If you want to make a prediction that’s sure to be correct, here are two simple rules: Don’t predict the results of the MLB series, no matter how good or bad the teams are. Expect a certain subset of baseball fans with very large speakers to be reflexively hostile to change.
Three of the four 100-win baseball teams have bounced back from the playoffs in the first two rounds, Two win 89 San Diego Padres And the One win 87 Philadelphia Phyllis. Before the two underdog teams met to start the National League Series, a threat known as anecdotal evidence forced the baseball world to pause and discuss whether their hardcore wins were actually bad.
This confusion appears to stem from the confluence of two events: a new playoff format in effect this season and Los Angeles Dodgers – The winners of 111 regular season games and the strongest fallen favorites – lost before they even made it to the NLCS. These are, as you will see, unrelated events, but When two Twitter users with Brings 3.8 million followers together They can totally shoot.
In short, a lot of people are suddenly indignant at the idea that the World Series doesn’t necessarily crown the best baseball team as champion. That’s right, the world championships do not crown the best team. MLB playoffs — especially since the introduction of the wild card in 1995 — aren’t designed to find the best baseball team. It’s designed to send a group of baseball’s best teams bumping into each other for dramatic effect.
This is not a product of the new match format, though. It is the product of playoffs in general.
What the new MLB match format has really changed
As there seems to be some confusion, here’s what’s really changed in the MLB playoffs this season: With each league conceding two wild card teams plus third-tier winners, there are now three. Instead of a one-game battle, winner-takes-all between the two wild cards, there is now a round known as the wild-card series. On each side of the arc, a series of three matches between the weakest class winner competes against the weakest wild card team, then the top two teams compete against each other.
The first and second winners of each league get to say goodbye to the Division Series, which is where they would have started their playoff rounds in the old format, anyway. They’ve had a longer hiatus between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs than usual, but that would be considered an advantage overall and we don’t have enough information or enough pattern to say otherwise.
Let’s consider what the NL field would have looked like if we had adjusted this season’s results to the format that prevailed from 2012 to 2021:
The loser in that game would have faced the Padres in a wild card game for the right to take on the Dodgers.
The winner of the NL East tiebreaker had advanced to a best of five NLDS against St. Louis Cardinalswho would have reached this stage automatically instead of playing the best out of three Wild Card series.
The only thing that would have changed the outcome for sure? Velez’s team was not going to play the playoffs at all, and therefore would not eliminate the Cardinal and the Braves.
What the numbers say about MLB playoff harassment
Panic at the changes will lead to the belief that they created the chaos that overthrew the Titans. But this is not the only case. The best teams lose in October all the time.
Since 1995, when a fourth team was added to every playoff square in the league, 40 teams have won 100 games. Of the 39 whose seasons have ended (this season Astros They plug right in, unfazed by the supposed new format for killing favorites), here’s how far they’ve come:
Lost at the World Championships: 6
Lost in Series Championships: 8
Lost in Division Series: 19
Lost in the Wild Card Tour: 1 (sorry, Mets fans)
Almost half of them have fallen into ALDS or NLDS! Of those, 17 lost to teams with worse records—the undefeated Newbies came in with 8.47 fewer regular-season wins, on average.
We can also expand the focus to look at the teams with the best record in their tournaments, since not every season has a team with 100 wins, and more recently, several seasons have been marked by many teams with 100 wins and not all of them can be the best. (If you want to raise a playoff setup issue, maybe get rid of one for the relatively recent phenomenon of 100-win teams being forced to play other 100-win teams this early round. This includes the 2021 Giants-Dodgers series, as well as the Yankees -Twins in 2019 and Yankees-Red Sox in 2018.)
Of the 57 teams since 1995 that have finished the regular season at the top of the AL or NL (including teams that tied for honor), it’s a similar story.
The Padres, winner of 89 games, aren’t even particularly notable as the underdogs go. Braves last year – remember them? Eliminate the 106-win Dodgers en route to the World Championship after winning 88 games. The Seattle Mariners are best known for their 116-game winning streak in 2001 against the Yankees’ 95 ALCS win.
Remember, under the 2012-2021 format, Padres could easily have won a wild card game against the Mets and they would end up in the exact same match against the Dodgers.
It’s definitely not the extra teams that create problems for the favourites. Top performing teams fared better from 2012 to 2021 – when two wild card teams had to play each other instead of the best wild card team advancing directly to the Division Series. From 1995 to 2011, only 30.6% of the regular season’s top teams made it to the World Championships. From 2012 to 2021, 45% made it there.
The best teams, if any, get better. But there’s nothing anyone can do about the whims of the miniseries. The margins between bad MLB teams and OK MLB teams and good MLB teams are small enough that we need, you know, 162 games to sort it out. More than three to five games? Between two good teams? There is basically no margin.
Some on Twitter have called for the Division Series to be extended to the top seven, similar to the last two rounds of the playoffs, but that wouldn’t make much of a difference. As NFL analyst Michael Lopez noted on Twitterto match the NBA average of the best team advancing through a playoff round, a baseball game would need to play the best of 75 (!!!) streaks.
Actually doing that would be silly. The answer, if the goal of the entire league was to find and crown the best team, it would be a system along the lines of the Premier League where the regular season would be the full kit and the capodl. But that’s not the goal of the league, and it never has been.
As an entertainment producer — competing with the NFL, the NBA, and countless other options — MLB needs the pressed tension and releases that in what we saw in San Diego and Philadelphia this weekend. You need to sell hope to dozens of fan bases, providing a more realistic possibility to be better than the four-day Dodgers when four-month outlasts them are on the verge of impossible. It Needs Interlude baseball, a super-intensive version of the game that evokes extreme gameplay situations – a dark summer game sucked inside a black hole and recast as a cage match.
There are fair arguments to be made about how high the playoff threshold should be to encourage extreme competitiveness, and about whether the sport should do more to recognize normal seasonal excellence before throwing everyone onto a essentially equal playing field. There are a lot of arguments that wouldn’t have happened at all if we could Acknowledging what three losses are really saying about a team that has won 111. But there is no arguing about this: the sport would be less entertaining and less popular without the playoffs.
Troubles, at this point, are just part of the tradition.
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