A Quick Look at the 2-3 Division Series Playoff Format
Barring a collapse by either the Cincinnati Reds or Washington Nationals, the Giants will be playing Game 1 of the National League Division Series in San Francisco on Saturday, October 6 against one of the aforementioned teams.
Given the new playoff format with the addition of the second Wild Card team in each league, Major League Baseball made a one-time change to the Division Series format. Because the new playoff structure was agreed upon after the release of the 2012 schedule, they decided to eliminate a travel day prior to Game 5 to avoid some sort of make believe scheduling conflict. Instead of the typical 2-2-1 format, this year’s format will be 2-3, with the team with home field advantage playing the final three games at home.
Intuitively, it makes sense to think the team with more home games in the series has the advantage. However, with the 2012 Divison Series format, that advantage – if there is one – has essentially been neutralized. One would always want the decisive Game 5 in the friendly confines of their home park, but it might not get to that.
If a team is truly better, they might be able to end the series before it gets to Game 5. But this is baseball. Anybody can beat anybody on a given day and anything can happen in a short series. With that in mind, would you rather have one additional home game and have Game 5 at home or would you rather have the first two games at home?
The team with first two games at home – like the Giants will have – will have the initial advantage. If they can take a commanding advantage in the first two games, the team with home field advantage might not be able to see the fruits of their regular season labor in Game 5.
To put it in perspective, the team with the worse record is guaranteed two home games while the team with home field advantage is only guaranteed one. Can you imagine having a great regular season, go into the Divison Series with home field advantage, and then only playing one home game?
I would lean towards taking the first two games at home, but I do vacillate between the two. However, with Mr. 0.00 taking the hill in Game 1, I like the Giants’ chances against anybody – no matter where they’re playing.
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