MLB Playoffs: Tie Breaker Rules with Two Games to Go

The Major League Baseball season started on March 31 with a game between the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros. All teams have played 160 times since then. When the season started, all teams could expect to win sixty-five and lose sixty-five games. That leaves thirty-two games where the winner or loser becomes a pennant winner or a cellar dweller. At this point, all teams except Boston have lost sixty-five, and all but the White Sox, Marlins and Astros have won sixty-five.  The difference is in the “Fifth Game” that I describe in Fifth Game Theory and those wins and loses in Fifth Games now brings us to the last two games of the season, with all Division winners settled as Boston, Oakland, Detroit, St. Louis, LA Dodgers, and the Atlanta Braves as winners waiting for the five game Division Series and then League Championship Series to determine participation in the World Series.  The top winning percentage team of these six, will play the winner of the Wild Card playoffs on October 1 for the National League and October 2 for the American Leaguel.  That is Boston in the AL, but Atlanta and St. Louis are tied in the NL.

The NL Wild Card team will be the Pirates or Reds, who will play the one game playoff either in Pittsburgh or Cincinnati on October 1, but Pittsburgh has a two game lead but needs to win one more. If Cincinnati wins the next two, they will be tied but Cincinnati will have won the season series between the two teams 10-9, and the game will be played in Cincnnati.

It is not so simple in the American League. There, Tampa Bay and Cleveland are exactly tied at 90-70, and Texas is one game behind them both. If Texas wins its next two, and Cleveland or Tampa Bay lose one, there is a tie therè, if Texas wins two and both Tampa Bay and Cleveland lose one each, there is a three way tie for two positions. The format for a three team playoff is Here, but don’t worry about this until tomorrow night, then just enjoy the wonders of the Major League Season.

MLB Wild Card: The Final Week, The Small Market Teams Prevail.

Jason Giambi hit a “walk off” pinch hit home run last night to beat Chicago and keep the Indians one game ahead of the Texas Rangers for the final wild card slot in the Majors. The Indians have won five in a row and have five games remaining against Chicago (1) and Minnesota (4). Texas has Houston (1) and LAA (4). The Indians should make it, but they have had problems in Minnesota this year and the Twins are well lead and will not lay down.

The NL Division series will start October 1, with Pittsburgh and Cincinnati playing a one game playoff game. The location, if played today, would be Pittsburgh, as the Pirates now have a one game lead. The two teams play the last three against each other in Cincinnati this weekend and that will determine the victor.

The most interesting factor in the 2013 Playoffs is that of the ten teams involved, seven of the teams are small and mid-sized markets. Only Atlanta, LA, and Boston are large market teams. Detroit is a mid-sized market, but the rest, Cincinnati, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and St.Louis are in the bottom half of MLB rankings of market size. Oakland, due to its poor stadium, is classified as a small market due to low local revenue.

This indicates that design and intellect still matter. I once classified MLB teams as being capital intensive or labor intensive organizations and here the labor (or intellect) intensive teams are prevailing. There is a lesson here that should not be lost on the large market teams in New York, Chicago and the Angels as they try to recover in 2014. There is a way to do this and planning and thinking leads the way.

Revenue sharing allows small market teams to retain their better players, so the free agent market does not allow large market teams to spend their way to success. They will have to do it the old fashion way by scouting well and developing players in the Minor Leagues. It is, in my opinion, the only way.