Amidst one of the more controversial offseasons in the sport's history, Major League Baseball is consiering a massive overhaul to its playof system beginning in 2022, according to the New York Post.
After introducing the Wild Card game to expand the playoffs from eight teams to 10 in 2012, the new system would potentially include 14 playoff teams, three division winners and four wild card teams. The team with the best record in each league would automatically advance to the Division Series, leaving the remaining six teams to play in a Wild Card round.
The most radical change would be a Selection Sunday-type show in which the two division winners not receiving a bye to the Divison Series would get to choose their opponent in the Wild Card round from the bottom-three Wild Card teams. That would would be a best-of-three series, all of which would be played at that team's home stadium. The other division winner would pick from the remaining two teams, and the top Wild Card team would host the other Wild Card team that wasn't selected.
If your head is spinning, The Post breaks it down like this:
"To use the AL last season as an example, the Astros with the best record would have received the bye. The Yankees, with the second-best record, would have had the choice to pick from among the Rays, Indians and Red Sox. Boston had the worst record of that group. Would the Yanks pick them or avoid the baggage of a series with their rival? It would create a ton of strategy and interest, and this is what MLB wants to sell. The Twins would then pick next as the other division winner, and then the A's with the best wild-card record would play the team not chosen by the Yankees or Twins."
Because the three-game Wild Card series would all be played in the same city, the hope for MLB is that they'd be able to play the games on three consecutive days. So despite adding more teams, the playoffs themselves shouldn't be extended more than two or three more days.
More importantly, there is now an even greater incentive for a team to fight to have the best record in their league. While home field advantage in the Divisional and League Championship Series is important, the best team in each league would now avoid a three-game Wild Card series, while the other two division winners would be forced to play at least two more games before advancing. The addition of two more Wild Card teams would also conceivably keep more teams at the bottom of the playoff hunt in the mix later into the season.
Any changes to the playoff system would need to be collectively bargained, so the proposal is a long way off from coming to fruition, but this would no doubt be one of the bigger changes to the landscape of the game in recent memory.