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Matt Smith is the editor and lead writer at BaseballGB. An Oakland A's fan, Matt has been obsessed with baseball since 1998 and started writing about the sport in 2006.

MLB ‘early’ games 2012: Part Two

In the first part of our review of the pre-midnight U.K. time, working week MLB games played during 2012 we focused on the weekday and monthly distribution of those games.

In this second and final part, we will focus on how the early games are divided up among the 30 MLB teams.

The data reveals how often a team played at a convenient time for fans in the U.K. to follow the action live. This may be an important factor to consider if you are new to the sport and are having difficulty in picking a team to follow.

Chicago Cubs lead the way again

It’s no surprise that the Chicago Cubs once again top the ‘early’ game charts by a considerable margin, with their total of 39 ‘early’ games being 13 more than the next highest total (the Milwaukee Brewers’ 26).

The team stuck by tradition for many years and didn’t install floodlights at Wrigley Field until August 1988. Since that point, largely due to the location of the ballpark and the surrounding area, the Cubs have been restricted by the city council in respect of the amount of home night-games they are allowed to play.

Consequently the Cubs will always be involved in the highest number of games played during the British evening and teams that play the Cubs the most (i.e. fellow NL Central division teams) can expect a small boost as well with an extra day-game or two per season.

The full list

Setting the Cubs’ total to one side, the number of ‘early’ games played range from the Brewers’ 26 down to just 12 for both the Atlanta Braves and Baltimore Orioles (two of the lowest scorers in 2011 as well).

Teams 2012 gms 2012 rank 2011 gms 2011 rank Gm difference
Chicago Cubs 39 1st 36 1st 3
Milwaukee Brewers 26 2nd 20 16th 6
San Francisco Giants 25 3rd 24 J-6th 1
Oakland Athletics 24 J-4th 26 4th -2
New York Mets 24 J-4th 21 J-11th 3
Detroit Tigers 23 6th 27 3rd -4
Tampa Bay Rays 22 J-7th 32 2nd -10
San Diego Padres 22 J-7th 25 5th -3
Cincinnati Reds 21 J-9th 23 8th -2
Pittsburgh Pirates 21 J-9th 22 J-9th -1
Cleveland Indians 21 J-9th 19 J-17th 2
St. Louis Cardinals 21 J-9th 18 J-23rd 3
Miami Marlins 20 13th 15 J-27th 5
Minnesota Twins 19 J-14th 24 J-6th -5
Chicago White Sox 19 J-14th 21 J-11th -2
Colorado Rockies 18 J-16th 21 J-11th -3
Washington Nationals 18 J-16th 19 J-17th -1
Philadelphia Phillies 17 J-18th 21 J-11th -4
Seattle Mariners 17 J-18th 19 J-17th -2
Arizona Diamondbacks 16 20th 15 J-27th 1
Toronto Blue Jays 15 J-21st 21 J-11th -6
Houston Astros 15 J-21st 19 J-17th -4
Kansas City Royals 15 J-21st 19 J-17th -4
Los Angeles Dodgers 15 J-21st 17 25th -2
Los Angeles Angels 15 J-21st 14 30th 1
New York Yankees 14 J-26th 22 J-9th -8
Boston Red Sox 14 J-26th 19 J-17th -5
Texas Rangers 14 J-26th 18 J-23rd -4
Atlanta Braves 12 J-29th 16 26th -4
Baltimore Orioles 12 J-29th 15 J-27th -3

The top five teams for playing ‘early’ games in 2011 – the Cubs, Rays, Tigers, A’s and Padres – all featured in the top seven in 2012. The World Series champion San Francisco Giants moved up to the third-most ‘early’ games played in 2012 compared to being joint-sixth in 2011, whilst the Brewers’ six-game increase from their 2011 total (from 20 to 26) moved them up in the rankings from joint-sixteenth to second.

The most striking trend when comparing 2011 with 2012 is how all of the AL East teams saw a decline in the number of ‘early’ games being played; the Ray’s decline from 32 to 22 being the most extreme. This will predominantly be accounted for by the fact that a team’s schedule is weighted so that they play more games against other teams in the same division. Therefore if a couple of teams in a division decide to host less day-games in a particular season, that will affect not only their own score, but also that of teams they play against most frequently (exactly how that plays out – i.e. which specific games are played at night rather than in the day time – would need to be considered on a team-by-team basis).

Looking ahead to 2013

It stands to reason that every team’s day-game total is not only affected by their own home-game schedule but also the schedules of their opponents. When looking ahead to 2013, we have to remember that the Houston Astros’ move from the NL Central to the AL West division has resulted in interleague games being played virtually all season long and the whole scheduling format being modified.  It will be interesting to see how this effects the number of day-games different teams play over the next few seasons compared with 2011 and 2012.

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