Analysis

What An Expanded Playoffs Means For The Yankees

MLB agreed on an expanded postseason with 16 teams just hours before the Yankees game, so what does an expanded postseason mean for the Yankees?

If 2020 has taught us anything it’s that right now our country needs equality more than ever. This doesn’t mean that this should be the default in professional sports too. Yesterday, just hours before the start of the 2020 Yankees season the MLBPA announced the league will be implementing expanded playoffs for the upcoming season, increasing the field from 10 to 16 teams.

The expansion will feature the usual division winners and wild-card clubs with the addition of division runner-ups.

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This means that there will be no first-round byes for the top seeds in each league. Instead, the top team will play a three-game series against the eighth seed, all in their fan-less stadium.

On one hand, more teams mean more states have a shot at a title. Certainly a nice thought in the wake of four sport-less months. But we both know this is not the case. Because if this was about “player safety” like the MLB claims, it would make sense to field 6 fewer teams in October and put 156 fewer players at risk. This is an attempt to recoup lost profits, and by doing so baseball is further pushing this “everyone gets a trophy” mentality.

This change wouldn’t be such a big deal if playoff expansion was going to be truly exclusive to 2020. But with the current CBA set to expire before the 2022 season, I’d be shocked if this was actually the case.

The way things are looking, this year’s “expanded playoffs” will be the new normal sooner than later and that is truly a shame.

Being the best team through 162 games warrants a first-round bye, not a best-of-three series. Prior to this season, 33% of MLB teams made the playoffs. It was the most exclusive tournament in any sport. Now, that number is 53%, the same as the NBA.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, had eight teams qualified for the playoffs in each league from 1995 through 2019, 46 teams at or below .500 would have made it. Elias also notes that there would have been only three seasons in which all playoff teams had winning records: 2000, 2003, and 2009.

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If this new playoff format is here to stay, it will surely hinder this young team’s chances at their 28th title.   Anything can happen in a five or seven-game series. Throwing a three-game series in the mix makes it that much more of a crapshoot.

Expanded playoffs don’t make sense in baseball for the same reason we used to have just an AL and NL Champion. You played (then 154 games) to prove you were the best. You earned your right to be there. This would only hurt the Yankees who are primed for several division titles in the coming years.

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