Did The New Playoff System Ruin Baseball?
This was the first season in MLB history that featured 12-total playoff teams as baseball expanded the wild card round by team count and games played. A total of four 100-win teams entered the playoffs, now going into the world series there is only one standing.
Both the Atlanta Braves and the New York Mets won 101-games this season with the defending World Series champion having first place in the NLE via a tiebreaker, sending the Mets into the wild card round. New York would lose to the Padres, ending what was one of the best seasons in franchise history. The San Diego team then went to face the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS, a team that went 111-51 and finished 22-games ahead of the Padres. In a true upset the Padres would take down Los Angeles despite not having home field advantage to move into the NLCS. Joining the Californian team is the Philadelphia Phillies who trailed in third place all season long and only won 87-regular season games. The Phillies were also a wild card team as they took down the St. Louis Cardinals via the sweep and the Braves in four games.
So you have two underdog teams that finished more than 12-games back on their division leaders and would end up having a longer postseason than them. The Phillies, a team that did not even win 90-games, outlasted multiple 100-win teams and would end up taking down the Padres in five games to move to their first World Series since the 2009 season.
The biggest factor to the underdog(s) being so good can be directly attributed to the new playoff system as the wild card teams stayed hot with very few rest days compared to basically a full week off from live at-bats for the NLDS teams. The only exception from that statement is the New York Mets who just blew their divisional lead in the final week of the regular season and stayed in a negative funk in the wild card series to end up losing.
This can very well be a brand new era for baseball by the wild card teams advancing and beating top teams in the playoffs more regularly due to having live at-bats. At the end it is all about money for the league along with the increased TV ratings and frankly it is interesting to see how the sport will be played 10-years from now.
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