What If MLB Used The Minor League Playoff System?

The minor league season is just about wrapping up now, with qualifying teams heading to the playoffs. However, the method generally used there is a bit different from the majors: it involves the season being split into two halves, with the winner of each making the post-season. This makes some sense, given teams are at the mercy of their parent club with regard to players, so a second-half roster can be radically different from Opening Day.

A similar method was used by the majors in 1981, following a players' strike in the middle of the season. Standings were divided into two halves, with the teams possessing the best record, facing one another in a divisional round prior to the league championship series. The main beneficiary were the Yankees, who finished fourth overall in the AL East, but reached the post-season on the strength of their first-half performance, and made the World Series.

What would things look like if the 2010 season was decided the same way?

American League. The AL East went to the Yankees by three in the first half, while Tampa Bay are currently one-half game ahead in the second half - it's close, with Boston and Toronto also within 3.5 games. The Central went to the White Sox, 1.5 up on the Twins and Tigers, while Minnesota is cruising in the second half, five games up. No team in the West has a winning record since the break - Texas and Oakland are tied at 22-23, with Texas already having taken the first-half title, by 4.5 over the Angels.

National League. Things are more mixed up here, with six different divisional champions and only two teams - the Reds and Padres - currently finishing in the top two for both halves. The NL East is radically different: the first-half saw the Braves over the Mets by five, but the second has the Phillies over the Marlins by four. The Central saw the Cardinals pip the Reds by half a game, before the Reds surged in the second-half, and lead by 1.5 since the break. The West would see early champions Padres take on late leaders, the Giants.

There's something to be said for this system, I think. Currently, many teams are out of contention by the All-Star break, and fans have little more to anticipate except 80-odd games of garbage baseball. But if the standings then reset, it would give them another chance. The Astros this season would certainly have liked that. They were in fifth, fourteen games back, at the All-Star game - however, since then, only the Phillies and Reds have a better record in the league.

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