Which MLB Team Will Fly the Farthest in 2019?


It’s that time of the year again. Opening Day is TOMORROW!! It’s time for baseball fans to wake up from their hibernation and look forward to the 2019 season, unless you’re an Orioles fan like me.  Anyway, for the fourth year we’re looking at which MLB Team will travel the farthest. In 2016, it was the Seattle Mariners, in 2017 it was the Oakland A’s, and in 2018 it was the Los Angeles Angels . Will an AL West team retain the throne this year? Will it be the Astros or the Rangers to help finish the division? Let’s start with the assumptions, which everyone loves to nitpick.

Assumptions:

  • Everyone starts and ends at their home airport. I realize some teams may just go directly from spring training to their first opponent’s city but I’m not in the forecasting business.
  • All miles given are statute miles on the great circle route between the two most likely airports used by teams playing games in that city
  • Teams playing successive games in the same metro area will not fly between the two airports, but instead drive.
    • When OAK plays SF, I do not count that as mileage flown, because it is highly unlikely that they are flying SFO-OAK.
    • This counts for New York, Chicago, Los Angeles (excluding San Diego), the Bay Area, and Baltimore-Washington.
  • Conversely, teams playing in close metro areas will still fly between them
    • A team that plays in LA and then San Diego will fly between the two, even if teams in the past have used other forms of transport (bus, train, whatever).
    • This includes Philly to Baltimore/Washington, Boston to New York, basically all the close cities within the east coast where historically teams have had numerous transport options besides airplanes.

Now, the reason I make these assumptions are 1) to preserve the integrity of the data to maintain an apples to apples comparison and 2) I ain’t got time to figure out what team is going to wear Cam Newton Vaudeville hats and take the train from NY-Philly. If you do have the time and want to figure it out for every team next year, I’d suggest you find another hobby1

This year, unlike previous years, only one team will fail to fly more than the circumference of the Earth (24,901 miles) and that is.. for the second straight year, the Detroit Tigers, the least traveled team of 2018 and 2019.  The Tigers will only log 24,471 miles this season, which only looks like this:

The Tigers being in that spot is a bit surprising, as that spot had been held by NL Central teams for the past two years given their geographic proximity to one another coupled with better geography for long road trips to each coast. But the Tigers were helped by a Texas->Los Angeles->Seattle west coast run, and a Tampa->Houston trip as well.

There are less surprises on the top end of the spectrum, as the AL West continues to dominate, largely hurt by the Rangers and Astros being within the division but halfway across the country.  With the Mariners winning the distance competition in 2016 and the A’s in 2017, the title continued its way down I-5 into Anaheim last year, but it’s back up at the top of the west in the hands of the Seattle Mariners. What does that involve? Well, it looks something like this:

Now to be clear, the trip to Japan to start the season helped, but even without it the Mariners would have 48,704 miles while the A’s would have 46,558, both longer than the third place Tampa Bay Rays

The biggest changes in the past year? Well, the New York Mets will end up putting an additional 6,214 miles this year than last. The Houston Astros, on the other hand, are getting a bit more rest with 5,009 fewer miles to fly this season.

Overall, the average mileage (excluding the Japan trips) is up almost 1,500 miles across the league, with only six teams having shorter travel schedules this year than in the previous year. The Pittsburgh Pirates, meanwhile, have seen their travel increase nearly 50% since their short jaunt of 2017 of only 21,854 miles to over 31,687 in 2019.

Have I bored you with enough maps? Here’s the raw data, including the 2017 and 2018 mileages for comparison purposes. Enjoy!

Team2019 Mileage2018 MileageDifference2017 Mileage2019 vs 2017
Detroit244712427319826145-1674
St. Louis2775027855-105236624088
Chicago White Sox2823626787144928336-100
Chicago Cubs28431267931638231305301
Cincinnati28888249433945236285260
Philadelphia2929729963-66636258-6961
Milwaukee29618276891929250734545
Baltimore29729283321397240455684
Cleveland300282990612229209819
Minnesota30472269713501270173455
Washington3132627936339031405-79
Kansas City31490285212969279933497
New York Yankees31529284573072283593170
Pittsburgh31687284673220218549833
Colorado3168734034-234733742-2055
Atlanta3330331065223832326977
New York Mets34180279666214323111869
Boston35496343571139330572439
Toronto36011318614150296156396
Texas3804837815233331334915
Los Angeles Dodgers3811239436-1324370601052
Arizona39421367932628330406381
Houston4062045629-5009384522168
Miami4073439400133442185-1451
San Diego41803366305173381853618
San Francisco4238241070131241555827
Los Angeles Angels4295746485-352846346-3389
Tampa Bay43169401313038361786991
Oakland568124558211230478778935
Seattle5824140708175334512913112
  1. Or contact me to help me out I’d actually appreciate it

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