The landscape of minor league baseball has changed dramatically for the 2021 season.
Especially in the Minnesota Twins' backyard.
For their first 60 seasons in Minnesota, the average distance of the Twins' top minor league affiliate from the Twin Cities was 1,175 miles.
This season, the distance between the Twins and their Class AAA affiliate has been shortened by 99.1%. The distance between Target Field and CHS Field in St. Paul — the home of their new Class AAA farm team — is 10.4 miles.
That distance is the shortest between a major league team and its top farm team in Major League Baseball history.
The reorganization of minor league baseball — which saw the number of minor league teams affiliated with Major League Baseball reduced from 160 to 120 — has created several other short commutes for major league teams and their top affiliates.
The Houston Astros' Class AAA team — the Sugar Land Skeeters — play at Constellation Field, 22.3 miles from Houston's Minute Maid Park. The Class AAA farm team of the Boston Red Sox will play in Worcester, Mass., about 45 miles from Fenway Park. That distance is 3 miles shorter than the distance between Fenway Park and Boston's former Class AAA affiliate in Pawtucket, R.I.
The distance between the Seattle Mariners and their Class AAA club in Tacoma, Wash., remains 35 miles. Tacoma was the Twins' top farm team from 1972-77.
Before this season, the shortest distance between a major league team and its top minor league team was 16.6 miles — the distance between Roosevelt Stadium in Jersey City, N.J., and the Polo Grounds, the home of the New York Giants.
That distance was 1.7 miles shorter than the 18.3 miles from Yankee Stadium to Ruppert Stadium in Newark, N.J., where the Newark Bears played.
Since 1961 the Twins have fielded a Class AAA farm team in 12 cities (Portland served as an affiliate on two separate occasions). The greatest distance between the Twins and their top farm team was 1,791 miles to Vancouver, British Columbia (1962 season). The shortest distance was 652 miles to Toledo, Ohio (from 1978-86).
Between 2003-19 — there was no Class AAA baseball in 2020 — the Twins' top farm team was in Rochester, N.Y., 1,009 miles away.
For the record, the shortest distance between a major league and any of its minor league affiliates is 4.3 miles. In 1993, the Bowie Baysox, the Class AA affiliate of the Baltimore Orioles, played its games in Baltimore's Memorial Stadium, while the Orioles were in their first season at Camden Yards.
In 1914 and 1915, the Cleveland teams of the American League and the American Association both played their home games at League Park in Cleveland. Both teams had the same owner, but baseball historians debate whether the arrangement was comparable to the Player Development agreements that exist today.