Dave Allen has a good piece up on Fangraphs looking at the races in the AL and NL since 1995 and how different they’d have been if it was instead two 15-team leagues as suggested recently.
I wanted to look at this in a slightly different, but also less thorough way than Allen did. I wanted to see how many teams were within 5 games of 1st place when play began on September 1st. I don’t necessarily think teams in that position are actually contenders, but the fan base does.
The AL Playoffs after August last year would have been the Yankees, Twins, Rangers and Rays. The Yankees had a one game lead and when the season ended those two teams switched places, but both made the playoffs. Only the White Sox were within 5 games of the division leader. No teams that weren’t already headed to the playoffs were within 5 games of the Wild Card leader (Rays).
In the NL, the Phillies, Reds, Giants and Braves reached the playoffs, but at the start of action on September 1st, the Braves led the NL East. The Padres led the NL West. The Reds had a comfortable lead. The Padres would fall out of contention, but were the only additional team in contention. Under the new proposal, the Cardinals and Rockies would also have been in contention.
Last year, only 5 AL and NL teams were in contention at the start of September, but under the new proposal, three additional teams would have been contenders on September 1st: White Sox, Cardinals and Rockies.
It’s only one season and if I have time later I may add to this post, but that one season seems to agree with Dave Allen’s conclusion: the proposed two 15-team leagues would make more teams contenders than the current system does.