One of the proposals to resume baseball in 2020 could include a 14-team playoff format. Would the extra post-season teams give the Blue Jays a shot?
There are reasons to remain hopeful that we’ll see Blue Jays baseball sometime this year, although I think we’ll all have to accept that regardless of how things go over the next few weeks and months, the season will look a lot different than it usually does.
To that end, one of the reportedly rule changes we could be seeing in 2020, assuming there’s a season at all, would be an expanded MLB playoff format. It’s been widely reported that the league is looking to adopt a 14-team post-season, which would be a fairly significant increase from the usual 10 teams. That could also include a revamped division structure, but that remains to be seen as well.
For now let’s focus on the expanded playoff, which then leads me to an exciting question to think about. Do the Blue Jays have a chance to qualify for the dance?
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I’ll admit that I’m an eternal optimist when it comes to my favourite team, but I’m also not completely naive either. I realize that a lot of things would have to go in their direction, but the way this season could shape up certainly plays in their favour. The fact is, the shorter the season becomes, the more likely that a dark-horse could make the playoffs, and adding four extra spots just raises the chances that much more. With an exciting and talented young lineup, a vastly improved rotation, and chaos all over the place, why couldn’t the Blue Jays be in the thick of things this fall?
Dayn Perry from CBSSports.com published an article about fringe contenders earlier this week, and he included Pecota’s win projections in his piece. According to that projection system, the Blue Jays rank 21st out of 30 teams across both leagues, coming in 10th among AL clubs. Over a typical 162 game season, the system pegged the Blue Jays for 75.8 wins, which would be an 11 win improvement from their 67-95 record last year. By comparison, the Reds would be the 14th team out of 30, with a projection of 83.7 wins. That’s an eight win difference, and not one that would be easy to make up, but that window shrinks if we’re talking about a season that could be half of its normal length.
If we shrink those records in half to 38-43 for the Blue Jays and 42-39 for the Reds, we’re talking about a five game difference. In a season of 80-82 games, that could literally be the difference between a hot streak for one team and a cold stretch for another, or even a couple of significant injuries. Now if a player has to miss 4-5 weeks on the Injured List, that could represent nearly half of the regular season, and that would be of greater impact than it would during a regular MLB campaign.
Add it all up and there are a lot of wild cards in play this year if baseball can resume this summer. And the more wild cards you throw into the deck, the more likely you are to see some unexpected results. For an talented young team like the Blue Jays, that could be a lot of fun.