewers

993

New York Yankees

578

Kansas City Royals

2562

Chicago Cubs

961

Washington Nationals

835

Houston Astros

2995

Minnesota Twins

1940

Philadelphia Phillies

574

Texas Rangers

2407

Detroit Tigers

1282

Boston Red Sox

1197

Arizona Diamondbacks

4160

Chicago White Sox

975

New York Mets

578

Colorado Rockies

3021

Toronto Blue Jays

1911

Baltimore Orioles

726


Division 4

Division 5

Los Angeles Angels

1592

Miami Marlins

3304

San Diego Padres

1885

Pittsburgh Pirates

2417

Oakland Athletics

1600

Atlanta Braves

2142

Los Angeles Dodgers

1547

Cincinnati Reds

2241

Seattle Mariners

3786

Cleveland Indians

2535

San Francisco Giants

1620

Tampa Bay Rays

2821

Option 3: Three Divisions

An alignment using three divisions would result in ten teams each. The 162-game schedule would be either 11 or 12 games against the nine divisional teams, with three games each against the other twenty teams.

The benefit of three divisions is better travel balance within each division, developing more potential rivalries and better geographical clusters.

Ba-3_medium

Division 1

Division 2

Division 3

Houston Astros

9822

Cincinnati Reds

2701

Philadelphia Phillies

2783

Seattle Mariners

8728

Detroit Tigers

2859

Baltimore Orioles

2760

San Diego Padres

5011

Chicago White Sox

2170

Washington Nationals

2827

Colorado Rockies

6517

Cleveland Indians

3162

Toronto Blue Jays

4077

Oakland Athletics

5649

Minnesota Twins

3964

Tampa Bay Rays

7029

Arizona Diamondbacks

5096

Atlanta Braves

4710

New York Yankees

2990

Los Angeles Angels

4812

Kansas City Royals

3856

New York Mets

2995

Los Angeles Dodgers

4829

Chicago Cubs

2179

Boston Red Sox

4107

Texas Rangers

8621

St. Louis Cardinals

2840

Pittsburgh Pirates

3374

San Francisco Giants

5704

Milwaukee Brewers

2438

Miami Marlins

7558

Suggestion

Baseball should realign to three divisions of ten teams.
This alignment provides the following benefits:

  • Every team would play all 29 teams in at least one series each year.
  • Teams would develop more regional rivalries.
  • Increased marketing revenue since the stars on each team will play in every city over a two-year period.
  • There will be less travel imbalance affecting quality of play.

Data - using Lat/Lon values of each stadium from wikipedia, the straight line distance was computed for each pair of stadiums. The table can be accessed in one of the following forms.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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