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Miami Marlins: A Look at Gaby Sanchez’s Struggles and Future Outlook

It’s no secret the Miami Marlins were in heavy pursuit of free agent slugger Albert Pujols this past offseason and dangled nearly $200 million for 10 years to get him signed, sealed and delivered to sunny South Beach. 

Fast forward to May 15 and the front office should be breathing a sign of relief they missed out on him, but maybe kicking themselves that they didn’t deal their own first baseman, Gaby Sanchez, after an All-Star season in 2011. 

Here is the tale of the tape on both Sanchez and Pujols this season (via ESPN): 



Sanchez, who had a 2.4 WAR (wins above replacement) in 2011, currently has a WAR of -0.8. And while Pujols is getting all the headlines—and with good reason after signing a massive contract with the Angels—Gaby’s struggles have gone under the radar. 

A deeper look reveals Sanchez’s struggles could be tied with an increased tendency to extend the strike zone. 

According to Fangraphs, his O-Swing percentage (percentage of pitches a batter swings at outside the strike zone) has increased this season from 31.9 percent to 37.7 percent this season, and that’s when you take into consideration the average is 30 percent.

And while Sanchez has made more outside contact than last season (75 percent in 2011 versus 76.7 in 2012), you can tie that to his emergency swings down in the count that usually end up being fly ball or pop outs. 

So why the drastic change? Well, pitchers have been able to dominate Sanchez when ahead or even in the count (.181 batting average, 20 strikeouts in 84 plate appearances) as opposed to when Sanchez has gotten ahead in the count (.250 batting average, .400 on-base percentage in 35 plate appearances). 

Furthermore, Sanchez has not has much success with off-speed pitches.

According to Fangraphs, where a negative score indicates poor, if any success on a particular pitch, Sanchez has struggled on changeups (-2.20), sinkers (-5.88), and curveballs (-5.05). This has allowed pitchers to blow Sanchez away with their fastball in certain situations (-2.36). 

The Marlins will probably ride Sanchez a couple of more weeks before making a somewhat permanent change at the hot corner. At this point, Sanchez has little to no trade value. An injury-riddled team like the Brewers could use him, but he isn’t hitting better than what they have in Travis Ishikawa.

Perhaps a Francisco Rodriguez for Sanchez trade might not be far-fetched if Heath Bell continues to struggle (10.03 ERA). 

But as it stands, the Marlins face a tough decision with Sanchez as he enters his first year of arbitration. Logan Morrison, whose defense has been iffy at times in the outfield this season, looks certain to make first base his immediate future if the front office declines to offer Sanchez a contract. Morrison came up through the farm system as a first baseman, but Sanchez derailed that possibility.

The Marlins could explore signing a bat in free agency, and it should be interesting since there is somewhat of a deep market for outfielders this offseason.  

The front office could choose among the likes of switch-hitting Shane Victorino (32 years old at time of free agency), Melky Cabrera (28 years old), or Nick Swisher (32 years old). The Marlins could also target B.J. Upton (28 years old), or if they want to take a shot at the best free agent on the market, Josh Hamilton (31 years old). 

For now, Sanchez has to get better for the Marlins sake and his own. Ever since donning the All-Star jersey, Sanchez is hitting a miserable .216 (74-for-342) and has slugged nine home runs as opposed to the 11 the first half of 2011. 

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Miami Marlins: Marlins Park Home Run Feature Might Be in Danger of Being No More

With all these soft openings, the Marlins are starting to realize their interesting creation in left-center field might pose a problem for batters. 

Already, the batter’s eye in straight-away center field has been repainted black from the green color that is evident throughout the walls of the outfield. 

The home run feature, which goes off when a Marlins player launches one over the fences, was designed by renowned artist Red Grooms. The nearly 75′-tall structure has an abundance of color from aqua to pink to green and everything in between. It also features moving waves along the bottom and spin cycles of Marlins, seagulls and flamingos. 

Corner infielder Greg Dobbs, a left-handed batter, also already voiced his concern in an interview with the Miami Herald and what could await what most fans consider a “hideous” structure. 

“If it is an issue, it can no longer be there,” Dobbs said. “I won’t be the only left-handed hitter saying something. If other teams have a problem with it, they’re definitely going to voice their concern to the league.”

However on Tuesday night, Marlins prospect Christian Yelich, a left-handed batter, went 2-for-3 including a game-tying RBI in the ninth inning against the University of Miami.

For fans rejoicing that the sculpture is on life support please don’t keep your hopes up. The sculpture cost an estimated $2.5 million to build and won’t be torn down or moved as that would exceed costs and enter territory that David Samson and company vowed they wouldn’t enter. 

President David Samson voiced his opinion on the matter and stated it’s “not an issue whatsoever” after Major League Baseball inspected the ballpark, specifically on the batter’s eye last week. 

If it indeed becomes a problem, the only viable option would be to install a tinted retractable window to cover the sculpture, essentially dimming its characteristics and have it come down during the celebration. Furthermore, a window, especially one made with hurricane proof resistance could help against home run blasts by Giancarlo Stanton who seems like a perfect candidate to take apart the sculpture bit by bit with his majestic power. 

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Miami Marlins: Analyzing Starting Pitching Options in Wake of Gio Gonzalez Deal

After relentlessly attempting to land local product Gio Gonzalez and add another established pitcher to the rotation, the Marlins are forced to look elsewhere as the division rival Washington Nationals augmented their rotation with another young arm. 

It was disappointing for the Marlins because, in this particular case, they were willing to deal their top prospects, a change of times for a franchise who usually keeps and molds their farm system and deals their established starting players. 

The Oakland Athletics asked the Marlins for either Logan Morrison or Mike Stanton in a package deal for Gio Gonzalez and the team has deemed both “untouchable”. 

So where does the team go from here? 

The current rotation of Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Ricky Nolasco, and Anibal Sanchez has an array of question marks to the point that it might not even be within the top 3 in the crowded NL East.

The trade market currently consists of Wade Davis (Rays), Gavin Floyd (White Sox), Matt Garza (Cubs), Wandy Rodriguez (Astros), and Carlos Zambrano (Cubs). 

The Marlins could easily obtain Davis, Rodriguez or Zambrano in different ways. If they want Wade Davis (26), they’d have to part with Gaby Sanchez which will only happen if the team successfully signs Yoenis Cespedes so that Morrison can reclaim his former position at first base.  

To get Wandy Rodriguez (32), the Marlins would have to eat up the grand majority of his contract (three years/$36 million) and deal a solid return. But considering they wanted C.J. Wilson, this is a possibility. Rodriguez went 11-11 with a 3.49 ERA but his strikeout rate has steadily declined since 2008. 

To get Carlos Zambrano (30), the Marlins wouldn’t have to deal much as the Cubs would eat up most of the $18 million owed to him in 2012. The team would likely have to part with pitcher Chris Volstad to get a deal done. Zambrano essentially would be a reclamation project with the hopes he can regain his footing as top-of-the-rotation guy. 

As for Matt Garza or Gavin Floyd, the package would have to be within the ranks of the Gio Gonzalez deal. The Marlins will probably steer clear of Garza (10-10, 3.32 ERA) considering the package the Cubs would seek for their 28-year-old with only one year of control left. Gavin Floyd (12-13, 4.37 ERA), Ozzie’s former pitcher with the White Sox, would be an intriguing option but the “rebuilding” White Sox could seek a huge return for their 28-year-old pitcher. 

On the other hand, the free agent market consists of Edwin Jackson, Hiroki Kuroda, Roy Oswalt, Joe Saunders and Javier Vazquez.  Out of these, Vazquez has said and continues to hold firm on his stance on retiring and, at this point, why force a guy back when he truly doesn’t want to return?

Joe Saunders and Hiroki Kuroda make little sense because of age in Kuroda’s case (36) or pitching ability in Saunders’ case (soft-throwing left-hander, which the Marlins have in Mark Buehrle). 

Edwin Jackson seeks a multi-year deal with agent Scott Boras in tow, and the Marlins won’t go down that road with a pitcher of similar ability in Ricky Nolasco, who floundered last season. 

As for Roy Oswalt, it wouldn’t be a bad decision to sign him, as he seeks a one-year deal. But can the Marlins afford to add another question mark, as Oswalt suffered through back issues last season? 

You can bet the Marlins are going to add one more pitcher, but who is it? That’s yet to be seen, but the team has to do whatever it takes to keep up with the pitching ranks in the NL East. The Marlins arguably may have the best lineup in the division, but the starting rotation thirsts for one more ace to make the team a serious contender. 

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Miami Marlins: Analyzing Marlins Ballpark Dimensions, Comparing It with Others

The Miami Marlins will enter the 2012 season with a very dynamic lineup, featuring Jose Reyes at the top of the order, Emilio Bonifacio continuing the bullet train behind him, Hanley Ramirez capping it at the three spot, followed by the powerful bat of Mike Stanton, the lefty bat of Logan Morrison, Gaby Sanchez, John Buck, and Omar Infante.

The Marlins will also feature a very solid rotation spearheaded by Josh Johnson, Mark Buehrle, Anibal Sanchez, and Ricky Nolasco. However, the question is whether their new ballpark in Miami will be a hitters haven, pitchers paradise, or somewhere in between. 

The new free agents all asked whether the same question and team president David Samson said to the media contingent: “We don’t know, some days I come here and it looks tiny. Other days I come here and it looks giant, there’s no way you’ll know until the players play.”

The roof is a factor, various ballparks in baseball have roofs and the wind and humidity all play a role in how far the ball travels.

I’ve racked together ten different ballparks and stadiums to compare the dimensions of the new Marlins ballpark including Sun Life Stadium. 

The choices made were based off the notoriety of the ballpark, its similarity of dimensions or just out of curiosity. 

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Florida Marlins: Best and Worst Case Scenario in the Wake of SEC Ballpark Probe

Just as the Marlins were coasting enthusiastically through the offseason, wining and dining, and recently signing closer Heath Bell to a lucrative deal, they were dealt the usual blow when the US Securities & Exchanges Commission (SEC) opened a probe Friday investigating the controversial stadium deal green-lit by the City of Miami and Miami-Dade County. 

Usual you say? 

Why of course. The Marlins have gotten used to the highs and lows since their inception. They began as a thriving franchise with booming attendance numbers in 1993 but not even two seasons in and MLB grew dark as part of a players strike in 1994. This caused the attendance figures to never even come close to the over three million achieved during the inaugural season and with continuing mediocre play for these figures to get lower. 

Then a savior for the “Fighting Fish” was the 1997 season which saw the ballclub make strides and finally make it .500 and finally make it to the postseason. The end result was a World Series title after a pulse-pounding walk-off by Edgar Renteria in extra innings. The joy and spike in attendance was short-lived when the Marlins underwent a firesale in the offseason. 

The Marlins were left limping in standings the following seasons and bleeding fans as they pushed for some sort of hope for funding for a new ballpark. They were sold twice (by Wayne Huizenga in 1998 and again by John Henry in 2002) and hit a new low in 2002 when attendance was a mere 813,118 for the season. 

The Marlins finally breathed new life and got back on the saddle in 2003 when they won the World Series. But again failure to get a ballpark deal hurt them and caused a “Market Correction” in 2005. Just when it looked like the Marlins were going to relocate, they got hope of finally getting a ballpark in South Florida. 

After getting approved for a ballpark deal, former Philadelphia Eagles owner and local car dealer Norman Braman tries to stop it from getting built. Such fight by Braman caused the ballpark to ultimately delay its opening from 2011 to 2012. 

Just Another Usual Blow 

Now in 2011, the Marlins just fresh from formally transitioning from the Florida Marlins and making serious pushes for elite free agents are being sough after by federal authorities. 

According to The Miami Herald, the SEC is demanding financial documents dealing with the nearly $500 million in bond sales in addition to records of campaign contributions from the Marlins to local and state officials. 

Furthermore, the SEC is requesting that minutes of meetings between government officials, owner Jeffrey Loria, and Commissioner Bud Selig and the records of Marlins finances since 2007 be delivered by Jan. 6. 

While this looks like a blow to the Marlins plans in free agency, the ballclub came out with a statement today addressing the situation and how it affects their plans. 

From Joe Capozzi’s conversation with team VP PJ Loyello: “It will have no affect whatsoever on our roster plans,” said via text message by Loyello. 

From the Marlins themselves: “Yes, we are aware of the investigation that the SEC is conducting on the issuance of the county’s and city’s stadium and parking bonds. Of course we will fully cooperate with the SEC’s investigation as needed and assist in whatever way possible. Because this is an on-going matter, it is not appropriate to comment further.” 

Best and Worst Case Scenario 

At the moment, the Marlins say they are fully committed to staying the course and if they offer money the free agents will come because at the end of the day regardless of anything that happens down the road (from the teams standpoint) they are guaranteed of that salary. 

If this investigation turns sour for the Marlins, this could be a similar but yet different situation that soon to be former Dodgers owner Frank McCourt endured when dealing with finances of the team during a divorce with his wife, Jamie McCourt. 

Fans shouldn’t fear for another firesale because Major League Baseball will prevent it from happening by taking over operations like they did with the Los Angeles Dodgers

If Major League Baseball were to somehow ouster Jeffrey Loria in the wake of the investigation if it should come out that there were illegal doings, it can actually prove to be a good thing for some fans who just outright despise the owner for moves he has made (trading Miguel Cabrera and coming out with less than favorable logo and uniform schemes). 

If he should fail in his pursuit of the Dodgers, fans could see Mark Cuban throwing his hat in the ring for ownership of the Miami Marlins

Yes, its something fans would see as a savior for the franchise, put a fans’ owner in charge. However, first and foremost the best case scenario is that the investigation doesn’t derail the Miami Marlins goals and from the plan to finally be a competitive team every season.  

The last thing fans need is for this to have an effect on the teams performance on the field and for a scandal to be the headline for the Marlins with a brand new identity just establishing itself on the scene.  

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Miami Marlins: 9 Bold Moves That Will Make the Team a Legit Contender

The Miami Marlins—and just about every team—have been really quiet during the Hot Stove season. There has been loads of sizzle, but not enough to bring out and chew on just yet. The Marlins are the lone team expected to deliver on being the winner of the Hot Stove season. 

They’ve wined and dined a handful of free agents, which include Albert Pujols, Jose Reyes, Mark Buehrle (although he skipped that and just toured the new ballpark) and most recently, CJ Wilson, who is expected to visit the Marlins brass during Thanksgiving weekend. 

The market for the areas of need (starting pitching, third base and center field) is scarce, and thus, I expect the Marlins to pull off some trades to fill the voids. Already, the team has engaged in trade talks with the Oakland A’s regarding ace southpaw Gio Gonzalez and has expressed interest in the Rays’ James Shields. 

With the peak of the Hot Stove (winter meetings) a couple of weeks away and the lack of moves made on the Marlins’ end of things (Wade LeBlanc trade is very minimal), I’ve decided to play the role of general manager for the remainder of the offseason. I will investigate what moves are realistic under the parameters of the payroll, whatever that may be, that would put the Miami Marlins on the map. 

Now mind you, this payroll will be quite inflated from the estimated ballpark of $80 million that most predicted a mere two months ago. However, if the Marlins end up with the roster I’m about to reveal, I bet they proudly proclaim they will reach the World Series rather than making it the goal of the future. 

Here we go. These are the nine moves that will truly complete the remodeling of the Marlins from the frugal Florida team to an aggressive, money-spending Miami franchise. 

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Florida Marlins Owner Jeffrey Loria Shows Admiration for a Celebrity Staff

In a matter of a couple of weeks, the Marlins have driven their winning vehicle off course and are struggling to bring it back on the road as the team is in a tailspin with eight consecutive losses that includes back to back sweeps at home. 

Enter knee-jerk reaction owner Jeffrey Loria, who couldn’t continue watching such losses from his home plate seat near the Marlins dugout. 

The Marlins owner ordered the firing of hitting coach John Mallee Wednesday after a six-game skid that happened primarily because of Hanley Ramirez’s absence from the lineup. Of course, many would argue that Ramirez’s struggles are the main reason for Mallee’s firing and the skid gave Loria the ammunition for a move. 

The Marlins replaced Mallee, an experienced coach, with one with no major league coaching experience—although he is a former major leaguer—in Eduardo Perez, now former analyst with ESPN’s Baseball Tonight. 

But more to the point that Loria is craving for more famous faces amongst his already loaded staff that includes Hall of Famers Andre Dawson and Tony Perez and former Marlins manager Jack McKeon. 

We can’t help but look back at last year’s attempts at such celebrity status for the managerial role. 

He tried to woo his old pal Bobby Valentine into managing the Florida Marlins, twice. The first attempt came after the 2009 season which the team had its third best season in franchise history with an 87-75 record, but he was talked out of it by his front office. The second came after firing Fredi Gonzalez, but Loria failed to meet Valentine’s salary demands and perhaps possible control of the team. 

With the Valentine bridge burned, the Marlins tried to target White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen into coming back to Miami, where he once was the third base coach when the team last won the World Series in 2003. But when the White Sox demanded Logan Morrison as compensation for negotiating with Guillen, that bridge all but collapsed. 

So what’s behind Loria’s craving for a “celebrity” staff? Well, in a nutshell, it’s an attempt to get the Marlins more recognized amongst the fans to get them to come to the ballpark. 

Since the team doesn’t enjoy spending big on players, it’s solution seems to be tied to hiring big names on the other side of the baseball spectrum. 

Nevertheless, the players aren’t taking his latest move easy with Logan Morrison calling out Loria for firing Mallee. 

“They felt Mallee had to go,” Morrison said. “I don’t feel that way. He’s there from day one. He got me to the big leagues. I was a 22nd rounder for a reason. I made the big leagues for a reason, and he was in between that time.”

Asked if he felt Loria was responsible for Mallee’s firing, Morrison told reporters, “Absolutely. 100 percent. You know it was. I’m sure he’ll tell you that, too.”

This isn’t a good way to go about business and Loria better not be thinking about firing Edwin Rodriguez during the season but that’s likely not to happen since he is on a one year leash, a leash many suspect will be cut in order to make way for a big name manager. 

But instead of glamoring and gushing over a big-name manager, why doesn’t Loria make his fans happy and make a move that actually helps his team and not hurts it? 

I already mentioned that the Marlins need to make a move to appease the fanbase that has seen a team with great potential falter because the team has made bad moves throughout the years. 

Now, Loria needs to make own to appease his players too, to show them that he cares about the team just as much as he cares about getting baseball celebrities in his shiny new ballpark.

It’s a pretty simple PR move to make, trade for that star player if he becomes available, David Wright is one obvious example. 

This Donald Trumpism just has to end, if you’re going to be a second coming of George Steinbrenner at least go after the big players and not the big managers or coaches. 

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Florida Marlins Ace Josh Johnson Placed on DL with Shoulder Inflammation

Despite a victory from the Florida Marlins last night, the team received a loss off it when Josh Johnson was placed on the 15-day disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation.

The injury is not related to the line drive hit off his forearm in his last start that came against the New York Mets, which happened to be delayed by a soggy infield caused by rain earlier that Tuesday. Johnson had not warmed up until the game was officially scheduled to be held; however, his velocity was down to 91 mph on his fastball.  

Johnson was shut down last season because of back problems. It is a familiar place for Johnson, who missed parts of the 2007 and 2008 seasons after Tommy John surgery.

Johnson led the NL with a 2.30 ERA last season and was tied with the Cardinals‘ Jaime Garcia with a 1.64 mark this season and his second with a 0.98 WHIP.

This now puts the pressure on the struggling Javier Vazquez to pitch better since the team is currently lacking internal options for starters. Sean West and Alex Sanabia are both dealing with injuries of their own.

The Marlins have called up reliever Jay Buente to replace Johnson in the rotation.

Buente was 3-0 with a 1.91 ERA in five starts since moving into the rotation at Triple-A New Orleans. He made his major league debut for the Marlins last season, putting up a 6.55 ERA in eight relief appearances.

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Florida Marlins: Front Office Should Make a Splash, Trade for Mets’ David Wright

Already, the Florida Marlins are in excellent shape to make a run at the postseason for the first time since 2003. The Marlins have gotten a Cy Young worthy performance out of Josh Johnson and solid outings out of Ricky Nolasco and Anibal Sanchez, who nearly repeated his gem from 2006. Yet, they’re still waiting on Chris Volstad and Javier Vazquez to follow suit.

The bullpen has been tremendous, leading MLB in ERA (1.63) and BAA (.178), as of Saturday, they are one of two teams that has yet to blow a save this season (Dodgers). 

The starting lineup has gotten surprises from Logan Morrison, leading the team in home runs and RBIs despite now being out for the next two to three weeks with a foot injury, Gaby Sanchez, Emilio Bonifacio and even Brett Hayes.

Nevertheless, they have yet to get production from their best bats in Hanley Ramirez and Mike Stanton who are seemingly closing in on breaking out of their slumps; this makes the Marlins even scarier.

With all that said everything seems well with the Marlins but even the front office knows they are missing a piece. If you remember before the season started, the front office tried to make a splash by going after Rangers infielder Michael Young.

Such trade talks fell through mainly because Texas was asking for a lot in return for the 34-year-old and paying roughly half his salary ($16 million per season until 2013).  

Of course, the Marlins bowed out of the race, but hold on, why stop there? If the Marlins really are interested in going after Michael Young, a two-time Gold Glover, why don’t they go after a much “younger” version in Mets third baseman David Wright? 

Currently, the Marlins third baseman of future, Matt Dominguez is nursing a fractured elbow he suffered on April 1st in a Triple-A game and that has delayed his call-up to the major leagues. Many have blessed Dominguez for his Gold Glover caliber defense at third, it’s something that the Marlins love about him, but can he hit? 

In the minors, Dominguez has a .257 career batting average with 46 home runs and 219 RBI in 375 games. The Marlins want to give him the chances he can to succeed but if there is a chance to get to the World Series this season and even next season, is the team really going to the let that opportunity slip away?

Back in 2003, the Marlins had to deal their first overall draft pick Adrian Gonzalez to the Texas Rangers for Ugueth Urbina, who helped the Marlins on their way on their second World Series title in franchise history. 

In 2008, the Marlins could have pulled the trigger and traded for Manny Ramirez and potentially gone to the postseason at the cost of slugger Mike Stanton who would be a Red Sox. Yet the team knew Stanton can hit and was a physical specimen having played football in addition to baseball in high school. 

So we shouldn’t be surprised if the Marlins decide to do the unthinkable, but this time the front office needs to reward its fans and needs to show them that they are serious about making a run at the postseason and entering the new stadium with a World Series trophy. 

Considering the possibility that the Mets could be dealing Jose Reyes, Francisco Rodriguez, and Carlos Beltran during the season to rebuild means David Wright will follow and the Marlins can’t afford to let it slip by and have a Phillies or Braves team swoop in and snag him.

David Wright is signed through the 2013 season, getting paid $14 million this season, $15 million in 2012, and a $16 million team option ($1 million buyout). 

Yes, the salary numbers are awfully similar to that of Michael Young’s, but Wright is six years younger than Young (Wright is 28 years of age), and perhaps entering the prime of his career. 

The Marlins currently have shortstop Hanley Ramirez signed through 2014 and their ace pitcher Josh Johnson signed through 2013. It only makes sense for the Marlins to go after David Wright, and if they fail to make a deep run, they can always cash in via draft pick compensation or a trade which the Marlins have done with their best players throughout the years. 

If the Marlins want to make it to the postseason, let alone the World Series, they need to make a splash with the fans, and what better way than with a leader in the clubhouse, a five-time All-Star, two-time Gold Glover who would cement the Fish as legitimate contenders. 

It might cost the Marlins a Gold Glove caliber infielder in Matt Dominguez, a promising everyday outfielder in Scott Cousins, and perhaps a solid infielder in Osvaldo Martinez but the Marlins owe to the fans and themselves to go after and acquire a player like David Wright and make it worth their while. 

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MLB Playoff Expansion: Why the Benefits Outweigh the Risks

Commissioner Bud Selig is ready to move towards his goal of expanding the current format of the playoffs from three to four rounds, and from eight teams to ten (five in each league). 

On Thursday, Selig had this to say to the Associated Press, “I would say we’re moving to expanding the playoffs, but there’s a myriad of details to work out, 10 is a fair number.”

Indeed it is, out of the other three professional sports leagues (NBA, NFL, and NHL), MLB has the lowest percentage of teams entering the playoffs, a near 27 percent. The NBA and NHL each have 53 percent of their league entering the playoffs and the NFL has a moderately higher percentage than baseball at 37.5 percent. 

Originally added after the 1994 players strike, the Wild Card has given teams who fell short in first place of their division a chance to get into the playoffs. Four teams have reaped the benefits of this—the 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins, the 2002 Anaheim Angels, and the 2004 Boston Red Sox—and gone on to win the World Series.

In past years, we’ve seen teams such as the Colorado Rockies (2007), Chicago White Sox (2008) and Minnesota Twins (2009) play a one game winner take all Wild Card tiebreaker, and it seems to have triggered MLB’s interest in expanding the current format.

To dive into the possibility of playoff expansion, let’s take a look at the issues that will need to be resolved along with the benefits of them:


Longer Schedule, Hello November? 

Not necessarily, baseball has moved up the start of the regular season by a half week to avoid it sliding into November, and it might begin as early as next season.

The owners and the players aren’t going to want or pursue a series that’s in a five or seven-game format, so they’re shouldn’t be much of a problem over this.


One Game Format or Three Game Format?

Personally, a three-game format works best for a few reasons. First, it adds meaning to winning your division as you get to rest your players and reset the starting rotation in time for the League Division Series. A one game playoff won’t add that incentive. 

Second, I don’t like the idea of placing the entire weight on one game, this isn’t the NCAA Tournament or NFL. Plus, those wild card teams probably used their best pitching to get there and they might not have their aces on the mound for that one game. 

In the end, a best of three format is best. It’s reminiscent of the Little League World Series. However, the issue might be whether it should be played as home-away-home, or all in one place. Perhaps the team with the best record gets priority.

Ideally, a home-away-home format would add balance; all the games with the exception of the third one could be played during the day to allow time to travel between cities.   


Expanded Playoffs allows teams to end their droughts

Baseball is notorious for having teams who have yet to make the postseason in quite some time—the Pirates and Nationals are two prime examples. In order to increase their chances when they are ready to be a contender, this format would allow an opportunity for a dark horse to win the World Series.

Last season, the Red Sox and Padres would have been in had it been for the expansion of the playoffs, and it could have changed many things.

The bottom line is while it may not be a popular idea, it certainly helps teams duke it out for a chance at the World Series. It allows the hard work done during the dog days of the summer to be settled against a Wild Card rival and adds high drama to the postseason.

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