What Would Baseball Look Like if Divisions Were Based on Geographic Location?

A few weeks ago, some friends and I were debating what a potential realignment in Major League Baseball would look like if they realigned the divisions based on geographic location. I wanted to see with my own eyes how the divisions look on an actual map and what they could possibly look like if they were re-allotted geographically.

This is a map of how the divisions are currently aligned:

Current MLB Teams

(Photo via thenationalsreview.com. Divisional lines drawn in the paint app.)

AL East: Black
NL East: Red
AL Central: Blue
NL Central: Green
AL West: Purple
NL West: Yellow

As much as I enjoy the divisions the way that they are, they just don’t look right on paper.

If Major League Baseball ever decided to realign the divisions based on geography, this is what we would likely be looking at:

MLB Teams by Location

(Photo via thenationalsreview.com. Divisional lines drawn in the paint app.)

(Note that I am keeping the current divisional format of five teams per division.)

The new divisions if MLB were to base them off of geographical proximity would be:

  1. Red Sox, Yankees, Mets, Phillies, Orioles
  2. Nationals, Pirates, Indians, Blue Jays, Tigers
  3. Royals, White Sox, Cubs, Twins, Brewers
  4. Cardinals, Reds, Braves, Rays, Marlins
  5. Mariners, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Astros
  6. Giants, Athletics, Dodgers, Angels, Padres

Another option is to swap the Mariners and the Padres, but I think it makes sense for all five teams in California to be in its own division. Either way, this is a lot easier on the eye than the initial map.

The benefits of this are that travel is made more affordable for teams. For example, let’s say the Yankees are just finishing up a night game in Toronto and have a day game the next day against the Rays in St. Petersburg. If MLB realigned the divisions based off of geographical location, the Yankees would no longer be in the same division as either team and therefore, this instance would not occur as often. With all of the long distance travel that professional athletes endure over the course of a long season, narrowing the distance of travel for divisional games that are played so frequently is a good way to decrease potential wear and tear due to travel.

Teams are more scattered in the west where the travel for divisional games would still be considerable for some teams. The Mariners, for example, will never have a flight from home of fewer than 800 miles no matter what division they are in. The majority of the large metropolitan cities are on the eastern half of the country and closer together, while the 13 teams (including St. Louis) playing ball west of the Gateway Arch are more widespread.

As far as leagues are concerned, they would look entirely different than they do right now. It may make more sense to have an Eastern and a Western League or Conference. But most baseball fans, including myself, would be opposed to going against the traditional American and National League system that has been in place since the early 1900s. It just wouldn’t seem right.

There is by no means any truth to this, and it would not be easy to imagine that the game would create totally new divisions in a short period of time. It was just a fun thing to debate and see what baseball could possibly look like if the game ever did entertain this option.

14 Responses

  1. EuroBirdbrain

    I would swap KC and Cincinnati, keeping the Missouri rivalry intact, and putting the Reds into the Midwest Division.

  2. 2awsons

    Seems like having Washington, Baltimore and Philly in one division would make more sense. To do that, I would link them with Pittsburgh & Cleveland. Making Detroit & Toronto paired with NY, NY and Boston.

    • NorCalBuc

      I like it! Plus, imagine if MLB expanded into Montreal, which ought to head the list of expansion candidates. That would build on the strong rivalries built from the 80 years of NHL rivalries with NY, BOS, MTL, and TOR

  3. 2awsons

    Map sure points out just how isolated Seattle is from other teams. Hard to believe that there are no cites in Oregon or Idaho that could support a team.

  4. Doc

    Is there any state besides PA where the two teams are in a different division???

    While philly to Pittsburgh is a long trip, it is shorter than LA to SF , and certainly SD to SF

    • Lee Foo Young

      Doc…living now 1.5 hrs away from Philly, I’d love to see them and maybe Toronto switch in the Pirates’ division.

    • NorCalBuc

      I agree, Doc. Missouri and Ohio fall into this category: Cincy and Cleve, and Stl and KC. None of these natural rivalries share a division in this plan.

  5. Lee Foo Young

    This would be great if we could do this, but it’ll never happen.

    As a Pirate fan, I’d love to be in with the Nationals, Indians, Blue Jays and Tigers


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