This is Why MLB’s New Wild-Card Format is Dumb

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Don't worry, kid, all you have to do to change history is beat Kyle Lohse

MLB’s divisional alignment already stacks the deck against good teams in tough divisions. The addition of a second Wild-Card will penalize those teams even more by forcing them to play one-game, do-or-die “series” against less-deserving teams. Previously, slightly-above-average Wild-Card teams often benefitted from shorter series against the league’s best teams. That trend will continue. But now, the truly deserving Wild-Card teams (generally speaking, the Red Sox) will be thrown into one-game death matches against far inferior competition.

Let’s take a selective look at how the new format would have played out in previous years, dating back to 2004: (I’m assuming that the two Wild-Cards can both come from the same division, though that hasn’t been made clear yet. If that’s not the case, and the second Wild-Card team must come from another division, then, in some cases, these deltas would be even larger.) 


In 2004, the World Champion, 98-win Red Sox, a team with the third most wins in baseball, would have been forced to play the 91-win As in a one-game playoff.

In 2005, the 88-win Phillies would have made the “playoffs” and played the 89-win Astros (fair, but interesting).

In 2006, the AL Champion, 95-win Tigers would have played the 90-win White Sox in a one-game playoff despite having finished five games ahead in the regular season standings. The 85-win Phillies would have played the 88-win Dodgers in a one-game playoff.

In 2007, the 94-win Yankees would have played either the 88-win Tigers or Mariners in a one-game playoff.

In 2008, the 95-win Red Sox would have played the 89-win Yankees in a one-game playoff despite having finished six games ahead in the regular season. 

In 2009, the 92-win Rockies would have played the 88-win Giants in a one-game playoff despite having finished four games ahead in the regular season.

In 2010, the 95-win Yankees would have played the 89-win Red Sox in a one-game playoff despite having finished six games ahead in the regular season.


Interestingly, the Phillies would have made the playoffs in both 2005 and 2006, something that would have now given them seven straight postseason births. But did the 85-win 2006 Phillies team really deserve to make the playoffs? No.

What’s worse, as you see, not only can teams who finish seven or eight games behind get the chance to win a one-game playoff against far superior competition, but intra-divisional rivals could (assuming two Wild Cards can come from same division) now square off in one-game playoffs despite being separated by as many as six games in the standings. How, in the world, is that fair?

Sure, this new alignment will create a dramatic scenario for every one it does away with, but it severely penalizes good teams in good divisions. And yes, it could give a 90-win second place team, like the 2006 White Sox, a chance to dance– however, it will more often than not give 87, 88-win teams opportunities to knock off 95-win teams in a one-game playoff. That completely minimizes the already watered down 162-game season. Dumb.


19 Responses

  1. so, the option is either playing a one-game playoff against a team in your division that you already spent 162 games finishing ahead of in the standings… or, not allowing 2 WC teams from the same division and running the risk of a team with more wins in a stronger division losing out on a WC spot to a team with a worse record in a lesser division?

  2. This post is a bunch of drivel, the new system is brilliant! Bud Selig is the absolute BEST thing that ever happened to baseball. Fuck you Kyle.

  3. The schedules are going to be balanced as well. A team like this year’s Cardinals won’t be able to benefit by playing the Asros and Cubs while the Braves had to deal with the Phils and Gnats. I kinda like it.

  4. in 2008 neither the giants nor rockies made the playoffs…considering that was the year the phillies beat the wild card brewers on their to the title I think you would know that KYLE

  5. I disagree with this post completely. I love this. Basically, it puts more emphasis on winning your division and severely penalizes you if you don’t in a bunch of ways. Also, Kyle points to “wins” as the reason why it is unfair. So that means a team in a crappy division that is handed 8-10 wins a year is equal to say a Phillies team in a tough division? That makes no sense. Below are the pros/cons to this extra Wildcard.
    – Gauranteed a 1 game play-in game in each League
    – Won’t allow for teams that wrap up the wildcard spot early to just coast into playoffs.
    – If you choose to just go for a WC spot, you will be forced to “waste” best pitcher in this game.
    – Will make league more competitive and not just 4 or 5 teams “in it” by Sept. 15th.
    – Will make a Red Sox- Yankee series have a shot every year
    – Allow a “hot” team to sneak into the playoffs
    – Less emphasis on the 1st half of regular season
    Overall, it will make the season more interesting and probably limit the trades since more teams will be in the playoff hunt. I like it. Now, all they have to is make the Division series a 7 game series.

  6. Money talks. More teams = more ratings = more money. This is just stupid. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken. Thanks Bud… asshole.

  7. Also, if this system were in place. This would have been how the postseasons shaped up.
    2011: Tampa/Boston and Atlanta/St. Louis
    2010: Yankees/Boston and San Diego/Atlanta
    2009: Texas/Boston and Giants/Rockies
    2008: Yankees/Boston and Mets/Brewers
    2007 Detroit/Seattle; winner plays Yankees and San Diego/Rockies
    2006 White Sox/Detroit and Phillies/Dodgers
    2005 Indians/Boston and Phillies/Houston
    2004 A’s/Boston and Giants/Houston
    I am sorry, but that would have been awesome.

  8. It’s totally stupid, its just to bring in more revenue and no other reason. I agree with OneManWolfpack…if its not broken, don’t fix it!

  9. We’ve seen so many times already in last 10 yrs where the hottest team barely into playoffs and then gets to and/or wins the WS – 2011 Cards, 2010 Giants, 2008 Phillies, 2007 Rockies, 2005 Astros, 2003 Marlins, 2002 Giants and 2002 Angels, etc.
    I think this just makes it even more likely for that 88 or 90 win team to win it all and makes regular season less meaningful.

  10. Interesting. The 2005 Philies had won 8 of their final 12… maybe they get hot at the right time and shock the world, with the stellar postseason rotation of Jon Lieber, Brett Myers, Vicente Padilla, Randy Wolf, and Cory Lidle

  11. Great post. As much as this would have helped the Phillies back then (put yourself in the shoes of the Braves/Giants changing places in 2010, 2011) it doesn’t help them now. What I don’t get is after a great final day of the season, where four teams were fighting for two playoff spots (new playoff system would make those games meaningless) and a Postseason of close matchups, why does Selig feel the need to expand the playoffs. I’m all for some of the details in the new CBA (Astros move to AL, balanced divisions throughout) but this just doesn’t make sense. I guess baseball is trying to ensure there is never another exciting last day of the season again. Totally right with the division/WC thing too. Battles can still be in play if both wildcards have to be from different divisions. Then you could see both East divisions and both Central divisions in close battles for second. But if that doesn’t matter, then the AL East will have three teams every year. Makes no sense that way.

  12. Geez, all this talk of the dreaded “hot team” blah, blah, blah. How ’bout this little nugget; don’t fricking lose to the hot team, eh? If this great 102 win squad is soooooo good, then they don’t need to be losing to a Wild Card upstart then do they?..and if they do, that should tell you a lot more about that supposed “super team” than just the lazy BS, “they ran into a hot team.”
    Well, your mother ran into a hot team and the result is you! Congratulations.

  13. The Wild Card format is a bunch of crap, excuse my French. It should at least be a best of 3 format, not a one game deal. Any team can beat another on any given day. Not a true reflection on who might be the better team. Come with a better format or don’t do wild card games at all. Pure crap, (can’t really use the words I want to use.)

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