If Baseball Were Played Once a Week


First, (obviously skewed and unrealistic) numbers.

If baseball were played once a week:

• Given the current months baseball is played, each team would play 26 games a season, for 780 games total.
• For Barry Bonds to hit a season-record 73 home runs, he would have to have averaged 2.8 home runs per game.
• For him to end his 22-season career with 762 home runs, he would have needed to average 1.33 dingers per every game played.
• If Barry Bonds wanted to maintain his career walk total of 2558 at his career rate of .86 BB/game, he would have had to play for 114 seasons.
• Miguel Tejada would need to play for 85 seasons to reach his career walk total (553) at his career walk rate (.25 BB/G).
• Rickey Henderson would have stolen five bases per game, for every game, to steal his record 130 in a single season.
• It would have taken 55.68 years for Henderson to break Lou Brocks record of 938 career stolen bases.
• Joe DiMaggio would have logged his 56th consecutive hit two full seasons and four weeks after he started it.
• Nolan Ryan would, given his career strikeout rate, have to pitch every game of every season until he was 50 years old to reach his record of 5714 strikeouts.
• Greg Maddux would have to pitch every game and post a 1.000 W-L% for over 13 straight seasons to log the 355 he has now.
• Cy Young would have had to do the same, except for over 19 straight seasons.
• A perfect season for a pitcher would peak at 26 wins. Eighty-seven pitchers in the history of baseball have had a 26-win season.
• The postseason would theoretically be four weeks long (wild card, LDS, LCS, WS), which means that David Freese would have had to have 12.5 total bases per game to match his postseason-leading total of 50.
• Barry Bonds would have had to walk 6.75 times a game to hit his record mark of 27 bases on balls in a postseason.
• The 1906 Chicago Cubs, holders of the best winning percentage in baseball history, would clock in at 19-20 wins that season.
• The best HR/PA rate in history was 2001 Barry Bonds at .110. At this rate, the highest HR rate possible in 26 games would be around 11.
• The best pitchers — the workhorses, the most durable pitchers in the game — would max out at 234 innings pitched.

Second, some questions:

If baseball were played once a week:

• What would the bullpen look like? One would assume it would be smaller since a team could rely on a starter with seven days rest. However, since there are only 26 games, there is a much higher value placed on winning every game. Would this lead to every situation being a high-leverage one? Would managers still have 13 pitchers and just swap them every inning? How long would games be if this happened? It seems like every game would go into extra innings.
• If baseball were played once a week, would Moneyball still have been written, and, if so, about what?
• Would base stealing disappear? Who would risk an out when there are only 702 of them in an entire season?
• Interleague would be dead, right? There’s not even enough games for every team to play someone in their OWN league.
• Would crowds be bigger? Would teams draw more if the fans could only see them once a week, and 13 times in total a season?
• What would we, as fans, do the whole week? What do football people do the whole week? I guess we’d just do that, right?

Football is weird, you guys.

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David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.

14 Responses to “If Baseball Were Played Once a Week”

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  1. harpago17 says:

    “Would base stealing disappear? Who would risk an out when there are only 702 of them in an entire season?”

    But wouldn’t you assume that the ratio of runs to outs in a season would remain relatively constant? Or maybe not since teams would go to greater lengths to protect against runs, such as using relief pitchers every inning (perhaps).

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  2. robert says:

    AROD would still be making about $1 million dollars this year alone

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  3. MikeS says:

    Rosters would be much smaller. An ace pitcher would be like an elite quarterback, only more important. The White Sox could throw Chris Sale out every week and be a playoff team.

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  4. “Nolan Ryan would, given his career strikeout rate, have to pitch every game of every season until he was 50 years old to reach his record of 5714 strikeouts.”

    So you’re telling me Nolan Ryan would have finished with the exact same number of strikeouts?

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    • Mikhel says:

      Nolan Ryan would have strike every batter of every game (26 games per season) for 8 years and in the 9th he would get to 5714 Ks.

      But, since Nolan struck out 25.31% of the total batters he faced, that would mean he struck out 6.83 batters per game.

      (6.8340 batters ) x (26 games) = 177.684 K’s per season.

      He would achieve 5714 K’s during the course of his 33rd season, assuming he started all 26 games per season for 32 straight seasons. Since Nolan started in the big leagues at age 19, he would achieve his feat at age 52.

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    • Mikhel says:

      Oooh I see what the author did, he took the K’s per game of Ryan instead of K’s per batters faced.

      My calculations are more close to reality because Nolan pitched 34 games in relief, in 14 of those he faced less than 7 batters (he averaged 7 K’s per game so he couldn’t achieve his average) and of all the games he started, he faced less than 7 batters 11 times.

      In total in those 25 games, he struck out 15 batters out of the 91 he faced, which equals 1 K per every 6.0666 batters faced, almost in line with his career totals, while if we calculate it by his games: 15 K’s in 25 games equals 1.6666 K’s per game.

      Different approaches, similar results yet it is beautiful how even in those games where Nolan pitched to less than his 6.8 batters per K, he mantained his strikeout rate of a bit over 6.

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  5. tz says:

    Before long, the TV networks would gum it up with bye weeks, Thursday night games and other stuff like that.

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  6. Tim says:

    So basically baseball wold be cricket.

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  7. Kenny says:

    Over time there would be incremental changes to the game such that eventually there would be 11 players on offense and 11 on defense on the field at the same time, and in lieu of pitching and hitting as we know it now the pitcher would throw or hand off a large, tapered, oblong baseball to other offensive players, while the defensive players would attempt to physically impede any forward progress by the offense.

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  8. Would knuckle-ballers even exist?

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  9. RA Rowe says:

    I am in favor of this, on the basis that inter-league play would be gone.

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  10. Gyre says:

    and it would be played as badly as every other once-in-awhile game.

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