December 2, 2022

MLB Playoff Format Changes: Wild Card Expansion, Division Series


After our round of talks about possible changes to the current playoff structure, it’s time for the final segment. Unlike the previous two, this will cover an alteration on the drastic side of the spectrum. It’s as drastic as a change in this topic can be: the expansion of the playoffs.

In every sport there is always a push to grow, develop and ultimately make more money in any way possible. The NFL has already beefed up its squads with an additional playoff spot for each conference and a 17th regular season game. Make no mistake that the MLB Commissioner’s Office is looking to do the same.

Because the regular season is quite long, MLB expansion is still at least a few years away and will likely only come after the situations with Oakland and Tampa are resolved. So the shortest way to increase revenue is by expanding the playoffs.

In an ideal world, I would just keep the current format, making small adjustments here and there if there are any. However, an ideal world is just that. So, it makes more sense – and this is also the purpose of this article – to present different proposals that satisfy the need for more games and therefore more income, without compromising the integrity and exclusivity of the playoffs. from the MLB.

Whatever happens, we must avoid at all costs to set up something that even remotely resembles the format set up for the 2020 season. This has not compromised the validity of this campaign, but it is not really the problem and it never has been. This was an emergency fix for a 60-game season and should not be seen as a valid possibility for future October futures.

Here are two proposals to consider:

1. Longer series with the same number of teams

Wild Card Round – Best of three
Divisional Series – Best of Seven
Championship Series – Best of Seven
World events – The best of the seven

Consider this more moderate proposition. MLB would keep its league playoff count to five and also win six more playoff games to the bare minimum, with the potential to go up to twelve.

As for the setup for home advantage, it would look like this:

Wild Card Round: Three games in two days at the home of the team with the best record. A double program then a third match the next day if necessary.

Divisional, Championship & World Series: The old 2-3-2 pattern

World Series: 2-3-2-2

2. Moderate expansion following the old NFL format

Six qualified teams per league; Seeds n ° 1 and n ° 2 get automatic byes

Wild Card Round (best of three):
No. 3 (Division winner with worst record) vs. No. 6 (Wild Card with worst record)
N ° 4 (best Wild Card) against N ° 5 (second best Wild Card)

Divisional Series (best of seven):

# 1 against the lowest ranked winner of the Wild Card Round
# 2 against the highest ranked winner of the Wild Card Round

The league championship and the world series remain the same.

This proposal is a radical change from the current structure. However, that’s still reasonable with a big difference between six and eight teams per league. In terms of additional games, we might see that number drop from a low of 10 to a high of 18.

In the end, it remains to be seen how far you want to pull the cord on both sides who are currently negotiating the new collective agreement. I would personally like to see the first option implemented before the second because the tendency is always to go further, and this leaves the door open for the second proposal a few years later.

If you go for the second option now, you will feel like you have taken one step too far and you will not be able to go back. Although no matter which way you go it feels like it’s about as far as it can stretch. Including more than six teams in the playoffs is not something that will be good for the sport.

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