Legends On Deck

The Problem with the Triple-A Postseason Plan

The good news for Minor League Baseball is that Triple-A has decided on a postseason format.  The bad news is that it’s not really a true playoff system.  The Triple-A “Final Stretch” is even difficult to describe.  If I understand it correctly, here’s how it works:

  • All 30 teams in the Triple-A East and Triple-A West are in.
  • Each teams plays 10 additional games (5 home, 5 away).
  • Champions will be crowned based on winning percentage of those 10 games.
  • There will be two winners — one for Triple-A East and one for Triple-A West.
  • Tiebreakers will be based on regular season winning percentage.

The games take place from September 22-October 3.  The match-ups are as follows:

Week 1

  • Lehigh Valley (A) vs Buffalo (H)
  • Rochester (A) vs Worcester (H)
  • Syracuse (A) vs Scranton-WB (H)
  • Columbus (A) vs Nashville (H)
  • Indianapolis (A) vs Omaha (H)
  • Iowa (A) vs St. Paul (H)
  • Toledo (A) vs Louisville (H)
  • Norfolk (A) vs Charlotte (H)
  • Gwinnett (A) vs Durham (H)
  • Memphis (A) vs Jacksonville (H)
  • Reno (A) vs Albuquerque (H)
  • Sugar Land (A) vs El Paso (H)
  • Oklahoma City (A) vs Las Vegas (H)
  • Tacoma (A) vs Round Rock (H)
  • Sacramento (A) vs Round Rock (H)

Week 2

  • Buffalo (A) vs Syracuse (H)
  • Worcester (A) vs Lehigh Valley (H)
  • Scranton-WB (A) vs Rochester (H)
  • Louisville (A) vs Columbus (H)
  • Nashville (A) vs Indianapolis (H)
  • Omaha (A) vs Iowa(H)
  • St. Paul (A) vs Toledo (H)
  • Charlotte (A) vs Memphis (H)
  • Durham (A) vs Norfolk (H)
  • Jacksonville (A) vs Gwinnett (H)
  • Albuquerque (A) vs Sacramento (H)
  • El Paso (A) vs Oklahoma City (H)
  • Round Rock (A) vs Sugar Land (H)
  • Las Vegas (A) vs Reno (H)
  • Salt Lake (A) vs Tacoma (H)

An Improved Postseason Plan

This format is not the most exciting for a number of reasons.  First, every team should not be participating.  Making the postseason is supposed to be an accomplishment, so only a limited number of teams should make it.  The most logical number is eight teams.  There are now five Triple-A divisions, so all five division winners should get an automatic bid.

In an 8 team playoff, you would have the five division winners plus three Wild Cards.  All team could be seeded according to regular season record regardless of East or West.  Considering there are 10 teams in the West and 20 in the East, it would be very difficult to split the leagues evenly.  Every team match-up would play in a best of three series.  So here’s how it would look:

  • First Round:  #1 vs #8, #2 vs #7, #3 vs #6 and #4 vs #5 in a best of three series.
  • Second Round: Team would be reseeded according to who wins Round One, so that the highest seeds play the lowest seeds in a best of three series.
  • Third Round:  Championship Series with highest seeded team as the home team in a best of three series.

Here’s another idea.  If travel and logistics are a concern, they could play the entire tournament at a neutral site, similar to the College World Series.  That site could remain constant each year (like the CWS in Omaha) or localities could bid on the site similar to the Super Bowl.

Postseason Opportunities Ahead

Playoffs are the most exciting part of any sports league, but not all formats are equal to others.  Sports fans want to see the best teams play in a heightened sense of competition.  Triple-A baseball has the opportunity to create a fun, action packed postseason that could attract a larger audience.  A September playoff could give fans a taste of the MLB Postseason they await in October.  MiLB should consider these kind of ideas moving forward.

Brian Koss
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