Major League Baseball is attempting to move forward with a “playoff bubble”, following the lead – at least in a way – set by the NBA and NHL. Jeff Passan of ESPN reported late on Friday night that MLB’s plan was set and is now in the hands of the Major League Baseball Players Association to review and approve and or make changes to and send back to MLB.
Unlike the NBA bubble, there will be multiple sites around the country for the Major League Baseball playoffs. But many of the same protocols would be followed.
The prospect of spending upward of a month isolated in hotels still is concerning enough to players that including family is a must. In any bubble scenario, the league would rent out entire hotels, allowing players and their families free rein on the property. They would not be allowed to leave the hotels except to attend games.
Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of The Athletic are also reporting on the situation. They’ve spoken with some players, including Andrew Miller who is a part of the MLBPA’s executive subcommittee, about some of the issues that they would like to see worked out.
MLB plans for players to stay with their families at sprawling resorts in warm-weather Texas and Southern California. But Miller, whose Cardinals were quarantined at a hotel in Milwaukee for five days after their outbreak, is wary that staying in one place for an extended period would be difficult on his wife and two young children.
“If that’s the scenario I could be leaving them to head into the bubble on (Sept. 27, the final day of the regular season),” he said. “If we play to the end of the World Series that’s a long time. Hotel isolation is no fun either. Our team can attest to that.”
I did something that I never want to do, but do far too often: I read the comments. And as expected, the comments were full of people calling the players whining, spoiled millionaires who aren’t willing to sacrifice a little comfort for (insert all kinds of reasons here, some which are more valid than others). That, however, is a complete misunderstanding of the point. The complaint about spending a month in the bubble is not about the players themselves. It’s about their families having to do so.
It’s one thing to ask the players to “make the sacrifice” of not leaving the hotel for up to a month. If you’re single, or maybe even if you are married with no children, that’s something you can handle a lot easier. It’s a very different thing, though, if you are asking a family that includes children to potentially remain in a hotel, with no ability to leave it (if you plan to actually be able to re-enter said hotel without quarantining somewhere else for a week before re-entry), for up to a month.
The players believe that there are other things that can be put in place instead of a full on “can’t leave the hotel” situation for the families, citing the success of plans that have been in place by multiple organizations this season that have led to no positive tests.
There’s just over two weeks remaining before the postseason begins. That’s not a lot of time to get things figured out and agreed upon.
What we do know, though, is where all of the games will be played. Sort of.
The Wild Card Round
The wild card round will be played at the home ballpark for the teams seeded 1-4. This round is 3-game series, so there will only be two or three games before moving onto the next round.
The Divisional Round
This is the round where the bubble truly begins. The National League will play their games in the state of Texas at Globe Life Field and at Minute Maid Park. The highest seed in the National League will have their series played at Globe Life Field (Arlington), while the other series will be played at Minute Maid Park (Houston).
The American League will be playing in California at Petco Park and at Dodger Stadium. San Diego will host the highest seeded American League team and their series, while Los Angeles will host the other series.
The League Championship Round
The National League Championship Series will be played in Arlington at Globe Life Field. The American League Championship Series will be played in San Diego at Petco Park.
The World Series
The World Series will take place in Texas. Arlington’s Globe Life Field will host the World Series, starting October 20th.
Looking at the venues
The wild card round will be played at the highest seeded team’s home ballparks. We don’t know who those teams will be yet. But we do know which ballparks the rest of the playoffs will be held in. And that’s where things get interesting. When it comes to the 2020 season every postseason ballpark is in the bottom half when it comes to run factor. Dodger Stadium is the most “hitter friendly” when it comes to runs scored per game after adjusting for the teams that are playing there – and it is the 19th most “hitter friendly” ballpark in 2020. Petco ranks 20th, while Globe Life Field ranks 23rd, and Minute Maid Park ranks 26th.
Petco Park is playing quite interesting in 2020. The Slam Diego Padres have been crushing the ball this year. Their home ballpark, in terms of runs, favors pitchers. But when it comes to home runs, Petco has been the 5th most hitter friendly ballpark in baseball this season. Globe Life Field, where the World Series will be played, has the lowest home run park factor in baseball this year. Minute Maid park comes in at 25th on the list. Dodger Stadium is 14th.
All four of the ballparks in the postseason bubble favor pitchers when it comes to hits, with Dodger Stadium ranking the highest at 14th in baseball – but just below the league average at .988 (1.000 would be a neutral ballpark). Globe Life Field ranks 19th. Petco ranks 27th overall, while Minute Maid Park comes in at 29th.
|Globe Life||.877 (23rd)||.959 (19th)||.673 (30th)|
|Petco||.916 (20th)||.851 (27th)||1.309 (5th)|
|Dodger Stadium||.939 (19th)||.988 (14th)||1.045 (14th)|
|Minute Maid||.821 (26th)||.835 (29th)||.750 (25th)|
|Above 1.000 favors hitters, below 1.000 favors pitchers|
In the playoffs you tend to see better pitching than in the regular season. If that’s going to hold true in 2020, and these ballparks continue to play out in the way they have this season, runs are going to be really tough to come by, with home runs likely being the way teams are going to score.