Mar 26, 2024 - Sports

Seven MLB teams Indianapolis fans can root for

Reds vs. Cubs

If you're from Indianapolis, there's a good chance your favorite MLB team is in this picture. Photo: Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Major League Baseball is back.

Why it matters: Indy fans of America's pastime are gearing up to cheer on their favorite "home away from home" teams.

The big picture: Opening day of the 2024 season is Thursday, with all 30 teams taking the field.

Reality check: Even though there isn't a local MLB team, it doesn't mean you have to miss out on the peanuts and Cracker Jack.

  • The Indianapolis Indians are poised to provide a summer of Triple-A action, starting with their season opener on the road Friday against the Louisville Bats.
  • Plus: Indy is just a short car ride away from some of the most storied MLB franchises of all time.

💭 Justin's thought bubble: When I moved from Cleveland to Indiana to go to Purdue, not having an MLB team in the state took some getting used to as a kid who wasted countless hours at games.

  • But road-tripping to games and being a fan from afar over 20 years has provided just as many good times as having a team down the street.

Here are the seven MLB teams closest to Indianapolis and why they're worth rooting for in 2024:

🟥 Cincinnati Reds

Players to watch: Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Hunter Greene, Andrew Abbott

Last season: 82-80, 3rd place in the NL Central

Season opener: 4:10pm at home against Washington

Travel time to stadium: 1 hour, 45 minutes

Why root for them: As the closest MLB team to the Circle City, it's no surprise the Reds are the most popular team in the entire state. So even if they stink, at least you'll have plenty of fans to cheer with at your local sports bar.

🧦 Chicago White Sox

Players to watch: Luis Robert Jr., Yoan Moncada, Eloy Jimenez, Andrew Vaughn

Last season: 61-101, 4th place in the AL Central

Season opener: 4:10pm at home against Detroit

Travel time: 2 hours, 41 minutes

Why root for them: To be different. As far as Chicago teams go, the Cubs edge out the White Sox in popularity among Hoosiers and overall performance. Supporting them is the punk rock choice.

🐻 Chicago Cubs

Players to watch: Justin Steele, Cody Bellinger, Nico Hoerner, Dansby Swanson

Last season: 83-79, 2nd place in the NL Central

Season opener: 7:35pm on the road against the Texas Rangers

Travel time: 3 hours

Why root for them: An afternoon at Wrigley Field is hard to pass up, and as the best MLB team in reasonable driving distance with a recent-ish World Series win to their credit, being a modern Cubs fan is full of more good days than bad.

🐦 St. Louis Cardinals

Players to watch: Nolan Arenado, Sonny Gray, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Gorman

Last season: 71-91, 5th place in the NL Central

Season opener: 4:10pm on the road against the L.A. Dodgers

Travel time: 3 hours, 39 minutes

Why root for them: If you're from southeastern Indiana, you're probably already drowning in Cards gear. But you can show your Hoosier pride by standing on the fact that you're rooting for Indiana's state bird.

🐯 Detroit Tigers

Players to watch: Riley Greene, Tarik Skubal, Spencer Torkelson, Kerry Carpenter

Last season: 78-84, 2nd place in the AL Central

Season opener: 4:10pm on the road against the Chicago White Sox

Travel time: 4 hours, 16 minutes

Why root for them: Going to games up in Detroit gets you access to a perennial AL Central contender — not that the division is all that competitive. But the real bonus is solidifying your fandom with a slice of Detroit-style pizza.

🛡️ Cleveland Guardians

Players to watch: Jose Ramirez, Shane Bieber, Josh Naylor, Bo Naylor

Last season: 76-86, 3rd place in the AL Central

Season opener: 10:07pm on the road against Oakland

Travel time: 4 hours, 35 minutes

Why root for them: Remember that lackluster AL Central? The Guardians have just as good a chance as taking it as the Tigers. And you can watch the Naylor brothers chase the record for the most home runs hit by siblings in a single season since the Giambi brothers hit 61 in 2002.

🏴‍☠️ Pittsburgh Pirates

Players to watch: Oneil Cruz, Bryan Reynolds, Ke'Bryan Hayes, Mitch Keller

Last season: 76-86, 4th place in the NL Central

Season opener: 4:10pm on the road against Miami

Travel time: 5 hours, 25 minutes

Why root for them: Despite being the farthest geographically in our lineup, the Pirates actually have the closest relationship to Indy.

  • The Indianapolis Indians are the Triple-A affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates. So in a way, when you're enjoying a game at Victory Field, you're already cheering for the Pirates of the future.
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