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.
- 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 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:
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!
Chicago White Sox
New York Yankees
New York Mets
Los Angeles Dodgers
Los Angeles Angels