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Whither Interleague Play
2005-05-20 23:02
by Mike Carminati

I think we can all agree that interleague play is fraud and a waste of valuable regular-season time. Why not just let teams set up city series like in the old days? It's also pointless outside of New York, LA, and Chicago. What's the point of the relocated Expos playing the Blue Jays now anyway?

Anyway, to commemorate the opening of interleague season, its ninth, which if you missed it was tonight, I thought a look its impact would be in order. Does interleague play matter? If we removed all of the interleague games from the schedule, would it make a sound?

First, here are the best interleague records all-time:

St. Louis Cardinals2004111.917
Oakland Athletics2002162.889
Atlanta Braves2002153.833
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2004153.833
New York Yankees1998133.812
Florida Marlins1997123.800
Montreal Expos1997123.800
Houston Astros1999123.800
San Diego Padres1999114.733
Arizona Diamondbacks2003114.733

Now, the worst:

Colorado Rockies2001210.167
Cincinnati Reds2002210.167
Milwaukee Brewers2002210.167
Tampa Bay Devil Rays2003315.167
Pittsburgh Pirates2004210.167
Tampa Bay Devil Rays1999414.222
Texas Rangers2003414.222
Detroit Tigers2003414.222
Anaheim Angels1997412.250
Pittsburgh Pirates200239.250

Next, which teams had interleague records that were the most out of sync with their remainder of their record:

Tampa Bay Devil Rays20047091.435153.83395665588.385.448
Montreal Expos19977884.481123.80060386681.449.351
Cincinnati Reds20027884.481210.16735707674.507.340
Boston Red Sox20029369.574513.27863708856.611.333
Colorado Rockies20017389.451210.16751767179.473.306
San Diego Padres19997488.457114.73345456384.429.304
Pittsburgh Pirates20047289.447210.16752807079.470.303
Anaheim Angels19978478.519412.25062948066.548.298
St. Louis Cardinals200410557.648111.91785369456.627.290
New York Yankees19979666.593510.33338579156.619.286
Oakland Athletics200210359.636162.889103528757.604.285

So given that teams can have that much of a swing between their interleague and intraleague record, have any pennant races been affected by this silly Bud-inspired exercise? The short answer is yes. The long one follows—this are the teams whose playoff fortunes would have changed had interleague games not been counted. First is the overall record, second the interleague, and finally the result if interleague games were removed:

New York Yankees19979666.5932NY510.3339156.619Y
Baltimore Orioles19979864.6051YN87.5339057.612Y
New York Mets19978874.5433NN78.4678166.551Y
Florida Marlins19979270.5682NY123.8008067.544
Cincinnati Reds19999667.5892NN78.4678959.601Y
Houston Astros19999765.5991YN123.8008562.578
New York Yankees20008774.5401YN116.6477668.528Tie
Boston Red Sox20008577.5252NN99.5007668.528Tie
New York Mets20009468.5802NY99.5008559.590Y
Atlanta Braves20009567.5861YN117.6118460.583Y
St. Louis Cardinals20019369.5741NY87.5338562.578Y
Houston Astros20019369.5741YN96.6008463.571Y
Atlanta Braves20018874.5431YN99.5007965.549Tie
Philadelphia Phillies20018676.5312NN711.3897965.549Tie
Anaheim Angels20029963.6112NY117.6118856.611Y
Boston Red Sox20029369.5742NN513.2788856.611Y
Oakland Athletics200210359.6361YN162.8898757.604
San Francisco Giants20029566.5902NY810.4448756.608Y
Arizona Diamondbacks20029864.6051YN117.6118757.604Y

That gives me one more reason to hate interleague play: it helped wrest at least a share of the 2001 NL East title out of my Phils hands. Thanks, Bud!

2005-05-22 13:25:02
1.   Jim Wisinski
I don't really have an opinion on interleague play itself but I do hate watching games with NL rules. I guess it's because I'm fairly young and don't care much about baseball tradition but I like the DH. It seems useless to me to have players batting that usually don't even hit .200 and just lay down sac bunts whenever possible.
2005-05-22 15:30:31
2.   rbj
I hate all the hype between Yankees - Mets (it's almost as bad as hyping 19 Yankees - Red Sox games each year, then the playoffs to boot) as well as the fact that it's six games.
And Mike, the Phils this year get what, six games vs. the Orioles while the Marlins get six vs. Tampa. Very unbalanced.
2005-05-23 05:42:44
3.   Mike Carminati

When they initially proposed interleague play, the idea was to introduce the fans of the features of the other league. For that reason, there was some talk of having the away team determine the style of play including the DH. When interleague play started, the prevailing opinion was that MLB had to either adopt the DH throughout or eradicate it.


I remember that Reds traded a series a few years back to face their supposed Ohio rival, the Indians, when they were good. This was early on in interleague play and their was a scenario that the Reds could have knocked themselves out of the playoffs by facing the better AL team, but I don't think it played out. (Hopefully, I got the basic facts straight because it's all from emmory.)

2005-05-26 11:10:18
4.   Anders
Taking a look at a teams record during a span of 15 games against the other league probably isnt that useful for the most part - sample size issues and all. The big issue, that people have written about at least, has been that some teams get to beat up on crappy teams (the Central, for example) while some teams have to play the AL East. I think some years, division rivals have played teams with a combined winning percentage of .450 and .550. When you go 15-3 by beating up on the Royals and Tigers, and your division mates play the Twins and White Sox and go 10-8, then theres an issue
2005-05-29 12:41:07
5.   scareduck
I don't believe in the case of the 2002 postseason this is as big a deal as you let it on to be. The difference between the Pythagorean and actual W-L records of the Red Sox and Angels can be evened out by replacing one of the Braves series with a three-game set against the Phillies. See the link below for more:

2005-05-29 20:57:49
6.   scareduck
Sorry -- I should say the difference between the Pythagorean and actual W-L records of the Red Sox and Angels opponents can be evened out, etc.

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