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  1. if it’s easy to do (which I’m guessing it is), it’d be interesting/useful to see if the results are essentially the same, or different, when close = 2, 4 or 5 GB.

    Comment by mettle — June 13, 2011 @ 2:09 pm

  2. This is overwhelming, not sure what to think. I’d like to see teams in great divisions get a shot and bad teams in weak divisions just not make it. I’m not crazy about daily interleague play though.

    Comment by bonestock94 — June 13, 2011 @ 2:11 pm

  3. wouldn’t the rangers not make the playoffs if they won three fewer games ( 90 – 87, chicago had 88)

    Comment by William — June 13, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  4. This seems like a stretch. Teams would have very different schedules under the new realignment (no unbalanced schedules, different format for interleague). Your anaylsis seems to suggest that this new scheduling format would have the same outcomes. I don’t think we can assume that.

    Comment by Ryan — June 13, 2011 @ 2:13 pm

  5. One of the key points is that it devalues the wildcard, which I think is a good thing. Anything to keep emphasis on the regular season is at least a step in the right direction. Even if it creates a crapchute of a situation between the 4/5 teams… maybe that’s what they deserve.

    The 162 needs to have more weight, and the division system actually hurts that (IE when a WC team has a better record than a division winner, plus schedule unfairness with strong divisions.)

    I like this setup a lot. Reward the three best teams in each league. Give the next two best teams a diceroll to get into the playoffs. It’s actually closer to the old setup than people realize, where there was only one round of playoffs then the WS.

    Comment by Telo — June 13, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

  6. That is my general feeling also. Too bad they don’t have 28 or 32 teams. I am also not crazy about five teams into the playoffs and having to do a play-in game for the bottom two teams — way too gimmicky. I think they should keep it at four, but I do like getting rid of the divisions because it seems fairer to teams like Baltimore and Toronto.

    Comment by Dave Allen — June 13, 2011 @ 2:15 pm

  7. Good point Ryan. That is a big assumption of the post. I just wanted a quick and dirty look at how it would affect things. The best thing to do would be to simulation out the seasons 1000s of times with the new schedule.

    Comment by Dave Allen — June 13, 2011 @ 2:17 pm

  8. In the realigned system yes, and I included them as such (with the Red Sox and White Sox).

    Comment by Dave Allen — June 13, 2011 @ 2:18 pm

  9. To really figure this out you’d have to compute it using a balanced schedule and each teams win % against the others holds. For example if the Angels won 4 of 6 from the Tigers, then we can hypothesize they would win 8 of 12 under the new format. If the Angels won 11 of 18 from Texas that we would credit them with 7.3 wins ((11/18)*12). This would be the only way to get a somewhat accurate win total.

    Comment by Ryan — June 13, 2011 @ 2:19 pm

  10. If you think the blue jays/red sox wouldn’t have done better without an AL-EAST heavy schedule, and that the AL CENTRAL/WEST teams wouldn’t have done worse, you’re out of your mind.

    Comment by minute — June 13, 2011 @ 2:20 pm

  11. This realignment would have to do away with the unbalanced schedule as well, right?

    Comment by Matt — June 13, 2011 @ 2:26 pm

  12. The problem with just adding up last season’s wins, is that with the new structure, the schedule would be completely different. The White Sox would have played more games against the better former East teams, while the Blue Jays would play more vs the worse Central and West teams.

    Comment by supgreg — June 13, 2011 @ 2:32 pm

  13. This is very similar to the plan that I wanted to see.

    I like the idea of bringing 15 teams per division and having interleague spread throughout the season, like other sports.

    The only thing I would do differently is go to East and West, and the top 2 teams in each division make the playoffs, no 5th team. The first place team in the East plays the second place team in the West, and First in the West plays Second in the West.

    I really don’t like the logistics of a 1 game playoff between two teams. I think MLB should stick with 8 teams, there is no reason to expand. The only way that makes more sense it to go with 16, but that is way to many, and baseball will go into December as a result.

    So to summarize:
    Realign to East/West, 15 teams per league, interleague spread through season, 4 teams in play offs, top 2 in each division.

    Comment by Phegan — June 13, 2011 @ 2:39 pm

  14. The Jays would be huge huge winners in this scenario. As would the Rays.

    Comment by Big Jgke — June 13, 2011 @ 2:50 pm

  15. Yes, this was my first suggestion upon reading the article. Glad you pointed this out. But I would go with hundreds of thousands. :)
    vr, Xei

    Comment by Xeifrank — June 13, 2011 @ 3:17 pm

  16. Due to the variability of players throughout the season, you can’t just assume that all of the games would work out to the same percentages of wins and losses. Aside from that, you have victories and defeats that defy normally expected results (such as abnormal LOB-rate, BABIP, etc.). You might also have different effects in those games that were actually played because the schedule would have been different and thus there would have been different circumstances surrounding those games (previous opponents, time, etc.). The only real way to handle this that would be any better than what Dave did would be through many simulations of the entire schedule for each league.

    Comment by Dash — June 13, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

  17. The White Sox would have also played more games against inferior AL East and AL West teams. We can’t just apply a penalty to all non-AL East teams and assume that we’re correct.

    Comment by Dash — June 13, 2011 @ 3:24 pm

  18. Don’t forget that getting rid of the divisions would also balance the schedule and could change the standings as well. The realigned table potentially being really wrong. If the schedule was balanced and you played each team in your division 10 times with 22 interleague games last years standing would have looked like this. (for this calculation I assumed 11games/team in AL and 10 in NL with 22interleague games and adjusted the numbers accordingly)
    Example calculation BLUE JAYS WINS = (162/165)*[(44*EWin%)+(55*CWin%)+(44*WWin%)+(22*NLWin%) = 84games (rounded down)

    AL Team Name (Projected wins and change from actual)
    New York Yankees 98 +3
    Tampa Bay Rays 97 +1
    Chicago White Sox 91 +3
    Minnesota Twins 89 -5
    Texas Rangers 89 -1
    Boston Red Sox 88 -1
    Toronto Blue Jays 84 -1
    Oakland Athletics 80 -1
    Detroit Tigers 79 -2
    Los Angeles Angels 75 -5
    Baltimore Orioles 69 +3
    Kansas City Royals 68 +1
    Cleveland Indians 66 -3
    Seattle Mariners 63 +2

    NL
    Philadelphia Phillies 96 -1
    San Francisco Giants 94 +2
    Atlanta Braves 93 +2
    San Diego Padres 91 +1
    Cincinnati Reds 87 -4
    St. Louis Cardinals 87 +1
    Colorado Rockies 82 -1
    New York Mets 81 +2
    Florida Marlins 78 -2
    Chicago Cubs 77 +2
    Milwaukee Brewers 76 -1
    Los Angeles Dodgers 75 -5
    Washington Nationals 70 +1
    Houston Astros 69 -7
    Arizona Diamondbacks 66 +1
    Pittsburgh Pirates 54 -3

    Under this scenario there would be a great race for first overall in the AL with 4 teams battling for spots 3,4,5.
    In the NL there would be 3 teams battling for first place overall and a tie at 5th which would be exciting as well.
    If you are worried about losing the divisional title give out a title like in hockey to the top team in each league for the regular season.
    To make interleague more meaningful you could also have the league with the best overall record get home field advantage and if there is a tie then use the all star game.

    Comment by OKGOJAYS — June 13, 2011 @ 3:51 pm

  19. Good job. This seems like a reasonable approach towards answering the question of whether eliminating divisions would make for more or less excitement in September. There’s room for improvement, as others have pointed out, but this is fine for a quick and dirty analysis.

    Personally I would change the criteria from your addition/subtraction of 3 games and make it 7 games because it is not unusual to have teams stay in contention for five and a half monthes only to slump at the end. Last year’s
    Rockies are a perfect example. As of Sep 18th they were 1 game out of first place but ended up 9 games out. So they were truly in contention until the final week of the season.

    Comment by stratobill — June 13, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

  20. You have to realize that the team’s records would and possibly could change greatly because teams like the Jays wouldn’t be playing the Yanks & Sox as often and the Royals wouldn’t be playing the tigers/twins/indians as often.

    Comment by Matt Defalco — June 13, 2011 @ 4:04 pm

  21. So the White Sox would’ve automatically done worse by playing more games against the AL East? Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the White Sox go 7-1 against the Red Sox last year and 13-2 going back to 2009? Just because you’re playing more games against the big bad AL East doesn’t mean you’re going to have more losses automatically.

    Comment by Sox2727 — June 13, 2011 @ 4:07 pm

  22. One thing that hasn’t really been touched on with all this “realignment, expanded playoff jazz” is the state of the DH. If we’re going to have interleague series everyday, what will happen here? The AL teams will have to start adjusting how their rosters are comprised because of this. I think if this is the route MLB wants to go a decision has to be made either for both leagues to use the DH or not.

    Comment by Sox2727 — June 13, 2011 @ 4:10 pm

  23. this way you have 2 quick problems:

    15 teams per league that you want to divide east/west. 7,5 teams to each coast?

    in the AL East you have 8 or 7 teams (including the yankees and the redsox) and only two can advance to the playoff. you are putting more teams in the situation of the bluejays and orioles, and i believe that’s part of what we are trying to fix

    Comment by chel — June 13, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

  24. I disagree, even though there is an interleague game every day it is two different teams playing and we could actually end up with less interleague games with a balanced schedule. All it means is that for one series once a month or less you will have to go without a DH. I like that there is still an option for a league where pitchers hit and fat guys go before retiring.

    Comment by OKGOJAYS — June 13, 2011 @ 4:43 pm

  25. How come no one is acknowleding the travel aspect of things? It’d be impossible to build a fair schedule when you’re making some teams travel thousands of miles more than others.

    Comment by Izzy — June 13, 2011 @ 4:48 pm

  26. A moer balanced schedule would be a big part of realignment too no?

    Comment by Chair — June 13, 2011 @ 4:50 pm

  27. No, but more often than not, the White Sox would have done worse playing AL East teams over that historical period than AL West teams who are, by and large, inferior to their AL East counterparts.

    Comment by Baron Samedi — June 13, 2011 @ 4:52 pm

  28. AL teams playing in a NL park can’t use a DH (or has to play the regular DH in the field), but is that scenario worse than a NL team playing in an AL park? The NL team has to bat someone at DH (most likely an inferior hitter to the AL team’s DH).

    Comment by cobradc23 — June 13, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  29. Is this the long-awaited move to destroy the distinctions between the AL and NL? If it happens, it’ll be the 2nd time in my life that a team has switched leagues (Thanks a lot, Mr. Selig). Now there will be games between the leagues every day? Why do I feel that the DH is coming to NL ball soon? I guess if the NFL is king, we all have to act like the NFL.

    Comment by Trotter76 — June 13, 2011 @ 4:53 pm

  30. Izzy, yeah I was only looking at one small aspect of the change. Dave Cameron has covered the topic more broadly in a new post. He notes the big increase in travel, which is an important consequence of realignment.

    Comment by Dave Allen — June 13, 2011 @ 5:02 pm

  31. Even just using something like BP’s adjusted standings would be a good start.

    Comment by Llewdor — June 13, 2011 @ 5:06 pm

  32. I’ve thought about realignment about a month ago thinking that Tampa Bay should probably be moved somewhere. What about 5 distinct divisions or leagues that are composed of 6 teams each? Move Tampa to San Antonio perhaps–then have a 6 team SW League of Texas Rangers, Houston Astros, San Antonio,Colorado Rockies, Kansas City, Arizona–6 team Pacific Coast League of San Diego, both LA teams, Oakland, SF Giants and Seattle. Then create a Midwest League of Minn Twins, Milw Brewers, both Chicago teams , St Louis and Detroit. Then a North East League of Toronto, Pittsburgh, Philly, New York Yankees, Boston and the NY Mets and the fifth league would be the South Central League of Cleveland, Cincinnati, Atlanta, Florida, Washington and Baltimore.
    As far as playoffs go have one wild card team and have a WS tournament similar to the College WS.

    Comment by JW — June 13, 2011 @ 5:57 pm

  33. I don’t like this idea at all. No, I don’t like the current system either but for far different reasons that people in favor of this idea do. For the life of me, I cannot understand what was wrong with the 1969-1993 setup. Why baseball needed to go with this wacky three-division scheme which made an abomination like the wild-card necessary (if not at all palatable) escapes me. And if you’re questioning my characterization of the wild card as an abomination then why is there all of this activity (second wild card, 15-team no division leagues) going on trying to fix the issues caused by it?

    All this proposed system does is double down on the worst aspect of the current system, namely the elimination of winner-take-all pennant races. There will be little, if any reason for the first three teams to compete at the end of the season most years (barring a 1964-style scenario -but how many times can you expect that?). All of the “meaningful” end of the season competition will be between teams fighting for the fourth or fifth playoff spot. How is this different from mediocrities from one of the weak-sister divisions we have today fighting to be an 86 or 87 win “pennant” winner. Yeah, it’s exciting for the fans of those teams but so would a lottery for last place teams to get a (real) wild-card playoff spot.

    Even worse, the top teams will have every reason to try to game the system (like the Yankees did last year when they tanked the divisional race to avoid facing the Rangers and Cliff Lee in a 5-game series) to pick their playoff opponent. I don’t see the 15-team league solving this problem, in fact it’s likely to make it even worse since the league “title” will become even less meaningful than it is now.

    I am not in favor of expanding the post-season. The regular season is long enough to sort out the legitimate contenders and the post-season now drags on into November. If you add more teams are you willing to accept playing the World Series at Target Field or Fenway Park in mid-November or having to accept neutral, warm-weather sites? Baseball should not try to emulate other sports in their playoff systems. I love hockey and I accept their playoff system because it’s in their tradition – when the NHL had six teams, four made the playoffs – plus they play in an indoor, climate controlled environment. But I don’t want to see baseball creep closer to an NHL-style playoff system.

    Yes, some very good teams would miss the playoffs under the pre-1994 scheme but so what? That’s what made the regular season and the post-season meaningful. There’s no way to reproduce that or even approximate it either within the current scheme or by turning the regular season into a six-month long seeding process for an overlong post-season tournament.

    Comment by roadrider — June 13, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

  34. Well what about the expanded wild card with the current format? Wouldn’t that do the same thing? Maybe the problem isn’t the current alignment, but the current playoff format. 5 teams from each is just a better situation because it makes division winners mean more and wild card teams have a harder road. Realignment or not, 5 teams in each league is the best way to go in the playoffs.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 13, 2011 @ 9:30 pm

  35. well they have been a much better run league the past few years. Manufactured parity or not.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 13, 2011 @ 9:32 pm

  36. uhhh, who did it make the regular season more meaningful to? O yea, the few good teams. It made the regular season more meaningful to fewer teams and less meaningful for pretty much everyone else.

    Just adding one more wild card makes the regular season mean more than any previous system. It means a lot to win the divison because you don’t have to go through the wild card round and the games in September mean a lot more to more teams because more teams are within reach. More teams will prevent division leaders from tanking it on purpose because regardless, you don’t wanna be a wild card team.

    I hate it when old people say that there needs to be LESS teams in baseball. It’s downright stupid. From a competitive standpoint and an economic standpoint.

    Adding a round won’t make baseball “last until mid-November” just reschedule some stuff around to make it work. Shit just start the regular season earlier, drop 2 rest days per round, etc are all easy fixes.

    Another thing is, this is NOT a slippery slope into the NHL’s system. You want MLB to keep the same system they had from 1969-1993. How many teams were in baseball in 1969? 24. And 4 made it, about 17%. now we have 30 teams and 8 make it, 26%.

    What you want is nostalgia. If you cut back to just 2 teams in each League, about 10 teams will fold. Which isn’t good for baseball. It’s economically stupid.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 13, 2011 @ 9:42 pm

  37. Thing is, this way, the Yankees would have gotten a playoff spot pretty early anyway, and there would be pretty meaningless competition for the best team in the league.

    What if you make the 3rd best team face the 6th best team, and the 4th best team face the 5th best team in each league in a play-in (or a new round)? That way there will be competition for the first 2 spots, not just spots 4 and 5.

    Comment by Julian — June 13, 2011 @ 10:28 pm

  38. Problem with the re-alignment into two leagues/divisions, or whatever.. Alot of teams will be out of it by June, if not May. There are teams in the AL west that wouldnt sniff the playoffs as well as the AL central in that format. Not even the “division champ” (of the old divisions) would make it. It would be NY-Bos-TB-Tex every year for a good time, with the occasional Tor, ChiSox, Minn (if they right that ship), LA-A filling in slot #5. How does “Same Four Plus One” make for better. Would you want to be the owner if the league basically said “You have no chance of post season, but we do like the Yankees there”. Ok.. They can spend money like the Yankees, but that aint gonna happen with the likes of Minn, KC, Pitt, heck, even some of the “winners” are also tight with their money.

    Comment by Cidron — June 13, 2011 @ 10:53 pm

  39. Most of the time, the wildcard is the 2nd best team in the league. Why do we want to give them a hard time, while giving an 89 game winner from a shitty division an easier time?

    I want the best teams around playing in each round of the playoffs. The division system is in direct opposition to this.

    Comment by RC — June 14, 2011 @ 1:11 pm

  40. Right, but how is that any different than Toronto, Baltimore, etc, being out of it by May, like it is now?

    Is it really a big deal that the 2nd team in a poor division is being eliminated rather than the 3rd or 4th team in a better division?

    Comment by RC — June 14, 2011 @ 1:19 pm

  41. I like this proposal second to 5 divisions of 6 teams, all playing with the same damn rules. Top two teams in each division make the playoffs seeded by record.

    Comment by David — June 14, 2011 @ 4:58 pm

  42. Here’s my counterproposal:

    Rather than realign, expand the AL by two teams. Ideal locations IMO would be Indianapolis and Charlotte. Then go to a four-division-per-league system, with (if you insist) a wild card who will playoff with the worst division winner in the bye round. Alternatively, go to a two-division-per league system, with top two from each division in the playoffs.

    Division structure:
    AL East: Boston, Cleveland, New York, Toronto
    AL Central: Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota
    AL South: Baltimore, Charlotte, Kansas City, Tampa Bay
    AL West: Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Texas
    NL East: New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
    NL Central: Chicago, Colorado, Milwaulkee, St. Louis
    NL South: Atlanta, Cincinatti, Florida, Houston
    NL West: Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

    Comment by jorgath — June 14, 2011 @ 5:18 pm

  43. Here’s my counterproposal:

    Rather than realign, expand the AL by two teams. Ideal locations IMO would be Indianapolis and Charlotte. Then go to a four-division-per-league system, with (if you insist) a wild card who will playoff with the worst division winner in the bye round. Alternatively, go to a two-division-per league system, with top two from each division in the playoffs.

    Division structure:
    AL East: Boston, Cleveland, New York, Toronto
    AL Central: Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Minnesota
    AL South: Baltimore, Charlotte, Kansas City, Tampa Bay
    AL West: Los Angeles, Oakland, Seattle, Texas
    NL East: New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington
    NL Central: Chicago, Colorado, Milwaulkee, St. Louis
    NL South: Atlanta, Cincinatti, Florida, Houston
    NL West: Arizona, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco

    Comment by jorgath — June 14, 2011 @ 5:19 pm

  44. Change cincy and Washington, Jesus, what are you trying to do? Phillies, Mets, Pirates, Nats? Are you a Phillies fan? Not only that but Washington is closer to “south” I think.

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 14, 2011 @ 9:46 pm

  45. The competition is for the division winners. Having the best record in the league isn’t and shouldn’t really be that important unless everyone plays the same teams. Otherwise there’s too much variance to actually say “they had the best record, give them an advantage.”

    Comment by Antonio Bananas — June 14, 2011 @ 9:48 pm

  46. While I agree with roadrider, if you have to do something like this jogarth’s proposal is the way to go. I think people are seriously undervaluing the division races. With the institution of the wild card, we haven’t had a division race between the top two teams in the league, since the wild card guarantees that the top two teams with the best records make the playoffs every time.

    Though this would also mean no real race between the top two teams, I would add one wrinkle to jogath’s eight division proposal. That is that the wildcard (the best team not to win a division) replaces the winner of the weakest division, judged by each division’s won loss record that year. The weakest division does not send a team to the playoffs, unless the top four records happen to be owned by all four division winners. This would reduce the chance of a team with a losing regular season record making the playoffs by winning a weak division.

    Comment by Ballboy — June 14, 2011 @ 10:31 pm

  47. Actually, I’m a Nats fan. I was thinking culture — Washington is far more “East” than Cincy, and Cincy is far more “South” than Washington, culture wise.

    Comment by jorgath — June 14, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  48. I could work with that, although middle-ground: Wildcard gets a one-game playoff with worst division winner, rather than the 3-game one I was initially thinking.

    Comment by jorgath — June 14, 2011 @ 11:44 pm

  49. “Three fewer wins for the Rangers or Red Sox pushes them out of the playoffs and three more from the White Sox puts them in.”

    This is wrong. The Rangers would have had to lose 9 more games to miss out on the playoffs as they went through as division winners.

    Comment by TrevHoff — February 29, 2012 @ 7:05 pm

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