In New Playoff Format, MLB Could Have Teams Pick Their Opponents

The change could be here by 2022.

97.1 The Ticket
February 10, 2020 - 5:34 pm
Rob Manfred

© Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

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By the time the Tigers next make the playoffs, MLB could have a radically different postseason format. 

Seven teams from each league, instead of five. A bye in the wild-card round for the best team in each league. And for the other two division winners in each league, the choice of their wild-card opponent. 

MLB is "seriously weighing" a move to this format starting in 2022, according to the New York Post. The league sees it as a way to drive fan interest and increase the importance of the regular season. 

To spell out the idea further:

  • The top team in each league goes directly to the division series
  • The second-best division winner in each league picks its opponent from the three lower wild cards 
  • The third-best division winner in each league picks its opponent from the wild cards that remain 
  • The last two wild cards play each other 
  • The division winners and top wild card team host all games in a best-of-three series 

Based on the AL last season, the Astros (107-55) would have advanced directly to the division series. The Yankees (103-59) would have had the choice of their wild-card opponent from the Rays (96-66), Indians (93-69) and Red Sox (84-78). The Twins (101-61) would have had the choice of their opponent from whichever two wild cards remained. The A's (97-65), as the top wild card, would have played the last wild card team left. 

According to the Post, the plan is to have the selection process play out on live TV the Sunday night the regular season ends.