Expanded Playoffs Official for 2012

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  • The two wild card teams from each league will play a one-game, winner-take-all contest to see who becomes the fourth seed in the Division Series.
  • For 2012 only, the Division Series will start with the first two games in the lower seed’s park followed by three games at the higher seed’s park. This will cut out one off day to help fit the extra wild card playoff possible.
  • The three division winners will get an extra day off allowing them to better set up their pitching rotations for the playoffs.

The extra two teams making the wild card means that ten out of thirty major league teams–or a full third–will now have post season hopes. The two wild card team format also ensures that teams in sight of the division win but ahead in the wild card race can’t coast into the playoffs to set up their rotations. Depending on whether you believe Brian Cashman or Joe Girardi, the New York Yankees forgave the division title in 2010 to rest some banged up players heading into the playoffs. Such doings will no longer be an option if faced with a one-game elimination round.

No doubt there will be much debate by baseball fans in the days to come. Teams on the fringes will have new hope of getting a post season chance. Teams that are clearly the fourth best team in each league might chafe having to face an elimination game against a team with perhaps a worse record. Some will praise the move because it means more baseball at the end of the season. Others will call it a watering down of the playoff system.

Either way, this is the new reality. The extra team playoff format was part of the collective bargaining agreement just signed between MLB and its players and was a trade off of the Houston Astros moving to the American League in 2013. The bottom line is that the New York Yankees have to have one goal in mind: Winning their division.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

8 thoughts on “Expanded Playoffs Official for 2012

  1. skeaney

    Sadly, baring catastrophe, Toronto still doesn't have a chance with the five big boys fighting over two division titles and two wild cards. It would be interesting to see the outrage though if the Yankees, Red Sox and Rays all make the playoffs.

    In reality this doesn't really give more hope to AL teams. The Angels, Rangers, Yankees, Red Sox and Rays are perennial playoff teams anyway. All this does is allow one more member of that group to have a shot at the World Series each year. The rest of the teams in the AL really don't have much of a chance outside of winning the AL Central division. So basically we have four slots for five team to fight over… one slot for thecentral teams to fight over… and everyone else can sod off.

  2. Gameday Goods

    Don't like it. I can just see the Yankees finishing 1 game behind the AL east winner, facing some 80-something win team in the elimination game; one bad breaking ball and the season's over.

    • Jacques

      Agreed. In case of 2001, the Oakland A's who won 102 games, will have to face Minnesota Twins who won 85 games. The second best record in MLB can go home in just one playoff game. Psshh

  3. David

    On top of what Gameday said; in 2012 isn't there now incentive to "hit the sweet spot" and finish exactly 2nd, while still winnning your division? Wasn't there pretty conclusive proof (statistically) that 2 (away) – 3 (home) was drastically worse for the home team than 2 (home) – 2 (away) – 1 (home)?

    • David

      Er, I meant 3rd, of course!

  4. Ben

    I completely disagree with Gameday. There are six powerhouses in the AL right now. One of them, not Detroit most likely, will miss the playoffs. That means the other four spots will be secured by most likely one of the five teams: Yankees, Rays, Boston, Texas and Anaheim. If you see an 80 win team in either of those 5 and even Detroit, you should not be predicting baseball.

    • roadrider

      Yes that's true – now. It won't always be the case. Besides, how much longer will it be before even another WC is added to "correct the inequities" in the 2 WC system just as this system was introduced to "correct inequities" in the single WC system (of course it was always about more TV $$$ and nothing else)? Then you will get into 80-something win territory.

      You know, we already have 80-something win teams getting in the playoffs (as division winners) and winning the WS because of the idiotic 3-division setup which was introduced for the sole purpose of making an extra playoff round "necessary". So it's not even necessary for the WC teams to be weak sisters to cause this situation – it happens as a direct result of the league structure that was created to introduce the WC.

    • Eli

      That is the case this year but in the future different situations could develop.

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