The 2023 schedule released by Major League Baseball on Wednesday may look similar in some ways. There are still 162 games per team, staggered from spring to fall, with a short break for the All-Star break and October, as always, the goal.
But make no mistake, the new, more balanced 2023 schedule, which begins March 30 with opening day, is a huge change for the sport.
• Schedules: AL | NL
No longer is each team’s slate significantly skewed toward divisional opponents. Instead, the schedules will contain more variety. For the first time in modern MLB history, every team will play against every other team at some point.
This changed schedule structure will have significant consequences for the late season and the product. So let’s get into the details of this schema change by answering any questions you may have.
Why did MLB move to a balanced schedule?
As the postseason format has expanded to include three Wild Card spots in each league as early as 2022, it’s more important for teams in each league to play more similar schedules. All wins and losses are counted the same way, so a more balanced schedule may limit the advantage a team from a weak division has over a team from a deep division in the Wild Card race.
But there’s also entertainment value in having all teams play against each other at least once, rather than cluttering the schedule with divisional matchups. That means 29 fan bases can watch their clubs take on Shohei Ohtani, Aaron Judge, Juan Soto, Mookie Betts and the other big stars of the sport.
“This new format allows for more consistent opponent matchups as clubs compete for postseason berths,” said MLB chief of operations and strategy officer Chris Marinak in a release, “particularly in the recently expanded Wild Card round. fan-friendly format gives fans the opportunity to see more opponent matchups, with a particular focus on dramatically expanding our most exciting Interleague matchups, and brings greater national exposure to the star players throughout our game.”
Is the schedule for 2023 really “balanced”?
Not in the strictest sense, no. Teams will still play more series against opponents from individual divisions than any individual opponent from any other division. But the schedule isn’t nearly as weighted toward division play as it used to be.
How many games will each team play against division opponents?
Each team plays 52 games against divisional opponents, down from 76 under the previous schedule structure.
This includes 13 games (over four total series) against each divisional opponent, reduced from 19 (over six series). That’s seven home games and six away games (or vice versa) against each opponent for a total of 26 home games and 26 away games.
How many games will each team play against opponents from non-divisional leagues?
Each team plays 64 intra-league games (32 home games and 32 away games), reduced from 66.
Teams play six matches against six league opponents and seven matches against four other league opponents. This is the reverse of the previous format, in which teams played six games against four league opponents and seven against six league opponents.
How many Interleague games will each team play?
This is the biggest change, with a total of 46 Interleague games for each team (AL vs. NL and vice versa), an increase from 20.
Teams play a home-and-home series (four games in total) against their natural Interleague rivals (Yankees vs. Mets, Dodgers vs. Angels, Cubs vs. White Sox, etc.) and an additional 42 games against other Interleague opponents, including seven series (21 games) at home and seven series (21 games) on the road.
How long was the schedule “unbalanced”?
The unbalanced schedule we know today was first introduced in 2001. That year, teams started playing 16 to 20 matches against each rival division. Prior to that, the AL had played on a more balanced schedule since the 1977 expansion from 12 to 14 teams, while the NL had played on a more balanced schedule since the 1993 expansion from 12 to 14 teams.
However, Interleague Play has never been as balanced as it will be with the 2023 schedule.
What impact will the balanced planning have?
While the journey will be quite different under the more balanced schedule and rescheduling deferrals against non-division opponents may be more challenging, this arrangement should be fairer in terms of handling both division and Wild Card races. . Due to the revised schedule, teams within the same division and within the same competition will have more common opponents.
The new schedule may also affect how front offices approach roster construction. With fewer division games, there may be less emphasis on acquisitions specifically targeted because of how they match up with certain division rivals or how they play in certain margins within the division.
What are some other notable aspects of the 2023 schedule?