A while back I mused on what major league baseball might look if two teams were added. One in each league, to make it four divisions with four teams in each league. I picked Portland for the AL team, and Montreal for the NL. The playoffs would be between the division winners – no “wild cards”.
As we are heading into the thick of the pennant races, I asked myself, “What would the standings and pennant races look like in my four team – four division system?”
Obviously, there’s no way to know what the actual won-lost records would be for the teams. I decided to take the records for the real teams as of the start of play today (August 27, 2019), and assume that Portland and Montreal would have .500 records. That makes it easy to minimize their effect on the other team’s records.
Here’s what the hypothetical standings would be:
Tampa Bay doesn’t benefit much from being in the new “South” division, but Oakland is surely glad to be in a different one from the Astros. In trading the “wild card” race for a new division, we lose one “pennant” race. The AL Central is still up for grabs, but there’s no fight to see which teams get to face off in the wild card game.
In the National League, in exchange for giving up the “wild card” race, we have another divisional race. Only the Dodgers are running away with theirs.
Overall, there aren’t really any surprises. Maybe I’ll come back to this after the season – or even go back and look at past seasons – to see if my divisional alignment picked the four teams in each league that made the real playoffs (I don’t count the “wild card” game as being part of the playoffs).