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The Flyby: How to Fix the Playoffs?

What’s the best move for the league?

Baltimore Orioles v Boston Red Sox Photo by Kathryn Riley/Getty Images

This past week’s prompt was:

What do you think of the current playoff structure? Do you want to see more of it? Do you want to see something a little different? Do you want no playoffs whatsoever?

We had one response to the prompt, and one total FanPost as a result.

Fixing the Playoffs by Good_Better_Betts

What they said: They like the eight-team per league structure of the playoffs, but it can be further improved. Likening it to March Madness, the allure of low-seeded upsets bring a sense of drama to early round action. More teams in, means more teams able to make the playoffs, potentially increasing the likelihood of a competitive season. On the flip side, it makes the whole exercise about getting in, and finishing with a high record loses the advantage it presently has. They suggest something more like the NFL playoff structure.

Personally, I’m not fond of giving teams byes in the playoffs. I’m a firm believer in having to continue to earn your spot in each round. If you finish with a better record, you have home field. Simple.

I acknowledge that there comes a cheapening, in this sense. After all, you never want to signal that mediocrity is enough. I don’t think the answer is to shrink the field back down however, as that lessens revenues league-wide, which is apparently a big enough deal to nearly cancel the 2020 season over.

Instead, I think the answer is to boost the value that the higher seed has. My suggestion is to give whatever team won their division an advantage in the first round of the playoffs: one of the two wins they need to make it to the next round. For example, the Rays won the AL East. As such, they would start opening round with one win already under their belt. They would need to win one game before they lose 2, while the lower seed would have two win two. This can add vested rooting support for an underdog team as well. Who doesn’t love the idea of an 8-seed team beating a 1-seed team with their backs against the wall?

While nothing is ever a given in baseball, this all but guarantees a top seed will have every opportunity to have that bye that Good_Better_Betts suggested handed to them. I’m against handing out byes, but I’m not against earning a better chance at essentially getting one.

The big knock against this idea I believe comes in the form of why the teams projected to finish 6th, 7th, 8th, etc should even try to make the playoffs. The added revenues may not be enough for some teams, though I imagine it can make a difference for several teams on the bubble.