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Thursday, September 29, 2022

Three impacts of baseball’s new 12-team postseason format

1. The No. 6 seed may be more desirable than the No. 5 seed
Teams will not be reseeded after the Wild Card Series. The winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 6 Wild Card Series will play the No. 2 seed in the LDS no matter what, and the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 Wild Card Series will play the No. 1 seed in the LDS no matter what. In the LDS the team with the league’s best record will face a wild-card team, not a division winner, period.

That sounds great in theory, but in practice it doesn’t always work out so neatly. Some wild-card teams are better than some division winners every season, and this year’s NL East is the great example. The NL East runner-up will have a much better record and run differential than the NL Central winner. Because of that, the No. 6 seed might be more desirable than the No. 5 seed.

Consider the possibilities in the National League using the standings as of this moment:

No. 5 seed: Goes on the road to face the No. 4 seed (Braves) in the Wild Card Series, and if they win, they then have to face the No. 1 seed (Dodgers) in the NLDS.

No. 6 seed: Goes on the road to face the No. 3 seed (Cardinals) in the Wild Card Series, and if they win, they then have to face the No. 2 seed (Mets) in the NLDS.

With all due respect to St. Louis, give me the No. 6 seed over the No. 5 seed.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: September 29, 2022 at 05:42 PM | 38 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: post-season

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   1. John Northey Posted: September 30, 2022 at 12:15 PM (#6098468)
Very true - us Jay fans have been talking about this for awhile now - 2nd WC probably means on the road in Tampa, followed by Houston. 3rd would be in Cleveland then facing the Yankees who look very beatable lately. #1 WC is still best so you get those 3 at home to start, but after that tanking would become an issue. I'm sure both Seattle and Tampa don't want to go to Toronto in front of 50k fans trying to blow the roof off, just like no one wants to go to Tampa where you'd swear it was a golf game in progress given the small crowds and atmosphere.
   2. BDC Posted: September 30, 2022 at 12:27 PM (#6098472)
1) It's fatiguing
2) It's confusing
3) It's modular, nobody's required to watch the whole thing, so (1) and (2) are OK, I guess
   3. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: September 30, 2022 at 01:11 PM (#6098475)
Heck, for the ALDS/NLDS, isn't the no. 2 seed in an arguably better position than the no. 1? For example, if I'm the Mets I'd prefer squaring off against the winner of the Cards-Phils/Brewers to Braves-Padres.
   4. cHiEf iMpaCt oFfiCEr JE Posted: September 30, 2022 at 01:18 PM (#6098476)
Also, keep in mind MLB will likely push for a 14-team postseason format after 2026, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. The league wanted a 14-team format this time around but the MLBPA resisted, citing concerns about watered down competition. Several .500 or worse teams would have made the postseason with the 14-team format in recent years.
Participation trophies can't be far behind.
   5. Walt Davis Posted: September 30, 2022 at 03:30 PM (#6098499)
If it was 14 teams this year, we'd be denied the excitement of the Phil-Milw "race" and the O's would be pretty comfy at 80-76.
   6. bookbook Posted: October 02, 2022 at 01:11 PM (#6098735)
14-team format should be conditioned on 16-team leagues. 7 out of 16 making the playoffs is “okay”. 7 of 15 is rediculous.
   7. The Duke Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:14 AM (#6098826)
If they are going to have so many playoff games, I wish they would close out the season in 154 games or efen less. I find the whole post season stuff silly now and they want to add more? And the leagues are now meaningless too.

Hard to believe that regular season attendance will hold up with regular season games being largely meaningless.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:38 AM (#6098832)
Every year under any of the post 1968 format, someone can find an example of the loss of a pennant race or the less excitement, yet nearly every year since the introduction of the wild card there has been at least one race going to the wire, regardless of the importance of the seeding, more teams involved means more fans involved and spices up the sport in August and September compared to the days of there might be a race for first place once every five years or so in September.

We get more races with more teams, in the distant past, teams were routinely clinching or the race effectively over by mid September with no team playing for anything for the last two weeks of the season. I like regular season, I like playoffs, I don't think they indicate the same thing, but they add validity to each other.
   9. I Am Not a Number Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:50 AM (#6098834)
7 of 15 is rediculous.

Hell, 6 out of 15 is ridiculous (or any other color of iculous you want to invoke). Champagne parties to celebrate being in the top 40%. We're in the 60th percentile! Break out the caviar!
   10. Buck Coats Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:57 AM (#6098835)
I think they could simply this playoff system by going back to 2 divisions per league. Then you just have the top 3 teams in each division make the playoffs, round 1 of the playoffs is the 3-seed vs the 2-seed from the same division, and then round 2 of the playoffs is that winner vs the 1-seed from the same division. Then the ALCS is the AL East Champ vs the AL West Champ and the NLCS is the NL East Champ vs the NL West Champ.

No wild card standings, no questions of who plays who with which seed. Plus you get an AL East (and AL West and NL East and NL West) Championship Series.

(I'd also go one step farther and make that best-of-5 Division Championship Series entirely at the 1-seed's stadium. So 2 hosts 3 in a best-of-3, then 1 hosts the winner in a best-of-5.)
   11. Rally Posted: October 03, 2022 at 10:34 AM (#6098840)
Hard to believe that regular season attendance will hold up with regular season games being largely meaningless.


Hard to tell at this point. Attendance is up big over 2021, but still about 2000 under 2019. Pandemic effects overwhelm any signal as to whether the lack of real pennant races is hurting attendance.

If we had 14 teams in the playoffs, Orioles, Brewers, and Phillies would all be in with no drama for the last series. That’s just luck, no matter where you draw the line you have a similar chance for down to the wire drama. The difference is whether that drama is between 83 win teams or 99 win teams.
   12. Steve Parris, Je t'aime Posted: October 03, 2022 at 10:57 AM (#6098844)
Attendance is up big over 2021, but still about 2000 under 2019. Pandemic effects overwhelm any signal as to whether the lack of real pennant races is hurting attendance.


Not to mention 4,000 under 2009-2016 attendance, and 6,000 under the 2007-2008 peak.

I have a hard time seeing attendance rising significantly in the near term.
   13. Rough Carrigan Posted: October 03, 2022 at 11:22 AM (#6098850)
Back when the NHL had 21 teams, 16 of them made the playoffs every year.
   14. KronicFatigue Posted: October 03, 2022 at 11:52 AM (#6098861)
I really like the new format, at least compared to all other wild card formats. I don't like adding more teams, but I do like punishing the wildcards as much as you can.

Less off days, more home games for the better wc team, an actual incentive to being a better division winner (byes for top 2). The only thing I would add is allowing teams to seed themselves. So the best wild card team could decide which wild card slot they want.
   15. SoSH U at work Posted: October 03, 2022 at 12:00 PM (#6098862)
Less off days, more home games for the better wc team, an actual incentive to being a better division winner (byes for top 2). The only thing I would add is allowing teams to seed themselves. So the best wild card team could decide which wild card slot they want.


The biggest issue with the new system is going to be when two division champions finish with the same record, and one gets lifted over another on the basis of a tiebreaker rather than a one-game playoff. Tiebreakers are such a shitty way of deciding something of value.

I usually find something to hate in most new systems, new or proposed, but I kind of like Buck's proposal in No. 10.

   16. KronicFatigue Posted: October 03, 2022 at 02:19 PM (#6098892)
Hard to believe that regular season attendance will hold up with regular season games being largely meaningless.


But any 1 singular regular season game was already meaningless. Nobody goes to a regular season baseball game between April and September because THAT game counts.
   17. Ron J Posted: October 03, 2022 at 02:47 PM (#6098896)
#16 I'm not aware that anybody has any really good models on attendance (revenue is easier to model), but from what I can tell the single most important factor in explaining marginal attendance is the general perception of how good the team is. Because marginal attendance is largely driven by casual fans.

And the factors that seem to matter are: Did you win the World Series last year? Did you win it recently? Did you reach the World Series last year? Did you make the playoffs last year? Team record last season (in conjunction with) changes to the roster (fans don't like high profile losses and like high profile signings. But generally the losses hurt more than the additions help)

Record in the current season and playoffs do matter but the perception (largely driven by previous season and the off-season) is about twice as important.

   18. SoSH U at work Posted: October 03, 2022 at 02:50 PM (#6098897)
#16 I'm not aware that anybody has any really good models on attendance (revenue is easier to model), but from what I can tell the single most important factor in explaining marginal attendance is the general perception of how good the team is. Because marginal attendance is largely driven by casual fans.


That's on the team level. That's not going to do much to explain league-wide shifts in attendance.
   19. BDC Posted: October 03, 2022 at 03:12 PM (#6098908)
I do like punishing the wildcards as much as you can

Not even Smitty got behind my idea of making the Wild Card play without pants :(
   20. Ron J Posted: October 03, 2022 at 03:22 PM (#6098912)
#18 Sure. I was mostly reacting to the notion that races have much of an impact on attendance league wide.

Long term trends? we're not going to have a good picture until about 2024. I'm sort of expecting it to be like what happened with the strike. A slow rebuild to where the game was before Covid. Obviously the strike and Covid are not close to being the same thing, but a certain percentage of the fan base got out of the habit of going to games and I'm expecting a lot of them to drift back over time. Could easily be wrong.
   21. NaOH Posted: October 03, 2022 at 05:16 PM (#6098939)
Can't find now where I read it this morning... This weekend had the most ticket sales of any weekend since 2015. I have no idea what factors would have led to that.
   22. Ron J Posted: October 03, 2022 at 07:30 PM (#6098959)
#21 Record hunts, the very end of retirement tours and tight playoff races. Any of those give a big boost to a small number of games. Adds up.
   23. cardsfanboy Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:17 PM (#6098978)
I'm at a loss to think why anyone would think that more races would equal lower attendance. Sure it's possible the Mets and Braves would have benefitted more in attendance by a little bit, but at the same time, it's very probable that the Orioles, Mariners, Brewers, Padres etc... all got bumps because instead of being eliminated in early September like the norm for the previous 100 years, they are competing for something. Even if they clinched early, it's another team that will have bandwagoners jumping on for the post season hype.
   24. Ron J Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:33 PM (#6098980)
#23 I think you'll find that the argument is whether more playoff spots actually means more races.

Part of the issue though is that for whatever reason you're seeing more teams simply not bothering to attempt to field a competitive team. Part of this I think is the lesson everybody believe they learned from the Astros (suck a few years and come back with a dominant team from the early picks you get) and partially because marginal revenue (ie the part of revenue driven by team quality) is a smaller piece of the pie.

In theory it shouldn't be that hard to build a team within spitting distance of mediocrity and the more teams that take that route the more that are in the mix for the last couple of wildcard spots. It's just that so far we're not getting more races, just races at different records.
   25. cardsfanboy Posted: October 03, 2022 at 09:51 PM (#6098984)
#23 I think you'll find that the argument is whether more playoff spots actually means more races.


A race doesn't mean it has to be close, Secretariat won several races. It just means people competing for a finish/goal.

Having more teams reach the post season, means more engaged fanbases, which means more attendance, even if they are rooting for a second place team. I just don't get why people think close races = high attendance, when in reality, having good teams means high attendance more than anything else. And having more spots for teams to advance to the post season, means a larger positive perception among the fans on how good their team is.
   26. SoSH U at work Posted: October 05, 2022 at 12:52 PM (#6099173)
Clinching a playoff spot with a one-game lead with one game to play does not seem like an improvement over the old system.
   27. sunday silence (again) Posted: October 05, 2022 at 03:48 PM (#6099213)
I was thinking the other day about how to make the league more competitive: What if the worst 5 or 6 teams in baseball lose revenue = $100 - (team payroll)

So if you paid (gave) your team $100M that's fine no penalty. But if you only had payroll of $80M and you finish near the bottom you lose $20. WOuld that work?
   28. Ron J Posted: October 05, 2022 at 04:28 PM (#6099221)
#27 Not sure. I think the low payrolls are just a bonus and if there's a plan, they're after draft picks.

But yeah. I'd like to see some kind of penalty for being cheap and bad.
   29. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 05, 2022 at 06:44 PM (#6099255)
I'm at a loss to think why anyone would think that more races would equal lower attendance. Sure it's possible the Mets and Braves would have benefitted more in attendance by a little bit, but at the same time, it's very probable that the Orioles, Mariners, Brewers, Padres etc... all got bumps because instead of being eliminated in early September like the norm for the previous 100 years, they are competing for something. Even if they clinched early, it's another team that will have bandwagoners jumping on for the post season hype.

FWIW all four of those teams you mention above saw huge attendance increases from 2021 to 2022. Make of that what you will.
   30. SoSH U at work Posted: October 05, 2022 at 06:51 PM (#6099256)
FWIW all four of those teams you mention above saw huge attendance increases from 2021 to 2022. Make of that what you will.


So did the Red Sox and Giants. I think it had more to do with being one further year removed from the start of the pandemic than any pennant-related excitement.
   31. cardsfanboy Posted: October 05, 2022 at 06:58 PM (#6099257)

So did the Red Sox and Giants. I think it had more to do with being one further year removed from the start of the pandemic than any pennant-related excitement.


Not making an argument for or against, but if that was the case, then wouldn't it mean that every team should expect to have a one further year removed from the start of pandemic increase?

Of course the more likely argument is both are factors. I just find it very weird that people think more races would result in lower attendance or lower interest. It's such a backwards argument, that defies any logical explanation. Again, sure the teams that are easily in, might only get 2.6 mil instead of 2.7 mil or whatever, but to think that the Philly or Mariner fans or even the Brewers and Orioles run didn't add interest just seems counter intuitive.
   32. cardsfanboy Posted: October 05, 2022 at 07:04 PM (#6099258)
Nobody cares if the Cardinals or Dodgers get just 3 mil instead of 3.3 mil or whatever, their pennant races don't really factor into their attendance, they will always get 3+ mil... but seeing other teams break the 2 mil or 2.5 mil mark when they normally don't, simply because they appear to be trying this year, and of course record generally helps the team out the next season (except for Florida teams) The goal is to raise the tide for as many teams as you can, not to really count the teams who routinely draw well. It's going to be at least three years of bad play before the Cardinals drop below 3 mil and I don't think it's even possible for the Dodgers to ever drop below 3 mil. (barring pandemics etc)


Again, I just do not grasp the argument being made that more races = lower attendance. It's extremely counter intuitive, at least when you talk about the mean or average per team.
   33. SoSH U at work Posted: October 05, 2022 at 08:38 PM (#6099273)
Not making an argument for or against, but if that was the case, then wouldn't it mean that every team should expect to have a one further year removed from the start of pandemic increase?


It looks like most do. The Marlins and Rays, one of whom was very good in both 2021 and 22 and the other whom was terrible both years, both saw increases.

The only team I noticed who saw a decline from last year to this year was the Reds, who went into tank mode before the season started. Even fellow white flaggers, Oakland, saw a modest bump. Washington, one season further removed from winning the title and a team that clearly entered the season with much lower expectations than the prior year, saw attendance jump by about 500,000.

There may well be a race-based bump, but you're not going to be able to find it by looking at 2022 attendance numbers.



Again, I just do not grasp the argument being made that more races = lower attendance.


The argument, to the extent one is being made, is that if the regular season simply doesn't have the relevance it once did (which, by the way, it doesn't) because it's now all about the playoffs, you might see an overall decrease in attendance. But if it does happen, I don't know that we'd be able to ID it.

By the way, the Brewers made the playoffs last year (unlike this year). Why are they getting lumped in with teams that would receive a contention bump this year?

   34. cardsfanboy Posted: October 05, 2022 at 08:44 PM (#6099276)
There may well be a race-based bump, but you're not going to be able to find it by looking at 2022 attendance numbers.


To be honest, I don't think you'll find any useful data about attendance until 2024 at the earliest. The Pandemic is like the strike shortened season, it's going to take time for things to return to normal.
   35. cardsfanboy Posted: October 05, 2022 at 08:48 PM (#6099277)
By the way, the Brewers made the playoffs last year (unlike this year). Why are they getting lumped in with teams that would receive a contention bump this year?


I was actually just pointing to a team that didn't win a playoff spot and how strong their attendance might be because of the race. I guess I should have clarified the half ass comment, which is that I'm sure that for those teams, their attendance this year could be classified as strong for how they historically do. I think the goal should be to get more teams close to the 2-2.5 mil mark and not worry about the teams who are over that mark. The Yankees doing 4 mil or 3.5 mil is a non-factor, it might affect the league wide average, but it doesn't really reflect anything other than normal ups and downs of a large market.
   36. ERROR---Jolly Old St. Nick Posted: October 05, 2022 at 08:59 PM (#6099278)
Of course the more likely argument is both are factors.

Right, I wasn't trying to claim that being in a postseason race was the only reason for those increases. Attendance overall went up about 41%.

If you look at the four specific teams I'd mentioned, there's a wide variance in attendance gains that has a different explanation for each team.

Baltimore's attendance went up 70%, but beyond being in postseason contention it went from 47 to 83 wins.

Seattle's went up 86% with an identical 90-72 record. They just missed the postseason last year and made it this year, but I'd attribute much of the attendance spike to the arrival of Rodriguez and the midseason acquisition of Castillo, which signaled to the fans that they weren't just going to wait till next year.

OTOH San Diego's jump was only 34%, under the overall average. I'd chalk that up to the fact that every time they got close the Dodgers smacked them down, and that the pre-season expectations were so much higher.

The Brewers also lagged behind the average gain with only 32%, but then after a quick exit from the 2021 postseason and a big fadeout at the end this year to barely make the WC, I wouldn't call that mediocre jump too surprising.

There may be other factors that I'm missing, but those are the ones that first occurred to me, coming from the perspective of someone who mainly follows the AL East.
   37. Dolf Lucky Posted: October 05, 2022 at 09:31 PM (#6099285)
This playoff structure is a backdoor way to downgrade the central division winners to wild card status and to maximize the likelihood that the World Series doesn’t take place in gross flyover country.
   38. TomH Posted: October 06, 2022 at 10:26 AM (#6099340)
This playoff structure is a backdoor way to downgrade the division winners who simply aren't that good to wild card status and to maximize the likelihood that the World Series doesn’t take place in teams that didn't have a great regular season.

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