The Los Angeles Dodgers have already locked up the top seed in the National League and will inevitably have home-field advantage throughout the World Series. With some of the best fans in baseball, this is a massive advantage for the Dodgers to have.
With the new playoff structure, the Dodgers received a first-round bye straight to the NLDS alongside the second seed, which will be whoever wins the NL East between the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves (certainly looking like the Braves…). The St. Louis Cardinals, as the three seed, will play the third Wild Card team in a three-game Wild Card series. The top and second Wild Card teams will also play a three-game series.
That is where the seeding comes in and the new playoff structure shows its flaws. This is essentially the exact same playoff structure that the NFL used before they expanded to seven playoff teams in each conference. However, in the NFL, there was re-seeding after each round, so the No. 1 seed would play the worst possible seed available, no matter what.
That is not the case here. As the No. 1 seed, the Dodgers will play the winner of the No. 4 and No. 5 seed, while the Mets/Braves will play the winner of the battle between the Cardinals and the No. 6 seed.
The Dodgers are getting the toughest possible NLDS opponent, no matter what.
With how the seeding has panned out over the last few weeks, it has become clear that the Dodgers are going to end up with the toughest possible NLDS opponent no matter what. Meanwhile, whoever wins the NL East is going to get the easier matchup.
The No. 2 seed will face either the Cardinals or the Phillies/Brewers. There is still a chance that San Diego falls to the sixth seed, but that is highly unlikely given how poorly the other two teams are playing.
The Phillies have completely collapsed and are blowing their first playoff appearance in a decade. Meanwhile, the Brewers have simply been playing mediocre ball and have not fully capitalized on this meltdown. Either way, the Phillies and Brewers are the two easiest potential NLDS opponents.
St. Louis is not that much of a challenge, either, at least compared to the fourth and fifth seeds. Every year, there is one division winner that is definitely worse than the Wild Card teams, and this year it is the Cardinals. That is not to say that they cannot go on a run, but they are definitely fighting an uphill battle.
Then we look at the Dodgers’ side of things. Los Angeles is going to play either the Braves/Mets (again, probably the dangerous Mets) or the Padres. And while the Dodgers have dominated the Padres this season, they are still a much harder team to play in a playoff series than the Cardinals.
The same can obviously be said for either the Mets or Braves, who would be favored in this Wild Card series. The three best teams in the NL are the Dodgers, Mets and Braves. LA is most likely going to have to play one of those two teams in the NLDS.
Re-seeding wouldn’t totally fix this problem, as the Cardinals would end up playing the No. 2 team anyway if they won their Wild Card series. But, at least with re-seeding, the Dodgers would get the actual benefit of being the No. 1 seed and have the chance to play the far inferior Phillies or Brewers if things fell their way.
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Instead, the team is going to be in a five-game dogfight to kickstart their postseason run.