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How to "Fix" the MLB Postseason, If You Think It Needs Fixing

Brock Beauchamp



Brewers Video

There's a ton of chatter about the MLB postseason format and while I think it's blowing current issues out of proportion - we have all of two years of data from which to draw - I believe there is some merit to the criticisms. There's a relatively easy fix, though, and it can actually reduce the length of the postseason by a day should MLB wish to take that route.

First, there are complaints about the number of teams in the postseason. I rather strongly disagree with this take; as a fan of multiple teams and a person who runs sites for several fanbases, it's simply more fun watching fans engage with their team until the end of September instead of losing interest in mid-August or earlier. The more engaged fanbases there are in the sport, the better the health of the sport overall. Plus, the postseason makes MLB buckets of money. Whether you like it or not, 12 postseason teams is going to be the standard moving forward.

There is plenty of room to prioritize the regular season within this format. Here was the 2023 format:

Oct 1: Game 162
Oct 2: Off Day
Oct 3-5: Wild Card Games 1-3
Oct 6: Off Day
Oct 7: Division Round Begins

Most of the complaints of the current format revolve around two issues: prioritization of the best regular season teams and prolonged off-days for bye teams.

As a response, I suggest removing off-days and stacking the Wild Card round even more in favor of the third division winner and the best wild card team (seed #4).

Instead of a three game series, extend it to a five-game series with the home team receiving a "free win" going into the round. A similar format is used in the KBO (Korean Baseball Organization) and I think it's a good example to follow. This means the three and four seeds in the Wild Card - those two teams who host the round - have to win two games to win the "five game" series while the road team has to win three games to advance. This stacks the deck considerably against the lower-seeded teams, which is what most people seem in favor of doing. As a bonus, MLB might get more postseason games out of fourth Wild Card games.

Secondly, get rid of the off-days, which impacts everyone in the Wild Card round. No longer do they have much hope in setting up their pitching and bullpen for the Division Series, they might back into that series having played as many as 7-8 games consecutively without a day off. If you add a potential game four and remove two off-days, this actually reduces the time off for the first and second-seeded bye teams by a day, reducing potential complaints about "rust" and "too much rest".

Additionally, removing that first off-day after game 162 favors the Wild Card host teams, who are more likely to have sewn up a postseason spot days earlier, allowing them to enter the Wild Card round with their pitching set up for the postseason. My new format would have looked like this in 2023:

Oct 1: Game 162
Oct 2-5: Wild Card Games 1-4
Oct 6: Division Round Begins

Thoughts? What are your issues with the current postseason format and is this solution a good one?

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5-game series, so we can’t just be bounced in 2 games. Less rest for the weary. Sounds good.

I’m torn on the Free Win. Either way is fine to me.

Oh, and Go Dinos!

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2 hours ago, damuelle said:

5-game series, so we can’t just be bounced in 2 games. Less rest for the weary. Sounds good.

I’m torn on the Free Win. Either way is fine to me.

Oh, and Go Dinos!

A traditional five game series in the WC round is the best solution, I think. But it won’t happen because it basically forces MLB to shorten the regular season.

My ideal solution would be to shorten the regular season to 156-158 and extend the WC round to five games with the DS series moving to seven games. 

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Just remove the NL and AL from it and go with the best 16 teams.  This would also require realignment and would probably need to come with expansion which looks like it is on track right now for 2028 or 2030.  Add two more teams to the league and remove the NL and AL along with the divisions.  Everyone plays everyone at least twice and you play your geographically located teams four times for two home and two away series. 

The top 16 teams advance to the playoffs for the WS and the bottom 16 teams play for the number one pick with reverse order standings 16th ranked team gets the number 1 seed etc...  The number one pick tournament is a single game elimination and will be held at the following cities (Milwaukee, Houston, Phoenix, Las Vegas, LA, SD, Seattle, Miami, Toronto or Arlington) if they are not in the number one pick tournament.  The top four teams get the top four picks in the draft with the winner getting the #1 pick.  In the number one pick tournament teams can use anyone on their 40-man roster or minor league system and are limited to 30 players. 

Seeding for the WS is based on record only. The first two rounds are a 2-game series the lower seed needs to win 2-games to advance and the higher seed only needs to win one game all games are played at the higher seeds park. The final two rounds are 7-game series and follow the normal rules.  So this year it would have looked like this:

1. Braves

2. Orioles

3. Dodgers

4. Rays

5. Brewers

6. Astros

7. Rangers

8. Phillies

9. Blue Jays

10. Mariners

11. Twins

12. Marlins

13. D'backs

14. Cubs

15-16. Padres/Yankees/Reds

I think this allows the teams with the best records in the regular season to have an extreme advantage in the first two rounds while punishing the lower seeded teams.  Also a Phillies Blue Jays series would have been an epic match up in the first round of the playoffs. 

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My thinking is a little different. Keep the current alignments until expansion in 2030.

Expansion teams: Las Vegas, New Orleans

Four four-team divisions in each league:

NL East: Mets, Phillies, Nationals, Pirates

NL North: Brewers, Cubs, Rockies, Cardinals

NL South: Marlins, Braves, New Orleans, Reds

NL West: Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Diamondbacks


AL East: Yankees, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays

AL North: White Sox, Twins, Tigers, Guardians

AL South: Rays, Royals, Astros, Rangers

AL West: Las Vegas, Angels, Athletics, Mariners


Eight Playoff teams - four wild cards, four division titles.

Wild Cards play each other in one-game knockouts to advance to a best-of-three series against the two lower-seed division champs at the division champs' parks.

After that, League Divisional, League Championship, and World Series as they are currently done.

This way, the wild card teams gets "punished" by having to go a knockout game before they get to the three-game set. They don't have their ace, and their best relievers are going to probably have to work, too. Division champs get an extra couple of days to rest their pitchers, reset their rotation.

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To be clear, I think expansion shuffles the postseason around quite a bit. I'm all in favor of re-thinking the entire postseason and only examined what slight tweaks might look like in a 30-team format.

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