Saturday, July 23, 2011

Taking the Proposed MLB Realignment A Step Further

Discussions about the possibility of restructuring the current MLB alignment ran rampant last month.  Some of the ideas included 1) eliminating the divisions altogether and creating two 15-team leagues vying for five playoff spots within each league, 2) a realignment based solely on geographic criteria, or 3) simply moving one National League team (Houston) to the American League to form three, 5-team divisions with four teams from each league making the playoffs, among others.

While I do believe the third proposal to be the most likely scenario, it still fails to address an important issue that Major League Baseball has avoided for years -- the discrepencies in team payrolls.  Both the National Basketball Association (NBA) and National Football League (NFL) currently have some sort of salary cap (or salary floor) in place which not only helps control costs, but it also promotes parity between the teams.  Although a franchise with a high team payroll may not necessarily put a winning product on the field, there is a high correlation between winning and teams with large payrolls.

Take the New York Yankees and Pittsburgh Pirates for example.  According to ESPN, the Yankees boast the largest payroll in all of MLB at a near $197 million for 2011 alone.  The Pirates on the other hand, have a payroll this season of almost a fifth of that at just under $46 million.  Is their a correlation between winning and money here?  Yes.  The Buccos haven't had a winning record in eighteen seasons, the longest such streak of any professional team in North America.  Meanwhile, the Pinstripes have made 15 playoff appearances since then -- winning the World Series five times in those trips. 

If MLB truly wants to level the playing field of its league and instill hope in fans of perennial, losing franchises, it should realign the current makeup of its divisions with team payroll in mind.  I propose that the new realignment consists of two, 15-team leagues (American & National) with one division in each league designated for "big", "medium" and "small" market payrolls.  Here is what each division would look like (numbers in parenthesis represent 2011 team payroll as reported by ESPN):
AL "Big" Market DivisionNL "Big" Market Division
NY Yankees ($176.9 mil) PHI Phillies ($173.0 mil)
BOS Red Sox ($160.3 mil) CHI Cubs ($126.4 mil)
LA Angels ($139.0 mil) NY Mets ($120.1 mil)
CHI White Sox ($129.3 mil) SF Giants ($117.8 mil)
MIN Twins ($112.7 mil) LA Dodgers ($103.8 mil)

AL "Medium" Market Division

NL "Medium" Market Division
DET Tigers ($105.7 mil) STL Cardinals ($98.8 mil)
TEX Rangers ($91.9 mil) COL Rockies ($88.0 mil)
BAL Orioles ($85.3 mil) ATL Braves ($87.0 mil)
SEA Mariners ($84.7 mil) MIL Brewers ($85.5 mil)
HOU Astros ($70.0 mil) CIN Reds ($76.2 mil)

AL "Small" Market Division

NL "Small" Market Division
OAK Athletics ($65.3 mil) WSH Nationals ($57.9 mil)
TOR Blue Jays ($61.6 mil) FLA Marlins ($56.6 mil)
CLE Indians ($48.3 mil) ARI Diamondbacks ($53.6 mil)
TB Rays ($41.9 mil) PIT Pirates ($45.6 mil)
KC Royals ($35.7 mil) SD Padres ($45.5 mil)


BJ Ruble said...

I think either just moving the Astros over or creating all new divisions still has a fundamental flaw that the schedule is not very balanced. I think with them moving over having six 5 team divisions the breakdown should be the following: 10 games vs division opponents (Two 3 game and one 2 game each home/away) 60 games vs the rest of the league (Three game series home and away), and 60 games vs the other league (Two game series home and away). That would be a 160 game schedule and you play everyone.

10 games vs each division opponent
6 games vs each league opponent
4 game vs each rival league opponent

Jimmi Adair said...


That could work!

Wenq said...

check out MLB 2011 Schedule, results and more information about updates n more

MLB Salaries 2011