On Monday, MLB commissioner Rob Manfred made perhaps the most absurd proposition in the history of the game, leaking the potential expansion of the playoff field to seven teams per league, and allowing the top seeds to choose their opponents.
It's an interesting prospect, but one that sounds incredibly horrifying to baseball traditionalists. If this process were to be installed, however, it would have benefits to many teams that have had trouble with the typical playoff bracket.
4. Boston Red Sox
The Boston Red Sox have one of the most talented cores in the game. Rafael Devers, Andrew Benintendi, Xander Bogaerts, and JD Martinez all have All-Star potential every year, but in 2019, a year after winning it all, they just couldn't put it together. Things aren't looking up, either, as this offseason they lost their manager in Alex Cora, David Price, and a generational talent in Mookie Betts. To make matters worse, the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays, the two teams that finished ahead of them in the AL East in 2019, only got better. But with an expanded playoff field, their 84-win 2019 season would've made the postseason. And will they ever finish lower than that? That was a worst-case scenario season. If the Wild Card expands, Boston will be set annually.
3. San Diego Padres
Imagine watching a left side of the infield that contains Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. rake and flash the leather in a postseason series. It sounds extremely exciting, but unlikely with the ever-dominant Los Angeles Dodgers standing in the way in the NL West, and the East and Central clogging up the Wild Card. Both teams have improved, but the San Diego Padres finished 36 games behind them in the standings. With the new playoff format, all that matters is finishing in the top four in the Wild Card Standings, which would be manageable for the team that calls Petco Park its home. Unfortunately for them, the format won't be implemented in 2020, so for the time being, Padres fans will have to settle for mediocrity, or worse, as usual.
2. Texas Rangers
The AL West has had a tough deal as of late. With the Houston Astros lapping the field, the always-surging A's have had to settle for Wild Card spots, and there's been precious little else for the taking. The Texas Rangers, entering a new stadium, have made significant rotation upgrades in Corey Kluber and Jordan Lyles, imported veteran additions like Todd Frazier and Robinson Chirinos, and are expecting breakouts from Nick Solak and Ronald Guzman. This team's balanced attack could have more than a prayer with a seven-team playoff field installed.
1. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Again, the Astros and A's are getting in the way of another team with a solid shot of making the playoffs. This time, though, it's the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim that they'd be interfering with. One of the best players to ever play baseball is nearing his tenth season in the league, and has yet to win a playoff game. The Angels were hoping that bringing in Anthony Rendon would help round out a roster that had Trout, Andrelton Simmons, Jason Castro, Justin Upton, Tommy La Stella, and Shohei Ohtani, but with two very talented teams standing in their way, an expanded field would really help. In fact, with this rule in place, Trout would be approaching his fourth postseason. And isn't that a better world overall?