A playoff expansion has been on the list of proposals for the 2020 season since negotiations began during the shutdown. Well, hours before the season’s opening pitch, that proposal was voted upon and passed.
The union has approved the agreement discussed with MLB for expanded playoffs, only for the 2020 postseason; that agreement is now subject only to ratification by the owners, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/HFmaEQ8Npk
— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) July 23, 2020
There are plenty of benefits with an expanded playoff, of course. The league will make more revenue, more teams will have an opportunity to win the title, and more fanbases will be engaged now that their teams have a shot.
It’s hard to explain just how everything breaks down, but ESPN’s Jeff Passan was able to summarize the main points of how the playoffs will play out this season.
Seeds 1-3 will go to the division winners based on record.
Seeds 4-6 will go to the runners-up based on record.
Seeds 7 and 8 will be based on record.
Thus, there is a possibility the third-best division winner actually plays a worse team than the two best division winners.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2020
Based on these new changes, teams like the Arizona Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres suddenly have hope of sniffing October baseball as a 2nd seed or possibly even a 3rd seed. The randomness does no favors to powerhouse clubs, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers or the New York Yankees. If anything, this makes life harder on them because they will have to go through additional opponents in a shorter period of time.
We all saw what happened to the 106-win Dodgers against the Wild Card Nationals last season. A five-game series is already a toss-up, but now teams will be forced to play in a best of three scenario in the first round. If David Price hadn’t opted out, the Dodgers would at least have a solid trio of starters to throw out there. Who do you throw out in his place? Alex Wood? Ross Stripling? There is no concrete answer.
This new rule change will be a win for revenue, but it does no favors for the integrity of the game; an integrity that is already taking a hit with such a strange season. I still believe that the best teams will make it to the end of the line, but this rule change will test that belief undoubtedly. Only time will tell if the Dodgers are up for a little uncertainty this time around.