Wednesday, August 4, 2010

16 Team MLB Playoff Format

What if MLB expanded its playoffs to 16 teams like the NBA and the NHL?

Here are some pros and cons.

- More money for everyone. More for MLB, more for owners, more for players, even more for hot dog vendors.
- Regular season would be more interesting. More teams would be in contention. This would also bring in more money as attendance and TV ratings would increase.
- More teams would have chance at winning World Series.
- Teams would play each other based on winning percentage ranking and the playoff spots wouldn’t have to be re-aligned so that a wild card team did not play a team in its own division.

- Playoffs would go to Thanksgiving. Air temperature is cold in late October and in November. Baseball is not fun to play or watch in 40 degree weather.
- Bad teams would make the playoffs. Look at the NBA Eastern Conference lately. Sub .500 teams make the playoffs. It just looks bad for the sport.

Below is what last years first round playoff matchup would have looked like under a 16 team format. The three division winners and best wild card team are seeded 1 through 4.

2009 AL
1 NYY vs 8 TB
2 LAA vs 7 Sea
3 Bos vs 6 Det
4 Min vs 5 Tex (Tex had a better Win %, but Min won their division)

Min beat Det in a one game playoff for the real AL Central last year so they get the higher seed. But in this format one game playoffs like that would not be needed.

2009 NL
1 LAD vs 8 ChiC
2 Phil vs 7 Atl
3 Col vs 6 Fla
4 Stl vs 5 SF

Comments on 2009 format:
The Cubs made the playoffs! Can’t you see them going all the way as an 8 seed! I can. They probably wouldn’t but it would be interesting and attractive for viewers.

Seattle and Texas would have both made the playoffs. These two teams have made the playoffs a total of 7 times combined since their existence (Texas 3 since 1961 Seattle 4 since 1977)

Here is what this years format would look like based on standings the morning of August 4th.

2010 AL
1 TB vs 8 Oak/LAA/Det (All 3 tied for the 8 seed)
2 NYY vs 7 Tor
3 Tex vs 6 Min
4 Chi vs 5 Bos (Bos has better win % but Chi would win AL Central)


1 SD vs 8 LAD
2 SF vs 7 Col
3 Atl vs 6 Phil
4 Cin vs 5 StL

The Mets are currently one game behind LA for the 8th seed and Florida is 1.5 games out.

This format will probably never happen but it would be cool if it did. If the NBA and NHL can have playoffs take two onths why can’t MLB? Maybe the first round would be a best of three game series, the second round a best of five, and the LCS and World Series a best of 7. Then maybe this would finish up by mid November, which isnt too far off from when the World Series ends right now anyway.


  1. I have a better idea. Baseball goes back to two divisions per league. Teams play 80% of their games against teams fighting for the same pennant. Other 20% of schedule is played against teams from other division based on a team's finish.

    Pennant races abound, September and October is great. Rather than weaken MLB's schedule like NBA and NHL, baseball regains credibility. New fans flock to the sport, attendances soar, ratings grow exponentially, and instead of going backwards with media package baseball is able to get the most lucrative contract in history.

    Everybody makes more money and instead of mimicking football, basketball, and hockey, baseball is allowed to be baseball and again becomes The National Pastime.

    I truly believe that my idea has a greater chance of happening than yours. Let's keep the discussion going.

  2. Hi Cliff.

    Honestly I don't see either idea happening anytime soon. I'd like to see your idea happen too though. I just hope MLB never decides to have a 2nd wild card team and have the two wild card teams play one game to become the one wild card team. I don't see the point in that since that team would most likely lose its best pitcher.

    Are there research outlets where one could review attendance figures and things like revenue and ratings? I could make stronger argument points if I could get the actual data.


  3. Hey Tim,

    Sorry for the delay, I've been behind in my work lately.

    I've been keeping selective attendance records on top wild card games. Looks like it depends more on he teams involved rather than the fact that it's a good wild card game.

    As far as doing research on attendance and ratings and revenue you might try Google. You might try contacting the stations and teams but I don't know how co-operative they'd be.

    I'll keep in touch!

  4. I like the idea that was posted about two divisions. Teams play the majority of its regular season games vs. its own division and perhaps play a home-and-home series against each team from the other division.

    If they were to go to a 16-team playoff format, I believe MLB will need to add to more teams to the league. The NL has 16 and the AL 14, so either add two (how about Charlotte, New Orleans, Vegas, Nashville, etc.) for the AL and realign. With that being said, if MLB went to an 16-team playoff format, I think we need four, 4-team divisions and each division winner would be higher seed (1-4) in the first round of the playoffs. Teams 1-4 would hosts teams 5-8 respectively in a 3-game series, all at the better team's stadium in 3 straight games (like a regular season series) to move the playoffs along. Then the next series could be five game, and seven for the LCS and World Series. Start the season in the last full week of March and start the playoffs in the last week of September.

    All in all, I know this is all fun speculation, but I guess we'll see what Selig will do in the upcoming months, years.

  5. 16 teams is better than 8. it gives teams more of a chance to win, and the playoffs will be more exciting.

    who even watches mlb playoffs?