A couple of days ago I read an article proposing a way to improve the MLB postseason format. It is expected to be a hot topic in the 2011 offseason because of the current collective bargaining agreement expiring after the 2011 season. After reading that article, I thought of my own format. Here is how I would expand the playoff format of MLB. This playoff format would begin in the 2012 MLB season.
Currently there are 30 teams in MLB. There are currently three divisions in each league with a total of six divisions in MLB: the AL/NL West, AL/NL Central and the AL/NL East. However, there are 14 teams in the American League and 16 teams in the National League. In the NL central there are six teams and in the AL West there are only four teams, while the other four divisions have five teams. I believe it is best to expand the MLB postseason from eight to 10 teams, with five teams from each league.
The first thing that needs to be done is to move a team from the NL Central to the AL West. This move would create six divisions each with five teams and with 15 teams in each league. The last time a team switched leagues was the Milwaukee Brewers in 1998. From a geographical perspective that team would be the Houston Astros. However, this is just an example as there are many ways that MLB could realign the divisions.
Starting in 2012, there would be six divisions with five teams in each of them and 15 teams in each league. This gives every team in each league equal mathematical odds of reaching the postseason. The division winners would all still qualify for the playoffs. However, there would now be two wild card spots in each league. Here's how the format would play out.
1) Division champion with the most wins in the league.
2) Division champion with the second most wins amongst division champions.
3) Division champion with the third most wins amongst division champions.
4) Wild card winner with the most wins out of the two wild-card teams.
5) Wild card winner with fewer wins than that of the first wild-card team in the American League.
1 ) Division champion with the most wins in the league.
2 ) Division champion with the second most wins amongst division champions.
3 ) Division champion with the third most wins amongst division champions.
4 ) Wild card winner with the most wins out of the two wild-card teams.
5 ) Wild card winner with fewer wins than that of the first wild-card team in the National League.
The first round would be known as the wild-card round of the playoffs. As a reward for winning their respected divisions, the six division champions all receive a seven- to 10-day rest period. This round features only wild-card teams with both wild-card teams from each league playing each other.
Many agree that a best-of-three game series is simply too short due to a long 162-game regular season. It is because of this that a best-of-five game series would be appropriate for the wild-card round of the playoffs. This allows for a longer and more exciting series for the fans.
The wild-card round in each league would play out with the four seed having home-field advantage over the five seed in a five-game series. However, here is a rule I propose so that the division winners are not able to prepare for any one opponent: If the four seed defeats the five seed they would play the two seed. However, if the five seed is victorious, they would play the one seed. This means that the six division champions would have to prepare for two possible opponents. These two opponents would either be the remaining three-seed division champion or the remaining wild-card team.
The two winners of the wild-card round from each league would then move on to the American/National League Division Series, which would now be in the best-of-seven game format. Then they would move on to play either the one or two seed depending on the teams wild-card seed of four or five. The three seed would automatically play the remaining division winner, either a one or two seed.
The next two rounds of the playoffs, which are the League Championship Series and World Series, would remain the same at a best-of-seven game format, with home-field advantage in the World Series being decided by the winning league of that years All-Star Game.