March 7, 2021

The New Playoff Format Would Disincentivize Competition (FanGraphs)


This Monday, against the backdrop of the Mookie Betts trade, MLB dropped a bombshell. As Joel Sherman reported, the league is seriously considering expanding the playoff field starting in 2022. The new proposal, a 14-team field with an extra round and a bye, would radically alter the shape of the playoffs, so let’s walk through it and consider the ramifications.

The format would be significantly more complicated than the current one. The best team in each league would receive a bye, while the other six teams would face off in a best-of-three first round. That doesn’t necessarily sound groundbreaking, but there’s some fancy stuff going on behind the scenes. The division winner with the second-best record would get to pick which of the three worst Wild Card teams they’d like to play. The remaining division winner would pick another of those three, and the best Wild Card team would play the remaining team in the group.

The first round would be three games, all played at one park. From there, it would be business as usual: a five-game divisional round with four teams per league, two seven-game championship series, and the World Series.

The league told Sherman what…

Read “The New Playoff Format Would Disincentivize Competition” at FanGraphs