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MLB Expansion: Realignment

Now that we’ve chosen the two teams to add into the league, let’s take a look at how we would modify MLB divisions and leagues

Following the addition of the Montreal Expos and Carolina Flight to Major League Baseball, we need to add them into the league. 32 teams work a lot easier than 30 teams, given it’s a power of 2, but we’re all so used to the new format since the Astros left the NL Central. However, the current system has its flaws.

Our new system is way more considerate of travel time. That means that the Seattle Mariners will no longer be in the same division as two Texas teams (Astros, Rangers). However, in order to do that, we needed to scrap the current system with the National League and American League. Guess what that means? We’ll have to adopt a new, universal take on the designated hitter. I’ll get to that later.

Of the three other major sports, this new system resembles that of the NHL the most. There are four divisions of eight teams— the Atlantic, the Metropolitan, the Central, and the Pacific, exactly the same as the NHL.

Here are how each division and subdivision will be structured:

Atlantic

Baltimore Orioles

New York Mets

Philadelphia Phillies

Washington Nationals

Atlanta Braves

Carolina Flight

Miami Marlins

Tampa Bay Rays

Metropolitan

Boston Red Sox

Montreal Expos

New York Yankees

Toronto Blue Jays

Cincinnati Reds

Cleveland Indians

Detroit Tigers

Pittsburgh Pirates

Central

Chicago Cubs

Chicago White Sox

Milwaukee Brewers

Minnesota Twins

Houston Astros

Kansas City Royals

St. Louis Cardinals

Texas Rangers

Pacific

Colorado Rockies

Oakland Athletics

San Francisco Giants

Seattle Mariners

Arizona Diamondbacks

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Diego Padres


Don’t worry, rivalry lovers! Our new schedule, which consists of 156 games, will have each team play each other team in its division 12 times (6 at home, 6 on road). The other 72 games come against the remaining 24 teams, so 3 games per team not in the team’s division. So for example, given that they’re both in our Central Division, the Cubs and Cardinals will play 12 times, but they’ll each play the Pirates thrice, because the Pirates are not in the Central division.

Under the new system, the playoffs will also be renovated:

12 teams will make the playoffs. The top 2 teams in each division will be guranteed a playoff berth, with the division winner getting a first round bye. The remaining 4 slots will be for the next four best records, aka wild cards. Each team will be seeded based on their records, with division winners recieving seeds 1–4, runners up recieving 5–8, and wild cards with 9–12.

The first round of the playoff consists of the bottom 8 seeds. 5 plays 12, 6 plays 11, 7 plays 10 and 8 plays 9. Here’s what the schedule looks like:

Day 1: 5 plays at 12, 8 plays at 9

Day 2: 6 plays at 11, 7 plays at 10

Day 3: 12 plays at 5, 9 plays at 8, 12 plays at 5 (if nec.), 9 plays at 8(if nec.)

Day 4: 11 plays at 6, 10 plays at 7, 11 plays at 6 (if nec.), 10 plays at 7 (if nec.)

As you can see, Days 3–4 are possible double headers, at the stadium of the higher seed.

For the next round, it gets more normal. Winner of 8/9 takes on 1 in a best of 5, winner of 5/12 takes on 4, etc. It’s just an 8 team tournament from then on out.

The final two rounds are best of 7.

Note: Home Field Advantage always goes to the team who had the better record in the regular season.


Now that we’ve laid out the league structure and playoffs, we’ll get back to the DH rule that was mentioned earlier. It is intended to be a compromise between the AL and NL’s current rules:

  1. All rosters now consist of 26 players, instead of 25.

2. A team must have their pitcher in the batting order. However, you may pinch hit for your pitcher and leave your pitcher in, but the pinch hitter is used and cannot be used again in the game at any position. If you don’t pinch hit for your pitcher, a bench player is not wasted. If you do, you can either leave your pitcher in, and the pinch hitter is gone, or you can take your pitcher out like the current NL rule, and double switch or just pinch hit.

This leads to some interesting decisions to be made. If a team has a lot of depth, you can hit your pitcher second, and just pinch hit every time he comes up but still leave him in the game with the risk of burning your bench for more offensive production. Or, do you hit him ninth and let him hit twice, saving your bench for later, higher leverage situations.

This has been part 2 of our expansion series. Stay tuned for more articles as we prepare for our mock expansion draft!

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