The Los Angeles Dodgers are flirting with history. Currently standing at 79-32, they have an outside shot to break the wins record of 116 held by both the 1906 Cubs and 2001 Mariners. What makes this feat even more impressive is that they are rolling despite being in an incredibly tough division. Colorado and Arizona are second and third in the National League West although they own the 4th and 5th best records in baseball, respectively.
While it is still unlikely they get there, this once in a generation run can be used to show how the format of the MLB season is outdated and worth questioning.
Let’s start with the length of the regular season: 162 games to decide six division winners and two wildcard spots is too many. Since 2006, 87% of teams in post-season positions by September 1st will remain there and move on to October. That number jumps even higher to 92% since 2012; the year which the MLB introduced the second wild card. As surprising as that sounds, an additional playoff spot has stifled playoff races even more.
Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/Associated Press
Our idea of September baseball constantly being full of surprises is a red herring. Sure, every few years a team will choke away a huge lead late. But, is it crazy to suggest doing away with September regular season games?
Consider that LA doesn’t need to play another inning this regular season to prove anything to anybody. They have been cruising as of late, going 44-7 in their last 51 games. However, they’ll have to play another 50 before the playoffs begin. That is nearly one third of an entire season.
Part of this is due to their historical run, but this can routinely be said of other teams around the league. As of August 7, half of the division battles are basically over. In addition to LA, Houston and Washington have a stranglehold on their own races. This generates a blah kind of energy for the teams that are out of contention.
The second and equally puzzling part of baseball’s format is the relatively short length of its post-season. Although it is not yet September 1st, let’s predict and say that the Rockies and Diamondbacks are going to play each other in the wild card game. Here’s where the problem lies: Implementing a sudden death format after playing almost everyday for six months is kind of ridiculous. Instead of having Mets-Phillies for the 18th time, we could get longer playoff battles between great teams that would determine a winner in a justifiable manner. Who wouldn’t prefer to see the Cubs defend their title against the Dodgers in a best of 9 or 11? The current playoff system minimizes possible excitement between good teams. Longer series would also be more proportionally respectable to the total of regular season games.
The 2017 Dodgers will most likely finish the year with at least a .700 winning percentage over the span of 23 weeks. Something just doesn’t seem right knowing that they could be done after only three games after that kind of season.
Agree or disagree? Leave a comment if you’re interested and follow us on Twitter.
Header Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Arenado Photo: Chris Humphreys/USA Today Sports