On Monday, ESPN’s Jeff Passan published a story regarding his latest information pertaining to the restart of the 2020 Major League Baseball season. One of the ideas that appeared in the story was a league-wide tournament, one that Passan opined could look a lot like the FIFA World Cup.
“Give us 60 days,” one official said, “and we could run an amazing tournament.”MLB source via Jeff Passan of ESPN
To Passan’s credit, it’s an entertaining idea, but I don’t see what purpose the regular season would have served under his premise, which you can read more about here.
So I went a different route and created a league-wide tournament, with seeding based on regular season performance in 2020, rewarding teams for their play during what in all likelihood will be close to a 100 game season.
For the purpose of this exercise, I used Fangraphs’ 2020 projections to determine the seeding for the opening round. Before we go any further, take a look at the bracket below.
As you can see, the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Houston Astros earned first-round byes as a reward for having the best (hypothetical) record during the 2020 season. In addition to having the first round off, both are guaranteed a second-round meeting with a team on the bottom half of the league at home, or as the “home team” depending on whether this season ends up being played at a combination of neutral sites, or at each team’s respective ballpark.
The remaining teams were seeded out 3-30, based on regular season records.
Round 1 is single elimination, before teams get into a best-of-three series in the second round and quarter-finals. The semi-finals are a best-of-five, and the World Series is your traditional best-of-seven format.
This format would call for the eventual champion to play a maximum of 19 games from start to finish (18 if the eventual champion ends up being one of the top two seeds who earned a bye into the second round). The traditional MLB playoff format calls for the eventual champion playing a maximum possible 20 games if they originate in the Wild Card round, and 19 otherwise, making this format one that can be played in roughly the same time-frame as the current traditional MLB Postseason format.
Here’s how home field advantage (regardless of venue) would work throughout;
Round 1 – higher seed designated the home team.
Round 2 – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G3.
Quarter-finals – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G3.
Semi-finals – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G2, G5.
World Series – higher seed designated the home team for G1, G2, G6, G7.
In nearly every scenario that’s arose, the universal DH rule has been a part of it, so we’ll be using that for this tournament. Those National League teams are really gonna be at a disadvantage now, what will they do with those free outs they’re used to giving away?
Now, let’s get local with this.
The Chicago Cubs — who drew the 11th seed in this bracket — will play host to the Colorado Rockies in the opening round. In a rematch of the 2018 National League Wild Card game, the Cubs will look to avenge their failure that season, and advance to the second round of the tournament.
If they do, they’ll face either the six-seed Washington Nationals, or the lowly Miami Marlins. Don’t bet on the latter.
If the Cubs can dispatch the Rockies in the opening round, they’ll likely be visiting the defending World Series Champions in the second round.
We will be using MLB the Show to simulate the entirety of the tournament, and results will be shared on the website and our Chicago Dugout social media pages (@ChicagoDugout).