MLB is still trying to reach an agreement with the MLBPA in order to start the 2020 season. But what if the MLB decided to mirror the NHL’s proposed 24 team playoff?
Last week the NHLPA agreed to the NHL’s proposal of a 24 team playoff to finish off the 2020 season. While both sides will need to iron out the details such as logistics and health issues, this is a huge step in the right direction. Other Northern American sports leagues have been struggling to find traction to open back up. UFC, and NASCAR have found ways to reboot, but the NFL, NBA, MLB, and NHL have not yet reached compromises in order to restart. MLB in particular has been stuck at a crossroads, due to both the owners and players being far off on proposed salaries. While the NBA, MLB, and NFL have been vocal about their different ideas, the NHL has been surprisingly quiet over the last few weeks. However, this proposal should put the other leagues on notice.
Usually hockey playoffs consist of eight teams from each league, but the new proposal will have 12 teams from each league battle for the Stanley Cup. The top four teams in each league will face off for seeding and will all receive a first-round bye, while the rest of the teams will play each other based on seeding in order to move on. The bracket would look similar to this.
What would happen if MLB decided to follow this format? As of now, MLB is attempting to play a minimum of 82 games for the 2020 season. Baseball playoffs consist of five teams from each league (three division winners and two wild-card spots) for 10 total participants. A 24 team playoff would have many undeserving teams enter the fray but, would lead to electrifying moments. In order to follow a similar route to the NHL, the top 12 teams from each league would make the playoffs. Division winners would get an automatic bye and the last remaining bye would go to the team with the best remaining record. From there, the 5-12 seeds would face off in a best of three series in order to advance. The teams that moved on would face off against the top four seeds.
This is how the field would have looked like last year if this format was used for the 2019 playoffs. From the National League, the Dodgers, Braves, Nationals, Cardinals, Brewers, Mets, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Phillies, Giants, Reds, and Rockies all would have gone on. LA, Atlanta, St. Louis, and Washington would have secured the top four seeds. In the American League, the Astros, Yankees, Twins, Rays, Athletics, Indians, Red Sox, Rangers, White Sox, Angels, Mariners, and Blue Jays all would have advanced. Houston, New York, Minnesota, and Oakland would have locked up the byes.
At first glance, eight of the 24 teams who would have made the playoffs had losing records, with five of the clubs all belonging to the AL. One team went exactly .500, the Phillies. This is just further evidence that many undeserving teams would have advanced. At the same time, an increased playoff field would allow for some of the biggest players in the game to have a chance to shine in October. Mike Trout, Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Mookie Betts, Joey Votto, Kris Bryant, and King Felix all would have been playing in the postseason. Even though he’s a shell of his former self, King Felix would have finally made the playoffs, whereas Trout would have made it for the first time since 2014.
The majority of the fans would be upset at teams with losing records playing for a chance at winning the World Series and rightfully so. But at the same time, this would be a chance to try something new and a 24 team playoff would lead to some unforgettable moments.