Baseball could look a lot different in 2022 than it did in 2021. One of the things likely to change is the playoff format. But is that a good thing?
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It’s the age old question. Does playing more playoff games take away from what makes them special? It’s definitely a fine line between playing too many or not enough playoff games. While they are exciting, too many would drive more fans to wait for the later rounds.
MLB could learn from the NFL format
The 2022 MLB playoff format could look a lot like the NFL format. One or two teams could get a bye from the first round for having the most wins in their respective leagues. But before we can even answer how many games are enough, we need to answer how many teams are enough.
If the 2021 postseason taught us anything is that the format needs to create a different seeding system. The 106-win Dodgers were seeded 4th in the National League because they lost their division to the 107-win Giants. That forced them to play in the one-game elimination against the 5th seeded 90-win Cardinals.
Current playoff format doesn’t suit being competitive in your division
Thanks to the heroics of Chris Taylor, the Dodgers edged out the Cardinals in a thrilling game with a walkoff homerun. But two days later, they had to travel to San Francisco and start that best of 5 series. They lost Game 1 4-0 where they were noticeably taxed.
The way that the seeding is set forced the Dodgers to fight till the last game of the season. The sprinted the entire 162-game season only to lose to the Giants on the last day. The Giants deserve every bit of their title and success but the Dodgers should have been compensated for something. Otherwise, what’s to stop them from taking their foot off the brake next season?
Dodgers upended by bad fortune
If the same scenario were to happen next year, where the Giants are neck and neck for the division title. I wouldn’t blame either of them for resting their starters for the last week of the season in order to be rested for the playoffs. If the Dodgers would have rested their starts one week before the season ended, the game against the Cardinals could have been easier. Their 5 game series against the Giants could have been 4 games. And one of the walkoff losses against the Braves could have gone their way…
Teams that try to win day in and day out, should have another incentive. In a new format, both the Giants and the Dodgers should have first round byes. The number 1 seed would then play against the lowest ranking team in the next round.