Could Reds be joining new division soon?
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Could the Cincinnati Reds be leaving the NL Central for a new division?
Baseball America’s Tracy Ringolsby wrote Monday that there’s a “growing consensus” that MLB will expand to 32 teams, and one change could be a switch to four divisions of eight franchises each, aligned by geographic region. Thus, no more American and National Leagues.
Under that plan, Ringolsby has the Reds in the East division with only one other current NL Central foe - the Pittsburgh Pirates. And while it would make sense to have the Cleveland Indians in that same division as a natural rival, Cleveland was placed in the North. The other teams with Cincinnati could be the Atlanta Braves, Baltimore Orioles, Miami Marlins, Philadelphia Phillies, Tampa Bay Rays and Washington Nationals. That would result in division road games for Cincinnati all in the Eastern time zone versus the current situation of starts in Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis typically starting an hour later.
He suggests that the expansion franchises — Montreal, Quebec and Portland, Oregon are favorites — would slide into two other divisions and format as such:
- East: Atlanta, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Miami, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Washington.
- North: Boston, Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Montreal, both New York franchises and Toronto.
- Midwest: Both Chicago franchises, Colorado, Houston, Kansas City, Milwaukee, St. Louis and Texas.
- West: Anaheim, Arizona, Los Angeles, Oakland, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco and Seattle.
A second part of the hypothetical MLB modification would shorten the schedule to 156 games (one three-game series against each team outside of the division and 12 games intradivisional - six home and six away) in order to reduce travel and add extra off days.
Also in this format, 12 teams would advance to the playoffs -- four division winners and eight Wild Card teams. More franchises in the postseason means an increase in interest among fan bases still in the hunt for a playoff spot come September.
MLB last expanded in 1998 with the Arizona Diamondbacks and Tampa Bay Devil Rays, who have since dropped the Devil part of the name, bringing the league to 30 teams.
As Hardball Talk writer Craig Calcaterra wrote, "In the end, it’s important to recognize that Ringolsby’s article is, in all likelihood, a trial balloon leaked by Major League Baseball, so don’t take any one aspect of it too seriously, even if we should all take the idea of some radical shift involving expansion and realignment in the not-too-distant future seriously."