As we all know, beginning in 2013, the Houston Astros move to the AL West, thus creating two 15-team leagues. An obvious consequence of this will be interleague play all year (At least one interleague series per week). Also, with the addition of the second wild card, the cry of schedule imbalance (Especially in the East divisions), becomes louder and potentially more important.
What would be the best way to balance the schedule? Here are just a couple of ideas that I've messed with. Now, these scenarios might not actually be realistic due to actual real life scheduling concerns. These are just proposed breakdowns of number of games against your division, rest of the league, and interleague.
29x5 + 9 or 17
In this scenario, teams play every other team 5 times, plus 9 or 17 extra games in your division (2 or 4 games against each plus 1 extra). This yields either a 154 or 162 game season. Pros: About as close as we can get to perfect balance across the entire majors. Cons: The awkward 5-game or 2-game series (The latter in a 3-and-2 format) No rivalries period.
15x4 + 10x7 + 4x8
4 teams in your division 8 times, other 10 teams in your league 7 teams, each team in the other league 4 times for exactly 162. Pros: Strongly balanced within each league. Series makeup not difficult (4, 4-3, 4-4). Cons: Some loss of rivalries, though not as extreme as the first option. Now, Yankees-Red Sox (Or Cardinals-Cubs or Dodgers Giants) play only 8 times a year instead of 18.
15x4 + 10x6 + 4x10
You play each team in your division 10 times, every other league team 6 times, and 4 games against each team in the other league for 160. If 162 or 154 is desired, 2 games in the division could be gained. Pros: Still reasonably balanced while maintaining divisional rivalries a little more. Cons: Strong division teams take a slight hit. Uneven number of home series against each team in the division (Assuming 3-3-4 format).
24 Interleague + 10x7/8 + 4x15
24 interleague games are played, presumably selected by some sort of RPI-type system to ensure a balanced schedule (Say, the average W% in the previous year of the teams is .500 or something). 7 or 8 games are played against the rest of your league (2 teams get 7, 8 get 8), plus 15 against your division. Pros: Divisional rivalries are still strongly present. Very similar to the current format, thus satsifying traditionalists. Cons: Assigning of interleague matchups could go wrong. This is very similar to the current format (Yes, that could be good or bad), meaning still not much balance.
So, what do you think? Have you heard anything about what plan the MLB is coming up with? Which method do you prefer? As a fan of two East division teams, I prefer the 15x4 + 10x7 +4x8, as this gets us out of the East as much as possible.
One final Addendum
One final note: After a little quick calculation which might be a little off (I didn't extensively check my coding), the standard deviation (A measure of the difference between opponent's win percentage) for opponents win percentage were calculated. For the four plans, based on the 2011 records, we have
29x5+17: 0.0037, 1/2 a win
15x4 + 10x7 + 4x8: 0.0108, 1 3/4 wins
15x4 + 10x6 + 4x10 + 2: 0.0140, 2 1/4 wins
24 Interleague + 10x7/8 + 4x15: 0.0203 3 1/4 wins