Moments before the 2020 season’s first pitch, the league approved a 16-team MLB postseason format.
In a season that has been anything but traditional, the league has approved a very untraditional plan to retool the 2020 MLB postseason format to allow for 16 playoff teams after a 60-game regular season. The plan, which just recently gained momentum, was approved by the MLBPA and ratified by team owners on Thursday, July 23, the day the regular season began.
All division winners and second place teams in each division will now qualify for the postseason. The two remaining teams within the league with the best records will qualify as a seventh and eighth seed.
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The seeding scenario is the biggest change to this season’s playoff plan. Teams will be seeded one through eight based on their record in each league. Division winners in each league will be seeded 1-3, followed by the second-place teams that will be seeded 4-6. The best-of-three series begins with the top seed playing the No. 8 seed, the No. 2 seed playing the No. 7 seed, the No. 3 seed playing the No. 6 seed and the No. 4 seed playing the No. 5 seed. There will be no first-round byes.
The first-round games will be hosted by the team with the highest seed. Games will be played on consecutive days from beginning on Tuesday, Sept. 29 through Friday, Oct. 2.
“We’re excited about it,” MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred said in an interview on ESPN during the telecast of the New York Yankees and Washington Nationals opener. “We think it’s an opportunity to have three great days of baseball right at the beginning of the postseason. We think it is going to be great for fans and great for the players.”
During the negotiations between MLB and the Players Association that led to a 60-game regular season implemented by Manfred, the players had lobbied for more regular-season games.
The postseason players’ bonus pool will be doubled to $50 million from the originally agreed-upon $25 million.