Blue Jays: Can the Jays benefit from the new MLB schedule?
How will the new schedule affect the Jays' travel plans?
The new schedule will create more travel league-wide.
As Baseball Savant's Travel Schedule Visual tool shows, MLB teams will cover 1,073,332 miles, an increase of 73,399 miles from 2022.
This increase does include a combined 16,000 miles in round-trips to London, England, for the Cardinals and Cubs, but it's still a hefty jump.
We all know that professional athletes don't travel like the rest of us. However, it still takes a toll and can affect physical and cognitive performance, according to a study by Aaron Lee and Juan Carlos Galvez of the Vanguard MacNeal Hospital Sports Medicine Fellowship and published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Without getting into the science here, they conclude:
"Prolonged travel imparts a physical and cognitive toll on traveling athletes and may adversely affect performance in competition. Mood, cognition, and some measures of performance are adversely affected by jet lag and circadian disruption."- Aaron Lee, DO and Juan Carlos Galvez, MD
As for the Jays' travel plans, first the bad news.
The team will travel 31,465 miles this season, 1,585 miles farther than in 2022. However, that's only the 18th largest increase in travel miles (the Giants are adding 11,084 miles!).
They open the season on the road in St. Louis and Kansas City. They then head to the west coast for a single series against the Angels before returning home. Not exactly an efficient use of a trip across the continent. Whether this is a quirk due to the new schedule, or MLB's scheduling algorithm doing its usual thing, it's not an easy way to start the season.
The good news is that despite that strange first road trip, the Jays have the fewest miles to travel compared to the other AL East teams.
While we can't measure or quantify how the difference may affect the season's outcome, less travel is easier than more travel, so the Jays have whatever advantage exists in this regard.
It could be a well-made defensive decision, a mental blunder by a division rival, or just less accumulated fatigue and fewer let-down games following long nights of travel; an advantage is an advantage, no matter how small.
As Blue Jays fans are painfully aware, an extra run here or there and one more game in the win column can mean the difference between playing postseason baseball or going home. So we'll take any advantage we can get.