As of now, nothing has been finalized yet, however, it looks like the playoffs will more than likely consist of 12 clubs, instead of 14, in the future. Either way, moving away from the old system, which only included 10 seeds and an outdated Wild Card Game, is great news for baseball.
By developing this situation, not only is it a fantastic development for the sport, but it should also be hugely beneficial for behemoth divisions like the American League East. Specifically, this new format has the potential to greatly benefit the Toronto Blue Jays.
After missing the playoffs by just 1.0 games last season, there’s no question the Blue Jays would favor expanding beyond five teams per league. Although only one more spot would have to be added to the AL, it would have earned this franchise a wild card appearance in 2021.
Instead, that team’s impressive 91-71 record finished fourth in the AL East and third among clubs competing for the top two seeds, which were controlled by the Boston Red Sox and Boston. New York Yankees.
Unfortunately, witnessing a fiercely competitive division is nothing new for Toronto as it has been a recurring theme over the past few seasons. More often than not, the AL East will consist of two elite opponents, or even three, which makes the road to the post-season extremely difficult.
To give some history to this situation, at least two clubs in this division have won at least 90 games eight times since 2010. Not counting the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, there have only been three seasons (2014, 2015, 2016) where only one franchise has won 90 or more during that time.
With the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 2020, three of those 16 seeds came from the AL East — including the Blue Jays, Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays.
As it stands, a similar situation is likely to occur this season, as ZIP projects three AL East clubs (Yankees – 90, Blue Jays – 89, Rays – 88) to complete about 90 wins. Once roster building is complete for these organizations, each of their win totals will almost certainly increase dramatically heading into Opening Day.
Not to mention, the Red Sox — who won 92 games last season — are currently projected at 83 wins in 22 and, barring any major surprises, should improve on that number once the offseason resumes. By then, there would be four legitimate single-division playoff contenders battling for at least three postseason spots under the previous format.
An extra wildcard might not seem like a lot, but it should help solve this serious problem in the long run. In this updated format, the odds of being knocked out of the playoff bracket by three of the AL East’s top teams will be significantly reduced. In fact, it’s now possible for four postseason teams to come from the same division with three seeds up for grabs.
Imagine having all four Blue Jays, Yankees, Rays and Red Sox in the playoffs – what a wild and fairly realistic experience that would be, especially in this era.
Of course, in most cases, a 14-team squad would greatly benefit Toronto over a 12-club squad, especially in the long run. Saying that, it’s understandable that the players’ union has serious concerns about expanding the pool to this size.
At a time when far too many franchises would rather tank for a first draft pick than fight for the playoffs, it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to envision a future where a handful of contenders just arrive in October. With four generic seeds available, prioritizing rest in the stretch would be more feasible in this format than as opposed to the other option.
While it’s a fairly common occurrence in other professional sports, the AP remains adamant that it has very little interest in adapting it to MLB.
Nonetheless, any playoff extension should be considered a major victory for the Blue Jays, both for current and future versions of this list. With a young core led by Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Bo Bichette, this club is solidly positioned to struggle for many seasons to come, starting with 2022.
Surrounded by integral pieces like George Springer, Teoscar Hernandez, Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Alek Manoah, Hyun-Jin Ryu and more, adding an extra wildcard spot will only improve their chances of making the playoffs. continue.
While it’s nearly impossible to determine at this time, perhaps an expanded playoff can extend Toronto’s window of contention beyond its current stretch. Rather than five or six years, maybe this franchise can stay competitive closer to a decade – which its fan base would certainly agree with.
Whatever the future holds, one thing is for sure, Canadian baseball fans have plenty to be excited about in 22, that is, once a new CBA is officially signed.