There are a few different things that are going to be happening in 2023. The biggest one appears to be the new shift rules that will be in place, but larger bases are coming, pickoff attempt limits are coming, a pitch clock is coming, and something less noticeable too – a “balanced” schedule.
While it’s being called a balanced schedule, it’s not as if every team plays the same exact schedule. But every team will not play fewer games against their divisional opponents and they will also play at least one series against every team in baseball.
Mike Petriello of MLB.com made an attempt to dig into the data to see if the new balanced schedule favored any specific teams. His takeaway was that for much of the league the difference won’t be much. Not getting to play some weak or strong teams in your own division is negated by essentially having to face a similar number of good or bad teams outside of your division now.
While Petriello didn’t really say it in his article, for the worst teams in baseball does it even matter at all? If just about everyone is expected to be better than you – which is the case for the Cincinnati Reds – playing someone else doesn’t change the math. The same thing can be said for teams like the Pirates or the Tigers or Nationals.
The Reds will play 24 fewer games against the Cubs, Brewers, Pirates, and Cardinals than they would without the balanced schedule format coming into play in 2023. They also play San Diego, Atlanta, Miami, the Los Angeles Angels, and the New York Mets one fewer time than they would have. There are some good teams in there, some solid ones, and then the Pirates and Marlins. When it comes to games they won’t have to play that they otherwise would, it seems that it’s probably a wash.
But what about the games that they now will be playing that they wouldn’t have? The Reds will play Arizona and Washington one more time than they would have. They will also play Baltimore, Boston, New York (Yankees), Tampa Bay, Toronto, Chicago (White Sox), Detroit, Kansas City, and Minnesota three more times each than they otherwise would have. The additional games against the AL East works against the Reds big time, but in the AL Central there isn’t exactly a really good team you’ve got additional games against. The White Sox and Twins could be .500-ish teams, but the Tigers and Royals are among the worst teams in baseball (at least on paper as we head into spring training).
We don’t know how the teams will all turn out because sometimes “on paper” doesn’t translate, both in good or bad ways. Ever so often you get a 1999 Reds or a 2021 Giants team that just massively outperforms their projections. But when looking at how the new schedule lines up versus what would have been, it doesn’t seem like there’s a big change at all for the Reds. They may lose a game or two more than they otherwise would have, but the difference isn’t drastic. Or at least that’s how it appears.