Due to the abbreviated MLB schedule travel days are ALSO game days. Players are expected to play early afternoon games starting at 1:30 or 2:30pm, cool off, then hop on a plane to travel and play again the next evening. Traditionally teams get a travel day to rest and recuperate – but not in 2020.
How will this affect each division? The AL West will log the most miles by a long shot, with the Rangers topping the list at nearly 15,000 miles of travel in the 60 day regular season. This was expected being that Texas, California and Washington are so spread out. The longest travel mileage-wise is from Houston to Seattle, at 1874 miles one-way, a 4 hour and 40 minute flight.
The AL Central squads are barely having to leave their backyards with a bunch of up-and-down flights so you have to imagine the Brewers, Cubs, Pirates, Cardinals, and Reds will be the most well-rested teams.
Long days of games + travel and then having to self-isolate in a hotel on the road will take a toll on players, but just how much of a role it will play remains to be seen. If we’re looking at post season contenders the Astros have the most miles to travel (13,954) , followed by the Rays with ~3,000 fewer miles, then the Dodgers closely behind them. The rest of teams with high win projections are travelling a fraction of the distance with a lot more time to rest.
I predict we will see a slight reduction in production across the board. There are tons of factors affecting the player’s routines to prep for the season, ability to rest and rehab after a game, and reducing the amount and rest and sleep they’re getting in general. Coupled with the frequent testing and COVID-19 related regulations and the additional regulations being implemented by airlines, the players and staff are dealing with a lot of inhibitors that they have never had before .
How much of an effect on Wins and Losses do you think the difference in travel will come into play in the 2020 MLB season?