MLB realignment talk heats up…and makes sense

You may have never noticed, unless you really follow the MLB standings and pennant races, that baseball’s two leagues are unbalanced. There are currently 16 teams in the National League and 14 teams in the American League. I’ve taken special notice of this over the past couple years as my favorite team, the Brewers, has gotten better and vied for playoff contention.

The thing is, they are stuck in a division with six teams, the most in baseball. Luckily, talk of realignment has ramped up over the past week, which could grant the Brewers and the rest of the NL Central a much needed reprieve.

mlb-realignment-bernie-brewBy just a purely statistical look at this factor, NL Central teams have a tougher time winning the division. They have more teams to beat out and need more teams to have down years. The Cardinals and Astros have both been to the World Series in the past 10 years, with the Cubs, Reds, and Brewers all making post-season appearances in the past few years. No team has had a prolonged run of consistent success, in part because there is just more competition within the division.

On the flip side, the AL West only has four teams. Last season, the Rangers won 90 games. Solid, yes, but the lowest amount of any division winner in baseball. Only three times in the current incarnation of the AL West (A’s, Angels, Rangers, Mariners) has the division winner won 100 games. Each of the four teams has won the division at least three times since 1995. In comparison, neither the Pirates nor the Brewers have won the NL Central, and only once have either of those two teams made the playoffs in the same time span.

In the AL West, it is just easier for a team to win the division than in the NL Central. It’s just numbers. It is easier to beat out three opponents than five. When I saw this article from Buster Olney over on ESPN, which linked to Richard Justice’s from the Houston Chronicle, I got to thinking how I would realign Major League Baseball.

I would keep three divisions in each league, with just one wild card team. I love the fact that a long season comes down to the wire with so few teams getting in, and I could get into another long post on that, which I might soon. So basically there would be 15 teams per league, with three divisions of five teams each.

Justice has a simple idea in his column, which I like. Move one team from the NL Central to the AL West. The most logical team to move would be the Astros, as they would have a natural rival within the division in the Rangers. The rest of the NL Central is Midwest teams, a category that the Astros just really don’t fit into. The player’s union is open to the idea, according to Buster’s blog, and I’d love to see this move happen sooner rather than later.

What do you think about the proposed realignment ideas? And which team(s) would you shuffle?

About Chris Callaway

Chris lives and works in La Crosse, Wisconsin, working primarily on-air while doing some writing as well. He is a part-owner of the Green Bay Packers, a Milwaukee Brewers die-hard, learning hockey while supporting the Minnesota Wild, and is also a fan of the Wisconsin Badgers and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Follow him on twitter @ccallaway33.


  1. U obviously know nothing about the NL central and the St. Louis Cardinals. They have the best record in baseball over the last 10 years. The central has been the easiest to win each year because the cards have no competition year after year. The number of teams in a division doesn't matter, but the number of good teams in a division does. Unfortunately for your argument the NL central is historically weak.

    • Disagree. Since the NL Central went to six teams in 1998, the Cardinals have won the division five times in 13 years. In the year they won the World Series, they only won 83 games. I never said the Cardinals were not a good team. In the past three years, the rest of the division has caught up, with the Brewers, Reds and Cubs making playoff appearances as well. The Astros have a World Series appearance in 2005, and the Pirates just might break .500 real soon. So the number of teams in the division does matter, especially of recent, when most if not all of the teams have been competitive.

  2. danberman4 says:

    It's a horrible idea. Interleague play every day? They've lost their minds. The whole reason the Brewers moved to the NL was to avoid that.

    • I'm torn. I understand the need to have an even number of teams in each league, but I don't like that the leagues and divisions have different numbers of teams when they don't have to. I wouldn't mind having Interleague play throughout the season, as long as the number of Interleague games a given team plays remains small.

      My first choice of a team to move would be the Brewers, since I still think of them as an American League team. That would mean sending the Royals to the West, which isn't great but wouldn't be much different than the arrangement that the Chiefs have in the NFL. The Astros make a certain amount of sense, but I like having one Texas team in each league—like there is one New York team in each league, one DC-Baltimore team in each league, one LA-Anaheim team in each league, one Bay Area team in each league, one Florida team in each league, one Chicago team in each league, one Ohio team in each league, and one Missouri team in each league. For that matter, they could move the Pirates, so that there would be one Pennsylvania team in each league. That would involve putting either the Pirates or Blue Jays in the AL Central and again bumping the Royals to the West.

      • Chris Callawawy says:

        Good point. I like moving the Pirates to the AL as an alternative. Keeps the AL-NL balance within a state.

        And as for the interleague argument, I don't see it as a problem. The could cycle all the teams through, so teams would only have an interleague series every six weeks or so. I think it would break up some of the redundancy of league play.

      • Gregory G.Castro says:

        i ageee the pirates should go into the american league east send the boston red sox to the national league central with the brewers-cardinals-cubs&reds& send the prates to the american league east with the blue jays-orioles-rays&yankees

  3. move the pittsburgh pirates to the american league east-the boston red sox to the national league central move the houston astros to american league central and the kansas city royals to the west

  4. Gregory G. Castro says:

    i say move the pitts burgh pirates&atlanta braves to the american league east move the tampa bay rays to the american league central the kansas city royal to the american league west&the boston red sox to the national league east

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