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Monday, September 7, 2015

The Baseball Playoffs Need to Change

If the playoffs were to start today, the Dodgers, Cardinals, and Mets would qualify as division winners, and the Pirates and Cubs would qualify as wild cards. However, as any regular observer of baseball knows, the best two teams in the National League during the regular season this year have been the Cardinals and Pirates. They should be the teams that get a bye during the first round, but because the Pirates are in the same division as the Cardinals, they will have to play in the single-game playoff against the Cubs, and it would be a shame if they were knocked out of the hunt for a World Series ring by a single loss. In fact, it would be a shame if the Cubs were eliminated after a single game. They have a better record than the Dodgers or Mets.

In short, the playoffs need to be restructured. At a minimum the wild card needs to be extended to at least a best-of-three series AND the teams need to be seeded based on their regular season record. It would be even better if the wild card playoff was a best-of-five series and the remaining the playoffs a best-of-seven. However, as I noted a couple of years ago ("Why the MLB Wildcard Playoff is Unfair") this would probably require a shortening of the regular season from 162 to 154 games.

Update: On September 8, 2015, the NBA voted to change its playoff rules so that seeding in the playoffs is based solely on regular season record. If a team wins their division, they qualify for the playoffs. However, if their record is worse than all the wild card teams, they will be seeded last. If the NBA can do it, so can MLB.

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