MLB has made some progress with regards to formulating a plan to return to baseball in 2020, and the most recent proposal on the table includes expanded playoffs that will put 16 teams, eight from each league, in the postseason in the next two years, as opposed to the usual 10 teams.
These five MLB teams might not have ended up in a 10-team playoff either this year or the next, but the expanded format gives these teams a shot to make to the World Series in the next two seasons.
5. Cleveland Indians
The AL Central is a tough division to make the playoffs out of, as the lack of depth when compared to the AL East and AL West means that making the playoffs as a Wild Card is an extremely risky proposition, and winning the division is the only way to secure October baseball. With an eight-team AL playoff picture, the Indians, who conceded the Central to the Minnesota Twins last season, might be able to keep their core of Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez together for the next two years as they try to squeeze a few more playoff wins out of that nucleus.
4. San Diego Padres
The Padres might not have had a lot of success over the last few years, but you can't fault the way they've built their team. After hoarding top prospects like MacKenzie Gore, Taylor Trammell, and budding superstar Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres reeled in big fish free agent Manny Machado to give them a reliable No. 3 hitter. The Padres might have trouble making the postseason consistently due to the presence of the Los Angeles Dodgers out west, but the expanded playoffs will allow them to slither into the postseason, with their winning percentage slowly ticking upwards as this young core starts to gel.
3. Milwaukee Brewers
As close to a "one-man team" as you'll find in the league, Milwaukee's ability to challenge for the playoffs despite a lack of quality starting pitching, a dearth of depth behind Christian Yelich in the lineup, and Josh Hader often being forced to do everything in the bullpen is remarkable. With eight of the 15 NL teams potentially playoff bound in 2020 and 2021, Yelich and Hader now have much more margin for error. Should one or two other quality hitters emerge in the lineup, Milwaukee should be a real threat in the NL Central for years to come.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
Very rarely is a team with a $330 million outfielder not a favorite in their own division, but that is the predicament that the Philadelphia Phillies have found themselves in. Bryce Harper, Didi Gregorius, Rhys Hoskins, and Aaron Nola are all well above-average players as compared to contemporaries across the league, but teams like the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals could make seeing October difficult with only five NL teams involved. With three more spots, however, Harper's mashing and Nola's mastery on the mound could push them towards the postseason.
1. Los Angeles Angels
The MLB is so fed up with the Angels wasting Mike Trout's prime that they're willing to let more than half of the league into the postseason to put Trout in the playoffs. The Angels, still behind the Houston Astros and Oakland Athletics in the AL West pecking order, aren't just a one-man band, as the curiosity of Shohei Ohtani and the pedigree of Albert Pujols would make for ratings gold. Trout will likely get a rare crack at the postseason whenever play resumes -- let's just hope he doesn't waste it.