June 30, 2022

Ways the new playoff format is more exciting

This is the first year of an adjusted playoff format, and since it’s only May, it’s still early enough in the season that people aren’t quite watching the potential matchups yet. playoffs. Having two more teams in the playoffs – and Wild Card matchups that will last three games instead of one, and goodbye! – changes things up in a way that won’t be fully unboxed until it rolls out in October.

As a reminder, here’s how the playoff format will work in 2022:

This means that if the season ended today, the playoffs would look like this:

American League
First-round byes: No. 1 Yankees, No. 2 Angels
Wild Card Series: No. 6 Blue Jays vs. No. 3 Twins; Rays No. 5 at Astros No. 4

National League
First-round byes: No. 1 Dodgers, No. 2 Mets
Wild Card Series: No. 6 Cardinals in No. 3 Brewers; #5 Giants at #4 Padres

Exciting matchups, right? But it’s truly remarkable how much the new format forces you to look at the season differently. How? Here are five ways.

Division Races are much more snappy and compelling.
Take the example of NL Central. The Pirates, Cubs and Reds (32 games combined under .500) aren’t particularly relevant to the conversation there. But the race to win this split between the Brewers and Cardinals is vitally important now. Not only does the winning team get instant home-court advantage, but they might also be able to earn a bye to the NLDS. And with every other team battling for a Wild Card spot — the D-backs and Cardinals are tied, with the Rockies just half a game down — there’s no guarantee the Wild Card will be available for the one. which is in second place. There’s only one way to guarantee you’ll make the playoffs: win the division. The Brewers and Cardinals will be at their throats all season, and that’s why.

Teams have room to figure out slow starts without being out of the race early.
The defending champion Braves are off to a rocky start. They’ve had injury issues, their pitch didn’t click, it’s all a bit of a mess right now. They’re still an incredibly talented team, and that will eventually show on the pitch. The extra Wild Card spots give them more elbow room. Under the old system, they would be six games behind the Padres for the top Wild Card spot; now they are only three on the third. (While being seven out of first place in the NL East.) There’s room for error for teams like them. Another example are the White Sox in the AL. They are 15-14 and one game behind a Wild Card spot, and far from buried. A bad stretch won’t sink you entirely.

Teams with big split heads can’t ease off.
How about those Mets, actually? They have the largest division lead in baseball, seven games over the Braves and 7 1/2 over the Marlins and Phillies. So they can go up to 10 and then just roll, right? Not with the importance of seed #2 (or even seed #1). That big lead over the Braves is just a one-game lead over the Brewers for the No. 2 seed, meaning the Mets are one bad day away from losing that first-round bye and of having to fight for three games with the No. 6 seed. Even if you clinched the division with only two weeks left in the season, you need to play every game hard to make sure you get that pass. Your race isn’t just in your division; your race is against everyone.

Divisions with a bunch of good teams are brutal.
Have mercy on the poor Rockies. After an offseason where everyone piled on top of them, they were off to a strong 16-14 start. If they were in NL Central, they would only be 3 1/2 games away from first (and would have a ton of games against the Reds, Pirates and Cubs). But because they’re in the NL West, they have a gauntlet of games against the very teams they’re trying to move up the standings. The good news is that you can finish fourth in your division and still make the playoffs. The bad news is you can be good enough to have a shot at making the playoffs and you’re still in Fourth.

Your team is still there!
Maybe that’s all that really matters, right? Find out how many games the following teams – teams that aren’t really killing right now – are out of the playoffs:

You can invent that many games by the end of this weekend! This is the main point here, and the main reason why it will take some time to adapt to the new ranking. There are so many teams left in the race. And it will stay like that, probably, all summer. I can not wait.


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