Last updated: 05:00 PM ET, Mon January 18 2016

Which Major League Team Will Fly The Most This Season?

Airlines & Airports | Josh Lew | January 18, 2016

Which Major League Team Will Fly The Most This Season?

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Despite a mild winter (for the most part), the recent bout of cold weather has left many people dealing with their annual case of cabin fever. The remedy for this is to convince yourself that the winter is already almost over. The best evidence of this is that baseball’s spring training is only about a month and half away. Player and fans alike are anticipating the 2016 season, but some franchises are probably not looking forward to all the traveling that they will have to do.

Spending time on the road is one of the most grueling aspects of playing baseball at a major league level. For some teams, it is actually much more grueling than it is for others. For example, the Seattle Mariners will travel more than any other major league franchise this year. Baseball Savant mapped out each team’s road trips for the 2016 season, and figured out that Seattle players will fly at least 47,704 miles over the course of the year. The Chicago Cubs, meanwhile, will only have to travel about half that distance. When measured end to end, the hard-luck Cubs will fly for a combined 24,271 miles. 

It’s best to be in the Midwest

The main reason for the huge difference in miles traveled is simple geography. Most of the teams that fall between the Cubs and the 30,000-miles-traveled mark are located in the Midwest. Franchises like the Kansas City Royals, Minnesota Twins, Saint Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers and Cleveland Indians will all fly less than 30,000 miles during their road trips this season.  

Six of the eight teams that will rack up the most time in the air are from the West Coast. The other two members of the Frequent Flying Eight are from Texas. Unless they are playing one another, the Seattle and California franchises will have to fly over half the country (or more) to get to their away games. It would only take a couple of East Coast swings for these teams to really rack up the miles. 

East Coast teams travel less than West Coast teams

Both coasts aren’t created equal, however. Because there is a higher concentration of teams in the eastern half of the country, clubs on the Atlantic Coast do not have to make as many cross-country flights. The Red Sox and Yankees will both cover around 36,000 miles during the 2016 regular season, but the Nationals, Pirates, Mets and Phillies are mixed in with the Midwestern teams in the sub-30,000-mile range. 

When the 2016 schedule came out last year, the Oakland A’s actually petitioned the league to have their calendar changed so that they didn’t have to travel so much. Executives from MLB denied this request. However, it did bring to light the travel inequalities between teams in different parts of the country.  

No frequent flier miles

But that’s a heck of a lot of frequent flier miles, right? At least in the A’s case, there are no loyalty points to be earned. Because of the amount of time and distance that the team has to fly year after year, they have upgraded to a custom charter plane. This is probably more comfortable for the players anyway. Other West Coast franchises, such as the Mariners and Giants, also have custom charter aircraft to take them on road trips. 

There is really no way to change the geography of the Big Leagues. The Mariners, who are 800 miles away from their nearest opponent (Oakland), will probably always be the most-traveled team, while Midwestern clubs will always spend the least amount of time in the air over the course of a season.   


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