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.
By 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?