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?