A take on the proposed new MLB playoff format

In Major League Baseball, 10 teams currently make the playoffs with three division winners and two wild card teams in each league. Under a new proposal from MLB that came out this week, that number would jump to 14 teams.

Each league would have a top seed getting a first-round bye. The other six teams would play each in other in best-of-three series, all in one city. Teams seeded second and third would pick their opponents with the fourth seed playing the remaining team not selected.

The three surviving teams from that first round would join the top-seeded club and meet in best-of-five Division Series. The League Championship Series and World Series would remain best-of-seven.

Even though it appears this would not extend the postseason many days at all, there is some speculation this could eventually lead to a reduced regular season schedule. Maybe back to 154 games.

young-high-fives-alds.pngThere was speculation that a new regular season schedule would include a team playing all 29 other teams in both leagues. This would obviously lead to fewer games within the division.

For me, 14 teams making the postseason, or 47 percent, is simply too many. I always thought baseball could take some pride in that it was harder to make the postseason than other sports that included more teams. Now those days would be over.

This could also lead to under-.500 teams making the playoffs. I am no fan of that. In the American League in 2017, three teams would have tied for the sixth and seventh seeds as the Rays, Angels and Royals all had records of 80-82. Two of those three clubs would have made the playoffs. Heck, the Orioles finished in last place that year, going 75-87, and that would have them five games of the playoffs in 2017.

Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci went back over the standings from 2012-2019 and found that the average number of wins for a seven seed would be 84. The lowest number of wins though he found for a team that would have made the playoffs in that span was 79. A team that was 79-83 would have gotten into the postseason.

Only four of 112 playoffs teams in that time frame would get in with a losing record, but that's four too many. MLB also proposes a playoff pairings show on live television to set the field. Are ratings and revenue that important that a one-hour show has to be scheduled once a year for this? Just how much revenue will be produced in an hour?

Proponents will say this will make for more teams in contention in August and September. It could lead to more late-season pennant race games. Fewer teams may choose to rebuild, now needing fewer wins to get in. More postseason games could mean more drama and will certainly mean more revenue.

MLB passed total revenues of $10 billion in 2017. Do we need really need to add six playoff teams to being in even more dollars?

Since this proposal came out. I went from completely against it to a bit more open upon learning more. But if I were asked to vote yes or no on it, I'm still a no.

Minor league note: There is still very little news and almost no one talking much on the record about the proposal to eliminate 42 minor league teams. Those clubs would lose their MLB affiliations. A team that was listed on the chopping block was the Single-A Frederick Keys, the O's affiliate in the Carolina League.

Seeing Frederick listed continues to surprise me. The Keys have a very stable franchise and consistently draw well at the gate. They seem more like a model franchise to me than one to potentially eliminate.

In various conversations in recent weeks, I've had others with knowledge of this tell me that MLB still very much wants to implement this plan. I've spoken with others that believe this just won't happen. I guess I'm a bit more optimistic that teams will not be cut than I was a few weeks back.

After all this is just a proposal, nothing has been decided and officials from MLB and Minor League Baseball still have plenty of months to negotiate.

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