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Manfred says MLB playoff format will change: '16 is too many'

MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images / MediaNews Group / Getty

The most unprecedented Major League Baseball season concluded with the first 16-team postseason in the sport's history, but don't get used to it.

"Well, look, let me start at the top: 16 is too many," MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said when asked about the playoff format moving forward. "We did 16 (teams) this year because ... 162 games have a way of identifying who the best teams really are, and we felt this year that 60 (games) was a different kind of test and we ought to give more people the opportunity to participate in the postseason. I would not do that going forward."

Manfred's comments follow multiple reports that club owners prefer an expanded playoff format. Owners apparently favor a 14-team postseason, with the top seeds from each league receiving a first-round bye. That would represent an increase of two teams per league from the 10-team format used from 2012-19.

"I think that expanded playoffs are good for baseball," Manfred continued. "I loved the two-out-of-three series and that week with the bracket and the game on all the time. Basically, I think it was really good for the sport. But I think the trick is to identify a number of teams and a format that creates incentives to win divisions and play hard through the end of the year so that you have that drama that so often accompanies the end of our season."

Despite the expanded format, each league's top seed - the Tampa Bay Rays in the AL and the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL - is currently playing in the World Series.

In 2020, the Toronto Blue Jays and Milwaukee Brewers - neither of whom won a game in the opening round - wouldn't have made the playoffs in a 14-team format.

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