Yesterday’s news of possible MLB realignment is not going to sit well with baseball purists. If you thought the addition of the Wild Card round was a sore topic, hold on to your hat. One of the most popular ideas gaining steam is having MLB go to two 15-team leagues.
Currently, the National League has 16 teams and the AL has 14 teams. The way this has come about over time appears to have been more for scheduling purposes than anything else. Think about it, if baseball were to go to two 15-team leagues, then interleague play would be required every day of the season. Given baseball likes to treat interleague play as an event however, this would dilute the appeal of interleague play. While there is definitely real resistance to this idea and the concept has not formerly been presented to owners yet, the player’s union is reportedly in favor of the concept.
Why are the players in favor of realignment?
Players want it because they are not happy about AL West teams having a 25% chance of making the playoffs, the NL Central just 18% and the rest of the division all at 20%.
To switch to a two league 15-team alignment, one team from the NL would have to move to the AL. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney who broke the news, two highly-ranked executives think the Houston Astros could be asked to switch to the American League in order to tap into a rivalry with the Texas Rangers. This also makes sense because it would allow baseball to remove one team from the NL Central and slot Houston into the AL West, which would address the issue of playoff percentages.
Focus on Houston’s New Owner
Baseball faces a major obstacle here as Houston Astros new owner to be Jim Crane and his group will be plunking down $680 million on the Houston franchise and didn’t make the offer to buy the team with the intention of it becoming an American League franchise. It’s important to note that Bud Selig and MLB haven’t even officially approved the purchase yet.
The only time a team has changed leagues is when Bud Selig’s own Milwaukee Brewers, who were owned by his family at the time, switched leagues from the American League to the National League. At the time Selig’s mantra was that Milwaukee was a “National League town” because the Milwaukee Braves had previously played there. Houston of course has no prior American League affiliation.
Given the Braves played in Milwaukee for 13 years and the Brewers played in the American League for 28 years, the “National League town” excuse always seemed silly to me. Then again having 16 teams in one league and 14 in the other and having even one rule difference between the leagues seems silly to me too.
If MLB does implement realignment, it will be a prelude to the inevitable of adding two expansion teams. This will bring the total of teams to 32, the same as the current NFL, and double 1960 MLB. This would likely result in four 8-team divisions and ideally, while there should be just four teams in the postseason, we all know they would insist on having at least eight. Still, with fewer, larger divisions, the chances of a poor team sneaking in would be greatly diminished.
You can expect to hear a lot about this as the MLB collective bargaining talks heat up.
Sunday Sound Bite – “I wouldn’t trade him, I would keep him on my team”
Listen to Yankees hitting coach Kevin Long tell our Scott Engel why you should not trade Curtis Granderson from your Fantasy Baseball team, courtesy of RotoExperts.com and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio.
- Fantasy Baseball: The Kids are Alright!
- Pablo Sandoval to Play Catcher Again
- Inside the Numbers: Bummer for Bumgarner
- The Ballpark Report: Cleveland Indians
- The Ballpark Report: Boston Red Sox
- The Ballpark Report: Atlanta Braves
- The Ballpark Report: Pittsburgh Pirates
- The Ballpark Report: Philadelphia Phillies