We’re almost at the end of our first taste of expanded playoffs. With 16 teams making it to the postseason, it should have been easier than ever for a club to pull a 2006 Cardinals and win the championship without being any good. What actually happened is that the two teams with the best records in their respective leagues made it to the World Series.
It’s a counterintuitive outcome. The last time the two pennant winners had the best record in their league was 2013 when the Cardinals and Red Sox faced off. The playoffs should have been more of a crapshoot than ever, but we still got the most predictable outcome.
Of course, we were two games away from seeing a number two seed face off against a number six seed with a losing record. Don’t let anyone use what happened in the 2020 postseason as an argument for keeping expanded playoffs around. That kind of results-based analysis is just like saying that because a bunt led to a big inning once that bunts are good.
When I looked at how much seeding matters in this playoff format, I found that in 10,000 simulations, the number one seed had a 37.6 percent chance to get bounced in the first round. That’s greater than a one-in-three chance that the best team in the league (at least by record) would be out after two or three games.
Expanded playoffs are likely sticking around. Teams like it because they make more money and players like it because it gives them something to play for. We’re going to have to learn to live with a touch more mediocrity in October, but surely there are better formats than this.
Dayn Perry | CBS Sports: The one lousy thing about the Astros being eliminated is that Dusty Baker goes another season without a World Series ring. With no guarantee that the Astros will bring Dusty back after 2021 (or that any other team with a vacancy will hire him), this next season might be the last hurrah for who should be a Hall of Fame manager.
Blake Harris | True Blue LA: NLCS Game 7 was a fantastic, tense game filled with myriad memorable moments. Here are the seven biggest ones.
Rob Arthur | Baseball Prospectus $: Fastballs keep getting faster especially in the playoffs. Rob Arthur found that this year the gap between regular season and postseason average fastball velocity is the greatest in the PitchF/X era.