MLB's postseason format is likely headed for big changes next year; here's what it might look like

Will the 2021 postseason be the last one under the present 10-team format? That appears rather most likely. 

The present cumulative bargaining contract (CBA), the worked out accord that governs the working relationship in between gamers and clubs, ends in December, and it’s most likely that the next CBA will include a broadened postseason. That next CBA will be in force prior to the start of the 2022 season. 

There’s likewise an extra background to this, as the 2020 season — greatly abbreviated by the COVID-19 pandemic — included a 16-team playoff field. That was a one-off plan, however it offered fans, observers, gamers, and owners an extended taste of what a more extensive postseason fray would feel and look like. As well, the league supposedly has for a long time had long-lasting styles on a 14-team playoff structure that would consist of a handful of intriguing structural wrinkles. 

The 10-team field and the associated Wild Card Game in each league has actually belonged of MLB because 2012 (with, once again, the exception of 2020), however there’s more cash to be made by broadening the postseason. Both sides desire more of that. 

By extension the loss of the 10-team postseason and the replacement of it with something bigger most likely implies completion of the “one and done” Wild Card Game. While there’s no doubt the knockout format causes high stress and anxiety and intrigue, it likewise appears a bit unreasonable provided the huge sprawl of the 162-game routine season. On another level, groups complete throughout departments for the wild card berths, which can cause variations in regards to schedule strength. Then once in awhile you get a case like this year’s NL Wild Card Game, in which a real juggernaut like the Dodgers is decreased to possibly having their postseason last 9 innings. Whether that’s a function or bug most likely relies on your rooting interests. 

So what might things appear like rather? Let’s quickly check out the 2 leading prospects to end up being MLB’s next playoff structure — the 16-teamer exampled in 2020 or the 14-teamer kept in mind above. 

The 16-team postseason

In this one, which, once again, was in force for the 2020 season, the 6 department winners are signed up with by the 6 second-place finishers in each department. Then the field is completed with the 2 leading third-place finishers in each league based upon routine season record. That brings the overall to sixteen. 

Teams that would’ve made it this year under this format: The 6 department winners going would be the Rays, White Sox, Astros, Braves, Brewers, and Giants. The 6 second-place groups getting quotes would be the Red Sox, Cleveland, Mariners (playoff dry spell ended), Phillies, Cardinals, and Dodgers. The finest records left standing come from the Yankees and Blue Jays in the AL and Reds and Padres in the NL. 

What ends up being of the present wild card groups?: Instead of playing in a one-and-done video game, the Red Sox, Yankees, Dodgers, and Cardinals would play the best-of-three Wild Card Series under this 2020-style format. 

Pros of the 16-team method: Inclusivity is the word here. It grows the playoff field by a massive 60 percent, which in turn implies far more down-the-stretch engagement throughout the league. More fans in more cities will be enjoying competing baseball groups late in the season, which’s a possible method to grow the video game. And, no, a bigger playoff field will not rob us of last day drama in many seasons. Rather, it will simply move that drama a bit even more down the food cycle. 

Cons of the 16-team method: It’s too huge, as majority the league would receive the postseason. As well, there aren’t strong rewards to do far more than make that big playoff field and see how things enter October. Sure, you may see more groups act like competitors in the offseason, however there would be little cause to run top-end payrolls and put together the sort of lineup strength we see with, state, the Dodgers. That’s due to the fact that the benefit of being the No. 1 seed versus the No. 6 seed or perhaps No. 8 seed would not be that noteworthy. 

Final decision: It’s so huge that it whittles away the significance of baseball’s giant routine season, and the seeding rewards are too weak. Get outta here, 16-team postseason.

The 14-team postseason

So here’s how what’s thought to be MLB’s preferred course forward would work, in bullet-point kind for today’s hectic sales expert: 

  • Seven groups from each league make the postseason. That’s 3 department winners for each league plus the leading 4 records amongst non-division winners get wild card quotes. 
  • The group with the very best record in each league gets a wild card round bye.
  • The 2 other department winners and leading wild card group host all video games of three-game series in the wild card round.
  • Those 2 staying department winners get to choose their wild card round challengers (throughout a live broadcast) from the 3 other wild card groups. The leading wild card group plays the unpicked group.
  • Three series winners and the group with a bye advance to divisional round.

Needless to state, those are some intriguing wrinkles. 

Teams that would’ve made it this year under this format: Rays, White Sox, Astros, Red Sox, Yankees, Blue Jays, Mariners, Braves, Brewers, Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, Reds, Phillies

What ends up being of the present wild card groups?: The Dodgers and Cardinals likely would be fulfilling in the preliminary, anyhow, as the Brewers and Braves would be selecting the Reds and Phillies in some order as their first-round challengers. 

Pros of the 14-team method: There’s lots to like here. It grows the postseason field substantially, which keeps more fan bases engaged throughout the season, however it still lets less than half the league into the playoffs. As well, the first-round byes in each league offer rewards for the very best groups to keep it at complete bore even if the department’s been concluded for a long time. To boot, having the other 2 department winners select their first-round challengers is an extremely engaging little build-up leading into postseason play. Really, this simply appears like a great deal of enjoyable, and it likewise does not lessen the significance of the routine season as much as the 16-team field does. That’s specifically the case provided the high worth of landing a first-round bye. 

Cons of the 14-team method: If you challenge this one, then it’s due to the fact that you merely cannot abide any additional growth of the postseason and the always associated additional diminishment of the routine season. Troubling news for you: Further growth is going to occur. 

Final decision: It states here this is certainly the very best method forward. Call it the practical happy medium in between the status quo and the rather unwieldy and NBA/NHL-grade playoff field of 2020. It bears duplicating that the first-round bye rewards and pick-your-opponent intrigue are outstanding additions to the calculus. 

In the meantime? In the meantime, let’s enjoy what figures to be the last run of the 10-team plan. 

2021 MLB postseason equipment now readily available

The 2021 MLB Playoffs start Oct. 5 and 6 with the AL and NL Wild Card video games. In event, 2021 MLB postseason equipment is now readily available for choose groups. Shop hoodies, t-shirts, and more here.

We might get a commission for purchases made through these links. 



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