Are changes coming to Major League Baseball’s playoff structure?

According to Joel Sherman of the New York Post and MLB Network, Major League Baseball is looking at changing their playoff structure as early as 2022.

Major League Baseball is plotting a change in their playoff structure as early as 2022, Sherman reported on Monday afternoon. According to Sherman, the proposal would a number of changes to the way baseball would work.

Here are some of the known changes in the proposal:

  • The number of postseason teams would increase from 10 to 14
  • The top overall team in each league would get a first-round bye
  • The other teams competing in the first round would play a three-game series (all in one city) to advance to the next round
  • The top three non-bye playoff teams would select their first-round opponents with the league planning to televise a live selection show

Obviously, these changes would bring a radical change to baseball since four more teams would make the playoffs (two in each league).

If you just look at the overall records of each league, here’s what the playoffs would have looked like in 2019 in the American League.

  1. Houston Astros (107-55); first round bye
  2. New York Yankees (103-59)
  3. Minnesota Twins (101-61)
  4. Oakland A’s (97-65)
  5. Tampa Bay Rays (96-66)
  6. Cleveland Indians (93-69)
  7. Boston Red Sox (84-78)

Here’s what the National League would have looked like in 2019.

  1. Los Angeles Dodgers (106-56); first round bye
  2. Atlanta Braves (97-65)
  3. Washington Nationals (93-69)
  4. St. Louis Cardinals (91-71)
  5. Milwaukee Brewers (89-73)
  6. New York Mets (86-76)
  7. Arizona Diamondbacks (85-77)

The Yankees (Braves) would have their choice to face the Rays (Brewers), Indians (Mets), or Red Sox (D’Backs). The Twins (Nationals) would be able to choose next and the A’s (Cardinals) would have to face the remaining team.

This first “Wild Card” series of sorts would elongated from one game to three games but all three would be in the same venue. The winner of the three “Wild Card” series would then advance to the ALDS then proceed like the playoffs do currently.

Thoughts on the changes

Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the proposal. Social media seems to not be a fan either (including Reds pitcher Trevor Bauer in this tweet).

First off, I don’t think that MLB needs to add more playoff teams. The only way that there should be 14 playoff teams is if you have at least six more expansion franchises, which is not feasible to have in two years. To keep the same percentage of playoff teams to overall teams (30 percent), MLB would need to add a dozen more teams to their fold, which is not happening for a very long time, if ever.

There are a reason why a lot of people like the baseball playoffs: it’s a good system. It doesn’t take as long as the NBA, which takes three months, and they don’t accept practically half of the league into the playoffs.

MLB is trying to do this so that middle market teams, like the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks, have more of a shot at the postseason, which I understand. However, even middle market teams can get to the playoffs if they play their cards well (e.g. the Tampa Bay Rays).

I also don’t like that teams get to choose their opponent and I really don’t like that the first team gets a first-round bye. Depending on the scheduling, it could mean that the first-place team gets four or five days off before playing again. It would give them time to rest their pitching staff but it could give their offensive players too much time off.

If you are a Rockies fan, you know what I mean by saying that as the 2007 Rockies had too much time off heading into the 2007 World Series, when they finished the NLCS on October 15 and started the World Series on October 24. The Rockies were easily vanquished by the Boston Red Sox in a four-game sweep.

Why would you potentially penalize the best team in the league? I get one or two days off but when you’re getting into the four, five, or even more (potentially) territory, it is a big problem.

Are there some tweaks that need to be made to baseball to make it more enjoyable so that younger fans will enjoy it? Yes. Length of games are one of a few issues. (I’d say cut commercials so that games are shorter, but what do I know?)

Next: 4 Colorado Rockies pitchers out of options and under pressure

But overall, it seems to me that Commissioner Manfred is throwing a lot of things at the wall and seeing what sticks … and that’s not something that is good for the betterment of the game.

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