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.