Firstly, we’ll look at how the 2017 postseason would have looked under the plan Ringolsby detailed. With the obvious caveat that team records would be much different under this format—and with the expansion teams not being considered, the four division winners would have been Washington, Cleveland, Houston and the Los Angeles Dodgers—the teams with the four best records in real life 2017.
The eight wild card teams would have been the Red Sox, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Yankees, Rockies, Brewers, Twins and Cardinals. That means in 2017 all the teams with a winning record would have made the postseason.
Under my proposed format, there are also several possible approaches to the playoffs. We’ll stick with the NFL-style setup and a non-drastic change to six postseason teams per league—the four division winners and two wild card teams.
In 2017, it would have put the following 12 teams in the playoffs:
- AL Northeast: Boston
- AL Central: Cleveland
- AL Midwest: Houston
- AL West: Los Angeles Angels
- AL Wild Card: New York Yankees and Colorado
- NL Northeast: Pittsburgh
- NL Southeast: Washington
- NL Central: Chicago Cubs
- NL West: Los Angeles Dodgers
- NL Wild Card: Arizona and Milwaukee
The NL Northeast would have been easily the worst division in baseball this season. Of those teams, Pittsburgh had the best record during the 2017 regular season at just 75-87. However, they played in arguably the toughest real life division in baseball—the NL Central—and would undoubtedly have finished well above .500 in the revamped division. It can also be reasonably assumed the Angels, who are the only other losing team on the above list, would have bumped up to a winning record in their new division.
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Depending on how MLB would want to approach things, they could either choose to protect division winners or stick with the NFL approach.
The former could entail the two wild card teams facing each other with the winner facing the fourth best division champion. The winner would move on to face the top seed, while the division winners with the second and third best records face each other in the Division Series. The latter would see the first wild card team (No. 5 seed) face the fourth division champion (No. 4 seed), while the second wild card team (No. 6 seed) would play the third division champion (No. 3 seed). The winners would then face the top two seeds in each league.
Either option gives more protection to the best teams, something Cleveland would have loved to see this year. The changes to the postseason would have also likely seen the Kansas City Royals finish well off the pace in 2017 with two of the better teams in their division.
What do you think of the proposed changes? Let us know in the comments and on social media.