Much has been made of the new rule changes and the impact they will have on the evolution of the game. But it’s not just the rules that are changing this year. Beginning this spring, Major League Baseball introduced a balanced schedule with all 30 teams playing each other.
“I think it was always supposed to be this way,” shortstop Carlos Correa said. “Some divisions are tougher than others and if you have everybody playing everybody then it evens out a bit more. So, yeah, I like it.”
For the Twins, that means more games against National League opponents and fewer against American League Central rivals Cleveland, Detroit, Kansas City and the Chicago White Sox. Instead of playing 19 divisional games against each opponent, the Twins will play the four teams 13 times each.
Only the Guardians finished above .500 in the AL Central last season, meaning the Twins’ schedule could become increasingly difficult.
“I think every year a lot has been made of certain divisions feeling like they’re better off with it than others,” said Derek Falvey, the Twins’ president of baseball operations. “We feel like there’s a lot of competition in our division, so our feeling is we’ve got to go play good teams that are on the schedule and play as well as we can.”
It’s something Falvey said he welcomes now — “the baseball fan in me likes to see other teams,” he said — but wouldn’t have a few years ago, when the National League didn’t yet play a designated hit.
An odd quirk of the Twins’ schedule this year has them playing just six division games — three against Cleveland, three against Chicago — in the final month of the season. With fewer games against division rivals, each takes on even greater importance.
The Twins will play 52 divisional games. They will play 64 intraleague games – 32 home, 32 away – against other American League teams. And they will play 46 games against the National League, compared to 20 last year.
“When you play the same … four teams 19 times each, there’s not much new to prepare. You basically go out there and fight,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “Everybody is very familiar with everybody else, and now you’re going to tiptoe a little bit more. You have to be a little more aware and pay attention and … adjust on the fly.”
The addition of more interleague games means fans across the country will be able to see players they don’t often get to watch in person. Juan Soto, Manny Machado and Francisco Lindor are among the National League stars who will be making their way to Target Field this season.
And that’s fun for the players too.
“More than anything, I thought I’d be able to see some new cities and see some stations I haven’t played,” starter Joe Ryan said. “Going up against guys from around the league, I think it’s going to be really interesting — a lot of guys that you see on TV that you just don’t go up against. So it will be great to line up some starts against new competition.”
Correa, who once pitched at Wrigley Field before being drafted, is excited to play in the Cubs’ Friendly Confines. It won’t be this year, though, as the Cubs travel to Minneapolis in May. Next year, the Twins will be at Wrigley for the first time since 2021.
“If you play for two years, you’re going to go everywhere. That’s pretty cool,” catcher Ryan Jeffers said. “You get to see different cities, you get to see different stadiums, you just travel. It’s a great part of the gig we have and going everywhere is great.”