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How to Make MLB's NL and AL Fair Without Evening the Leagues

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 14: Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies delivers a pitch during the game against the Florida Marlins at Citizens Bank Park on June 14, 2011 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)
Drew Hallowell/Getty Images
SchmolikCorrespondent IIJune 21, 2011

Recently, there has been discussion that Major League Baseball should even the number of teams in the National and American Leagues to 15 teams each.

The current complaints are that one league has 16 teams and the other has 14 while one division (the NL Central) currently has six teams while another division (the AL West) has just four teams.

If the leagues are evened, either there will be three divisions of five in each league or no divisions in either league.

One huge problem with evening the leagues is that interleague play would have to be scheduled virtually the entire season and possibly require more interleague play. One article from CBSSports.com proposed a realignment that adds interleague games.

Another possible solution is the addition of two teams to baseball to make it 32 teams and four divisions of four in each league. I will propose a possible implementation of a 32-team Major League Baseball in a later article.

However, it will be hard to find two cities with either a MLB-ready ball park or the means to finance one.

But can you address the issues of the current imbalance of teams in each league without having an odd number of teams in each league or expand baseball to 32 teams? My proposal isn't perfect by any means (no proposal is) but I think it is better than the current format.

The two leagues would remain the same (no changes in membership).

The American League divisions remain the same and the playoff format remains the same. I am saying the American League should not add a wild-card team.

The National League (with 16 teams) should be realigned to four divisions of four teams each as follows:

NL East: Philadelphia, New York Mets, Washington, Pittsburgh

NL South: Atlanta, Cincinnati, Miami, Houston

NL North: Chicago Cubs, St. Louis, Milwaukee, Colorado

NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco, San Diego, Arizona

Here's the big difference. The National League playoffs will go to five teams instead of four (while the American League stays at four). The wild card team plays the divisional record with the worst record in either a winner take all game or a best of three series.

This may seem unfair to the American League, but there are two things to keep in mind.

1. The National League has two more teams.

2. The National League will have one extra division so both leagues still have one wild card.

Under the current format, one division has two more teams than another. Under my proposed format, five of the seven divisions have four teams and the other two have five. It is still an unbalance but less of an unbalance than the current format.

In addition, consider the following.

If both leagues keep four teams in the playoffs, four of 14 AL teams (29 percent) make the playoffs and four of 16 NL teams (25 percent) make the playoffs. So four percent more teams from the AL will make the playoffs (ignoring divisions and strength of divisions).

If both leagues add an additional team in the playoffs, five of 14 AL teams (36 percent) and five of 16 NL teams (31 percent) will make the playoffs. The disadvantage for the NL will increase slightly (to five percent).

In my proposed format, five of 16 NL teams (31 percent) and four of 14 AL teams (29 percent) will make the playoffs. A larger percentage of National League teams will make the playoffs, but the difference is less than either the current format or the proposed format.

The losers in my proposal would be the AL East and AL Central which have one extra team to compete with. Maybe they should shift Kansas City to the AL West, Toronto or Tampa Bay to the AL Central, and the AL East will only have four teams (to make up for having the Yankees and Boston).

Of course it isn't perfect, but if baseball can't find any NL teams willing to move to the AL maybe they should consider this idea.

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