ESPN’s Marly Rivera reported early Thursday afternoon that MLB players had approved a plan for expanded playoffs for the 2020 season. As the day went on, all the usual suspects confirmed that the plan had been ratified by the owners and it was official that there will be 16 team’s in MLB’s postseason this October. It’s hard to think of a time when a major professional sports league has basically doubled the amount of teams that will be in the postseason literally on the day that season is supposed to begin, but the disaster of 2020 is definitely the right year for this sort of madness.
Seeds 1-3 will go to the division winners based on record.
Seeds 4-6 will go to the runners-up based on record.
Seeds 7 and 8 will be based on record.
Thus, there is a possibility the third-best division winner actually plays a worse team than the two best division winners.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 23, 2020
This development definitely adds a level of excitement and intensity to the incredibly abbreviated 60 game schedule for all 30 teams. While there is certainly a class of 5-10 teams that have absolutely no intentions of being good in 2020 based on their roster, the crap-shoot that can sometimes be the MLB postseason seems wide open for just about anyone to hop into.
Even the Texas Rangers?
According to FanGraphs at 5 PM on Thursday, the Rangers have a 13.6% chance of making the postseason and just a .4% chance of winning the World Series. As Lloyd Christmas once said, “So you’re sayin’ there’s a chance?”
I’m not sure that FanGraphs had updated those percentages after the postseason expansion, but considering their postseason chances were rated as just 13.1% yesterday on the site, I’d guess things haven’t been updated.
If there was a 16 team playoff last season and the seedings were determined traditionally, 5 of the 8 first round series would have been featuring same-division series. (TEX/HOU, BOS/NYY, CLE/MIN, NYM/WSH, and MIL/STL). Also include the Cubs/Dodgers as the NL 8/1 matchup. pic.twitter.com/ZC0ws18LnN
— Alex Plinck (@aplinckTX) July 23, 2020
As Alex points out above, Texas would have been in the postseason under these rules last season despite a mediocre 78-84 record. With the abbreviated schedule and limited time to re-group for players in the month of July, I’d expect to see some pretty mediocre records all throughout baseball over the first several weeks of the season.
Despite a pretty putrid offensive showing over the course of their two exhibition games against the Rockies at Globe Life Field this week, I would currently feel pretty good about the Rangers being one of the top 8 teams in the American League again in 2020. I’d feel even better about the potential damage they could do in the postseason thanks to the top of their pitching rotation.
I think a team with a 1-2-3 of Lance Lynn, Mike Minor and a revitalized Corey Kluber coming at you in a postseason series could match up with just about anyone as long as offense is up to the task.
Before we can daydream about Ranger Magic in the postseason, they have to play well enough to get there first. Under these new rules and the 60 game season, the sense of urgency really has to begin right away. There won’t be time to wait on Rougned Odor to work his way out of a prolonged slump. Texas can’t afford to let Jose Leclerc work through some late inning troubles if it costs them multiple games early on. If the Rangers want to be in the postseason for the first time since 2016, manager Chris Woodward has to be ready to yank on some leashes a little faster than he had to in his first season as a major league manager.
Woodward has been heavily praised for his direct method of communication in the past, that will definitely come in handy in 2020 as the team will likely be within smelling distance of a postseason spot for most of the season thanks to the expanded playoff pool that was approved today.
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