The 2023 schedule released by Major League Baseball on Wednesday may look the same in some ways. There are still 162 games per team, spread out from spring to fall, with a short break for the All-Star break, and October, as always, the target.
Every team’s roster is no longer heavily skewed towards class opponents. Instead, schedules will feature more variety. For the first time in recent MLB history, every team will play every other team at some point.
The changing schedule structure will have significant impacts on the post-season and product period. So let’s dive into the details of changing this schedule by answering questions you might have about it.
Why did MLB move to a balanced schedule?
With the post-season format already expanded in 2022 to include three Wild Card points in each league, it is critical that teams in each league play more similar schedules. Wins and losses are all calculated the same way, so a more balanced schedule limits the advantage of a team from a weak division over a team from a deep division in a Wild Card race.
But there’s also entertainment value in having all the teams face each other at least once, rather than loading up the schedule with section matches. This means that 29 fan bases will see their clubs take on Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Moki Bets and other top sports stars.
“This new format creates a more consistent rivalry between opponents as clubs compete on the Posteason sidewalks,” said Chris Marinac, MLB’s chief of operations and strategy, in a statement, especially in the recently expanded Wild Card Tour. In addition, this fan-friendly format provides an opportunity for fans to watch more opponents’ confrontations, with a particular focus on expanding the most exciting matches between us, and provides more national exposure for star players throughout our game.”
Is the 2023 schedule really “balanced”?
Not strictly speaking, no. Teams will still play more series against individual division opponents than any individual opponent from another division. But the timeline isn’t nearly as likely towards division play as it once was.
How many matches will each team play against tier opponents?
Each team will play 52 games against tier opponents, down from 76 under the previous schedule structure.
This would include 13 matches (across four series total) against each tier opponent, down from 19 (across six series). These are seven home matches and six away matches (or vice versa) against each opponent for a total of 26 home matches and 26 away matches.
How many matches will each team play against opponents from outside the first division?
Each team will play 64 matches inside the league (32 home matches and 32 away matches), down from 66 matches.
Teams will play six matches against six league competitors and seven matches against four other league competitors. This is the opposite of the previous format, where teams played six matches against four contenders in the league and seven matches against six contenders in the league.
How many between matches will each team play?
This is the biggest change, with Interleague’s total of 46 matches per team (AL vs NL and vice versa), up from 20.
Teams will play a series on Homeland (four games total) against their natural rivals (Yankees vs. Mets, Dodgers vs. Angels, Cubs vs. White Sox, etc.) and 42 more games against other Interleague opponents, including seven series (21 games) On the home and seven series (21 games) on the road.
How long has the schedule been “unbalanced”?
The unbalanced table we know today was first introduced in 2001. That year, teams began playing anywhere from 16 to 20 matches against every competitor in the division. Prior to that, AL had played on a more balanced schedule since its 1977 expansion from 12 to 14 teams, while NL had played on a more balanced schedule since its 1993 expansion from 12 to 14 teams.
However, Interleague has never balanced the way it would be with the 2023 schedule.
What is the effect of a balanced schedule?
Although travel will be slightly different under the more balanced schedule, and rescheduling postponements against non-division opponents may be more challenging, this arrangement should be fairer in terms of leveling both division races and wildcards. As a result of the revised schedule, teams within the same division and within the same league will have more common opponents.
The new schedule could also affect how front offices handle roster building. With fewer division games, there may be less focus on target acquisitions specifically because of how they align with competitors in a particular division or how they play on special ball courts within the division.
What are some other notable aspects of the 2023 schedule?
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