Winners and Losers from MLB’s 16-team playoff

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Aaron Judge #99 after hitting a two run home run to center field against Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals during the first inning in the game at Nationals Park on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 23: Giancarlo Stanton #27 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Aaron Judge #99 after hitting a two run home run to center field against Max Scherzer #31 of the Washington Nationals during the first inning in the game at Nationals Park on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) /

With 16 teams eligible to make the playoffs, who are the winners and losers?

Leave it to MLB to negotiate a deal with the players union at the very last minute. But we’ll give them credit, because they got it done. Of course, we’re talking about the expansion of the postseason, which will now increase from 10 teams to 16.

Given that the 2020 regular season will only last 60 games, it makes sense to have more teams in the playoffs. With such a small sample size of contests, deserving teams would’ve been left out in the cold. While this can be viewed as a positive for many, there are parties that are, quite honestly, getting the short end of the stick.

Here are the biggest winners and losers of the new postseason format.

MLB Playoffs Winner: People Who Hated the Wild Card Game

If there was one true winner of the new format, it’s every single baseball fan or pundit who hated the one-game playoff in the Wild Card Round. Imagine you’re a team that makes the postseason after a long and grueling season, only to face off in the Wild Card, have one poor game, and you’re told to go home? That’s brutal. Just ask the Milwaukee Brewers and Oakland Athletics last season!

Now with this new bracket, the Wild Card Round has expanded to a best-of-three series, which is what it should’ve been from the get go! Now every team who makes the postseason gets a fair shot to prove that they surely belong!

MLB Playoffs Loser: Baseball Traditionalists

If you happen to be listening to your local sports radio station like I am, you’re very likely hearing the host complain about the new format. Why? Because they think it’s ruining baseball’s standing tradition.

MLB traditionalists are used to the old postseason format, which included the three divisional winners and one Wild Card team in each league. But those individuals need to understand that the game needs to grow, and having just four teams per league just doesn’t bring the same excitement as eight teams duking it out for a shot at the World Series.

Sorry traditionalists, but the time for change has been long overdue, and we’re finally seeing it come to fruition.

MLB Playoffs Winner: ESPN

Yes, a sports broadcasting network enters the winners category. ESPN had themselves a rough Opening Day in terms of camera angles and Alex Rodriguez bungling over his own words. But they got a huge “W” in the form of earning the right of broadcasting a majority of postseason games.

In year’s past, ESPN had to take a backseat to FOX Sports and TBS when it came to airing playoff contests. This year, seven of the eight Wild Card series will be aired on “The Worldwide Leader in Sports,” with the lone series going to TBS.

That’s huge for ESPN, who now can right the wrong of making “Baseball Tonight” a weekly show. Time to bring it back on a daily basis!

MLB Playoffs Loser: Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays are projected as being the second-best team in the American League, despite being in the same division as the New York Yankees. With the Yankees heavily favored to win the AL East, the Rays will likely secure the fourth-seed in the AL side of the bracket. That means they’ll have to face the fifth seed in the first round.

If the Rays advance past the Wild Card Round, they’ll face off against the top seed in the AL in the Divisional Series…which will likely be the Yankees. That’s not saying that Tampa Bay can’t beat New York, but their path to the World Series is going to be hell.

MLB Playoffs Winner: Chicago White Sox

When it comes to dark horse teams in the American League, no team fits the bill more than the Chicago White Sox. Unfortunately, they’re in the same division as the Minnesota Twins, who are the odds on favorites to clinch the Central. Given the strength of the AL East, a Wild Card berth looked unattainable for the White Sox in the original 10 team format.

But now, a postseason berth looks like a certainty for the team on the south side of the Windy City. With players like Tim Anderson, Lucas Giolito, Luis Robert, Dallas Keuchel and Yoan Moncada, the White Sox are going to be a sneaky good team in 2020.

MLB Playoffs Loser: Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins have everything workin gin their favor to clinch a postseason berth. But, they’re in the same league as the Yankees and Astros. Despite the Twins setting the home run record, they had the third-best record in the AL.

With the third seed looking like a certainty for the Twins, they’d face off against the sixth-seed in the Wild Card Round. But if they advance, they’d matchup against the second-best team, which could be either the Yankees or Astros. Good luck with that Minnesota.

MLB Playoffs Winner: Los Angeles Angels

Congratulations, Los Angeles Angels fans. Your favorite team has a legitimate shot of making the playoffs! In recent years, the Angels have been plagued by with downright shoddy starting pitching and having to play in the same division as the Houston Astros and the Oakland Athletics. But things are looking better for the other Hollywood team.

Even though the Angels pitching is still a huge question mark, they can clinch a postseason berth with their hitting alone. Mike Trout has a new battering mate in Anthony Rendon, one of the league’s most consistent hitters during his time with the Washington Nationals. Not to mention that Justin Upton, Albert Pujols and Shohei Ohtani all have the propensity to smash baseballs out of the ballpark.

The Angels have a grand opportunity to make their first postseason appearance since 2014, but they’ll need some Angels in the outfield if they want to make a run. But hey, a berth is a berth.

MLB Playoffs Loser: Atlanta Braves

Prior to spring training, the Atlanta Braves ranked towards the top of the league power rankings, just behind the Los Angeles Dodgers. While Atlanta’s batting order is pretty solid, led by Ronald Acuna Jr., their pitching rotation is a mess.

Atlanta’s big offseason acquisition, Cole Hamels, is out for the foreseeable future after developing triceps tendinitis during summer camp. That came after he suffered a shoulder strain prior to reporting to spring training. The Braves rotation was already shaky and now, the team will have to outhit the opposition. That’s simply not going to work in the postseason.

MLB Playoffs Winner: Cincinnati Reds

No MLB team has improved in one offseason than the Cincinnat Reds. Tired of being the bottom dwellers in the NL Central, the Reds went out and signed second baseman Mike Moustakas and Chicago Cubs standout Nicholas Castellanos. Add those players to a stout pitching rotation with Trevor Bauer, Sonny Gray, and Luis Castillo, and Cincinnati looks strong on paper.

The thing is, the Reds still have to combat the Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, and Milwaukee Brewers. But with each league getting three additional spots, the Reds should be able to clinch a berth. They’re too talented not to.

MLB Playoffs Loser: Washington Nationals

Just like the Braves, the Washington Nationals have one glaring weakness at the early goings of the 2020 season. Their pitching rotation is set with the three-headed monster that is Max Scherzer, Stephen Strasburg and Patrick Corbin. But their offense is lacking, especially compared to last season.

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Anthony Rendon is no longer in DC and he was their most consistent hitter on the team. Washington’s best bat right now is Juan Soto, and we saw just how important he was to the team after he was pulled from the season opener after testing positive for COVID-19. Without him, the Nationals were one-hit by the Yankees. Even if Soto’s in the lineup, it’s truly hard to see Washington make a return trip to the World Series, especially with the expanded postseason field.