What are Teams in Baseball?

A team in baseball refers to the collection of players that are either playing offense or defense. Every game of baseball consists of two teams who take turns to bat and field. The fielding team is known as the defense and the batting team is known as the offense. Baseball is one of the few games in which the defense has more control over the game than the offense.

A team in baseball consists of nine players. Only nine players are allowed on the field at any given time. However, a roster can consist of 40 individuals, who can be substituted if needs be. The defense team has 9 players out at all times on the field. They have 9 positions to fill which include the pitcher, the catcher, the shortstop, the first baseman, second baseman and third baseman, and the outfielders.

Baseball, a sport rich in history and tradition, consists of various teams across different levels of play. At the core of this popular game lies the formation and evolution of diverse teams, which offer fans a thrilling experience and remarkable talent across the globe. Delving into the vast world of baseball, it becomes important to have an understanding of the types of teams that make up the baseball landscape.

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From the inception of baseball to its worldwide expansion, teams have formed, evolved, and disbanded over the years. At the forefront are the Major League Baseball (MLB) teams, with Minor League Baseball (MiLB) teams serving as their affiliates and providing talent development opportunities. Besides these leagues, a whole host of international, independent, youth, and amateur baseball teams contribute to the global growth and popularity of this sport.

History of Baseball Teams

The history of baseball teams can be traced back to the formation of the National League (NL) in 1876, which included the two original NL teams in Boston and Chicago, along with six teams from the American Association: Brooklyn, Cincinnati, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, New York, and St. Louis. These eight “classic” franchises comprised the National League for over 60 years.

In the early 20th century, the American League (AL) was established as a competing league, and a truce between the two leagues in 1903 led to the creation of the World Series, an annual competition to determine a national champion. The National Commission, a three-man governing body, was set up to oversee Major League Baseball (MLB) but was replaced by a single commissioner of baseball in 1921.

Since the establishment of the AL and NL, MLB has periodically expanded by adding new teams to both leagues. Additionally, there have been instances of franchise moves, where a team relocates to a different city and adopts a new name and identity. Over the years, MLB has evolved into a league with 30 teams, divided into two leagues and six divisions.

Throughout history, a variety of minor league baseball teams have coexisted alongside major league teams. These minor league teams act as developmental affiliates for major league organizations, providing a competition platform for promising players to develop their skills before being promoted to the major leagues. However, in 2019, MLB dissolved 42 minor league teams, including the Hagerstown Suns, impacting the development structure and landscape of professional baseball.

Today, MLB is a significant sports organization, with its teams participating in a 162-game regular season, followed by playoffs and the prestigious World Series championship. From its humble beginnings in the late 19th century, baseball teams have evolved, become part of the fabric of American culture, and continue to be a beloved pastime for both players and fans alike.

Major League Baseball Teams

Major League Baseball (MLB) is one of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada, consisting of 30 teams. These teams are split into two leagues: the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). Each league has three divisions: East, Central, and West.

American League

The American League, established in 1901, consists of 15 teams, divided into three divisions.

  • AL East:
    • Baltimore Orioles
    • Boston Red Sox
    • New York Yankees
    • Tampa Bay Rays
    • Toronto Blue Jays
  • AL Central:
    • Chicago White Sox
    • Cleveland Guardians
    • Detroit Tigers
    • Kansas City Royals
    • Minnesota Twins
  • AL West:
    • Houston Astros
    • Los Angeles Angels
    • Oakland Athletics
    • Seattle Mariners
    • Texas Rangers

The Toronto Blue Jays are the only Canadian MLB team, and they joined the league in 1977.

National League

The National League, founded in 1876, is the older of the two leagues and has 15 teams, also split into three divisions.

  • NL East:
    • Atlanta Braves
    • Miami Marlins
    • New York Mets
    • Philadelphia Phillies
    • Washington Nationals
  • NL Central:
    • Chicago Cubs
    • Cincinnati Reds
    • Milwaukee Brewers
    • Pittsburgh Pirates
    • St. Louis Cardinals
  • NL West:
    • Arizona Diamondbacks
    • Colorado Rockies
    • Los Angeles Dodgers
    • San Diego Padres
    • San Francisco Giants

Each team in MLB strives for success throughout the season, with the ultimate goal of winning the prestigious World Series title.

Minor League Baseball Teams

Classification Levels

Minor League Baseball (MiLB) consists of various teams organized into different classification levels. There are five classes, ranging from highest to lowest:

  • Triple-A
  • Double-A
  • High-A
  • Single-A
  • Rookie

These classes help differentiate the skill levels of players and the quality of competition within the leagues.


Minor League teams operate under affiliations with Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs. There are a total of 14 MiLB leagues and 206 teams across the United States, Dominican Republic, and Canada. These affiliations allow MLB teams to develop and prepare their players for the major leagues, while also providing Minor League players with opportunities for growth and exposure.

Affiliated teams are part of a system known as “farm teams,” where players can be signed as free agents or drafted by MLB clubs, enabling them to advance through the ranks and potentially transition into major league players. These affiliations foster a strong connection between MLB and MiLB teams, and contribute significantly to the overall development and sustainability of professional baseball.

International Baseball Teams

The world of baseball extends beyond Major League Baseball in the United States, with many international teams participating in various competitions worldwide. Two of the most prominent international baseball events are the World Baseball Classic and Olympic Baseball, where countries from around the globe come together to compete and showcase their skills on the baseball field.

World Baseball Classic

The World Baseball Classic (WBC) is an international baseball tournament sanctioned by the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC). Initiated in 2006, the WBC occurs every four years and features teams from various countries such as the United States, Japan, Dominican Republic, South Korea, Cuba, and more. The most recent edition, held in 2017, featured 16 nations, with the United States emerging as the champions.

Some notable teams that have participated in the WBC include:

  • United States: 2017 WBC Champions
  • Japan: 2006 and 2009 WBC Champions
  • Dominican Republic: 2013 WBC Champions
  • South Korea: 2017 WBC Runners-up
  • Cuba: One of the historically dominant teams in international baseball

Olympic Baseball

Olympic Baseball is another prominent international baseball competition, initially introduced as a demonstration sport in the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and taking full medal status in 1992. In 2008, baseball was removed from the Olympics but made a return in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

Some countries that have excelled in Olympic Baseball include:

  • Cuba: 3-time Olympic Gold Medalists (1992, 1996, 2004)
  • United States: Olympic Gold Medalists (2000) and various appearances
  • South Korea: Olympic Gold Medalists (2008) and multiple appearances
  • Japan: Frequent Olympic participants and medal contenders

These events celebrate the international scope and diversity of baseball, showcasing the best talent from around the world and providing a platform for global competition and camaraderie.

Youth and Amateur Baseball Teams

Little League

Little League is a youth baseball organization that was founded in 1939. Originally intended for boys aged 8 to 12, the program has grown to include roughly 2.5 million players in its baseball program and 400,000 in its softball program across 102 countries. Little League offers a supportive and organized environment for young players to learn and develop their skills in the sport.

College Baseball

College baseball is another avenue for amateur baseball players to continue their development and potentially advance to professional levels. Many colleges and universities in the United States offer baseball programs that compete in different divisions (such as NCAA Division I, II, and III or NAIA). Top college baseball programs often attract talented players by offering athletic scholarships. Collegiate baseball allows student-athletes to balance their academic pursuits with high-level athletic competition.

Independent Baseball Teams

Independent baseball teams are professional baseball teams that are not affiliated with Major League Baseball (MLB) or any of its minor league franchises. These teams operate in various leagues across the United States, attracting players who seek a competitive platform to showcase their skills and talents. Independent leagues often provide an alternative route for players who wish to reach the major leagues or continue competing at a high level.

For instance, the American Association consists of 12 teams, including teams like the Chicago Dogs and Winnipeg Goldeyes. Another notable independent league, the Atlantic League, includes 10 teams such as the Long Island Ducks and New Jersey Jackals. The Frontier League is another prominent independent baseball league, with 16 teams like the New York Boulders and Sussex County Miners.

The Pecos League, with 16 teams, and the United Shore Professional Baseball League (USPBL), with four teams, also offer opportunities for players to compete independently of the MLB system. Furthermore, the Pioneer League includes 10 teams, such as the Western Nebraska Pioneers and Gem City Bison.

These independent leagues often play in minor league baseball stadiums, providing fans with an accessible and affordable option for watching baseball games. While these teams might not have the same level of star power as their MLB counterparts, they still offer a high level of competition and entertainment for baseball enthusiasts.

In conclusion, independent baseball teams provide a unique opportunity for players to compete outside the MLB system, as well as offer fans an accessible way to enjoy baseball games. With many leagues and teams operating in various regions, independent baseball has become an important part of the baseball landscape in the United States.