With history being made in the AL East with every team on track to finish with positive records, should the MLB change the playoff structure?
This article will go into the pros and cons of changing the playoff structure of the MLB from the current division winners and wildcards to a seed based playoffs.
1. Stacked Divisions (Ex: The AL East)
The AL East has two historically great teams, the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees. For most of its history, they were the top two teams, and either won the division and the other a wild card. However, for the past few seasons, the other three teams are now challenging and beating them.
This year, two of their teams are the best and one of the best teams in baseball. First are the Baltimore Orioles, whose young core has them in first place overall in the AL and second in the MLB. Second, the Tampa Bay Rays, who have been world series contenders since 2020, and, third the Toronto Blue Jays, who are right behind the Rays for a wildcard.
Four of five of these teams have over 60 wins, with the Yankees almost at 60 with 59. The Yankees also have Aaron Judge, the reigning AL MVP, and new AL Season Home Run Leader. Due to the current Divisional playoff system, there is a good chance Judge and the Yankees will not make the playoffs.
This would make it more plausible for a change, as teams with much worse records are making it to the playoffs to get bounced in the first round. For context, the almost every AL East team have better records than the best team in the AL Central, the Minnesota Twins, and once again the Yankees are one game behind.
2. More Exciting Playoffs
If the MLB switches to a seed system, more great teams will be able to make it into the playoffs. Instead of having more early round sweeps fans would get more tense games where its back and forth.
The MLB could adopt the seed system of the NBA, letting eight teams instead of four from the NL and AL compete in five games series like normal until the ALCS/NLCS where it is seven, and the World Series which is seven.
3. Increased Interleague Play
With the adding and increase of interleague play, seeds would make more sense. In the old days, the three division winners played only in their leagues, and a vast majority were within their division.
Now, with interleague play, playing different divisions in the other league, teams don’t have to truly dominate their divisions in order to win the division. If they match up with a weak division in the other league, they can get more wins than they usually did.
This would make sense for a change to seeds since playoff spots are now more focused on overall wins than just winning your division.
1. Small Market Teams
If the MLB switched to seeds, small market teams would be affected. Due to the fact they can’t buy big names, big teams would snuff them out easily. It would make it where it would be pay to play, big teams buy big players to win games.
However, teams like the Rays and the Orioles are good cases against this. Both of these teams are small markets, yet are two of the best teams in the AL and MLB.
2. Eliminates Division Rivalry
If the MLB switches to seeds, division rivalries would lose their fire. Your average divisional series would lose passion as they are not playing each other for a spot in the playoffs.
However, classic rivalries would still stand. The Rivalry, the Red Sox and Yankees, would stay the same. So would the LA Dodgers and San Francisco Giants, and the Cubs and Cardinals. Most popular rivalries would not be affected, which most people care about.
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