In 1994, Major League Baseball introduced a wild card team to the postseason format. In 2012, another wild card team was added to create a one-game playoff between the two non-division winners.
What about a three-game series?
On one side, there are the baseball purists. The foundation of baseball has been the three-game series. A one-game playoff feels almost . . . wrong. Furthermore, baseball is a crazy and unpredictable game. Anyone can win a one-game playoff, especially teams with an elite No. 1 starter.
When evaluating teams, we take into consideration the entire roster. The Wild Card takes into account the best lineup for one game. If a team has one dominant starter with an average rotation the rest of the way, that could be enough to knock off a team with top to bottom great starting pitchers. Why? Because the rest of the starting rotation does not matter in a one-game playoff. On top of that, bullpens have to go all out with their best relievers for one game. In a series, the depth and talent of the whole bullpen will be put to the test.
Even in a short three-game series, the higher caliber team is going to have a better chance of advancing. This is one side of the Wild Card argument.
Does a one-game playoff mean more excitement?
There is no doubt that the current Wild Card format provides utmost excitement and emotion. Everyone is on edge, as a team’s postseason hopes will be decided in a matter of hours. World Series dreams lie on every pitch in a single game. There is no doubt that this creates quite the atmosphere.
A one-game playoff also allows for Major League Baseball to not significantly shorten their regular season. While going to a three-game series would only lengthen the season by at most two games, the MLB is already pushing the limit. An expansion of the MLB Postseason would likely mean a reduction to the regular season.
What do you think? Should the MLB increase the Wild Card round to a three-game series? Or does a one-game playoff satisfy? Leave a comment below and tell me what you think.
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