The 2020 playoff field just got quite a bit bigger.
Just hours before the 2020 season was set to get underway, Major League Baseball and the Players Association reached an agreement for expanded playoffs for the 2020 season. There will be 16 teams in the 2020 MLB playoffs (after only 60 games, of course).
The union has approved the agreement discussed with MLB for expanded playoffs, only for the 2020 postseason; that agreement is now subject only to ratification by the owners, sources tell ESPN. https://t.co/HFmaEQ8Npk— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) July 23, 2020
Eight teams from each league will make the postseason. The first six seeds will be determined by the first and second place clubs in each division, with 1-3 going to the division champions and 4-6 going to the runners up based on records. Seven and eight will be based solely on record.
Seeds 1-3 will go to the division winners based on record.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2020
Seeds 4-6 will go to the runners-up based on record.
Seeds 7 and 8 will be based on record.
Thus, there is a possibility the third-best division winner actually plays a worse team than the two best division winners.
The first round will consist of a three-game series, rather than the sudden death Wild Card format we’ve become accustomed to over the last several seasons. All three first round games will be played in the higher seed’s ballpark.
Obviously, this is a lot of playoff teams. More than half of Major League Baseball is going to make the playoffs in 2020, and that’s after only playing in 60 games for a regular season. Everything is going to be quirky about the 2020 season as these games unfold in empty stadiums, so for a one-off, I suppose this is probably fine.
Except, I think we all know that this probably won’t be one-off, and it’s essentially going to be used as a trial balloon to expand the playoffs in ways going forward. That’s not inherently bad but, I think most people agree that 16 teams is probably too many.
For the Reds, this is can been seen in two different ways; if the moves that they made over the offseason really were enough to take the next step and win the National League Central, then inviting extra, seemingly worse teams into the fold isn’t great. And a three game baseball series... kinda sucks, for the “higher” ranked team. How many times over the course of a season does the “better” team lose a three game series?
That said, it’s not exactly a lock that the Reds win the Central, so, if that doesn’t happen, this is obviously a good thing. Any chance to go for a title when you otherwise wouldn’t have one is great.
Along with the expanded field, there’s a $50 million pool for the players included in this, which is great for the players, since playoff revenue is typically tied to the gate, which will be $0 in 2020, obviously.
So, yay? I don’t think this is great precedent, moving forward. But for 2020? The weirder the better, probably.