The second problem of the diluted value of regular season games is even greater in baseball because of the 162-game season. Take the NBA, for example. Of the thirty teams, sixteen make the playoffs, or 53%. The first round is practically a throwaway because of the talent disparity. But during the regular season, we have seen more healthy players sitting out games to “rest” for the playoffs. It screws over the customer, who paid to see these stars play.
Baseball already has a visibility problem for its best players. Do we really want to see Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, and Bryce Harper sitting out games if they don’t matter as much? Do we want to see Clayton Kershaw, Aaron Nola, Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and others skipping starts?
With all that said, I think that baseball has a great opportunity to do the playoff expansion correctly, while maintaining high value on the regular season. With that, I look to the NFL. For those not familiar with the NFL’s playoff system, each division winner (four from each conference) makes the playoffs, plus two wild-card teams. The top two division winners receive first-round byes.
The wild-card round pitches the two remaining division winners (at home) against the two wild-card teams. Those winners are re-seeded and go to the site of the first-round byes for the divisional round. The winners match up in the conference championship game, before facing off in the Super Bowl.