Peanuts and Cracker Jack #4: Division swip swap


Carly Philpott

There have long been teams in the MLB that have a huge advantage because they are in overall weaker divisions. Creating fewer match ups with players that capitalize on a certain team and consistently collect hits against them, like San Francisco Giant Brandon Crawford (above) against the Colorado Rockies, would make games less predictable.

Peter Philpott, Assistant News Editor

The Baltimore Orioles are set in the American League East Division, along with the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, and Toronto Blue Jays. The Orioles had a better-than-average season, rocking a 83-79 (W-L) record. They were swept in their first series of the season, but made the headlines with a tremendous win streak of 10 near the All-Star break.

The Orioles, in the AL East, have been dealt a rough hand, as their division has five teams all with decent records. The Red Sox finished the season at 78-84, which was not enough to be in the top three, but it was certainly better than a lot of other teams at that point, like the Los Angeles Angels. In the AL West with the Angels, the Red Sox would’ve finished the season in third place in their division, but the AL East turned that into 5th.

If the O’s were in many other divisions, they would actually have been in playoff contention. But because of their competitive grouping, they were not included in the 2022 bracket.

Another example: our hometown Colorado Rockies. The Rox are in the NL West, and they haven’t had postseason success since 2018. This must be attributed to poor bullpen pitching and questionable administrative decisions, but the fact that they are in the same division as three of the best teams in the majors (Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants) means that they have to play those teams a lot and often they lose. If the Rockies could have the chance to play fewer games against these division rivals, would they have the chance to make the NLDS or, daresay, a World Series appearance?

Every team has their nemesis. A certain player who repeatedly gets hits and ruins games for one team. The Rockies have many, but one who stands out is San Francisco Giant Brandon Crawford. In 2022, Brandon Crawford had a .231 batting average, but when facing the Rockies, that number soared by over 150 points to .390. Normally, Crawford was average at best. While playing the Rockies, he was literally the greatest hitter of all time.

Arizona Diamondback Ketel Marte’s stats tell the same story. Overall, he hit .240 in 2022, but against the Rockies, he became a .312 hitter.

Major League Baseball needs to make certain changes to the divisions that would give mediocre teams a chance to rise up, and elite teams better competition.

There are clear examples of how this could help other teams. The Houston Astros would have better competition, rather than being a yearly dominant team in a poor division. Teams like the Chicago White Sox, Arizona Diamondbacks, Seattle Mariners, and Chicago Cubs would have a better chance at success.

Returning quickly to the Mariners, Seattle often comes in second or third in their AL West division, but it’s very difficult for them to get the Wild Card spot because they often are edged out by second place teams in other AL divisions like the Rays, Blue Jays, or Minnesota Twins.

Maybe even teams with low winning percentages like the Reds, Athletics, and Tigers could be successful if paired in a division with each other.

These changes would also ruffle feathers for one major reason. Reshuffling divisions would tear apart longstanding divisional rivalries, but this can be avoided. Keep pairs like the Giants and Dodgers or the Red Sox and Yankees in the same divisions while making changes around them.

By making a couple switches, the long-standing domination that has been set in stone could be displaced, giving worse teams an edge and a chance to make the postseason.

This story was among the submitted entries of this column which won First Place Column from CSMA.