MLB CBA: Why Expanded Postseason Makes Sense for Everyone

DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 07: A detailed view of the Postseason logo painted on the field prior to Game Two of the American League Division Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on October 7, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the A's 5-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - OCTOBER 07: A detailed view of the Postseason logo painted on the field prior to Game Two of the American League Division Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Oakland Athletics at Comerica Park on October 7, 2012 in Detroit, Michigan. The Tigers defeated the A's 5-4. (Photo by Mark Cunningham/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

With all this arguing over money in the MLB CBA between owners and players, one thing that makes sense for both sides is expanded playoffs. 

I’ve admitted in the past that I consider myself to be as old school as it comes with my baseball fandom, but one thing in this MLB CBA that has me excited is the thought of expanded postseason.

My fear of expanding the MLB postseason in the past is that it devalues a 162-game regular season and you run into the same issue as other sports like the NFL, NBA, and NHL where everyone gets in, and occasionally you get teams that finish below .500.

Some of those fears still exist, but with the proposal from Major League Baseball, I think it actually makes the regular season count even more.

MLB CBA: Expanded Playoff Proposal

  • Teams: 14 (7 in each league)
  • Top seed in each league receives a bye
  • Other two division leaders get to pick their first-round opponent
  • First-round Wild Card series is best-of-three
  • Rest of the playoffs remains the same

MLB CBA: Reasons to Like Expanded Playoff Proposal

I mentioned I’m old-fashioned — I would prefer the days where you played 154/162 and the best team from each league meets in the World Series.

My reasoning for that is that when you play that many games, it should matter for something.

This format for expansion once again puts the emphasis on having the best record in baseball. Getting the top seed in each league becomes very important with a bye in the first round while other teams have to battle in a three-game series.

That’s much more of an advantage than what you have now with the Wild Card teams just having to play one game. Playing a minimum of two throws off your entire rotation and puts you at a big disadvantage going up against the top seed in the Division Series.

I think it will also push front offices to put together more complete teams to start the season and make moves quicker during the season as you can’t fall behind the pace for the top seed or your division.

For example, I’ve criticized Alex Anthopoulos at times because he’ll go into a season with an obvious need still out there; whether it be the lack of depth in the bullpen, rotation, or bench.

That has cost the Braves some games early in seasons and led to them having to come back.

But because of the format, AA has been able to begin the season that way, see how it plays out, and then make the proper adjustments at the trade deadline — a recipe that he has admittedly worked out well for him with the Braves.

This expanded playoff format in the MLB CBA does not allow for that if you want to get that top seed.

Winning the division still remains very important as you get to pick your first-round opponent and you get home field for the entire first round.

And then there is the obvious draw that it keeps more fanbases engaged longer in the season and drives more revenue.

MLB CBA: Reasons Not to Like Expanded Playoffs

I honestly can’t think of many reasons not to like this proposal. The players worry it will lead to some owners not being as aggressive in spending money and making upgrades because it will be easier to get into the postseason.

But my point above about the importance to get that top seed and win your division — and also get the top Wild Card spot — will/should drive front offices to be more aggressive.

The only real negative I see is that occasionally you’ll have a team get in that is below .500 and that is bad. But it would also remain pretty rare, and that team would have a pretty tough road to climb to win a World Series.

If a team with a losing record wins a best-of-three on the road against the second-best team in the league, then takes out the top seed, wins the NLCS, and then wins the World Series — they’ll have earned that championship.

Another downside could be the off days for the top seed. While some rest is certainly an advantage, and being able to set up your rotation is huge, too much rest for baseball players who live off routine can be a bad thing.

As it is, teams already have to wait at least four days. That first-round would need to start the Tuesday after the regular season ends and wrap up by Thursday so the Division Series round can start on Friday.

I’d really be in favor of it starting on that Monday, but you need a day to settle any possible tie-breakers.

Playoff expansion is coming. The MLBPA countered the league’s 14-team idea with a 12-team format that also includes breaking each league into two divisions — one with eight and one with seven.

There weren’t a lot of details on the MLBPA proposal, but the fact they at least countered tells you they’re open to expansion, which means it’s going to happen because the owners definitely want it as it brings in more money.

Does Freddy Tarnok Have Biggest Upside?. dark. Next

However it ends up happening, the one thing they can’t do is deemphasize the regular season — 162 games needs to count for something. I believe the league’s proposal does that and creates a ton of extra drama that will excite casual fans during the sports’ biggest month(s) of the year.