How Could the New MLB Schedule Affect Sports Betting?
As part of the MLB’s new competitive bargaining agreement, Major League Baseball is introducing a new MLB schedule format next season. Instead of each team playing interleague series against each team from one division and a rival each season, every team in the league will play at least one series against each other.
The change could have a massive effect on the MLB in the future. Each team will play fewer games against division opponents each season, which could have a significant impact on which teams reach the postseason moving forward.
MLB’s Scheduling Changes
The current MLB scheduling model features mostly division matchups. Each team plays 19 games against the other teams in their division, for a total of 76 games. Every team then plays every other opponent in their league both at home and on the road.
In addition to the games within each team’s league, the current schedule also features a few series against opponents from the other league. Each team plays every team from a division in the other league either at home or on the road, in addition to two-game series both at home and on the road against a “rival” in the other league.
This could result in some teams having a much more difficult schedule because of the division they played in. In addition, division series at the end of the season could have a massive effect on the postseason. For example, the Twins are scheduled to play 17 games against the White Sox and Guardians, the two teams they are competing with to win the division, over the final month of this season.
The new MLB schedule will change this. Each team will now play 13 games against each of the other teams in their division, instead of 19, in addition to two fewer games against opponents from within their own league. Those games will be replaced by games against opponents from the other league, with every team in the MLB playing each other at least once every year.
The change to how games are scheduled could be a positive for the league for multiple reasons. Fans in every city will now have the opportunity to see every other team in the league at least once every other year, which should help fans become more familiar with players that they previously didn’t play against very often.
On the field, the changes to scheduling could have a massive effect on the postseason. For example, this year four teams in the AL East are currently above .500. Three of those teams would make the playoffs if the season ended today, while the Orioles would be the best team in the AL to not reach the postseason.
There is still a chance all four teams could make the playoffs, but it is less likely due to how many games each team will play against each other at the end of the season.
In the future, some of those games would be against teams in other divisions, or possibly against a team in the other league. That would give teams like the Orioles a much better chance of reaching the playoffs.
How Could The New MLB Schedule Affect MLB Odds?
Over the course of a 162-game season, the changes to the schedule could have a massive impact on the outcome of a team’s season. A team’s strength of schedule will have a smaller impact on whether or not it finishes with the league’s best record or its position in the Wild Card standings.
As a result, it could become easier to predict which teams will have success before the season. A team like the Red Sox, who began this year with more than a 60% chance of reaching the playoffs according to FanGraphs, would play 24 fewer games against AL East opponents.
Despite being expected to reach the postseason, the Red Sox are last in the AL East and 60-64. The entire rest of the AL East is currently above .500. This example shows how much of an impact the change to scheduling can have on the difficulty of a team’s schedule.
Balancing each team’s series against the other league could have a significant impact as well. For example, the Brewers have had to play against every team in the AL East this season, while the team they are behind in the wild-card standings, the Padres, plays each team in the AL Central. The AL Central’s best team would currently be fourth in the AL East.
Overall, the new MLB schedule could have a significant impact on the outcome of each season and who reaches the playoffs. The changes will have a significant effect on how each team is evaluated before each season, and their odds of winning their division and the World Series.
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