The 2020 Major League Baseball season was already set to be an unprecedented 60 games when the news broke that the playoff field would be expanded to eight teams per league. We knew it was going to be a crazy and chaotic year. Little did we fully grasp what would go down in the first playoff round, specifically when it came to a single region.
The Central division teams were mostly embarrassed, taking the results in totality. None of them advanced.
Given that we'd previously only seen five teams per league in the playoffs starting with the 2012 season, and before that, it was just four teams per league going back to 1995 to start the wild-card era, we're all very aware that the record for teams in the playoffs from a division was three. This season, the AL Central sent three teams to the AL side while the NL Central set the record with four.
I'm guessing neither division will want this to remain toward the forefront of trivia moving forward.
Of the eight teams that were eliminated in the first round, seven of them came from the Central region.
What's worse? Or at least equally as bad? Five of those Central teams were swept, meaning the group collectively went 2-14 in the playoffs.
Now, there shouldn't really be any broad-sweeping conclusions when it comes to three-game series. Fluky things can happen. We knew this going in and it's a big reason why so many old-school baseball fans hate short series after the marathon that is the regular season determines the playoff teams.
There is one point, however, probably worth a quick look. Heading into the season, most people figured the Central divisions had three pushover teams in the Royals, Tigers and Pirates. That ended up coming to fruition for the most part, with those three teams combining to finish 42 games under .500. It's possible many will latch onto this and say the Central was the weakest region of the three and the first round of the playoffs prove this.
The reality is it goes a lot deeper than that (the Wests only had three teams above .500, for example, with several bottom feeders while the A's only had six games against above-.500 teams), but you know what else is often reality? Perception. With the Central teams all being bounced from the first round in such miserable fashion, they have to wear that embarrassment as a group all offseason.