Imagining Re-Alignment in MLB After Expansion to 32 Teams

Last night in the MLBits I talked about MLB expansion and how it’s not a fait accompli any time soon. Kind of a bummer if you’re eager to see 32 teams and all the fun that comes along with the expansion process.

Interestingly, The Athletic today imagined re-alignment in a world where MLB did expand to 32 teams. Most expect that, if and when MLB increases to 32 teams, the league will re-align to eight divisions of four teams each (like the NFL). That will mean significant changes to the composition of divisions, and it could be that things get even more geographically-oriented.

Here’s the proposal from Jim Bowden at The Athletic, and I know you will immediately have some big reactions, as I did:

First thing’s first: you cannot, under any circumstances, for any reason, whatsoever, ever ever, break up the Cardinals and the Cubs. They must be, and will be, in the same division no matter what happens. So that right there is just straight up wrong.

Setting that aside, it’s pretty interesting – and geographically understandable – to have the Cubs and White Sox in the same division. Can you imagine the intracity rivalry if it wasn’t just about bragging rights, but was about the division? I can’t decide if it would be amazing, or if it would be painful.

Elsewhere in the proposal, you have the Giants and Dodgers split up, which also simply would not fly. The Mid-Atlantic division looks like a joke. The East would just be brutal. I do like that the Cardinals would have to do a ridiculous amount of traveling.

If I had to take a crack at things, balancing the geography with the rivalries, as well as competitive balance, I’d probably go something like (using Bowden’s division names and general regions, and shooting from the hip) …

Midwest

Cubs
Cardinals
White Sox
Brewers

Southwest

Astros
Rangers
Diamondbacks
Royals

Pacific Coast

Angels
Giants
Dodgers
Portland (expansion)

West

Rockies
A’s (having moved to Las Vegas)
Mariners
Padres

East

Yankees
Red Sox
Mets
Blue Jays

North

Twins
Guardians
Tigers
Phillies

Mid-Atlantic

Pirates
Orioles
Nationals
Reds
(Good god this is a bad division … )

Southeast

Rays
Marlins
Braves
Charlotte/Nashville (expansion)

written by

Brett Taylor is the Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and on LinkedIn here. Brett is also the founder of Bleacher Nation, which opened up shop in 2008 as an independent blog about the Chicago Cubs. Later growing to incorporate coverage of other Chicago sports, Bleacher Nation is now one of the largest regional sports blogs on the web.

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