When the American League playoffs began Wednesday night with the wild card game, a team that won 100 games hosted a team that won 97. While that was going on, a team that won 91 games was home resting, waiting to play in a best-of-five series while avoiding the pressure of a one-game season.
So, is that fair? For me, it isn’t.
Boston led all AL playoff teams, winning 108 games, followed by Houston with 103, the Yankees with 100, Oakland with 97 and Cleveland with 91.
The Indians won the American League Central - baseball’s worst division - by 13 games. In the majors this year, four second-place teams won 90 or more games. The Yankees won 100 and the A’s 97. Heck, AL East third-place finisher Tampa Bay won 90, one fewer than Cleveland. In the AL Central, Minnesota went 78-84 and finished second.
So the Indians can have a few things go wrong in a five-game series and still advance. This was not true for the Yankees and Athletics. The Yankees won the AL wild-card game Wednesday, sending the 97-win A’s home. New York and Oakland would have won four other Major League Baseball divisions this year.
So is it time to re-seed the playoff teams? Is it time to put a division winner in a wild-card game and qualify a second-place team for the five-game division series as they bypass the wild-card game? I say yes, it is.
In the American League, going by this year’s standings, Boston would be the No. 1 seed, with Houston No. 2, New York No. 3, Oakland No. 4 and Cleveland No. 5.
That would put Cleveland at Oakland in the wild-card game, with the winner there advancing to meet Boston. Houston and New York would meet in the other American League Division Series.
But isn’t that penalizing a division champion? Yes, but it is rewarding the teams that win the most. Under the system I propose, had Cleveland had 89 wins this year, they would still advance over Tampa Bay with 90. I think there has to be some reward for winning your division, even a bad one like the 2018 AL Central. By the way, not that it matters much, but Cleveland went 2-5 versus the Yankees and 2-4 versus the Athletics. So the three division winners should always be part of the playoffs, but under this proposal, they are not ensured avoiding a wild card game. They simply to have to win enough to avoid that.
Speaking of the wild card, I like the drama and tension of the one-game playoff. I don’t need to see a best two-of-three series for that. Anything can happen in a one-and-done situation, and that is part of the appeal for me.
But going forward, I think the three teams in each league that win the most should advance to division series play, and the two that don’t should play in the wild card game.
Showcase complete: Victor Victor Mesa had his long anticipated showcase on Friday, along with his brother, Victor Mesa Jr., and pitcher Sandy Gaston at Marlins Park.
No, we don’t now much about it since the media was not allowed in, and we don’t know when Victor Victor Mesa will sign. An MLB.com story indicated that Victor Victor showed plus speed and a plus arm as advertised. He ran a 60-yard dash between 6.45 and 6.56 seconds, which would rate a 65-70 on the 20-80 scouting scale. That’s outstanding speed.