How Unfair Is The Unbalanced Schedule?

I’ve seen a few things around the tubes lately – like this post from Rob Neyer – regarding realignment or changing the schedule around, specifically focused on the AL East. The idea is that it’s unfair to the Orioles and Blue Jays to have to be stuck in a division with the Yankees and Red Sox, and then have to play them more than other teams do on top of it. The biggest problem for me is that a club like the Rays can be the third best baseball team in the majors and still be left out of the playoffs. Making the schedule balanced isn’t going to do anything about that, but how much would it really improve the standing of the lesser AL East teams? I took a look at Beyond the Box Score. An excerpt’s below; click through for the full version.

———————————————————————————————

“First, some assumptions (they may be a bit messy, but I think the point still stands):

(1) The AL East each year has a 95 win team, a 92 win team, an 87 win team, a 76 win team, and a 70 win team. That’s an average of 84 wins for the division, which is where it’s been (on average) for the last few seasons.

(2) The rest of the AL plays like a 79-80 win team, so that the average AL is at about 81 wins. You’d expect an AL East team to then beat another AL team about 53% of the time. Actual AL East winning percentage against the Central and West the last three years: 53%.

(3) The NL plays like a 73 win team, so that the average AL team beats the average NL team about 55% of the time (which also corresponds pretty well with recent history).

So based on the unbalanced schedule, an AL East team will play each other East team 18 times, the NL 18 times in interleague play, and the rest of the AL 72 times.”