With MLB expanding the postseason for the 2020 campaign, the Blue Jays may have a legitimate shot to quality for the playoffs.
Nothing should surprise us anymore after the way the 2020 season has gone for Major League Baseball, so forgive me if I barely batted an eye at a last minute rule change.
Prior to the first pitch of the 2020 season on Thursday night, an agreement was struck to expand the postseason to a 16-team format, up from the usual 10. Despite the changes to the divisional alignment for this season, the league will see eight teams each quality from the American and National leagues.
What does that mean for the Blue Jays? Well, they’re odds of making the postseason just greatly improved. Prior to the new playoff format being announced, Fangraphs had the Blue Jays with a 15.1% chance of finishing among the top five teams in the American League. With the new expanded format and a fresh run of the numbers, Fangraphs now shows them with a 29.8% chance.
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That projection would leave them on the outside of the postseason teams for the American League, although there are a lot of variables at play this year, and a lot could change in a real hurry. We’re also talking about a 60 game season, and a sprint is handled a lot differently than a marathon.
For what it’s worth, here are the postseason odds for the rest of the American League teams:
- Astros= 93.7%
- Yankees= 91.4%
- Twins= 87.2%
- Rays= 85.9%
- Cleveland= 77.2%
- A’s= 74.4%
- Red Sox= 64.7%
- White Sox= 64.1%
- Angels= 57.4%
- Rangers= 36.4%
- Blue Jays= 29.8%
- Royals= 18.9%
- Tigers= 12%
- Mariners= 5.5%
- Orioles= 1.4%
There’s no doubt that they’ll have a tough road ahead of them in order to jump up three spots, but I don’t think it’s out of the question that it could happen. Again, with it being a short season, the difference between eighth place and 11th is a projected 31 wins to 27.8. That is not a large margin for error for the top teams in baseball, and with only 60 games, there’s no time for slumping.
On top of that, it’s not hard to see how some of the teams ahead of the Blue Jays could be vulnerable this year. The Red Sox are trotting out the weakest rotation we’ve seen from them in years, and the White only won 72 games last year themselves. They should be an improved ball club with the additions they made over the winter, but baseball offers no guarantees. The Angels could be a Mike Trout opt-out away from being in real trouble, and I personally think the Blue Jays will be better than the Rangers regardless.
I don’t know that this young group should or even will feel much pressure to make the postseason this year, but it’s a goal that’s at least worth shooting for. With a ton of young talent in the lineup, a vastly improved starting rotation, and a whole lot of wild cards at play, suddenly it doesn’t seem very far fetched that the Blue Jays could be playing meaningful baseball for all 60 games of the regular season, and hopefully beyond.