Pros of expanding the playoffs
Pro 1: More teams in the playoffs
Well, let’s start right where most of the Mariners fans want to start. Expanding the playoffs from 5 teams to 7 teams means it is easier for teams to make the playoffs. And for a fanbase who is staring its 19-year playoff drought right in the face, it is easy to get on board with this idea.
But really, the Mariners have been pretty bad over the first 18 years of the drought, so would it really make a difference? As it turns out, yes.
If a major league playoff team made the playoffs 7 times in 18 years, you’d consider that a reasonable success. Interestingly enough, those 7 years are also the only winning team Seattle has had in this playoff drought.
But yeah, any way you want to slice it, more teams getting in the playoffs improves your chances of making it yourself. With 7 of the 15 teams in each league making the playoffs, you’d have 47% of each league making the playoffs.
The extra opportunities to make the playoffs could bring excitement to more markets as well, since more teams will be playing for playoff positions in August and September.
2. Fewer tank jobs… they hope
One of the issues baseball has been searching for solutions to solve is the new “tank” strategy where teams purposely put out a subpar product for 4-7 years in hopes of snagging the right combination of lucky draft picks and player development luck.
While tanking and rebuilding are often confusing, when more than half the teams in baseball are doing because they have no shot of cracking the top 5 in their league, it doesn’t make for the best product.
Increasing the odds of making the playoffs to nearly 50% every year could, in theory, make any rebuilding window shorter and keep the average fan more involved on the day by day happenings of their local team.
From a Mariners perspective, if the format had been put into place this year, 2021 would have become a realistic goal for the team and made a 2-year rebuild a reasonable goal for a fan base. The hope is that this would prevent teams from pulling what the Orioles and Tigers are currently doing and push rebuilding teams into an accelerated rebuild like Seattle is attempting.
3. More activity in the winter
There is an idea the more teams who consider themselves a playoff contenders for the following season, the more willing they’ll be to sign free agents in the winter and to hand over prospects for MLB to rebuilding teams. While we can’t say this will definitely happen, it should be pointed out that for a 3-year stretch, free agency was a bit of a joke.
This winter was different, with teams like the White Sox and Reds shelling out some cash for middle-class free agents. Sure, the Yankees still got Gerrit Cole, but none of the upper-class free agents had to wait long to find their next team.
It is possible that the free agent slog fixed itself, with teams who had embarked on long tank jobs finally hitting the point where they were ready to spend. Again, this is more of an estimate than a proven fact, but it does make sense on the surface.
Now that we have outlined a few of the positives, let’s dive into some of the negatives.