Giants Travel Most, Reds Travel Least Among NL Teams in 2013

MLB announced its 2013 schedule last week. On Monday, we looked at the mileage each American League team will log next season traveling from city to city. The Chicago White Sox will have an advantage, as the schedule will require less than 23,000 miles in travel. The Seattle Mariners will be at a disadvantage, as the schedule calls for them to log more than 52,000 miles next season.

In the National League, the disparity between the most and least-traveled teams in 2013 isn’t quite as large as in the American League, but it’s close. Again, the compact geography of the Midwest gives a distinct advantage to teams in the NL Central. The Cincinnati Reds will log only 22, 505 miles next season, while the St. Louis Cardinals will go only 500 more. The San Francisco Giants, on the other hand, will travel just over 45,000 miles, more than double the Reds’ total. The teams in the NL East fall somewhere in between.

Here’s the total mileage for each team, by division:

National League East

Team Total Mileage Number of Three-City Road Trips
Nationals 24,720 4
Phillies 26,440 4
Mets 28,120 5
Braves 29,900 2
Marlins 35,040 4

National League Central

Team Total Mileage Number of Three-City Road Trips
Reds 22,505 5
Cardinals 22,555 5
Brewers 26,910 3
Cubs 27,675 4
Pirates 29,615 4

National League West

Team Total Mileage Number of Three-City Road Trips
Rockies 30,690 5
D’Backs 36,755 4
Padres 39,090 3
Dodgers 39,900 3
Giants 45,150 3

As with the American League schedule, we see a disparity not only in miles traveled but in the number of three-city road trips taken by each team. And again, we have to ask why the Reds and the Cardinals — who play so many games against teams in relatively close proximity — have five three-city road trips, while the Giants, Dodgers and Padres — who are geographically the furthest from the rest of the National League — only have three three-city road trips.

Indeed, the Colorado Rockies will travel only 30,690 miles in 2013, despite   the fact that Denver is located more than 500 miles from every other city in the majors. The Rockies will make three trips to the East Coast next season, and will stop in three cities on each trip. That scheduling trick, alone, saves the Rockies more than 5,000 miles in travel. Colorado will also have two other three-city road trips to visit three of their four NL West rivals, saving even more time in the air.

A few months ago, my colleague Eno Sarris surveyed the available research on the effect of long-distance travel on athletic performance and concluded: “There’s enough blood in this water to call it: long-distance travel can affect your play on the field negatively.” This isn’t really much of a surprise, given what most of us have experienced when traveling cross-country or across the world. Jet lag leaves us tired, dehydrated and out of sorts.

As many noted in the comments to the American League travel story, the most effective way to cut down on travel for all players is to align all thirty teams geographically. Absent that radical change, however, the scheduling gurus at MLB should expand the number of three-city road trips for teams on the West Coast, and decrease those longer roadies for teams in the Midwest. That small change would go a long way toward a more equitable travel schedule for all thirty teams.



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Wendy writes about sports and the business of sports. She's been published most recently by Vice Sports, Deadspin and NewYorker.com. You can find her work at wendythurm.pressfolios.com and follow her on Twitter @hangingsliders.


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