With the American League’s top-seeded Baltimore Orioles and the National League’s second-seeded Los Angeles Dodgers facing swift elimination in the Division Series, there have been calls for a change in the postseason format.
Ken Rosenthal, a reporter for The Athletic, wrote an article on Tuesday (June 10), “With higher-seeded teams losing their advantage, should the Major League Baseball postseason format be changed?” in which he argued for a change in the Major League Baseball postseason format.
Currently, Major League Baseball has the top two winningest teams in each league’s district directly advance to the Division Series, with the remaining district winners and three wild cards playing a wild card series before advancing to the Division Series.
This season’s postseason has been dominated by teams that have advanced through the wild card series. In the American League, Texas (90-72), which swept Tampa Bay (99-63) in the Wild Card Series, has a two-game lead over Baltimore (101-61), and in the National League, Arizona (84-78), which defeated Miami (84-78) in two games, has a two-game lead over the Dodgers (100-62). Minnesota (87 wins, 75 losses) and Philadelphia (90 wins, 72 losses) also won Game 1, but Houston (90 wins, 72 losses) and Atlanta (104 wins, 58 losses) avenged their Game 1 losses with wins in Game 2.
Rosenthal writes, “Five days of rest at the end of the regular season is not the reason for Baltimore’s two losses to Texas. Nor is it why the Dodgers lost to Arizona despite losing Clayton Kershaw in Game 1. If top-seeded teams get knocked out in the first round, it won’t be because of that,” he said, “but Atlanta’s loss in Game 1 of the Division Series for the second year in a row raises questions about the fairness of the current postseason format.”
The postseason hasn’t always favored teams that performed well in the regular season. Since the leagues were divided into districts in 1969 and the League Championship Series (1969) and Division Series (1995) were introduced, there have been numerous upsets. As Rosenthal notes, “There are no easy answers since the leagues split into districts in 1969. From that point on, the best team in the regular season was no longer guaranteed a spot in the World Series.”
However, Rosenthal added, “The top two winners of each district going directly to the Division Series creates a five-day break. That might be too much rest,” Rosenthal said, explaining that the current format actually hurts the higher-seeded teams.
Emphasizing that home field advantage for the top teams is not enough, Rosenthal offered an alternative to the KBO’s current postseason format that was proposed by legendary Hall of Fame pitcher John Smoltz.
Smoltz suggested eliminating the off-day between Game 3 of the Wild Card Series and Game 1 of the Division Series. However, the problem with this proposal is that the third game of the Wild Card Series would have to be a day game to account for travel time for each team, and the winner of the Wild Card Series would have to end the series with two wins in order to get the day off.토토사이트
Rosenthal’s attention was drawn to the KBO’s postseason wild card game. The KBO gives the fourth-place team a one-game advantage in the wild-card series. The fourth-place team only needs a tie to advance to the semifinals, while the fifth-place team must win two games to advance to the semifinals.
“We could borrow a concept from the KBO and give the direct seed in the division series a one-game lead to start the series,” said Rosenthal, who suggested that the direct seed would only need to win two games, while the lower seed would need to win three. (Potentially costing the league revenue.) However, the KBO only uses this method for the best-of-three wild-card series,” Rosenthal explained.
“Ultimately, the solution could be to expand the league to 32 teams. This would increase the number of postseason teams to 16, and everyone would start the schedule on a level playing field. Of course, this runs the risk of penalizing teams that had a good regular season. Think of the ripple effect of a 16th-seeded team beating a top-seeded team,” he says, “and it’s hard to see how either option would be truly fair.”