New MLB Wild-Card Minor Flaw

There’s a minor defect in the new MLB Wild-Card rule. The two Wild-Card teams can be from the same division.

Using last year as an example, both Boston and Tampa Bay would have been Wild-Cards.

The rule should be “Only second-place teams are eligible to be a Wild-Card.”

3 Responses to New MLB Wild-Card Minor Flaw

  1. Why does it follow that only second place teams are eligible to be a wildcard? If the objective is allow the best (now two best) non-division winners an opportunity to compete in the playoffs, then the rule is correct. If that’s not the objective of the wildcard, what is?

  2. what about in this scenario?

    texas goes 88-74, LA goes 84-68
    detroit goes 92-70, cleveland goes 84-68
    boston goes 93-69, NY goes 92-70, tampa bay goes 91-61, toronto goes 82-80

    8 teams out of 14 with winning percentages that high is possible because seattle, chicago, and minnesota could be very bad. baltimore, oakland, and kansas city also have little chance of competing.

    NY goes 5-1 vs cleveland, 4-2 vs LA; tampa goes 6-0 vs cleveland and 5-1 vs LA.

    here, LA and cleveland would play a 1-game playoff to determine who gets to play a 1-game wild card round vs NY. but tampa is superior to both cleveland and LA…by quite a bit. in fact, a scenario like this could happen. cleveland’s wins could be inflated because they play in a lousy division (someone has to finish 2nd)…toronto’s would be deflated by playing in the best division. you could argue here (easily) that toronto is better than LA and cleveland, but they’re not even considered (rightly, for finishing in 4th).

    this could also happen in the NL east with philly, atlanta, washington, and florida.

    • I like “You have to be 2nd in your division to win the wildcard.” better than “2 best non-division-winner records”. There are two reasons. First, you play an unbalanced schedule, with most games against your own division. If a division has one or two *AWFUL* teams, that boosts the chances for other teams in the division. Second, interleague matchups are different among divisions.

      As long as you have 2 wildcards, you can have nightmare scenarios with multiple playoffs. With the above records, under current rules, NY and TB are wildcards, no playoffs. Under my proposal, LA and cleveland have a 1 game playoff for the #2 wildcard.

      Alter the example so that Texas and LA finish 88-74, and TB is 88-74. Under my proposed rule, Texas and LA play a 1 game playoff for the division, and the loser gets the wildcard. Under current rules, Texas and LA play a playoff for the division, then the loser plays TB for the #2 wildcard.

      You can make up scenarios where one or the other has more tiebreaker games. Overall, I think “You have to be #2 to get the wildcard” leads to fewer tiebreaker games.

      It’s better to say “You have to be #2 in your division to get the wildcard.” It makes the division races more meaningful. They play an unbalanced schedule and different interleague matchups. That makes a comparison between divisions less fair.

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