Which MLB Team Will Fly the Farthest in a shortened 2020?

It’s been a strange year. So strange, that the baseball season began with one of its teams not knowing where they would be calling home for the season. But with that in the past, we’ve moved on and sports in the US are finally back. So here, for the fifth 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, and in 2019 it was the Mariners once again. Will an AL West team retain the throne this year, even with the special schedule provisions? 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. For the case of the Blue Jays, I had them start and end in Toronto, because eventually they will probably end up there. Regular season games were placed according to what was known as of 7/26, with the Washington-Toronto series being played fully in DC and the rest of the Blue Jays games in Buffalo.
  • 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, with the geographic restrictions, the Central got a gift by even greater margins than it typically does. Our shortest flying team of the year is the Chicago Cubs, who only have to travel a whopping :

The 2020 Chicago Cubs Entire Season on a Map

The Cubs being in that spot is not super surprising, given their geography in the middle of the center of the Central Region. They’re helped out by a long (for a 60 game season) road trip that sends them through Kansas City, St. Louis, and Cleveland all at the same time, saving a little distance on the out-and-back lengths.

There are less surprises on the top end of the spectrum, as the West, in particular 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, Anaheim in 2018, and Seattle again in 2019, it’s time for a new winner in the AL West. So, hats off to the Texas Rangers, the most traveled team of 2020 at 14,631 miles. What does that involve? Well, it looks something like this:

map
The 2020 Texas Rangers “Limited Geographical” full season schedule

Unfortunately for the Rangers, it seems almost every trip involves crossing a time zone, with little strung together along the coast to save some travel. It’s also no surprise that the Seattle Mariners were second at 14,300 miles and the Houston Astros third at 14,168.

Overall, the average mileage is pretty dependent upon regional geography with 10 of the top 14 teams in the Central region, including the top 7 spots. Teams that are in the middle of their geographic region (New York, Baltimore/Washington) also tend to have shorter trips. The west, well. It’s a big place.

Have I bored you with enough maps? Here’s the raw data, including the 2017-2019 mileages for comparison purposes. Enjoy!

Team
2020 Mileage
2019 Mileage
2018 Mileage
2017 Mileage
Chicago Cubs
4062
28431
26793
23130
Milwaukee
4206
29618
27689
25073
St. Louis
4526
27750
27855
23662
Chicago White Sox
4694
28236
26787
28336
Cincinnati
5162
28888
24943
23628
Cleveland
5175
30028
29906
29209
Detroit
5380
24471
24273
26145
New York Yankees
5540
31529
28457
28359
New York Mets
5563
34180
27966
32311
Minnesota
6176
30472
26971
27017
Pittsburgh
6390
31687
28467
21854
Baltimore
6406
29729
28332
24045
Washington
7191
31326
27936
31405
Kansas City
7336
31490
28521
27993
Atlanta
8020
33303
31065
32326
Boston
8384
35496
34357
33057
Philadelphia
8522
29297
29963
36258
Arizona
9462
39421
36793
33040
Toronto
9982
36011
31861
29615
San Diego
10294
41803
36630
38185
Los Angeles Dodgers
10382
38112
39436
37060
Tampa Bay
10636
43169
40131
36178
San Francisco
10661
42382
41070
41555
Los Angeles Angels
10855
42957
46485
46346
Miami
11115
40734
39400
42185
Oakland
11338
56812
45582
47877
Colorado
12704
31687
34034
33742
Houston
14168
40620
45629
38452
Seattle
14300
58241
40708
45129
Texas
14631
38048
37815
33133
  1. Or contact me to help me out I’d actually appreciate it

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