In addition to deliberating the impact last Spring’s World Baseball Classic had on the physical fitness of MLB’s workforce this season (to wit, El Barto and Brad Lidge could’ve used the rest, while Johan Santana doesn’t seem to have suffered), Newsday’s Ken Davidoff has yet another plan to fix baseball’s postseason.
Few would disagree that baseball’s playoff system could use some tweaking. There’s not enough disincentive to make the playoff as a wild-card contender rather than a division winner; the difference is just one home game. And the Yankees don’t seem particularly excited about securing the American League’s top seed in this final week.
Let’s look to Japan’s Pacific League for inspiration. In the Pacific League, the non-division winners enter a “losers’ bracket” in which they have to win one more game than their opponent in order to advance.
Applying this to the major leagues, let’s say the top-seeded Mets play the wild-card Dodgers in a Division Series.
Make it so that the Dodgers, for being in the losers’ bracket, have to win four games to advance to the NLCS and the Mets have to win only three. What an edge the Mets would have earned by getting the top seed.
Such an alteration would make September games more meaningful, as teams would fight harder to both avoid the wild card and capture the top seed. To make this work, you’d have to allow the top seed to play the wild-card winner even if they were in the same division.
This would take some time for people to fully grasp, but I have faith that we’d all eventually catch on.