Major League Baseball will have its first postseason under the new format, introduced with the new CBA at the beginning of the season. An extra team will make the playoffs in each league, bringing the total tally to 12 postseason teams.
A while back, yours truly wrote an article for Pitcher List discussing the new format, and the need to implement reseeding into the fold.
The current set of rules dictates that the No. 1 seed will face the winner of the Nos. 4/5 matchup, and the second seed will go up against the winner of the Nos. 3/6 duel. With no exceptions. This rule ensures that the top seed in each league won’t face a division winner in the LDS, but as the the National League this year shows, that’s not much of an advantage.
Before getting into how this will affect the Dodgers in 2022, there is a disclaimer to be made.
Any team that wants to win the World Series needs to be dead set on beating the best in order to accomplish that goal. The Dodgers or any other contender can’t and shouldn’t complain about a tough opponent early on.
Now with that being said, MLB does not and should not have the carte blanche to botch its playoff format, and not provide the most competitive fair system for all involved.
An early NLCS?
The Dodgers are all but certain to hold the number one seed in the National League at the end of the regular season. Even with the St Louis Cardinals’ annual second-half push, the Mets or Braves are likely to have the second- and third-best records in the league.
Because the Mets and Braves both play in the National League East, one of those teams will finish the year as the fourth seed. Regardless of which one it is, that ball club will enter the wild card series as a significant favorite over either Phillies or Padres.
Chances are, when the NLDS rolls around, the Dodgers will host either Mets or Braves, while the winner of that division (NL East) gets an inferior opponent in the winner of the matchup between the third and sixth seed.
The recent run of form from St Louis puts them relatively close to the two NL East power-houses and subsequently makes this point a little less egregious, but it does not erase it in its entirety.
The simple fact that the Dodgers or any other future No. 1 seed can, and often, will face a better team in the NLDS than the second seed doesn’t make much sense.
It is very plausible that the best team in the National League will face the second and third ones en route to a potential World Series, rendering any sort of matchup advantage from that regular season campaign nonexistent.
An ideal world
With reseeding in place, there really wouldn't be as complicated of a system as some might assume. The number one seed in each league should play the team with the worst record among the wild card winners, while the second seed plays the wild card winner with the best record.
Let’s say that for the purposes of this conversation, the Cardinals and Braves advance in the first round. The Cardinals and their inferior record would go up against the Dodgers, while the Braves would get set for a divisional matchup with the Mets.
It really is as simple as that. Any team will rather face a divisional winner that plays in one of the worst divisions in the sport, rather than a powerhouse World Series contender that just happened to finish second in their division. Doubt me, just go ask the 2021 San Francisco Giants.