The overall dominance of the AL East is one of the styles that is beginning to emerge in the first half of the 2023 MLB season. This has led many to wonder if the playoff structure needs to change and to start preparing for a potential change.
The entire department is essentially performing like the best baseball team, as seen in this week’s power rankings. The AL East teams currently have an absurd 99-49 record when they do not face one another. Together, the five groups are acting like a 108-win team outside of the department. Absurd
That winning has to come from somewhere, and the causal chain has actually resulted in the AL Central looking very bad. Only the Twins are above.500 outside of their division and are the only team with a winning record. The department as a whole has 32 video games that are below.500.
Although it is too early in the season to start meticulously monitoring playoff position in the standings every day, for the purposes of this discussion, here is how the American League playoffs would now look in terms of seeding:
1. Rays (AL East champ)
2. Rangers (AL West champ)
3. Twins (AL Central champ)
5. Blue Jays
However, this is how it would appear if we arranged everyone according to their winning percentage:
1. Rays, 32-12,.727
2. Orioles, 28-15,.651
3. Rangers, 26-17,.605
4. Blue Jays, 25-18,.581
5. Astros, 24-19,.558
6. Yankees, 25-20,.556
t7. Red Sox, 24-20,.545
t7. Twins, 24-20,.545
The Red Sox and Twins played a series, and the Red Sox won two out of three games. As a result, using tiebreakers, the Twins entered play on Thursday essentially placed eighth in the American League if we dropped departments. And yet, given that they are the best team in baseball’s poorest division, they now hold the third seed.
The Yankees would have been screwed out of a postseason spot while the Red Sox would have a serious complaint if everything stayed exactly as it is (hint: it won’t). Five of the top seven records in the league are in the AL East.
Since the schedule is now more evenly distributed, it is inevitable that situations like these will arise when there are weaker and stronger departments based solely on the decreases and lineups of lineup building and construction. Situations where the divisional positioning seems to set things up in an illogical way are nothing new. The three best records in baseball in 2015 came from the NL Central. There was no chance for two of the three best baseball teams to even advance to the LCS stage due to the fact that two of them had to play in the Wild Card Game, and the winner of that game had to face the division champion in the NLDS. Do you recall the 1993 NL West? The Giants won 103 video games but failed to advance to the postseason.
These are just two stark examples out of many over many years. We could go on. It has actually happened numerous times.
Fans and the media still like to argue what changes need to be made to make things more acceptable in today’s world, and leagues then work to address any perceived oppressions. I’m aware that the longer the Yankees and Red Sox remain in their current positions (as opposed to, say, the Orioles and Rays), the hotter this debate will become.
The simple answer to the cries that the Yankees and Red Sox might be shut out of the playoffs due to the structure is that they must finish in the top 3 of their division. Be much better and win more video games, or, to put it more clearly. If anyone wants to change the system, it should be to improve how the playoffs as a whole play out, not because some groups should be included or excluded.
I’m not entirely sure whether there is a true problem, but if we wanted to talk about “services,” here they are.
Sports 1. Remove departments
Although I have observed some movement in favour of it, I have a strong “no” on this one. The reasoning behind this is that fewer departments are needed because the schedule is more evenly distributed now. We would have a far better idea of which teams were the best and most worthy playoff teams if there were no departments and only two 15-team leagues.
The fact that the timetable is only “more well balanced” than not at all balanced is the biggest worry in this situation. It will never balance out with 30 teams playing 162-game schedules, and I admire how they’ve made it possible for regional competitions to develop if a schedule needs to be concentrated in one area. I nonetheless think that departments are necessary for the scheduling component, even if they change (keep onto that idea).
Sports 2. Pass best playoff seeding record
Remember the second set of standings I mentioned above? Those were essentially the overall AL standings. That would be how things stood at the moment if we ignored departments and only selected the top 6 groups, which actually seems like a great idea in a meritocracy.
The problem is that, if you have departments, you might overlook the department winner in the playoffs. If so, what purpose do departments serve in the first place? This puts us back in the lead when it comes to eliminating departments.
I’ll reiterate here that we have occasionally experienced divisional persecution and that we will experience it once again. Because two well-known teams were unable to finish in the top three in the best division, I am not yet ready to completely disregard or just ignore departments when ranking teams for the playoffs.
Sports 3. Adjustment
These past few weeks, I’ve been questioned a lot about adjustment. The problem is that I genuinely don’t know how to organise the departments in the modern world. Although the standings in the American and National Leagues were only roughly accurate, many people have actually come to regard the league of their chosen team sacred. I don’t want to change it, not for the entire MLB. How would we organise as the departments are now set up regionally within each league?
To make the playoffs seem “reasonable,” would we be aiming to direct teams into the “ideal” position? Now, how would that work? Do we simply assign them with something like two playoff groups, one borderline competitor, and two average groups per department before each season based on how amazing we anticipate they’ll be? Are we going to evaluate it every three years and do that every year as well? Although it may seem excessive, I’m laying it up this way to make a point. To me, the most of the adjustment talk is a response to the current AL standings.
Simply put, it’s tough to imagine anything in this position being useful right now.
However, this is the appropriate response:
Sports 4. Persevere in the meantime
Nothing has changed since then. Since departments were established, divisional injustices have actually occurred once more. It’s just a component of the deal. We’ll end up with top teams getting disqualified and the 87-win Phillies winning the NL despite finishing 14 games behind two different teams in their own division during the regular season. Things happen. That’s what makes it fun in some situations.
Now, for those who want changes: I predict that things will end up changing at some point in the somewhat near future.
MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred has made it clear that the league would not pursue significant changes until the A’s and Rays’ ballpark issues are resolved. The A’s seem to be drawing to a close.The Rays’ lease for Tropicana Field with St. Petersburg runs through 2027, and because negotiations have been ongoing, let’s assume everything is settled at this point.
The general assumption is that Major League Baseball will expand by 2 groups once things are finalised with brand-new ballparks for both of those groups.
Growth to 32 groups suggests that selecting 2 leagues of 16 groups each and 4 departments of 4 within each league is straightforward. Or maybe they decide on larger departments of 8 (I doubt it, but it’s possible).
Your adjustment is there.
Everyone who is concerned that a handful of AL East teams with winning records will be left out in the cold for the postseason will have to, honestly, draw it up and handle it until then. We’ve put up with such travesties in the past—sarcasm leaking—and we’ll put up with them again this time.