There’s been talk that in the next year or two, there may be a one or three-game playoff between two non-division winners for the fourth spot in the division series.
That would improve division races, but that’s not the way I’d expand the playoffs.
What I would do is add two games to each round of the playoffs, making the World Series a best-of-nine series (the way it was in 1903 and from 1919-21), the Championship Series best-of-nine and the Division Series best-of-seven.
Instead of dragging on into November, I’d make up for the extra games by getting rid of the myriad of silly off days in the playoffs nowadays. Hey, they play two three-game series in a row in the regular season, so they can do it in the playoffs.
Here are three reasons that the MLB playoffs should be changed in the way I propose: More baseball against fewer off-days, the better teams winning more often, and where batting actually matters.
Fewer off-days: This is self explanatory. And if you’re going to complain that that means two games at the same time, would it kill MLB to schedule afternoon playoff games?
Better teams win more often: Baseball is a crap shoot. 40 percent of a game is pure luck. The worst team will beat the best team 25-30 percent of the time. The result of this is that anything can happen in a five-game series, and that in the 16 years of the division series, the team with the best record in the National League has advanced to the World Series only three times (the AL has fared a little better). Doing this really renders the regular season moot (hello, 2001 ALCS). The longer a series, the more the luck evens out, and the more likely that the best team wins the series.
Batting actually matters: With the current playoff structure, a team can’t go anywhere in the playoffs without two good starting pitchers, and they can run three or four man rotations. This makes pitcher's values in the playoffs very high (arguably too high). It also means that the playoffs will have a completely different dynamic than the regular season. At the same time, this is one of the worst years for hitting and the long-ball in decades. People go to baseball games to see scoring, and if the trend continues, people may not care about games as much. Having more games and fewer off-days would require teams to use their full five-man rotations, and would even balance the discrepancy between pitching and batting, rather than have it be completely on the side of pitching the way it is now.
Bottom line: Make baseball better, expand series and get rid of silly off-days