Originally posted on Fangraphs  |  Last updated 9/17/12

The 2013 MLB schedule was released last week. On Thursday, my colleague Alex Remington addressed several issues raised by the schedule, most notably how season-long interleague play may affect how American League teams use their designated hitter. Alex also touched on the unbalanced schedule issue; that is, that teams within each division will play each other 19 times, thus resulting in an easier schedule for the American League Central teams, if you believe that the American League Central will be as weak in 2013 as it has been in 2012.

The American League Central has another advantage, born of the proximity of its teams to each other, at least geographically. None of the teams in the Central will travel more than 30,000 next season, while every other team in the league — save for the Orioles — will travel more than 30,000 miles. And the disparity between the least-traveled team (the White Sox) and the most-traveled team (the Mariners) is startling: Chicago will travel only 22,695 miles in 2013 while Seattle will travel more than double that, at nearly 53,000 miles.

I calculated the approximate mileage each American League team will travel in 2013. This was no easy task, as I had to, first, chart out the travel schedule for each team, and then look up the mileage between each city. I used the Flight Distance Calculator on worldatlas.com and rounded up or down to the nearest five miles. So, for example, if the distance between two cites was 827.2 miles, I rounded that down to 825 miles. And so on.

I assumed that each team started from its home city, and either began the season at home or traveled to its first road series from home. I didn’t include any mileage for the All-Star Break.

Here’s how the numbers break down, by division. In addition to the total mileage, I’ve also noted how many three-city road trips each team will take in 2013. You’d expect there to be relationship between the two and there is. Teams in the Central travel the least and, overall, have more three-city road trips than teams in the East or West.

American League East

Team Total Mileage Number ofThree-City RoadTrips Orioles 28,050 4 Yankees 30,615 3 Blue Jays 32,980 3 Rays 35,010 3 Red Sox 35,930 3

American League Central

Team Total Mileage Number ofThree-City RoadTrips White Sox 22,695 5 Tigers 24,755 4 Royals 26,960 4 Indians 26,985 4 Twins 28,725 3

American League West

Team Total Mileage Number ofThree-City RoadTrips Astros 38,100 4 Rangers 42,390 2 A’s 49,395 1 Angels 50,330 1 Mariners 52,760 3

Overall, these numbers aren’t terribly surprising. They look quite similar to the numbers Dave Allen found when looking at travel schedules from 2005-2011. I was surprised to find the Astros with the least demanding travel schedule among the American League West teams, because Houston has to make trips to Seattle, Oakland and Los Angeles. On the other hand, Houston is closer to teams in the Central and the East.

But it’s the disparity in the number of three-city road trips that really stands out.  Why would the White Sox, who play so many games against teams relatively close to Chicago, play 5 three-games road series while the A’s only play one? The A’s start the season at home, then take a two-city trip to Houston and Los Angeles, then a home stand, then a trip to Tampa/St. Petersburg and Boston, then a home stand and then a trip to New York, Cleveland and Seattle. The A’s head back to the East Coast at the end of the season to play Baltimore, and then Detroit. Wouldn’t it make more sense for the A’s to travel to the East Coast just twice a season, instead of three times? And the same for Mariners and the Angels?

Later this week I will look at the travel schedules for the National League and discuss several studies that have looked at the effect of travel on performance in baseball.


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