The 2020 Major League Baseball season already was going to be unlike any we’ve ever seen. A big change made Thursday only solidifies that point.
The league and players union agreed to expand the postseason from 10 to 16 teams for 2020 only. Eight teams will make it from both the American and National League. Under the new format, the wild-card round will include eight best-of-three series rather than the two do-or-die games, and the higher seed will host each game.
Commissioner Rob Manfred said on ESPN Thursday the top three seeds will be division winners, ranked by record. Every second-place team will qualify and be seeds 4-6, also based on record. The seventh and eighth seeds will go to those with the next best records.
In theory, a No. 7 and/or No. 8 seed could finish third in their division but have a better record than a second-place team in another division. If the 2020 format were in place last season, the Mets — who finished 86-76, third in the NL East — would have been the No. 7 seed because the Diamondbacks (85-77) finished second in the NL West.
A look at how the 2019 field would have looked under the 2020 format:
7. Red Sox
Expansion could dilute the field; seven AL teams finished above .500 last year and eight will make the playoffs in 2020. But it also allows those who start off slow the chance to bounce back. With how tight the standings will be due to the brief 60-game schedule, expanding the field makes too much sense.