The MLB and the Player’s Union agreed today to expand to playoffs to 10 teams, five in each league. The expansion adds one more wild card team for the National League and American League.
The new expansion will feature a one game, wild card round in league between the two teams with the best record that did not win their division. It will now be possible for a team to finish third in their division and still make the playoffs.It is the first time since 1995 that MLB has made a change to the playoff system.
Also, in the 2012 postseason the divisional round format will be changed. The lower seed will host the first two games and then the series will be finished at the ballpark of the higher seed. However, in 2013 the original 2-2-1 format will return.
Another change that was agreed upon was how to break a divisional tie. In the previous format, the tiebreaker was awarded to the team with the better head-to-head record. Now, there will be a one game tie breaker played between the two teams.
The final change is that in 2013, the Houston Astros will switch to the American League in order to create two 15-team leagues instead of the current 16 team National League and 14 team American League. Currently, the NL Central has 6 teams and the AL West has just 4 teams.
So do any of these changes benefit the Cubs? The answer is simple, yes. And here’s why.
The first two reasons are clear. The NL Central loses a team making the chances to win a division better for the Cubs. Even though the Astros are currently the league’s worst team, they have great young talent and will eventually become a contender again.The second clear reason is that an extra team will make the playoffs. Instead of having to finish in the top four of the league, they now have to finish in the top five.
And the change could really benefit the Cubs this season and maybe next year as well. Since there is now an extra playoff spot, more teams will become buyers rather than sellers at the trade deadline. Perhaps the addition takes away about eight possible sellers throughout the league. Because there will be less sellers, teams who want to make trades will be forced to over pay for players they want from teams that are selling.
This scenario can really benefit the Cubs come July. If teams are looking for another pitcher, Matt Garza could possibly be the top pitcher available. Therefore, teams who really need pitching will have to increase their offer for Garza since the number of available pitchers will be limited. With this expansion, expect the Cubs to try and move Marylon Byrd and Geovany Soto to contending teams who are willing to pay the price.
All in all, the expansion is a terrific deal for the MLB and the Cubs and fans should be very excited about it.