In less than a week, either a 106-win team or 107-win team’s season will be over.
Cruel, isn’t it? Giants third baseman Evan Longoria thinks so.
Because of MLB’s current playoff structure, the Giants and Dodgers meet in the NLDS as the two best teams in baseball. Since they play in the same division, the Dodgers who matched their franchise record with 106 victories had to win a Wild Card game to advance and play the top team in the National League — in this case the Giants.
“I feel like this may also be like a series or a moment where baseball may have to think about restructuring the way that the playoffs happen,” Longoria said. “106 and 107 wins doesn’t feel like a DS matchup, you know? Especially because the season is so long for two teams to win that many games and then one of them to have to go home this early.”
Longoria added that to make the World Series, the Giants likely would have to beat the Dodgers regardless of playoff format. “Better to get it out of the way early,” he said.
Both the Giants and Dodgers have far more wins than the other NL division champs Brewers (95) and Braves (88). No two teams have ever met with as many combined wins (213) as the Giants and Dodgers.
When asked how he’d wave his magic wand to fix the MLB postseason structure, Longoria mentioned an expanded playoff and possibly re-seeding the playoff teams based on regular season success.” For the shortened 2020 season MLB expanded its playoffs to include 16 total teams.
“I don’t even really know,” Longoria said. “I just feel like there’s two teams that win this many games, it seems early to match up us two. But I’m always for having more teams in the playoffs. I think it engages more fanbases. I mean, obviously we had those discussions with the league before, and that’s something that I think is potentially always on the table. But it seems like some sort of ranking system based on wins, and I know all that’s going to take realigning the divisions and changing all that. But that was, I guess, my way to stir the pot.”
Manager Gabe Kapler, as he’s maintained in one form or another throughout the season, said all he can do is prepare his team to perform as well as possible under the rules he’s given.
“I just don’t personally have a lot of time and energy to be thinking about how the rules could be better,” Kapler said. “It doesn’t mean that I don’t have them in side conversations. I just don’t, I haven’t had the energy to be thoughtful about them in a way that I would want to have that conversation.”
Discussions with the league, on this topic and several others, are likely to ramp up this winter, with the collective bargaining agreement set to expire Dec. 1. Between now and then, one franchise’s most successful seasons ever will end prematurely.