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MLB: Would Removing the Divisions Make a Difference?

Joe HalversonCorrespondent IJune 16, 2011

MLB: Would Removing the Divisions Make a Difference?

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 08:  The 2010 World Series trophy is displayed as San Francisco Giants players line up before the start of the Giants' opening day game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 8, 2011 in San Francisco, California.
    Pool/Getty Images

    Labor talks are heating up again in Major League Baseball, and one of the more intriguing topics is the idea of completely removing the divisions in each league and going to a one-division format.

    Proponents of this arrangement state that, by removing the divisions, the top regular-season records are guaranteed to go to the playoffs.  There is also a belief that parity will increase, as there will no longer be three guaranteed spots going to regional division winners.

    But will this actually be the case?  Here is a year-by-year look at what would have happened in the wild-card era had there been no divisions, but still four playoff berths per league.

The Ground Rules

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    GREENWICH, CT - NOVEMBER 12:  2009 World Series Yankees Trophy at Manfredi Jewels on November 12, 2010 in Greenwich, Connecticut.  (Photo by Donald Bowers/Getty Images for Manfredi Jewels)
    Donald Bowers/Getty Images

    1. I am only looking at 1998 to the present.  After mulling things over, I decided to cut off the first four years because the leagues looked slightly different and there were only 28 teams.

    2. The top four records will receive spots in the playoffs.  Any ties for the fourth spot are noted.

    3. There are no scheduling adjustments, meaning that every team played the exact schedule that was played that year.  This also means that the AL remains at 14 teams and the NL at 16 teams for the purposes of this study.

    Without further ado, here’s a look at what happened:

1998 American League

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    BRONX, NY - OCTOBER 18:  Starting pitcher David Wells #33 of the New York Yankees pitches during game one of the Major League Baseball World Series against the Florida Marlins on October 18, 2003 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx, New York. The Marlins won 3
    Brian Bahr/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Cleveland Indians

    Texas Rangers

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (114-48)

    Boston Red Sox (92-70)

    Cleveland Indians (89-73)

    Texas Rangers/Toronto Blue Jays (88-74)

     

    The Yankees were head and shoulders above everybody this year, but the Red Sox would move up to the second seed if there were no divisions.  Additionally, Texas and Toronto would hold a one-game playoff for the fourth spot, which would have given the Blue Jays an extra opportunity to make the playoffs that they would not have had otherwise.

1998 National League

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    7 Oct 2001:  Right fielder Tony Gwynn #19 of the San Diego Padres acknowledges the crowd during the Major League Baseball game against the Colorado Rockies at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California.  The Rockies defeated the Padres 14-5.  Mandatory Cre
    Christopher Ruppel/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Atlanta Braves

    Houston Astros

    San Diego Padres

    Chicago Cubs (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Atlanta Braves (106-56)

    Houston Astros(102-60)

    San Diego Padres (98-64)

    Chicago Cubs (90-73)

     

    Absolutely nothing changes if we remove the divisions.  In fact, the real-life scenario in which the Cubs and the Giants held a one-game playoff would still go on exactly as happened.

1999 American League

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    TORONTO - AUGUST 7:  Roger Clemens #22 of the New York Yankees throws a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays on August 7, 2007 at the Rogers Centre in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Yankees defeated the Blue Jays 9-2.  (Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images)
    Dave Sandford/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Cleveland Indians

    Texas Rangers

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (98-64)

    Cleveland Indians (97-65)

    Texas Rangers (95-67)

    Boston Red Sox (94-68)

     

    Like the NL last year, nothing changes with the AL in 1999 if the divisions are removed.  However, there would probably be an exciting chase for the top seed, since all four contenders were within five games of each other as the season ended.

1999 National League

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    ATLANTA - MARCH 31: Pitcher Tom Glavine #47 of the Atlanta Braves throws a pitch in his first game back with the Braves during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates on March 31, 2008 at Turner Field in Atlanta, Georgia.  The Pirates beat the Braves 12-1
    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Atlanta Braves

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Houston Astros

    New York Mets (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Atlanta Braves (103-59)

    Arizona Diamondbacks (100-62)

    Houston Astros (97-65)

    New York Mets (97-66)

     

    Also like last season, the NL in 1999 played out exactly as in real life.  In fact, the Mets defeated the Reds in a one-game playoff for the Wild Card in real life, and that would have played out again for the fourth spot.

2000 American League

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 7:  Magglio Ordonez #30 of the Chicago White Sox bats during the game against the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium on April 7, 2004 in Kansas City, Missouri. The White Sox won 4-3.  (Photo by Dave Kaup/Getty Images)
    Dave Kaup/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Chicago White Sox

    Oakland Athletics

    New York Yankees

    Seattle Mariners (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Chicago White Sox (95-67)

    Oakland Athletics (91-70)

    Seattle Mariners (91-71)

    Cleveland Indians (90-72)

     

    For the first time, we have a change in the playoff quartet without divisions—and boy, is it a big one.  The Yankees, who won the World Series in real life, finished the year with an 87-74 regular-season record and would have been shut out of the playoffs if there were no divisions.  This means that baseball would have had a different champion for the 2000 season, as well as no Subway Series and no three-peat for the Yankees.  

    The Indians would take the Yankees' place in the playoffs as the fourth seed, which means the Tribe would have made the playoffs for six straight seasons (soon to be seven).

2000 National League

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    ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 27:  Jeff Kent #21 of the San Francisco Giants runs to first base against the Anaheim Angels during game seven of the World Series on October 27, 2002 at Edison Field in Anaheim, California.  The Angels won the game 4-1 and the Serie
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    San Francisco Giants

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Atlanta Braves

    New York Mets (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    San Francisco Giants (97-65)

    St. Louis Cardinals (95-67)

    Atlanta Braves (95-67)

    New York Mets (94-68)

     

    Unlike the AL, the NL has no changes to the playoff lineup, as even the order of the teams remains the same.  In fact, this is the third straight season in which the NL remains unchanged, though there was no one-game playoff for the Wild Card (fourth seed) in 2000.

2001 American League

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    DETROIT, MI - JUNE 09: Ichiro Suzuki #51 of the Seattle Mariners hits the ball during a MLB game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park on June 9, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan.  (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)
    Dave Reginek/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Seattle Mariners

    New York Yankees

    Cleveland Indians

    Oakland Athletics (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Seattle Mariners (116-46)

    Oakland Athletics (102-60)

    New York Yankees (95-65)

    Cleveland Indians (91-71)

     

    There's only a slight change in 2001: The A's and Yankees switch seeds, meaning that the fifth game of their playoff series was played in Oakland instead of New York.  Other than that, there are no other changes in the AL playoffs.

2001 National League

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    SAN FRANCISCO - MAY 14:  Lance Berkman #17 of the Houston Astros bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on May 14, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Houston Astros

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Atlanta Braves

    St. Louis Cardinals (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Houston Astros (93-69)

    St. Louis Cardinals (93-69)

    Arizona Diamondbacks (92-70)

    San Francisco Giants (90-72)

     

    For the first time, the NL has a change in its playoff roll call, as the Atlanta Braves' record streak of 14 straight playoff appearances is cut short at a still-impressive nine years.  The Giants replace the Braves in the playoffs, and this quartet has a very clear western flavor.  

    There's also the possibility that the Astros and Cardinals play for the top overall seed, but those type of ties have been settled by head-to-head records in the past and would likely be decided that way again. 

2002 American League

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    ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 30:   Eric Chavez #3 of the Oakland Athletics hits a two RBI single in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Angels Stadium on June 30, 2008 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
    Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Oakland Athletics

    Minnesota Twins

    Anaheim Angels (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (103-58)

    Oakland Athletics (103-59)

    Anaheim Angels (99-63)

    Minnesota Twins (94-67)

     

    One of the most top-heavy seasons in AL history (Boston and Seattle tied for fifth with 93 wins apiece), the playoffs see only a minor change in seeding as the Angels meet the A's in the first round instead of the Twins.  

2002 National League

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    SAN FRANCISCO - APRIL 8:  Andruw Jones #25 of the Atlanta Braves bats against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 8, 2006 in San Francisco, California. The Giants defeated the Braves 12-6.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Atlanta Braves

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    St. Louis Cardinals

    San Francisco Giants (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Atlanta Braves (101-59)

    Arizona Diamondbacks (98-64)

    St. Louis Cardinals (97-65)

    San Francisco Giants (95-66)

     

    Nothing at all changes in the NL, as the real-life World Series participant Giants still would have had the fourth seed without divisions.

2003 American League

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    OAKLAND, CA - MAY 31:  Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees bats against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on May 31, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Oakland Athletics

    Minnesota Twins

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (101-61)

    Oakland Athletics (96-66)

    Boston Red Sox (95-67)

    Seattle Mariners (93-69)

     

    2003 brings the second major change to the playoff quartet, as the Mariners take the place of the Twins while the Red Sox bump up to the third seed.  Interestingly, however, all of the matchups in the playoffs would have been exactly the same with Seattle in place of Minnesota.  Could the Mariners have stopped the Yankees in the 2003 playoffs?

2003 National League

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    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 24:  Chipper Jones #10 of the Atlanta Braves in action against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on April 24, 2011 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Atlanta Braves

    San Francisco Giants

    Chicago Cubs

    Florida Marlins (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Atlanta Braves (101-61)

    San Francisco Giants (100-61)

    Florida Marlins (91-71)

    Chicago Cubs (88-74)

     

    There's only a slight change in seeding, as the Cubs and eventual champ Marlins switch spots.  Much like the AL, however, it does not affect any of the matchups.  We might have seen more drama in the chase for the fourth spot, as Houston finished just a single game behind the Cubs for fifth place in the overall standings.

2004 American League

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    NEW YORK - JULY 19:  New York Yankee Mike Mussina waves to the crowd during the teams 63rd Old Timers Day before the game against the Detroit Tigers on July 19, 2009 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Ima
    Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Anaheim Angels

    Minnesota Twins

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (101-61)

    Boston Red Sox (98-64)

    Anaheim Angels (92-70)

    Minnesota Twins (92-70)

     

    We have only a change in seeding without divisions, and that change means that the Red Sox now host the Angels in the first round.  It's a small difference that probably would not have affected the Sox' eventual World Series win.

2004 National League

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    CHICAGO, IL - MAY 12:  Albert Pujols #5 of the St. Louis Cardinals hits the ball against the Chicago Cubs at Wrigley Field on May 12, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. The Cardinals defeated the Cubs 9-1.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Atlanta Braves

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    Houston Astros (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    St. Louis Cardinals (105-67)

    Atlanta Braves (96-66)

    Los Angeles Dodgers (93-69)

    Houston Astros (92-70)

     

    Once again, the NL is completely unaffected by removing the divisions.  In fact, the race for the NL Wild Card that season between the Astros and Giants now becomes the race for the fourth seed.

2005 American League

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    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 12: Paul Konerko #14 of the Chicago White Sox bats against the Oakland Athletics on June 12, 2011 at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Athletics 5-4. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images)
    David Banks/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Chicago White Sox

    Los Angeles Angels

    New York Yankees

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Chicago White Sox (99-63)

    Los Angeles Angels (95-67)

    New York Yankees (95-67)

    Boston Red Sox (95-67)

     

    Nothing changes by removing the divisions, though the race for the final three spots in the playoffs becomes quite a dogfight between the Angels, Yankees, Red Sox and the 93-win Indians.

2005 National League

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    ST. LOUIS - JULY 20: Starting pitcher Chris Carpenter #29 of the St. Louis Cardinals throws against the Philadelphia Phillies at Busch Stadium on July 20, 2010 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)
    Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Atlanta Braves

    San Diego Padres

    Houston Astros (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    St. Louis Cardinals (100-62)

    Atlanta Braves (90-72)

    Houston Astros (89-73)

    Philadelphia Phillies (88-74)

     

    When people make the case for removing the divisions, the first year that people bring up is almost always the 2005 National League.  

    The West champ Padres finished the year with an 82-80 record and are widely regarded as the worst playoff team of the wild-card era.  Removing the divisions pushes them down to sixth place in the NL and puts the Phillies in the playoffs as the fourth seed.  The Astros are moved up to the third seed, and the matchups in the playoffs are otherwise unchanged other than the Phillies replacing the Padres.

2006 American League

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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees  watches his solo home run in the bottom of the fourth inning against the Cleveland Indians on June 10, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher
    Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Minnesota Twins

    Oakland Athletics

    Detroit Tigers (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (97-65)

    Minnesota Twins (96-66)

    Detroit Tigers (95-67)

    Oakland Athletics (93-69)

     

    No changes to the teams in the field, but the A's and Tigers trading spots changes the first-round matchups.  Do the Tigers still advance to the World Series if they are playing the Twins in the first round instead of the Yankees?

2006 National League

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    NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 21:  David Wright #5 of the New York Mets rounds the bases on his fourth inning solo home run against the Houston Astros at Citi Field on April 21, 2011 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by N
    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Mets

    San Diego Padres

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Los Angeles Dodgers (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Mets (97-65)

    San Diego Padres (88-74)

    Los Angeles Dodgers (88-74)

    Philadelphia Phillies (85-77)

     

    As much as the 2005 National League is an argument for removing the divisions, the 2006 National League makes the case for keeping them.  Removing the divisions means that the Phillies once again benefit, as they replace the Cardinals in the 2006 playoff field.  In other words, MLB has a new World Series champion in 2006, and Albert Pujols officially becomes the best athlete in sports without a championship ring.

2007 American League

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    CLEVELAND - OCTOBER 04:  Starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia #52 of the Cleveland Indians throws a pitch against the New York Yankees during Game One of the American League Divisional Series at Jacobs Field on October 4, 2007 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gre
    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Boston Red Sox

    Cleveland Indians

    Los Angeles Angels

    New York Yankees (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Boston Red Sox (96-66)

    Cleveland Indians (96-66)

    Los Angeles Angels (94-68)

    New York Yankees (94-68)

     

    Ultimately, the only change here is that the Yankees and Red Sox must face each other in the first round.  However, a look at the records of the top four teams tells us that the fight for seeding would have been fun to watch.  

2007 National League

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    PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 17:  Chris Young #24 of the Arizona Diamondbacks bats against the San Diego Padres during the Major League Baseball game at Chase Field on May 17, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Arizona Diamondbacks

    Philadelphia Phillies

    Chicago Cubs

    Colorado Rockies (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Arizona Diamondbacks (90-72)

    Colorado Rockies (90-73)

    Philadelphia Phillies (89-73)

    San Diego Padres (89-74)

     

    This might be the weirdest of years for either league during the wild-card era, as five teams finished within two games of each other atop the NL standings—and the 85-77 Cubs were not one of them.  

    The Padres instead take the Cubs' place in the playoffs, meaning that the one-game playoff they had with the Rockies would not have happened.  This means that the Rockies, Padres and Phillies would have all tied for second place with an 89-73 record.  

    So why are the teams seeded as they are?  

    Because the Rockies won the season series with both the Phillies and Padres, while the Phillies won their series with the Padres as well.  Finally, the Mets also finished the season with an 88-74 record, making this one of the most inclusive and exciting races ever.  And that's before we get to Colorado's amazing late-season charge.

2008 American League

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    ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 18:  Vladimir Guerrero #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim looks on during an off-day workout part of the ALCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on October 18, 2009 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Jeff
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Los Angeles Angels

    Tampa Bay Rays

    Chicago White Sox

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Los Angeles Angels (100-62)

    Tampa Bay Rays (97-65)

    Boston Red Sox (95-67)

    New York Yankees (89-73)

     

    Ironic, isn't it?  In real life, this is the one year in which the Yankees completely missed out on the playoffs; removing the divisions, however, puts them in instead of the White Sox.  There would be a great dogfight for that last spot, however, as the Twins also finished with the same record (88-74) as the White Sox on the season.  

    However, the playoffs are now strongly in favor of the AL East, much like last year's NL playoffs strongly favored the West.  The Angels draw the Yankees in the first round, while the league champ Rays take on the Red Sox.

2008 National League

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    CHICAGO, IL - JUNE 16: Alfonso Soriano #13 of the Chicago Cubs runs against the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field on June 16, 2011 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
    Scott Boehm/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Chicago Cubs

    Philadelphia Phillies

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    Milwaukee Brewers (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Chicago Cubs (97-64)

    Philadelphia Phillies (92-70)

    Milwaukee Brewers (90-72)

    New York Mets (89-73)

     

    For the first time ever, both leagues experience a change in their playoff quartet in the same season, as the Mets replace the Dodgers in the NL field and move the Brewers up a spot (without affecting the matchups, either).  The real-life NL West is shut out of the playoffs just one year after it grabbed three of the four spots.  And people say that baseball has a problem with parity.

2009 American League

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    NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 10: Mariano Rivera #42 of the New York Yankees throws in the top of the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians on June 10, 2011 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images)
    Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    New York Yankees

    Los Angeles Angels

    Minnesota Twins

    Boston Red Sox (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    New York Yankees (103-59)

    Los Angeles Angels (97-65)

    Boston Red Sox (95-67)

    Texas Rangers (87-75)

     

    Another change in the quartet, as the Rangers break their playoff drought a year early and replace the Twins against the Yankees in the first round.  

2009 National League

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    SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 28:  Manny Ramirez #99  of the Los Angeles Dodgers in action against the San Francisco Giants during an MLB game at AT&T Park on June 28, 2010 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Los Angeles Dodgers

    Philadelphia Phillies

    St. Louis Cardinals

    Colorado Rockies (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Los Angeles Dodgers (95-67)

    Philadelphia Phillies (93-69)

    Colorado Rockies (92-70)

    St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)

     

    This year features only minor changes, with the Rockies leapfrogging the Cardinals for the third seed.  Again, this doesn't affect any of the first-round matchups.  

2010 American League

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    BALTIMORE, MD - JUNE 11:  Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays hits a single to drive in the winning run in the eleventh inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on June 11, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland. The Rays won 7-5.  (Pho
    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Tampa Bay Rays

    Minnesota Twins

    Texas Rangers

    New York Yankees (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Tampa Bay Rays (96-66)

    New York Yankees (95-67)

    Minnesota Twins (94-68)

    Texas Rangers (90-72)

     

    The only change here is in seeding, with the Yankees going from the Wild Card to the second seed and having home-field advantage against the Twins in the first round.  However, there would be a fight for the top spot that would be quite fun to watch.

2010 National League

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    PHILADELPHIA - JUNE 15:  Roy Halladay #34 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitches against the Florida Marlins the Phillies would win in the bottom of the 10th during game two of a day night double header at Citizens Bank Park on June 15, 2011 in Philadelphia
    Len Redkoles/Getty Images

    Playoff Teams

    Philadelphia Phillies

    San Francisco Giants

    Cincinnati Reds

    Atlanta Braves (Wild Card)

     

    By Record

    Philadelphia Phillies (97-65)

    San Francisco Giants (92-70)

    Atlanta Braves (91-71)

    Cincinnati Reds (91-71)

     

    Like the AL, the NL had only a change in seeding as opposed to the quartet itself.  And as usual, it did not affect the actual matchups.

Observations

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    ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 9:  Carlos Delgado #25 of the Toronto Blue Jays hits a two-run homerun in the third inning against the Anaheim Angels during the game at Angel Stadium on September 9, 2004 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Removing the divisions did not affect the playoff picture at all on eight different occasions.

    It would have created a one-game playoff once, while also removing another one.

    It affected seeding nine times, while it changed either the AL or NL field eight times.

    2000 and 2006 saw the biggest changes, with new champions resulting from removing the divisions.

    The Twins lose two playoff spots, while the White Sox lose one.

    The Indians, Mariners and Rangers each gain a playoff spot.

    The Yankees and Red Sox were largely unaffected; the Yankees lost one (including a World Series win), but gained one back.

     

    The Braves, Cardinals, Cubs and Dodgers each lose a playoff spot.

    The Phillies gain two spots, while the Mets and Astros both gain one.

    Removing the divisions did not help the Orioles, Royals, Pirates or Nationals contend for the playoffs.

    Toronto received the opportunity to compete for a playoff spot in 1998, but none after that.

    If the Wild Card finished with the fourth-best record, the playoff field was unaffected in any way, shape or form.

Conclusion

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    PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 29:  The World Series Championship trophy is held up in front of fans of the Philadelphia Phillies after they won 4-3 against the Tampa Bay Rays during the continuation of game five of the 2008 MLB World Series on October 29, 2008 a
    Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images

    Removing the divisions would certainly make things fairer, but there would be little effect on parity.  The NL never really had a problem with it to begin with, while the AL saw a negligible change—particularly with the larger markets.  My recommendation would be that MLB should not remove the divisions unless it decides to go with a balanced schedule.

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