We envisioned a hypothetical world where the Yankees played in the National League. It created quite an interesting scenario.
While the Yankees went late into the night against the Chicago White Sox, my wandering mind couldn’t help but think about what if the Yankees weren’t in an incredibly tight race despite having the third best record in the league.
What if there was a way that we did not have to face this incredibly talented Red Sox team a handful of times each season? What if I told you that there was a way this could happen? Moving the Yankees to the National League would not only immensely help the Yankees but it would also help the league as a whole. While this is just a mental exercise it is very interesting to speculate about.
How It Would Happen
The last time the MLB moved an organization to another league was actually pretty recent. The Astros were moved to the American League West in 2013. The Yankees would have to be moved into the National League East because they are an east coast team.
The NL East is right now filled with the Nationals, Phillies, Braves, Marlins, and Mets. It seems like the perfect move would be for the Yankees to switch spots with their cross town rivals. You’d be power packing this NL East division and definitely diluting the AL East but for this mind, exercise lets roll with it.
You’d bring the Yankees into a league where they would not only completely lead the division by 6.5 games over the Phillies but they would also lead the whole National League by 4.5 games. The former inter division rival Red Sox would have little to no competition for the AL East. The Tampa Bay Rays would be the second place team and would be 22.5 games back from the AL East leaders.
A Few Changes
Even though a universal DH rule is gaining momentum in the MLB, for right now the Yankees would have to use a pitcher in the nine hole. We’ve seen some Yankee pitchers bat when visiting other NL parks. Betances has to be one of the worst. The Yankees even loss Tanaka for over a month because of his base running.
One thing that being in the National League would definitely help is the pitchers. Like I said above pitchers have to bat in the Senior Circuit so that’s almost a free out for most pitchers you would face. Guys like Severino could easily post a sub-two ERA and have a season like Jacob deGrom is having but with wins as well. The bullpen that the Yankees have would only become even more dominant with guys like Betances and Chapman throwing 100+ MPH against pitchers who don’t even take batting practice.
The hitters would have some adjusting to do as they move into a new league and a new division. The AL East’s parks were built to be some of the highest scoring parks in the league. According to Tristan Cockcroft from ESPN, the AL East have four parks that rank in the top third of the league when it comes to the stadium being favorable to the hitter.
Every park in the NL East comes in ranked in the bottom two-thirds of the league. The highest would be the Nationals park ranked 13th. While the park difference wouldn’t make a huge difference in runs over a couple of games the Yankees having to play 19 games in the Marlins park (ranked 20th in the league) instead of playing 19 games in Rogers Centre (ranked 4th in the league) would make a huge difference.
The Yankees are set up to play their AL East rivals a total of 78 times this year. That includes 21 times against the Red Sox, 19 times against the Orioles, 19 times against the Blue Jays, and 19 times against the Rays. For argument’s sake lets set up the same scenario for a season of the Yankees playing in the NL East.
They would play the Phillies for 21 games, 19 games against the Braves, 19 games facing off against the Nationals, and 19 times teeing off on the Miami Marlins.
The Yankees played the Phillies earlier this year and beat them in the season series 2-1. There wouldn’t be much of a different outcome even with 21 games instead of 3. The Phillies are built behind their pitching rotation of Aaron Nola, Jake Arrieta, Vince Valesquez, Nick Pivetta, and Zack Efflin. While this pitching rotation is solid the Yankees have proven to get to both Efflin and Arrieta. The Yankees pitching crew also did a very good job of holding the Phillies to only 5 runs over the 3 game series.
The Braves visited Yankees Stadium at the beginning of July and got beat twice in a three-game series. A team built on young talent such as Acuna Jr. and Ozzie Albies would be something to worry about in the future but not as much right now. While this team is good I would be surprised to see the Yankees lose this season series.
The Yankees have played the Nationals a few times this season and have split the season series with them. The Nationals are built up with superstar talents such as Bryce Harper, Max Scherzer, and Juan Soto. While they would be something to worry about they have been underperforming and don’t warrant any concern, especially if they lose Harper to free agency.
The Marlins should be an easy put away in this division, right? Probably, but everyone thought the Yankees would handle the Orioles this year and so far that hasn’t exactly panned out to as planned. Overall, I would still expect the Yankees to take care of The Captain’s team.
For The Greater Good
While this theoretical situation seems to only help the Yankees, it would actually help the MLB a lot more than anyone else. The American League is getting overcrowded and the balance of power is starting to feel eerily similar to the way the NBA is set up right now.
For those who don’t follow the NBA, the Western Conference is considerably more powerful than the Eastern Conference to the point where people call the Western Conference Final the championship instead of the actual Finals. You could start seeing the same play out in the ALCS if there isn’t a change soon.
Especially because player movement is coming to terms with this as well. More stars have been moving to the AL from the NL. A good pinstripe edition would be the Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He was the MVP of the NL just last year and now he is on an AL team.
Putting the Yankees in the NL would absolutely shift the whole road baseball will take over the next few years. You could make the case that it’s beneficial for the MLB and the Yankees and that the pros outweigh the cons but in the end, it’s all for fun.
The Yankees are staying in the AL East and will need to find a way to overtake the young and star-studded Red Sox if they want to compete for a championship in the next 10 years.