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If you’re a lover of the sport of baseball, then you’ve probably had moments where you’ve seen your team face another team multiple times. During that time you may be wondering how many times will your team play the same team during an MLB season. Keep reading to get the answer to the question surrounding how many times MLB teams play one another.
How Many Times Do MLB Teams Play Each Other?
Several factors need to be considered when determining how many times Major league teams play each other. These factors include things like the division of the Major league that teams find themselves in. in addition to teams in the same divisions playing one another, there are some moments of teams in the different leagues facing one another. In case you’re not familiar with what interleague means, I will explain.
The Major league is divided into divisions and leagues. The different leagues that make up the Major League are the American League and the National League. Both leagues are further divided into different divisions these are the East, West, and central divisions. Teams that are part of the same division face one another 19 times in a season. During the regular season, all MLB teams play a total of 162 games.
A brief history of the MLB
The major League was first established in 1876. During that time, the American and National Leagues were independent. That independence resulted in what the history books refer to only as the “baseball war”. The two leagues agreed to make peace in 1903 by signing the National Agreement. Having signed the agreement the leagues still remained separate entities until the year 2000.
It is the United States’ oldest professional sports league. While the league was still in its infancy, there were only 8 teams in each league. Teams who played during that time would meet on the diamond 22 times a year. It was the introduction of two more teams that pushed the number of games played from 154 up to 162 back in 1961.
Before we can discuss the total times that teams face each other in a year, we need to break these face-offs down to the divisional level. To do this, we need to revisit the history of the Major League. In its infancy, the Major League only had 8 teams in each of its league. This was between 1901 and 1960, in that era baseball teams would meet one another on the diamond a total of 22 times in a single year.
The setup that is used by the MLB today lets teams in the same division face off 19 times during the regular season. This league structure of the play was first introduced in 2013 after a team transferred from the National League to become part of the American league’s Western division. Since the switch made by the Houston Astros, teams in the same division each play 76 baseball games in their division. If we speak statistically then we see that 47 percent of the games that MLB teams play are against teams who are their rivals in their division.
The Major League is divided into two separate leagues, each with its own divisions. The inter-league play format is not as old as the MLB as it was only introduced in 1997. The introduction of the interleague format meant that teams from The American League would face off against teams from The National League. Before 1997, the inter-league play would only take place during World Series games.
A major contributing factor to the introduction of inter-league play was due to the player strike of 1994, which led to fan attendance dropping drastically. Inter-league games were introduced to boost the attendance of fans at games. Excluding the season of 2020 which was shortened due to the global pandemic, there have been a total of 300 inter-league games played. One of the greatest benefits that are a result of the inter-league system of play is the rivalries that were born between teams that are from the same area.
Some of the most famous inter-league rivalries are listed here:
- The inter-league faceoff between the Baltimore Orioles and the Washington Nationals is referred to as the “Beltway Series”. This is a rivalry that dates back to the 2006 season.
- In the city of Chicago, the rivalry between the Cubs (North side) and the White Sox (South Side) is known as the “Windy City Series) this rivalry is one of the oldest datings back to 1900.
- In Cleveland, there’s a rivalry known as the Ohio Cup, which is a faceoff between the Cincinnati Reds and the Cleveland Indians. Their rivalry dates back to an exhibition game that was played back in 1989. It is named after the cup that is awarded to the team who wins the series.
- The rivalry in Missouri is known as the “Show-Me Series” this faceoff sees the Kansas City Royals take on the Saint Louis Cardinals. The peak of this rivalry was back in 1985 when the two teams met in the World Series, which saw the royals win the series in the 7th game.
- The last rivalry on the list is the infamous “Subway Series” it sees the New York-based Mets and Yankees duke it out on the diamond. These two New York rivals competed for what was known as the “Majors Trophy” from 1963-1983. The Yankees beat the Mets in 5 games in the world series final and saw Derek Jeter (Shortstop) receive the MVP award for the way he lead the team and how he performed during the series.
Season’s schedule for the MLB
We now know how the divisions and inter-league games are scheduled. Let’s look at the overall scheduling of the MLB season. To complete a regular MLB season thirty teams face one another 162 times. It is important to note that that number excludes training games in the spring or the games that make up the postseason. Theoretically speaking if teams played every postseason series to the end, they would play 20 extra games.
That would mean that in theory teams would play a total of 182 games. Because of the length of a season some franchises have argued that they should be allowed to increase their roster of players from 25. A full-length regular season consists of more than 2400 games and spans over twenty-six and a bit weeks. The games that form part of the regular season are played in series. A series in baseball is when teams face one another on successive nights.
These series spread across three games, usually only on the rarest of occasions will teams play a two-game series. Teams play 54 series games, twenty of which are divisional and 24, and the remaining twenty series games are inter-league games (American League teams against National League teams.)
Given that the MLB is split into divisions and leagues, the question regarding how many times teams play one another has multiple answers. If we are talking divisional matchups, then teams face one another 19 times. If we are talking about the overall regular season, then teams face one another 162 times. This is why some fans will turn on their TV or streaming device to watch a baseball game it might seem like they are constantly watching the same teams playing.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is baseball a popular sport?
Yes, baseball is very popular and has a large fan following.
Do teams play a lot of games during a season?
Given that teams have a roster of 25 players and play a total of 2430 games in a single season, teams play a lot of games during the regular season.
Do preseason games count?
When tallying how many times teams play during a season, the preseason games are not considered.