First, a brief history of the relegation world:
1972: Orioles defeat Pirates in World Series. Mets are Division Two Champions, with Phillies dropping to Division Two. Braves, White Sox, Twins defeat Astros, Royals and Angels to remain in Division One.
1973: Pirates defeat A's in World Series. Expos are Division Two Champions, with Giants dropping to Division Two. Astros become first Division Two team to win a Play-In series to reach Division One, defeating the Braves. The White Sox beat the Angels to remain in Division One.
1974: Reds defeat Red Sox in World Series. Braves are Division Two Champions (after overtaking the Angels), with the Cubs dropping to D2. Astros sweep Phillies to remain in Division One. Tigers beat Angels to remain in Division One. Giants beat the Pirates to return to Division One.
1975: A's defeat Dodgers in World Series. Pirates are Division Two Champions with the Cardinals dropping to D2. Phillies beat Expos to rise to return to the NL. Royals beat Tigers to finally advance to the AL. Angels lose their fourth straight Play-in series, losing to the Twins in 7 games.
Here is the league for 1976:
4. New York Y
5. Chicago W
8. Kansas City
1. Los Angeles
3. San Francisco
6. New York M
4. St. Louis
5. Chicago C
7. San Diego
I was always fascinated with European soccer promotion / relegation formats, and several years ago I set out to construct an "ideal" baseball world that included relegation. I chose 1972 to begin because that the first year games were lost to a strike and right before introductions like the DH and free agency.
My format split the majors (in 1972) into two eight-team leagues (AL, NL) and an eight team Division Two. The rules for the replay are the following:
1) Each year, the lowest two teams in each league (7th and 8th place) are eligible for relegation, while the top four teams in Division 2 are eligible for promotion. The matchups are set up according to the original league of the Division 2 teams. If there are more than 2 teams from one league in the top four in Division 2, the 5th and 6th upper division teams could face relegation.
2) The Division 2 champion automatically rises to the upper division, replacing the bottom team of their original league. The other three teams play those being relegated in seven game series, with the losers going to Division 2. This system is great for keeping games meaningful. Teams that are not in the pennant race often have to worry about the race to avoid seventh and eighth place. Any prolonged slump could doom a team. The only teams truly out of it are the worst teams in Division 2.
3) In the upper division, the AL and NL regular season champions meet in the World Series, as they used to before expansion.
4) Other characteristics of this "ideal" (for me) experiment include: no free agency, limited player movement, no DH, some AL-NL interleague play (22 games per year), no regular season games between the upper and lower divisions.
5) Each AL or NL team plays the 7 teams from its own league 20 times each plus 22 interleague games for a 162 game season. The schedule begins with the top 4 in each league at home to face the bottom four.
6) I sometimes combine statistics for one or more years to make players with at least 100 PA or 48 IP. I also import future players who spent over five years in the minors at the time of the DMB season.
7) I use real trades as a basis for trades in the simulation, deciding if they make sense in terms of the teams in the simulation. The teams will look less and less like the real teams as the years go on.
8) As a Red Sox fan, I did not include two trades that happened prior to the 1972 season: the Lyle-Cater trade and the large trade with the Brewers involving George Scott.
9) All real injuries happen in the replay, and some DMB generated injuries happen as well (but displace a real injury).
10) The Washington Senators remain in Washington rather than moving to Texas after the 1971 season.
11) Here are a few of the roster rules:
A) For the first five years, a team can freely promote and demote players. After five years in the organization, a player may be sent to the minors, but can be claimed by any team before August 1. That team must immediately put the player on the major league roster for 30 days. The team with the player in the minors can refuse this claim provided it brings the player up to majors for the 30 days. The team can only refuse a claim on a player once.
B) After 5 years in the majors (of at least 10 games), a player gets a special status. These players may no longer be sent to minors and, if on the roster on February 15, may not be released until about May 20 of the following season.
I make the following rules as well:
A) Players may only pick up free agents and waiver claims who played on the real team at some point in their careers. The only exception to this is for teams with losing records in Division Two, who may pick up any player. Exceptions are made when a player at a particular position is needed and no other qualified player is available.
B) To begin the year as a starter, a player must have 200 PA in the prior simulated year or 400 PA in real life. There are restrictions for starting pitchers as well.
C) I set rosters at four points during the year: Opening day, around May 20, at the All Star break, on September 1. Between these dates changes are only made for injuries or real transactions.
The above three rules make roster selection and in season management much easier.
Quick link to the best game of this season: Angels - Padres 23 inning game