The 2020 MLB season is now two weeks old and, gosh, a lot has happened, and not all of it has been good. The Cardinals and Marlins each experienced separate COVID-19 outbreaks that affected several other teams and forced nearly two dozen games to be postponed. .
to a) make money, and b) create a more representative postseason. Sixty games is not always enough time for a team's true talent to shine. An expanded postseason field allows talented clubs to recover from a shaky start and still get a shot at a World Series championship.
The season does not end today, thankfully, but here's what the 16-team postseason field would look like if it did (seeding based on winning percentage to account for the difference in games played):
No. 1 Twins (10-3, .769) vs. No. 8 Tigers (5-5, .500)
No. 2 Yankees (9-3, .750) vs. No. 7 White Sox (7-6, .538)
No. 3 Athletics (9-4, .692) vs. No. 6 Orioles (5-7, .417)
No. 4 Indians (8-6, .571) vs. No. 5 Astros (6-6, 500)
No. 1 Marlins (6-1, .857) vs. No. 8 Nationals (4-5, .444)
No. 2 Cubs (10-3, .769) vs. No. 7 Padres (7-6, .538)
No. 3 Rockies (9-3, .750) vs. No. 6 Brewers (5-5, .500)
No. 4 Dodgers (10-4, .692) vs. No. 5 Braves (9-5, .643)
The top three seeds are the division winners and the next three seeds are the second-place teams. The final two spots go to the remaining teams with the best records. The first round (Wild Card Round) is a best-of-three series with all three games at the higher seed's ballpark. The second round (LDS) is a best-of-five and the final two rounds (LCS and World Series) are best-of-sevens.
Two weeks is usually a drop in the bucket in baseball. This season though, two weeks equals approximately 20 percent of the season (177 of 900 scheduled games have been played, or 19.7 percent). The postseason outlook has changed quite a bit already. Here, according to Sportsline, are the teams that have most helped (and hurt) their postseason odds this year.
Five biggest postseason odds gains
|Preseason postseason odds||Current postseason odds||Change|
White Sox (7-6)
San Diego Padres: The Padres have a fun and exciting roster, their new uniforms are outstanding, and their television broadcast duo (Don Orsillo and Mark Grant) is top notch. I'm all-in on San Diego. Fernando Tatis Jr. is a megastar and . At some point Manny Machado needs to hit though, and the rotation behind Chris Paddack and Dinelson Lamet has been hit or miss, but watch this team and the talent is obvious. They're just a little more consistency away from being a top-tier ballclub. As things stand, they've helped their postseason odds significantly in the early going.
Chicago White Sox: That offense, my goodness. Tim Anderson and Yoan Moncada are showing last year's breakouts were no fluke, and few players can hit a baseball as hard as Eloy Jimenez. Among their nine starting position players, only Yasmani Grandal and Edwin Encarnacion have a sub-100 OPS+, and those two have long track records that suggest they'll hit. . Gio Gonzalez and Dallas Keuchel will be better. Filling the rotation out behind them and Lucas Giolito will take a little creativity.,
Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have been better than their plus-7 run differential would lead you to believe. Thursday night's blowout loss (KC 13, CHC 2) put a dent in things, and three of their four one-run wins can be blamed on the bullpen. Three times they took at least a three-run lead into the ninth inning and watched the bullpen (mostly Craig Kimbrel) turn it into a nail-biter one-run win. The bullpen is a major issue (7.30 ERA) and I wouldn't count on Alec Mills posting a sub-2.00 ERA all season (Tyler Chatwood fell off the regression tree and hit every branch on way down Thursday), but the rotation is solid and the offense high-caliber.
Atlanta Braves: Sportsline is aware of the Mike Soroka injury and it's a devastating one, especially since Cole Hamels is still a few weeks away from returning. The offense has been very good though, ranking sixth in baseball with 5.29 runs per game, and the Braves have held their opponents to three or fewer runs nine times in their 14 games. Will Smith's return will fortify the bullpen and I am excited to see what Touki Toussaint can do with a regular starting spot. The Braves were a very good bet to make the expanded postseason field prior to the season. With nine wins in their first 14 games, they're close to a lock.
The Athletics (plus-14.5 percent) and first-place Marlins (plus-12.9 percent) are the only other teams to improve their postseason odds at least 10 percentage points in the early going.
Five biggest postseason odds declines
|Preseason postseason odds||Current postseason odds||Change|
Red Sox (4-8)
Arizona Diamondbacks: The D-Backs played their two best games of the season the last two days but that only begins to repair the damage they did to their postseason odds with their 3-8 start.. Even with an expanded postseason field, the D-Backs now have less than a one-in-three chance to reach October. Those eight losses in the first 11 games created a really big hole they'll spend the rest of the season trying to escape.
Cincinnati Reds: The offense, of all things, has sunk the Reds in the early going this season. The offense and the bullpen, which has blown leads in three games. The new-look lineup is averaging 4.00 runs per game overall and only 2.14 runs in their last seven games, including back-to-back shutout losses Wednesday and Thursday. The good news: Eugenio Suarez (28 OPS+) won't be this bad all season and the rotation has been dynamite (2.57 ERA). The bad news: the bullpen is a disaster (7.65 ERA) and eight losses in 13 games has put a team that needed a lot to go right to contend in the NL Central well behind the 8-ball.
Texas Rangers: The Rangers have lost eight games this year and in four of them they held a lead. Blown leads is a great way to sink your postseason odds in a 60-game season. Mostly though, the Rangers have had a dreadful offense in the early going. They're averaging only 3.27 runs per game (Blue Jays are last at 3.10) and the bats have been very hit or miss. The OPS+ of their nine regulars: 162, 158, 148, 132, 60, 56, 45, 20, -75 (!). Boom or bust, through and through. Texas has received a 3.50 ERA from its rotation this season and that should play. Instead, the offense and the bullpen are holding the club back.
Boston Red Sox: You can make a case Sportsline overrated the Red Sox coming into the 60-game season because the rotation did not look good on paper, . They've blown three leads as well, which doesn't help matters. More than anything, the Red Sox are off to a poor start because the offense has been anemic. Xander Bogaerts and Christian Vazquez are the only regulars hitting. Rafael Devers and J.D. Martinez have started slow, , and supporting cast members like Jackie Bradley Jr., Jose Peraza, and Kevin Pillar were never expected to contribute much with the bat anyway. Even with an expanded field, the Red Sox were going to have an uphill climb to get to the postseason because their pitching is so thin. Add in a sluggish offense and you can understand why their odds have taken such a big hit through 12 games.
Pittsburgh Pirates: That the Pirates, a team not expected to contend in any way this year, makes this list tells you how bad they've been in the early going. Ten losses in 13 games, including three blown leads and five one-run losses. Ouch. Pittsburgh has two regulars with an OPS+ north of 70 (Colin Moran and Phillip Evans) and they're now on Plan D at closer with Keone Kela, Kyle Crick, and Nick Burdi all sidelined. The Pirates are 26th in runs scored per game (3.46) and 21st in runs allowed per game (4.92). That they've reduced their postseason odds so much so quickly while starting from such a low baseline is almost impressive.