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It was officially announced this afternoon the MLB and the players union have agreed to expand the baseball playoffs to 10 teams, meaning that there will be now two wild card teams in each league rather than one.  The two wild card teams will play in a one game playoff before facing for the right to play the top team in each league.  One of the reasons for the expansion is to give teams more of an incentive to win the division rather than settling for the wild card.  Since adding the wild card in 1995 one of the things that has come clear is that outside of not having home field advantage and having to face a team with a better record their was little difference between a team that won its division and a team that snuck into the playoffs as a wild card team.  Now wild card teams have to play a game, and most likely use their ace pitcher, before they get to play the top seeded team in the league giving them a clear disadvantage.

Other changes that come with this change to the playoff system:

  • the Houston Astros will switch to the American League so that their will be an even 15 teams in each league.  
  • For the 2012 postseason, the five-game Division Series will begin with two home games for lower seeds, followed by home games for the higher seed. After that, it will return to the 2-2-1 format previously used.
  • Ties for division crowns will be settled by a one game playoff rather than by going on head-to-head records which they had done previously.

This is great news for the Marlins as they were expected to make a push for the playoffs this year with all of the big moves they made in the off season and now the fact that they play in the most competitive division does not but them at such a big disadvantage.  Last year everyone remembers the epic collapses by Atlanta and Boston, under the new system both these teams would have won the second playoff spot.  This year with San Francisco, Arizona, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Miami, and probably another dark horse team expected to be fighting for the playoff spots, it makes it that much easier for the Marlins to get into the playoff with the additional spot available.