Breaking Down the New MLB Playoff Format

by Hannah Begay | As we know, the regular MLB season has been shortened to a mere 60 games. The playoffs will now feature more games. Commissioner Rob Manfred introduced the new playoff scheme agreed upon by the players and owners. The playoff season will feature 16 teams allowing for an additional six teams this year to be in contention.

There will still be the traditional four round format minus the sudden death Wild Card game. Instead, the Wild Card game will be a best of 3 series with all of the games at the higher seeds ballpark. 1 vs. 8, 2 vs. 7 and so on. The Division Series will remain the same best out of 5 series with the higher seeded team having home field advantage. The winner of 1 vs 8 will play the winner of 4 vs 5 and the winner of 3 vs 6 will play the winner of 2 vs 7. The League Championship will remain the same as past seasons with the traditional 2-3-2 home/road 7 game format. The World Series will remain the same as well with home field advantage going to the team with the best regular season record.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what determines seeding? As one would assume, the top three teams are the winners of the east, west and central. The next three seeds, 4-6, are second place in each division respectively. The 7 and 8 seeded teams are essentially the “wild card teams” because the first and second place teams in the divisions automatically advance to October.

If there is a tie it will be determined mathematically by record as there will be no additional tie breaker games played. This allows for the season to be expedited and not flood over into November. So hypothetically there could be no division winners in the Division Series.

Now there are some fans who will hate this as it was put together last minute. However, this benefits both baseball and TV providers as more people will have a reason to watch as more teams have been given a shot at the trophy. In a time where people don’t have much to look forward to other than sports, this will be great. Owners will benefit also from an expanded post season due to an enormous amount of TV deals and corresponding commercials that can be aired.

The losers of this new format are the top teams. They have nothing to play for now other than home field advantage. Now while I just made that sound like a small thing, it’s not. It’s HUGE! However, they lose out on avoiding the sudden death Wild Card Game. The Wild Card Game created an incentive for teams to win the division and is often the initial intensity spark for a contending team. There is no reward this season for winning the Division.

Either way, there is nothing better than the playoffs. This is when players shine, and managers are put to the test. It is the ultimate competition. The MLB Playoffs will begin September 29.

Featured image via RosterResource.com.


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