This morning on the MLB network they were talking about the historical tendency to have at least 5 new teams in the playoffs out of the 10 total teams each year. Which means that 5 teams that made the playoffs last year are likely to miss the playoffs this year and 5 new teams replace them.
As a reminder each league has 5 teams make the playoffs: 3 divisional champions and 2 wild card teams.
- American League:
- National League:
There was some general agreement on who would stay in, and who would miss among the radio hosts, but not unanimity.
(Additionally, I was listening to a podcast this morning where they were discussing who would be poised to win (or not make playoffs) in the next 5 years, but that’s going to be a topic for another post.)
I wasn’t about to take the time to call into the show, but I don’t think this year will be typical. I think that instead of 5 teams making the playoffs again this year there will be at least 6. I’ll follow the rules and pick 5 to not repeat, but that’s only under protest. I’ll note which team in my “out” list I think is likely to still be in.
5 Out (and who’s still IN): I think all three division champions in the NL will make the playoffs again. The Nationals are in a weak division and I consider them to be the least likely to repeat otherwise, but there’s not another team in the NL East who I think can beat them. The Cubs will have the toughest race, but I think they and the Dodgers both win their divisions.
In the AL I think the Yankees win the AL East next year and the Astros repeat as champions of the AL West. If I have to pick a division champion to not make it I think it’s the Indians, but then I don’t see anyone besides the Twins beating them so that doesn’t help. So I’ll pick the Yankees and Indians to repeat in AL because I’m only allowed to pick 5, and the Astros only make my “out” list under protest. None of the radio hosts picked the Astros for their “out” list. Truth be told I think if the Twins and Red Sox make good moves we could see up to eight teams repeat in the playoffs, but that would be historically unusual.
OUT: Twins, Rockies, Diamondbacks, Red Sox, Astros*.
5 In (New Teams): This is the tough half, especially because the off-season moves aren’t done yet. So it’s a stretch to pick teams here. I have picked 5 of the division winners (except AL West) so I just need 1 of those and 4 WC teams. (Note: I still think the Astros win the AL West but want to follow the rules). So here’s my best guess based on current off-season moves of the teams:
IN: Angels (AL West champs), Brewers (NL WC), Cardinals (NL WC), Mariners (AL WC), Rangers (AL WC). Another possible (instead of Brewers or Cards) NL team is the Phillies. Both Mariners and Rangers are also in the AL West and could win the division instead of Angels and they’d be a wild card instead. If the Astros win the AL West (giving a 6th repeating team in the playoffs) any of the three other AL West teams would drop.
Without the rules I think 7 of the teams repeat and only the Red Sox (or Twins), and the two NL Wild Card teams are out. We’ll check back in late September and see how close I was to “right.”