Minor League Baseball Playoffs Will Return In 2021
Updated: Story has been updated with details on the additional 10 Triple-A games and Triple-A Final Stretch competition.
After the possibility was first reported by Baseball America, Minor League Baseball announced late Wednesday night that playoffs would return for the 2021 season.
Some of the details are still being ironed out, but the move is a departure from the previous plan, which had shelved the postseason as a way to allow space for games postponed by Covid-19 to be made up.
With only handful of such postponements over the course of the first nearly two months of the season, the league decided to reverse course and allow all full-season leagues to hold a postseason for the first time since 2019.
The teams remaining from the former Florida State League (now the Low-A Southeast League) have been waiting even longer, since the 2019 playoffs were canceled by the threat posed by an incoming hurricane.
The Triple-A format is still being hammered out, but the Double-A, High-A and Low-A leagues will each begin a best-of-five series on Sept. 21, MiLB announced.
There will be a bit of a twist from previous seasons, because the two playoff participants from each league will be the two teams with the best record, regardless of division.
For example, if the playoffs began today, the Double-A South's championship series would be between Pensacola (Marlins) and Mississippi (Braves), which each have a record of 30-20 atop the South Division, while North Division-leading Chattanooga (Reds) would be left out.
To settle ties, the league will use head-to-head record first, then look at the teams' winning percentages over the previous 20 games. If the teams are tied in both those categories, then they will add a game and look at winning percentages for the past 21 games and continue adding games until the tie is broken.
There will be no playoffs in the Rookie-level Florida or Arizona Complex Leagues.
MiLB announced the details for the Triple-A format: There will be no playoffs in either the East or West Leagues, but each will have its season extended until Oct. 3. Each team will play two additional five-game series, beginning on Sept. 22 in the East and Sept. 23 in the West, with an off-day in between. The teams with the best regular-season records will then be crowned league champions.
The Triple-A East and West champions will be the teams with the best winning percentage as of Sept. 19 (Triple-A East) and Sept. 21 (Triple-A West). There will be one Triple-A "Final Stretch" winner for the team with the best winning percentage over those final 10 games. The winner will be given an unspecified prize from Major League Baseball.
The tiebreakers for both the regular season and FInal Stretch will be as follows:
1. Best regular season winning percentage.
2. Regular season head-to-head record (if three or more clubs are tied, the
best winning percentage in games among the Clubs).
3. Best regular season winning percentage over the final 20 games.
4. Best regular season winning percentage over the final 21 games. This will keep going until a winner is determined.
The schedule for the final two weeks is as follows: