On Thursday, right before the start of the New York Yankees vs. Washington Nationals game kicked off the start of the regular season, the Major League Baseball Players Association and the owners agreed to expand the playoff pool in 2020 from 10 teams to 16 teams.

There were some rumors floating around this week about teams choosing their opponents, but that never came to fruition. The details of how the playoffs in 2020 will work are far simpler. The first and second place teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. That will give each league six teams. The two teams in the league with the best record of the teams remaining will also then qualify, giving each league eight total teams.

Where the wrinkle of added teams comes in is the new first round. These series will be a best-of-three and all of the games will be played at the home ballpark of the higher seeded team. On one hand having all of the games at home should be beneficial, and that stands whether there are going to be any fans in the stands or not – there’s something to be said about familiarity and sleeping in your own bed instead of the hotel. But on the other side of things you get a short series where two games takes things to the next round and that’s not exactly the best way to get the best teams to advance. Not that five or even seven games does that all of the time, either, but three games makes it far more likely that the best team won’t win.

After the first round, the series will take on their normal lengths. When there are four teams remaining in each division the series will be a best-of-five, and then the League Championship Series and World Series will both be best-of-seven series.

2020 is weird. I guess Major League Baseball has decided to embrace it (or they saw a bunch of dollars on the table and decided to take them). Let’s just hope that at the end of October Rob Manfred is handing over “a piece of metal” as he called it, to the best team in baseball.

8 Responses

  1. BigRedMachine

    Having all games of the 3-games series be in one location was to be expected I think. Limits the amount of travel which is a necessity under covid.


      With this manager, they could expand to 16 teams per league and they still wouldn’t make it.

  2. Mike Adams

    I tried to figure this out for myself but couldn’t: if a team started with the new first round and all their series went to maximum possible games, how many total games would they have to play to win the World Series?
    I did conclude my confusion is because either math is hard, or I still don’t understand how all the rounds of competition work.
    Anybody know the answer?

    • Don

      Mac games
      1st round = 3
      Division Round = 5
      League Championship = 7
      Worls Series = 7

      So if a team has all series go the distance = 22 games

  3. MK

    Do not see any downside in this short season. To add a few more games to win a title in a 69 game season seems fair.

    In a 162 season I would hate to see it come down to 3 games.

  4. ClevelandRedsFan

    The MLB playoffs will basically look like a bracket, similar to March Madness, but way fewer teams and only an AL and NL side.

    For example, the #1 seed on the NL side plays the #8 seed in round 1.

    I don’t see this as an advantage for Reds trying to make the World Series.

    Dodgers will probably be the #1 seed. Realistically, I could see the Reds coming in somewhere in the 2-5 range. That means they’re likely playing a 3-game series against a team that won 1-4 fewer games or so. Yikes.

    The one silver lining is if they don’t win the division, it’s a 3-game series instead of 1. I’ll take the Reds 1-3 of Gray, Castillo, and Bauer against anyone in the NL.

  5. Doc

    Three game series will identify the better team more often than a one game playoff.

  6. Don

    Overall, this it a good plan for the initial 3 games. The 1 game playoff is fine for two wild card teams. The division winners deserve more than a possible 1 game and out.

    A team with a single “ace” will not have a huge advantage.
    Hopefully they are not spaced out with off days for TV so that the 3 games are played across 5 or 6 days and they games are 3 games on consecutive days.

    No off days would give the best team a better chance to win.

    An interesting twist to a interesting season