Should MLB adopt a NBA type system in seeding playoffs?

Featured imageI’ve long been a proponent of seeding playoffs by overall record, and not by division winners.  In fact, I wouldn’t mind moving to a balanced schedule and getting rid of divisions entirely, but I suppose divisions have more to do with travel logistics and artificial rivalries than anything else these days.

This brings us to an Interesting article over at sporting news today where they discuss a recent change the NBA has made, and one I think may just catch on.

Instead of the winners of each division getting the top four seeds in next year’s playoffs, the basketball playoffs will be seeded by overall record.

That change was unanimously approved by the NBA’s board of governors on Tuesday.

What does this mean for MLB?  Well, if the season ended today, the playoff seeding would be as follows:

  1. Cardinals (87-51),  2) Dodgers (80-58), 3) Mets (77-61), 4) Pirates, (82-55), 5) Cubs, (80-57)

This would mean the Pirates and Cubs would play to determine who would face the Cardinals.  Meanwhile the Mets who probably should be in the play-in game would have a few days to go hit the beaches in LA.

Meanwhile, the Pirates with the second best record in the league would be facing a 1 game playoff and potentially out of the playoffs completely.  All because they happen to be in a good division.

Baseball has always been a game that’s been resistant to change, and at one time divisions made sense.  That time has passed, and it’s time for baseball to look toward the future.  It just makes too much damn sense.

19 thoughts on “Should MLB adopt a NBA type system in seeding playoffs?

  1. I agree, for the most part. Weighting the outcome of the postseason on who is best in a division is questionable at best. For goodness sakes, with the exception of the Mets, who have caught fire, the NL East is one of the stinkiest, crummiest divisions in all of baseball. So many woebegotten losers reside in that dumpster fire of a division that you don’t even have to be a great team to win it. Not to mention the AL West, which is so pathetic that I can’t even tell you what their records are, but I know they aren’t great.

    The NBA system works because they only really have two divisions – west and east. Since MLB has six total, this would make the system a little more difficult to put into place. Either MLB needs to restructure yet again and either take away the Central Division and make it West and East again, or they need to add another division. God only knows what we’d call that one but three is uneven (even if it’s a magic number, thank you Schoolhouse Rock).

    Just as long as it doesn’t become as long and unwieldy as the NBA postseason is, I’m cool with changing it. The NBA postseason takes about five hundred years to finish. Only a slight exaggeration.

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  2. I think divisions have to mean something, as long as you have them. There are scheduling differences, plus other teams make moves based upon the strength weakness of the division. Yes, it leads to unfair situations some years, but in the end only one of the 5 teams will go the World Series no matter how you seed. I would keep it the same

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    1. While I understand the schedule balances are very different – the NBA could add four games, start their season two weeks earlier, and have a true double round-robin out of conference and quadruple round-robin in conference – I hate the way division titles get fetishized. Sorry, you’re not re-creating the old pennant races from back when there was eight teams per league. I’ve often felt that, at the minimum, winning your division should only guarantee you a trip to the playoffs. I certainly don’t get the desire to punish wild card teams that let people buy the play-in game. Personally, I’d love to see it go to two-division, two wild card with the WC’s being free to come from either side, but I think that genie’s way out of the bottle. I just don’t like rewarding teams for the vagaries of geography. There were some baaaaad representatives from the NL Central and West last decade.

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      1. You could get more balanced though if you went 12-13 games in division, 9-10 games out of division with a couple of inter-league series to fill out the schedule.

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  3. I think I like the idea of re-seeding after the Wild Card game. So, using the “if the season ended today” playoffs, the Cubs would play at Pittsburgh in the WC game. I’ll assume the Cubs would win, because it’s my example and I get to be a homer for a second.

    Then re-seed the teams based on regular season record after that game.

    Cardinals would be the #1, Cubs the #2, Dodgers the #3, and Mets the #4. So it would be Mets @ Cardinals and Dodgers @ Cubs in the 2nd round.

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  4. before there were 2 wildcards, i wanted the WC team to have to win 4 in the Division series and the division winner only have to win 3.

    i don’t see a downside to this. especially if it means not having to see king felix 7 times a year

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  5. What about NL and AL differentiation? The NBA is still going to split West and East, which means the playoff seeding will still be unbalanced since most of the good teams reside in the west. Imagine they did a straight seeding regardless of conference…every playoff team would be a western conference team except for about four teams. In the MLB this wouldn’t be so imbalanced, so it would be interesting to see how that would work. I could see that happening eventually as divisional boundaries become more and more obsolete.

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    1. MLB plays such a small percentage of it’s games in inter-league though that it really would be unfair to not separate the leagues for the playoffs. Also, record inflation for teams like the Mets and the Cubs beating up on the bottom-feeds of the NL would make things unfair. 😉

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      1. Cubs beat up on sub-.500 teams (45-32 = .584 win percentage) and above-.500 teams (35-26 = .573 win percentage) with pretty much equal gusto.

        Mets, on the other hand, do great against the weaklings sub-.500 teams (55-28 = .662 win percentage)…but get their asses handed to them when they have to play teams above-.500 teams (23-33 = .410 win percentage).

        A more accurate statement would be that the Mets and Dodgers beat up on the bottom-feeders of the NL, as they have almost identical splits against good and bad teams.

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