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View Full Version : A.L. West structure - is it unfair?


kjhanson
10-01-2007, 10:54 AM
This is something that I've thought about for quite some time and am relatively surprised it doesn't get discussed much, if at all.

Because there are only 4 teams in the A.L. West, the first place team only has to beat out 3 other teams. In every other division, the winner must defeat 4 or 5 teams. In what way does that make sense? Getting to the post-season is one of the pinnacles in baseball, and it's clearly easier to get there if you play in the West.

Even though 4-5 teams have sucked in the N.L. Central consistently, teams in that division would be at a relative disadvantage. (of course, because of the poor play in that division recently, it's easy for an NLC team to make the playoffs, so it's not really applicable to them)

Anyways, there are some deeper ramifications to this, especially financial. Because teams in the ALW have a better chance to make the playoffs, they have a better chance to make more money from the playoff games. Not to mention the additional fan buzz that comes with going to the playoffs. That means more dollars as well.

I'm not sure what the counter-argument to this would be. People have argued that teams in the ALW are at a disadvantage because they have to travel the most. Does this even the playing field? Personally, I don't think so. I think it's pretty easy to move Houston to the ALW and stop giving those teams an advantage. What are your thoughts?

spiffie
10-01-2007, 11:04 AM
This is something that I've thought about for quite some time and am relatively surprised it doesn't get discussed much, if at all.

Because there are only 4 teams in the A.L. West, the first place team only has to beat out 3 other teams. In every other division, the winner must defeat 4 or 5 teams. In what way does that make sense? Getting to the post-season is one of the pinnacles in baseball, and it's clearly easier to get there if you play in the West.

Even though 4-5 teams have sucked in the N.L. Central consistently, teams in that division would be at a relative disadvantage. (of course, because of the poor play in that division recently, it's easy for an NLC team to make the playoffs, so it's not really applicable to them)

Anyways, there are some deeper ramifications to this, especially financial. Because teams in the ALW have a better chance to make the playoffs, they have a better chance to make more money from the playoff games. Not to mention the additional fan buzz that comes with going to the playoffs. That means more dollars as well.

I'm not sure what the counter-argument to this would be. People have argued that teams in the ALW are at a disadvantage because they have to travel the most. Does this even the playing field? Personally, I don't think so. I think it's pretty easy to move Houston to the ALW and stop giving those teams an advantage. What are your thoughts?
As long as you have interleague play there has to be an unbalanced division, or else there's basically interleague play all the time.

fquaye149
10-01-2007, 11:04 AM
Less divisional games would seem to be the mitigating factor.

Less divisional games means less chance to make up ground or widen a divisional lead.

For instance, in 2007, AL West teams only played 57 divisional games. Compare that to a 5-team division like the AL East (72 divisional games) or a 6-team division like the NL Central (79 divisional games).

Things have a way of coming out in the wash, I would think

TheVulture
10-01-2007, 11:28 AM
As long as you have interleague play there has to be an unbalanced division, or else there's basically interleague play all the time.

Actually, without interleague play it would be impossible - you'd always have a team without a matchup. Like you said, though, you'd have to have interleague play all the time. If you're going to have 6 divisions with wild cards, I'd have no problem with that. The unbalanced schedule is BS when there is a wild card involved. Under the current format, there is no way to say with a straight face the wild card winner is the best 2nd place team in each league.

Even-ing the divisions and balancing the schedule with continuous interleague play is the only remedy, other than returning to 2 division leagues and eliminating the wild card or expanding to 36 teams.

Scottiehaswheels
10-01-2007, 12:00 PM
Or expand to 32 teams and do 4 divisions of 4 teams like the NFL... No wildcard, just division winners.

soltrain21
10-01-2007, 12:09 PM
Or expand to 32 teams and do 4 divisions of 4 teams like the NFL... No wildcard, just division winners.


There are enough ****ty teams as it is. We don't need more.

sox1970
10-01-2007, 12:10 PM
Or expand to 32 teams and do 4 divisions of 4 teams like the NFL... No wildcard, just division winners.

I'll quit being a baseball fan. Nothing is fair other than a balanced schedule. I guess I can live with the current setup, but they need to make interleague more fair within each division. The strength of schedule comes into play too much.

Scottiehaswheels
10-01-2007, 12:12 PM
There are enough ****ty teams as it is. We don't need more.Oh I agree.. I was just commenting on the idea that we'd need 36 teams for a balanced schedule

pierzynski07
10-01-2007, 12:18 PM
Your point is only valid if every team in the division is a contender. While it's certinally possible for the West to dominate everyone in the Central and West, it's also highly unlikely. Each division will have no more than three contenders, so the chase for those teams will be the same as the other divisions.

Mohoney
10-02-2007, 07:12 AM
Oh I agree.. I was just commenting on the idea that we'd need 36 teams for a balanced schedule

They might not be able to make it truly balanced, but they still can make it more balanced than it is now. I would propose to get rid of Interleague Play, balance the schedules of each league as close as possible, and have the previous season's results determine the extra few series each year (Division winners vs. other division winners, 5th place teams vs. 5th place teams, etc.)

Soxzilla
10-02-2007, 07:20 AM
Tell this to the Texas Rangers.

See what they say.

asindc
10-02-2007, 09:21 AM
There are enough ****ty teams as it is. We don't need more.

Amen. All the major sports have expanded too much as it is for short term gain/long term detriment. Let's disband the Florida teams and go from there. About 600 people total would truly be upset.

kjhanson
10-02-2007, 11:02 AM
Tell this to the Texas Rangers.

See what they say.

They would tell you that they won 3 of the first 6 division titles after the division was re-organized. Their only 3 division titles ever...

jabrch
10-02-2007, 11:22 AM
If it were me, I'd eliminate divisions entirely. NL and AL - top 4 teams advance. I don't see why it is right that a team that went 89-73 is out while a team that went 85-77 is in.

sox1970
10-02-2007, 11:27 AM
If it were me, I'd eliminate divisions entirely. NL and AL - top 4 teams advance. I don't see why it is right that a team that went 89-73 is out while a team that went 85-77 is in.

Correct. In most years it usually comes down to just the wildcard and homefield advantage anyway. In a perfect world they would eliminate divisions and intereleague, and play a balanced schedule--156 regular season games. Then expand the first round to best of 7.

kjhanson
10-02-2007, 11:46 AM
If it were me, I'd eliminate divisions entirely. NL and AL - top 4 teams advance. I don't see why it is right that a team that went 89-73 is out while a team that went 85-77 is in.

To your point, I just finished analyzing division winners since 1995 (I excluded 1994 due to the strike).

Here are the average overall finishes for the division winners in each division (ex: Cubs had the 6th best record in the NL this year, yet won the division; therefore, the NLC gets a 6 for this year):

ALE: 1.69
ALC: 2.46
ALW: 2.77

NLE:1.69
NLC: 3.08
NLW: 2.62

As you can see, the division winner in the West finishes closer to 3rd place than 2nd place, on average. Despite this, in all 13 years, the AL West winner finished in the top 4 every single year. Not surprising, the average NL Central winner doesn't even finish in the Top 3. That speaks volumes to how pathetic that division has been over the past 13 years.

Other notes: 7 of the most recent 78 (9%) playoff teams did not finish in the Top 4. The NL Central has produced 3 of those teams, and have "accomplished" the feat in consecutive years now. The Padres went to the playoffs in 2005 with the 7th best record in the National League. After getting swept out of the 1st round of the playoffs, their final record was under .500 at 82-83.

Note: This material is published and copyrighted (on another site, which I own) and may not be reproduced without proper permission, which I will gladly grant

Fenway
10-02-2007, 12:59 PM
The big loser in that division is Texas which is 1500 miles away from everybody else.

I don't know how you can fix it but here is an idea

Make the AL East the 4 team division

Boston, NYY, Baltimore and Toronto

AL Central Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay

AL West Kansas City, Texas, Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland.

It gets Tampa out of the death hole they are in with at least some hope of competing for a division title.

Putting KC in the west then you have 2 teams in the Central time zone

Plus it gives the 10 teams outside of the east more home dates with both NYY and Boston.

asindc
10-02-2007, 01:07 PM
The big loser in that division is Texas which is 1500 miles away from everybody else.

I don't know how you can fix it but here is an idea

Make the AL East the 4 team division

Boston, NYY, Baltimore and Toronto

AL Central Chicago, Minnesota, Detroit, Cleveland, Tampa Bay

AL West Kansas City, Texas, Anaheim, Seattle and Oakland.

It gets Tampa out of the death hole they are in with at least some hope of competing for a division title.

Putting KC in the west then you have 2 teams in the Central time zone

Plus it gives the 10 teams outside of the east more home dates with both NYY and Boston.

As currently constituted, I don't think Tampa has an any better chance to win the AL Central than KC would of winning the AL East (yes, I realize you are talking long term). If Tampa's young turks stay together and mesh, then maybe. But in that case, they could compete in the AL East as well.

Fenway
10-02-2007, 01:16 PM
As currently constituted, I don't think Tampa has an any better chance to win the AL Central than KC would of winning the AL East (yes, I realize you are talking long term). If Tampa's young turks stay together and mesh, then maybe. But in that case, they could compete in the AL East as well.

Boston and New York will always be able to go the Scott Boras Safeway and pick up what they need.

My idea isn't perfect but a lot better than what we have now.

In a perfect world Texas is in the Central to begin with.

pierzynski07
10-02-2007, 01:22 PM
To your point, I just finished analyzing division winners since 1995 (I excluded 1994 due to the strike).

Here are the average overall finishes for the division winners in each division (ex: Cubs had the 6th best record in the NL this year, yet won the division; therefore, the NLC gets a 6 for this year):

ALE: 1.69
ALC: 2.46
ALW: 2.77

NLE:1.69
NLC: 3.08
NLW: 2.62

As you can see, the division winner in the West finishes closer to 3rd place than 2nd place, on average. Despite this, in all 13 years, the AL West winner finished in the top 4 every single year. Not surprising, the average NL Central winner doesn't even finish in the Top 3. That speaks volumes to how pathetic that division has been over the past 13 years.

Other notes: 7 of the most recent 78 (9%) playoff teams did not finish in the Top 4. The NL Central has produced 3 of those teams, and have "accomplished" the feat in consecutive years now. The Padres went to the playoffs in 2005 with the 7th best record in the National League. After getting swept out of the 1st round of the playoffs, their final record was under .500 at 82-83.

Note: This material is published and copyrighted (on another site, which I own) and may not be reproduced without proper permission, which I will gladly grant
A quick calculation on my part showed that the NLC's stats are greatly skewed by the last two godawful years, and that if you take them out, they're average was the same, or close to the same, as the ALC.

kjhanson
10-02-2007, 02:12 PM
A quick calculation on my part showed that the NLC's stats are greatly skewed by the last two godawful years, and that if you take them out, they're average was the same, or close to the same, as the ALC.

While we're at it, why don't we just throw out the two worst years for every division? Admittedly, the population (no, it's not a sample, it's every piece of data available) is small, but you just threw out 15% of the data. If I throw out the two worst years for every division, the NLC is still in last by a wide margin. Even throwing out the NLC's worst years and keeping everyone else the same, the NLC is at 2.64, about 10% worse than the ALC, and only 4% better than the AL West.

Next time, do a loooooong calculation, then type.

Hitmen77
10-02-2007, 08:31 PM
I think the basic idea that, it's easier to beat out 3 teams than than 5 teams. However, their quality of competition is better as others have said. One factor that will help make the AL West more competitive is the fact that there are no real "bottom feeder"/low payroll teams in that league. Only Oakland seems to have budget issues due to low attendance - but they always compete (and, no i'm not a FOBB) and I bet they'll have more revenue once Cisco Field opens.

The NL Central on the other hand has THREE small market teams (Pit, Mil, and Cin). Wanna bet it'll be easier for a team like the Cubs to compete in their division for the foreseeable future than it would if they were in the AL West?

Regarding the unbalance schedule - I hate it. It totally skews W-L totals - which is an issue for wild card races. For example, though not a wild card issue, this year's "mighty" Cubs racked up an incredible 85 wins. Of course, they get to play their 5 weak rivals in the NL Central 18 times each. Does that really make them only "4 games worse" than teams like the Padres or the Mets? Forget making the playoffs, I wonder if the Cubs would even be .500 if they had to play in any other division.

pierzynski07
10-03-2007, 12:19 AM
While we're at it, why don't we just throw out the two worst years for every division? Admittedly, the population (no, it's not a sample, it's every piece of data available) is small, but you just threw out 15% of the data. If I throw out the two worst years for every division, the NLC is still in last by a wide margin. Even throwing out the NLC's worst years and keeping everyone else the same, the NLC is at 2.64, about 10% worse than the ALC, and only 4% better than the AL West.

Next time, do a loooooong calculation, then type.
You still can't say that the NLC has been awful for the last 13 years using a sample size that was greatly skewed by the last two years.