About Box-Toppers team abbreviations

Box-Toppers uses a modified two- or three-letter code for teams plus league designation (al or nl) in many charts. Most are pretty self-explanatory, for example:

Team codes

Here are Box-Toppers’ team code abbreviations for all 30 Major League Baseball teams. Listed in the “Previous” column are any previous team codes used for a franchise—only four code changes have occurred since 1995, when Box-Toppers tracking began.
Team Code Previous†
Arizona Diamondbacks ari nl
Atlanta Braves atl nl
Baltimore Orioles bal al
Boston Red Sox bos al
Chicago Cubs chi nl
Chicago White Sox chi al
Cincinnati Reds cin nl
Cleveland Indians cle al
Colorado Rockies col nl
Detroit Tigers det al
Houston Astros hou al hou nl
Kansas City Royals kc al
Los Angeles Angels ana al cal al
Los Angeles Dodgers lad nl
Miami Marlins fla nl
Milwaukee Brewers mil nl mil al
Minnesota Twins min al
New York Mets nym nl
New York Yankees nyy al
Oakland Athletics oak al
Philadelphia Phillies phi nl
Pittsburgh Pirates pit nl
San Diego Padres sd nl
San Francisco Giants sf nl
Seattle Mariners sea al
St. Louis Cardinals stl nl
Tampa Bay Rays tb al
Texas Rangers tex al
Toronto Blue Jays tor al
Washington Nationals* dc nl mon nl
† Only four franchises have had team code changes since 1995, when Box-Toppers tracking began. Two happened when teams switched leagues—Astros and Brewers, one happened when a team shifted geographical identity without moving—Angels and one happened when a franchise moved from one city to another—Montreal Expos to the Washington Nationals.
* In 2005, the Montreal Expos (formerly identified by Box-Toppers with the "mon nl" code) moved to Washington, D.C. and became the Nationals (now identified with the code, "dc nl")

• “cle al” stands for Cleveland Indians of the American League.

• “lad nl” stands for the Los Angeles Dodgers of the National League.

• “kc al” stands for the Kansas City Royals of the AL.

Two teams have abbreviations which may seem a little disconnected from modern times—the Los Angeles Angels and the Miami Marlins.

California/Anaheim/Los Angeles Angels

The Angels have a history of changing their geographical name location (sometimes on an apparent whim). Here is a history of their names, since the franchise started in 1961:

  • Los Angeles Angels (1961-1965)
  • California Angels (1965-1996)
  • Anaheim Angels (1997-2004)
  • Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005-2015)
  • Los Angeles Angels (2016-present)

The Angels played in Los Angeles from 1961 to 1965, playing in the L.A. version of Wrigley Field in 1961 and in Dodger Stadium from 1962 to 1965. In 1966, the team moved 30 miles southeast to Anaheim, Calif., where they have played in the same stadium, Angels Stadium, ever since.

Despite the fact that the Angels haven’t moved an inch geographically, they have changed their name four times since moving to Anaheim.

When Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995, the abbreviation used for the then-California Angels—the longest-tenured name for the franchise—was “cal al.”

In 1997, when the team changed its name to the Anaheim Angels, Box-Toppers obliged and changed the team code to “ana al.” And when a few years later, in 2005, it changed its name again to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Box-Toppers stood pat with “ana al,” since it was still part of the name. But when it changed the name yet again in 2016 to simply the Los Angeles Angels, Box-Toppers stuck with “ana al” since the franchise, location and nickname did not change. 

So a Box-Toppers policy developed that if a franchise did not move to an entirely new market or substantially change the team, Box-Toppers kept the existing team code for reasons of consistency and continuity (and since repeated arbitrary, casual, random changes—such as those the Angels have made—are, frankly, irritating).

Florida/Miami Marlins

In 2012, the Florida Marlins changed its franchise name to the Miami Marlins. But since they played in the same market and were substantially the same team, Box-Toppers kept its team code as “fla nl.” (Box-Toppers uses the three-letter Florida state abbreviation used in the Associated Press Style Book.)

Montreal Expos/Washington Nationals

However, when in 2005, the Montreal Expos moved to Washington and became the Nationals, there was cause to change the team code from “mon nl” since the team was moving to an new market. The team code adopted by Box-Toppers for the franchise has been “dc nl” (for District of Columbia) since 2005. (Many media outlets use WSH or WAS as team code for the Washington Nationals.)

Teams changing leagues

Since Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995, two teams have changed leagues. In 1998, the Milwaukee Brewers moved from the AL to the NL, changing their team code designation from “mil al” to “mil nl.” In 2013, the Houston Astros moved from the NL to the AL, changing their team code designation from “hou nl” to “hou al.”

Chicago teams

All teams have unique two- or three-letter team code names without league designation except for the two Chicago teams, the Cubs and White Sox. The only way to differentiate between them is with their league code: The NL Cubs are “chi nl” and the AL White Sox are “chi al.”

lowercase explanation

Why are the team code abbreviations not capitalized? It’s an old, unbroken habit that started out of necessity. In the beginning, back in 1995, Box-Toppers was tabulated with now-ancient software on a computer that operated so slowly that hitting the shift key to capitalize words slowed things way down. Much has improved since then, but the team codes in the Box-Toppers database remain lowercase.

While Box-Toppers uses these team codes in its database and in many charts appearing on the website, Box-Toppers does often employ the two- or three-letter codes for teams used by Major League Baseball and most media outlets. (A couple of examples of these codes are the Chicago Cubs,  designated as “CHC” and the Chicago White Sox as “CHW.”)

A note about player name changes

While Box-Toppers is reluctant to change team code names, especially when franchises don’t substantially move or change, Box-Toppers does honor player name changes, even small ones or forced ones.

  • James Shields used to be Jamie Shields.
  • Giancarlo Stanton used to be Mike Stanton.
  • Felipe Rivero used to be Felipe Vazquez.
  • Roberto Heredia Hernandez and Juan Carlos Oviedo used to be, respectively, Fausto Carmona and Leo Nunez (both assumed names used to shield their true ages, until they were caught and were forced to use their real names).
  • Ismael Valdez used to be Ismael Valdes.
  • Melvin Upton used to be B.J. Upton.
  • Adalberto Mondesi used to be Raul A. Mondesi.

A player’s previous moniker is recorded but the Box-Toppers statistics for both of his identities are combined.

(Shawn Plank, updated Monday, April 16, 2018)