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New MLB postseason introduces new wrinkles

Updated: Nov 23, 2020




In 2020, the new normal has become that nothing is the new normal.


Major League Baseball has adopted a new postseason format that will include another team being added to the fold in addition to the shortened 60-game regular season.


With 16-teams making the postseason bracket, this year’s playoffs will provide a series of new and intriguing storylines to follow.


DC won’t repeat


Last year’s world champion Washington Nationals will not have the chance to repeat as champions after not qualifying for the postseason.


This marks the second straight year where the previous World Series champion won’t get the opportunity to defend its crown.


Despite the season being cut by more than 100 games, plenty of teams had the opportunity to make the postseason on the last day of the regular season.


The Philadelphia Phillies missed out on the playoffs by a full game after dropping every game of a three-game set with the Tampa Bay Rays to end the year.


In addition, the team lost seven of their last eight games.


The San Francisco Giants missed out on the postseason by a half game after losing to the San Diego Padres giving the tiebreaker to the Milwaukee Brewers.


Droughts vs. Consistency


Four teams are making postseason appearances after playoff droughts of five years or more (Miami, San Diego, Chicago White Sox and Cincinnati).


Miami is making the longest trek back to the postseason after last being there in 2003.


Moreover, the Marlins have only made two postseasons and they’ve won the World Series both times.


The Reds are making their first appearance in six seasons, the Blue Jays are making their first in three seasons and the Indians are making their first after missing last year.


On the other hand, there are other teams that are still consistently giving themselves chances at competing for a pennant.


St. Louis, Minnesota and Tampa Bay are playing in their second consecutive postseason, while Milwaukee, Oakland and Atlanta are taking part in their third.


The New York Yankees are making their fourth straight playoff appearance, while the Houston Astros and Chicago Cubs have made the postseason in five of six years.


Lastly, the Los Angeles Dodgers are making their eighth straight postseason appearance though they are still looking for their first title since 1988.


Los Angeles Dodgers


In search of that elusive seventh World Series title, the Dodgers finished this season as the league’s best team.


The Dodgers turned in 118 home runs led by three players with 15 or more (Corey Seager, A.J. Pollock and Mookie Betts).


Furthermore, LA ranked second in the league in runs batted in with 327.


With a 3.02 earned run average, the least amount of walks (145) allowed and the second least home runs given up (66), the Dodgers look to be poised for another championship run.


With former ace Clayton Kershaw getting more help from the likes of Walker Buehler, Julio Urias and Dustin May, the starting rotation may be rounding into form.


For the foreseeable future, the Dodgers will be linked with the Astros because of their cheating scandal that resulted in their first world series for the franchise in 2017.


On the other side of the bracket, Houston is slated in the No. 6 spot in the American League.


Representation


The National League Central holds the record for the most participants in this year’s postseason from one division.


The Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers all represent the Central for the NL this year.


All the teams recorded at least 31 wins during the regular season with Milwaukee being one of only two teams that made the postseason with sub .500 records (Houston is the other).


All of the teams were separated by five games or less.


Both the East and Central divisions of the AL, have three representatives apiece.


Tampa Bay, New York and Toronto are vying for the crown out of the East. Minnesota, Chicago and Cleveland are hoping to compete out of the Central.


The Rays ran away with the East division, winning it by seven games. The Yankees were the second place team, separated from the third-place Blue Jays by a game.


The Twins, White Sox and Indians were all separated by a game, in the tightest division in baseball this year.


Sleepers


In a format like this, anything can happen.


Then again, anything can happen in every postseason.


That said, the Chicago White Sox may pose the biggest threat for the title coming out of the AL.


Reason being, they have the greatest equalizer: the long ball.


Chicago leads the American League with 96 home runs led by five players with 10 or more.


First baseman Jose Abreu leads all White Sox players with 19.


Couple that firepower with a possibly favorable matchup with the Oakland Athletics in the Wild Card round.


Oakland recently lost star Matt Chapman to season-ending surgery.


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