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 arises, 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?
Round 1 Recap
Yoán Moncada got the White Sox on the board early in Milwaukee when he doubled against Brewers’ starter Brandon Woodruff with one out in the top of the first inning and scored on a Jose Abreu single to left field in the next at-bat.
Rookie Luis Robert kept the momemntum going in the top of the second inning, doubling to deep centerfield, and scoring on a Tim Anderson single two hitters later, giving the Sox a 2-0 lead early.
In the top of the fifth, Moncada logged his second double of the game against Woodruff, and scored on a Yasmani Grandal base hit. Grandal would come around to score on the very next at-bat, when Eloy Jiménez blasted a double to right field, stretching the Sox lead to four and knocking Brandon Woodruff out of the game.
Woodruff went just 4.2 innings, allowing four runs on nine hits while striking out five Sox hitters.
On the other side of the coin, White Sox starter Lucas Giolito was strong in the winning effort, logging 6.1 innings of one-run work. Giolito struck out five, and walked three Brewers on the day, but worked around 10 baserunners allowed to leave with a 4-1 lead in the seventh.
Jimmy Cordero and Aaron Bummer combined for 1.2 innings of scoreless relief, each allowing a base hit, and each notching two strikeouts.
Jedd Gyorko led off the bottom of the ninth with a solo homer against Sox closer Alex Colome before Colome nailed the ballgame down with a pair of strikeouts and a ground ball.
Final: (17) White Sox 4, (16) Brewers 2
W: Lucas Giolito – 6.1 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 5 K, 3 BB
L: Brandon Woodruff – 4.2 IP, 4 ER, 9 H, 5 K, 0 BB
S: Alex Colome: 1.0, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 K (solo HR to Gyrko B9)
Offensive Notables: Moncada: 3-5, 2 2B 2 R, Grandal: 2-5, 2B, RBI, R, Jimenez: 1-3, 2B, RBI, 2 BB, Abreu: 2-5, 2B, RBI.
Complete Round 1 Results
- (16) Brewers 2, (17) White Sox 4
- (9) Indians 3, (24) Pirates 2
- (8) Athletics 3, (25) Royals 4 (F/11)
- (5) Twins 5, (28) Tigers 4 (F/10)
- (12) Red Sox 7, (21) Rangers 6 (F/11)
- (13) Padres 6, (20) Diamondbacks 4
- (4) Rays 7, (29) Mariners 2
- (3) Yankees 8, (30) Orioles 1
- (14) Reds 0, (19) Phillies 3
- (11) Cubs 9, (22) Rockies 7 (F/11)
- (6) Nationals 3, (27) Marlins 0
- (7) Braves 3, (26) Giants 0
- (10) Mets 4, (23) Blue Jays 2
- (15) Angels 2, (18) Cardinals 4
Here’s a look at the tournament bracket heading into the second round: