What MLB teams would have benefitted most from 14-team playoffs?

BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: The Boston Red Sox World Series Trophies on display at Fenway Park before the Victory Parade around Boston on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images)
BOSTON, MA - OCTOBER 31: The Boston Red Sox World Series Trophies on display at Fenway Park before the Victory Parade around Boston on October 31, 2018 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Omar Rawlings/Getty Images) /
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One of the many issues that MLB owners and the MLBPA have fought over during the MLB lockout is the number of teams that would make it to the playoffs.

Reportedly, the MLBPA wanted to have 12 teams in the playoffs whereas the MLB owners wanted 14 teams in, because more money can be made in the postseason and mediocre teams can make it to the postseason. However, the sides reportedly agreed on a 12-team postseason.

So that made us think: Which MLB Teams would have benefitted from 14 teams making the playoffs in the past?

For that, we will look back to records for MLB teams back to 1998. Why 1998? It was the first year where all 30 of the current MLB teams were in the league. The then-named Tampa Bay Devil Rays (now Tampa Bay Rays) joined the American League and the Arizona Diamondbacks were added to to the National League to make it 30 teams in MLB. As a result of the expansion and MLB wanting to not have interleague play year-round, the Milwaukee Brewers moved to the National League.

From 1998 through 2012, there were 16 teams in the National League and 14 in the American League. There were five teams in each division with the exception of the NL Central and AL West. The NL Central had six teams and the AL West had four teams. For the 2013 season, the Houston Astros moved from the NL Central to the AL West to make it 15 teams in each league and five teams in each division.

So, let’s see who would have benefitted the most.

29 of the 30 MLB teams would have made the playoffs at least one more time

From 1998 through 2011, only eight MLB teams made it to the playoffs and from 2011 through 2019 and again in 2021, 10 teams made it so from 1998 through 2011, each league would have had three additional playoff teams.

Since 1998, 29 of the 30 MLB teams would have made the postseason at least one more time. The only team that wouldn’t is the Baltimore Orioles.

Here is the breakdown by team. The bold number in parentheses next to the team name is the number of times that team has made it to the postseason from 1998 through 2021.

Also, an asterisk (*) is noted where a team would have been tied with at least one other team for the last playoff spot in the playoff structure that would have required a Game 163. For example, both the Dodgers and Cardinals would have been tied for the final NL playoff spot in 1998, as they both had records of 83-79.

  • Baltimore Orioles (3): No additional playoff appearances
  • Boston Red Sox (13): 6 additional playoff appearances (2000-2002, 2010-2011, 2019)
  • Chicago White Sox (5): 7 (1998, 2001-2004, 2006, 2010)
  • Cleveland Indians/Guardians (9): 4 (2000, 2005, 2014, 2019)
  • Detroit Tigers (5): 3 (2007, 2009, 2016)
  • Houston Astros (11): 3 (2002, 2006, 2008) (All while franchise was in the NL)
  • Kansas City Royals (2): 2 (2013, 2017)
  • Los Angeles Angels (7): 6 (1998, 2006, 2011-2012, 2015, 2017)
  • Minnesota Twins (9): 4 (2001, 2005, 2008, 2015)
  • New York Yankees (20): 1 (2008)
  • Oakland A’s (11): 2 (1999, 2005)
  • Seattle Mariners (2): 9 (1999, 2002-2003, 2007, 2009, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2021)
  • Tampa Bay Rays (7): 3 (2012, 2017-2018)
  • Texas Rangers (7): 3 (2004, 2009, 2013)
  • Toronto Blue Jays (3): 10 (1998-2000, 2003, 2006-2008, 2010-2011, 2021)
  • Arizona Diamondbacks (6): 4 (2000, 2013, 2018*-19)
  • Atlanta Braves (15): 4 (2007, 2009, 2011, 2014*)
  • Chicago Cubs (9): 2 (2001, 2004)
  • Cincinnati Reds (4): 3 (1999, 2006, 2021)
  • Colorado Rockies (4): 1 (2010)
  • Los Angeles Dodgers (13): 6 (1998*, 2001*-2003*, 2011-2012)
  • Miami Marlins (2): 3 (2005, 2009, 2016)
  • Milwaukee Brewers (6): 3 (2012, 2014, 2017)
  • New York Mets (5): 6 (1998, 2005, 2007-2008, 2014*, 2019)
  • Philadelphia Phillies (5): 5 (2001*, 2003, 2005-2006, 2021)
  • Pittsburgh Pirates (3): 2 (1999, 2018*)
  • St. Louis Cardinals (15): 7 (1998*, 2003*, 2008, 2010, 2016-2018)
  • San Diego Padres (4): 3 (2004, 2007, 2010)
  • San Francisco Giants (8): 7 (1998-1999, 2001, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2015)
  • Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos (5): 4 (2002 Expos, 2013 Nationals, 2015, 2018*)

The Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays would have benefitted the most from a 14-team playoff structure

Of all 30 teams, the Toronto Blue Jays would have benefitted the most. However, perhaps most intriguing of all of the teams are the Seattle Mariners. The Mariners have not made the playoffs since 2001 but under the 14-team playoff structure, they would have made the playoffs nine additional times since 1998, including eight times since 2002.

Also of note, under this structure, there would have been five American League teams and five National League teams that would have made the playoffs despite having a losing record. The worst team of them would have been the 1999 Pittsburgh Pirates. They only played in 161 games in the season but they went 78-83. Four other teams went 79-83.

The best team prior to the second Wild Card era (2012-2019, 2021-present) was the 1999 Cincinnati Reds. The Reds went to Game 163 for the lone NL Wild Card spot against the New York Mets but the Reds lost so they ended up having a 96-67 record. The best team that would have made it in the two Wild Card era was the 2019 Cleveland Indians, who went 93-69.

In general, the AL has been the stronger league as the 14-team playoff structure would have added 14 90+ win teams to the playoffs since 1998 (6 in the second Wild Card era). In the NL, they would have only had five 90+ win teams added since 1998 and none since the 2010 Padres (who went 90-72).

Next. Ranking the 12 winningest teams in MLB history. dark

A 14-team playoff structure may not happen at all, at least until there is expansion in Major League Baseball but it’s something for MLB and the MLBPA to consider: do they want losing teams in the playoffs? Because with the 14-team playoff structure, there could easily be some teams that get in despite having a losing record.