First Pitch: How Would You Expand and Realign MLB?

Over the weekend I dusted off my copy of Out of the Park Baseball 20 and decided to start up an expansion team. There have been some discussions of MLB expanding in the future, which I’m all for due to the current layout of the leagues.

My expansion simulation had new teams in Montreal and Portland, leading to the expansion and realignment I’d like to see.

First, I added new divisions in each league, and one team per league. This gave four teams per division, with the following breakdown:

NL East – Pirates, Montreal Expos, Mets, Phillies

NL North – Brewers, Cubs, Cardinals, Reds

NL South – Nationals, Braves, Marlins, Rays

NL West – Dodgers, Giants, Rockies, Padres

 

AL East – Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays

AL North – Indians, White Sox, Tigers, Twins

AL South – Astros, Diamondbacks, Rangers, Royals

AL West – Angels, Athletics, Mariners, Portland Hipsters

The key changes:

**Expos to the NL East, Portland to the AL West

**Pirates move to the NL East, making the rest of the old NL Central the new NL North

**Nationals, Braves, and Marlins leave the NL East to form the NL South

**Rays and Diamondbacks switch leagues for better alignment. Rays go to the NL South, which is east coast teams, while the Diamondbacks go to the AL South, which is mostly central and west coast teams.

**The rest of the AL East stays the same, minus the Rays.

**The Royals leave the AL Central for the AL South, and the rest of the AL Central becomes the AL North.

**The Astros and Rangers leave the AL West to complete the AL South with the Royals and Diamondbacks.

The key benefit here is the playoffs. You have one division winner from each league, giving you eight playoff teams. There are also two wild card teams, which means this expansion only really adds one additional playoff team per league. However, the rounds are re-structured.

Instead of a one-game Wild Card, the two Wild Card teams play in a best of three series against the two division winners with the lowest records. These are best of three series, taking place all in the city of the division winner.

The winners of those matchups go on to play the top two division winners, who get a few days off to rest and recover between the end of the season and the start of that playoff round. The rest of the post-season is the same.

The playoff structure improves the chances of teams making it to the post-season, giving one additional team a shot. But it also gives three additional teams a full playoff series, rather than having three teams with a full series and two teams playing a one game playoff to advance.

I started off as the Expos, and didn’t get far after the league restructure. We’ll see if I can eventually win it all with my small budget team and these new rules.

As for potential realignment, are you for it or against it, and how would you structure the league?

TODAY’S ARTICLES

We’ve got our Greensboro top ten going up today. Tomorrow’s First Pitch will be a follow-up to that list. We’ll also have any news and the live discussion.

SONG OF THE DAY

Today I’m starting off with one of my favorites by Foster The People.

DAILY QUIZ

How many Pittsburgh Pirates managers can you name?


PIRATES HISTORY

By John Dreker

Eight former Pittsburgh Pirates players born on this date, starting with the first round pick in 2000. Sean Burnett started 13 games for the 2004 Pirates before getting injured. He didn’t return to the majors until 2008 and at that time, he was a reliever. He remained with the Pirates until June 2009, when he was sent to the Nationals as part of the Joel Hanrahan trade. Burnett had a 4.54 ERA in 160.2 innings with the Pirates.

Jim Umbricht, pitcher for the 1960 World Series champs. He played three series in Pittsburgh (1959-61), posting a 5.12 ERA in 51 innings. The Houston Colt .45’s (Astros) took him in the expansion draft and he pitched well there for two year, but developed cancer, and by Opening Day in 1964, he passed away at the age of thirty-three. His number is retired by the Astros.

Bob Dillinger, 1950-51 third baseman. Hit .279 in 70 games for the Pirates. Played six years in the majors, leading the league in stolen bases three times and hits once.

Sheriff Blake, had 8.10 ERA in six relief appearances for 1920 Pirates as a rookie. After the Pirates, he didn’t pitch in the majors until 1924. Then after eight seasons, he spent 1932-36 in the minors. In 1937, he played for both St Louis teams. Blake won 228 games as a pro, playing a total of 21 seasons.

Whitey Glazner, 1920-23 pitcher. He went 14-5, 2.77 in 234 innings in 1921, which was easily his best season in the majors. Went 27-43 the rest of his career and finished with a 4.21 career ERA.

Wildfire Schulte, 1917 outfielder. Hit .214 in 30 games for Pirates near the end of his career. In 1911, he became the first player to reach the 20-20-20-20 club, collecting 30 doubles, 21 triples, 21 homers and 23 stolen bases. That feat wasn’t matched again until 1957 by Willie Mays and it’s only been done four times total in baseball history.

Otto Krueger, 1903-04 utility fielder. Hit .219 in 166 games for Pirates, seeing time at five different positions.

Dick Padden, second baseman for 1896-98 Pirates. Hit .265 over 323 games with Pittsburgh, then was one of three players dealt to Washington Senators for star second baseman Heinie Reitz.

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