With Houston leaving NL Central, how MLB divisions should be realigned

With Houston leaving NL Central, how MLB divisions should be realigned

With reports that the Houston Astros are on their way out of the National League Central and headed toward the American League West, now is as good of a time as any to re-imagine how baseball's divisions should be set up in an ideal situation.

With 15 teams in each league, this means we'll have interleague play just about every day during the baseball season. While it might make scheduling easier for MLB, it also lessens the novelty of interleague play. I don't like this. The leagues should have an even number of teams. So as long as we're re-imagining the divisions, let's add two expansion teams to even things up. This gives MLB 32 teams, the same number the NFL has. And in our scenario, six teams from each league make the playoffs – the divisions winners and two wildcards with the top two teams from each league earning a bye.

So, with 32 teams, let's copy the NFL's format and see how it might look (with last year's record in parenthesis):

AMERICAN LEAGUE

East

New York Yankees (97-65)
Boston Red Sox (90-72)
Toronto Blue Jays (81-81)
Baltimore Orioles (69-93)

Notes: New York and Boston have to stay in the same division. And with two wildcards at stake, Baltimore and Toronto at least have a chance to make the playoffs some year – not much of a chance, but a chance. Tampa Bay moves on to greener pastures.

North

Detroit Tigers (95-67)
Cleveland Indians (80-82)
Chicago White Sox (79-83)
Minnesota Twins (63-99)

Notes: Very similar to the current AL Central, minus Kansas City, which we all can agree is not much of a loss from a competitive standpoint. It's a division that makes sense.

South

Texas Rangers (96-66)
Tampa Bay Rays (91-71)
Houston Astros (56-106)
Expansion team

Notes: We get the two Texas teams in the same division to help encourage that rivalry and you don't get much further south than Tampa Bay in the American League. I also think Tampa Bay and Texas would be good rivals. As for the expansion team, either Nashville or Memphis would be logical choices. Raleigh, N.C., is a city on the rise that I think would be ripe for a professional team, as well.

West

Los Angeles Angels (86-76)
Oakland Athletics (74-88)
Kansas City Royals (71-91)
Seattle Mariners (67-95)

Notes: Sorry Kansas City, but when you're as bad as you are for so long, you lose your say in what division you'll be in. Welcome to the West. At least you get to play Oakland and Seattle more. The Angels certainly would be the team to beat in this division.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

East

Philadelphia Phillies (102-60)
Washington Nationals (80-81)
New York Mets (77-85)
Pittsburgh Pirates (72-90)

Notes: Pittsburgh, see the Kansas City entry above. Plus, it makes sense to foster a rivalry with Philadelphia, even though it wouldn't be much of a rivalry in the beginning.

North

Milwaukee Brewers (96-66)
St. Louis Cardinals (90-72)
Cincinnati Reds (79-83)
Chicago Cubs (71-91)

Notes: Too many good rivalries to break up the rest of the division. Just like with the American Central, we'll let the top teams continue to battle it out. And good riddance, Houston. Never made much sense with the rest of these teams.

South

Arizona Diamondbacks (94-68)
Atlanta Bravies (89-73)
Miami Marlins (72-90)
Expansion team

Notes: My least favorite of all the divisions because Arizona seems so out of place. An Oklahoma City expansion team could help a little to balance it out. The three other teams, though, are all on an upswing so this could be a fun division to watch.

West

San Francisco Giants (86-76)
Los Angeles Dodgers (82-79)
Colorado Rockies (73-89)
San Diego Padres (71-91)

Notes: Looks about the same as it did before. Though if an expansion team was started in someplace like Portland or Salt Lake City, we could then move San Diego to the NL South. That would be a fun trip for Miami and Atlanta.

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