IMPROVING THE PLAYOFF SYSTEM
The playoff system isn’t perfect and it’s easy to see why. Ask most fans and experts and the following are the complaints you’ll most likely hear:
1. The Wild Card games are unfair as an entire team’s season is based on one game.
2. The best team can be eliminated in a fluke series.
I think that the Wild Card system is unfair and while it more accurately rewards the division winners (compared to the last version), it’s still unfair. I also think that the team that finishes with the best record in its league should have an easier opportunity to win the pennant. The other playoff teams should have more obstacles to overcome, in order to prove that they deserve the pennant more. I propose the following changes:
1. NO MORE DIVISIONS. THE TOP 4 TEAMS IN EACH LEAGUE ADVANCE TO THE PLAYOFFS.
Teams play most of their games against their divisional rivals, so win-loss records are skewed. Teams in weak divisions are rewarded for beating weak teams, while teams in strong divisions have an extra disadvantage. Worse, teams with worse records make the playoffs over teams with better records, just look at this:
1997: The Houston Astros won the NL Central with an 84-78 W-L record, while the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets missed the playoffs with 88-74 records.
2000: The New York Yankees won the AL East with an 87-74 record, but the Cleveland Indians missed the playoffs with a 90-72 record.
2001: The Atlanta Braves won the NL East with an 88-74 record, but the San Francisco Giants missed the playoffs with a 90-72 record.
2002: The Minnesota Twins won the AL Central with a 90-72 record, but the Seattle Mariners missed the playoffs with a 93-69 record.
2005: The San Diego Padres won the NL West with an 82-80 record, but the Philadelphia Phillies missed the playoffs with an 88-74 record.
2006: The St. Louis Cardinals won the NL Central with an 83-78 record, but the Philadelphia Phillies missed the playoffs with an 85-77 record.
2007: The Chicago Cubs won the NL Central with an 85-77 record, but the San Diego Padres (89-74) and the New York Mets (88-74) missed the playoffs.
2008: The Chicago White Sox won the AL Central with an 89-74 (.546 winning percentage) record but the New York Yankees missed the playoffs with an 89-73 record (.549 winning percentage). The Los Angeles Dodgers won the NL West with an 84-78 record, but the St. Louis Cardinals (86-76), Houston Astros (86-75) and the New York Mets (89-73) missed the playoffs.
2009: The Minnesota Twins won the AL Central with an 87-76 record (.534 winning percentage), but the Texas Rangers missed the playoffs with an 87-75 record (.537 winning percentage).
2012: The Detroit Tigers won the AL Central with an 88-74 record, but the Tampa Bay Rays (90-72) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (89-73) missed the playoffs.
No divisions means a balanced schedule and the truly best teams go to the playoffs. Not to mention skewed win-loss records won’t decide home field advantage.
2. THE TEAM WITH THE BEST RECORD IN EACH LEAGUE GETS A BYE FOR THE LDS
Shouldn’t there be a reward for a team that finishes the season with the best record? The team with the best record shouldn’t have to have its season depend on winning 3 out of 5 games. Instead, the team should automatically advance to the League Championship Series.
3. THE FOURTH AND THIRD SEEDS PLAY A BEST OF 3 SERIES AND THE WINNER PLAYS THE SECOND IN A BEST OF 3
Best of 3 is more fair than single elimination and the playoff teams with worse records have to win more games to earn the right to be in the LCS.