July 26, 2021

Expanded Playoffs Discourage Greatness | FanGraphs Baseball (FanGraphs)

To paraphrase the late, great Chris Wallace, if it ain’t one thing, it’s another freaking other. After MLB announced its bubble-esque postseason format, Rob Manfred slipped in the claim that expanded playoffs are likely here to say.

Manfred, as he is wont to do, conflated what the owners — his bosses — desire with what has actually been decided; expanded playoffs would require an agreement between the league and the MLBPA. Even though Manfred’s declaration is merely media signaling, though, it’s worth discussing its potential effect on baseball’s competitive landscape, because it would be absolutely earth-shattering.

While the commissioner didn’t elaborate on what type of expanded playoffs he was talking about, it’s fair to assume that they might take the form of this year’s tournament — eight teams in each league qualify, with best-of-three series at the higher seeds’ home parks to cut the field in half — though they could also feature a 14-team field, a possibility reported by Joel Sherman in February. I’ll assume a 16-team field here, as I think the extra television revenue will prove awfully enticing. From there, there would be the normal…

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