The Central Region Got Embarassed in Wild Card Round
Between the two leagues, the Central region had seven out of its ten teams in the postseason, the most out of any region this season. All seven of these teams lost in the Wild Card Round and only won a combined two games.
This was the first season in Major League history where the MLB was split up into regions, and they only played inside their region during the 60 game sprint this season. I believe that this format allowed some of these Central region teams to sneak into the postseason where they did not belong.
This may upset people, but the Central was by far the softest region when you look at the lack of a dominant team in the AL Central or the NL Central. There are no teams with the level of talent the New York Yankees, Los Angelos Dodgers, Tampa Bay Rays, San Diego Padres (I would throw the A's here before the Chapman injury as well).
This allowed the Central teams this year to have an average record of about .500, even with having the worst team in the league in the Pirates who finished the season at 19-41. I believe that the soft scheduling that was the Central region this season took a huge toll on these teams once they entered the postseason.
Obviously this is a factor that affected teams more so than others, but when you look at a team like the Indians who had the tough assignment of matching up with the pissed off, out to prove something Yankees they did not really have a shot. The Indians were carried by starting pitching all season with their rotation and finished in top five of ERA, but gave up 22 runs in two games to the Yankees.
The problems did not stop for these teams with facing deeper lineups, but also scoring runs were an issue. The Reds did not score a single run in their postseason that lasted 22 innings and looked quite pathetic in attempting to. The Twins only scored two runs in their two games, and pushed their postseason losing streak to 18 games. The Cardinals had the bats going in their first two games, but ultimately got shut out in a winner-take-all game three against nine different relievers from a Padres bullpen that is not all that dominant.
You can tell me that I'm reading too far into this, but I don't think we are digging deep enough. The scheduling of this MLB season was a far advantage to the teams in this Central division to make the playoffs. The top of these divisions got to beat up on the weaker bottom half of the divisions to help pad their records. The other regions did have weak teams too, but the Central had the worst record (Pirates) and the third worst record (Tigers) in the entire league. This allowed four of the five NL Central teams to sneak into the playoffs (most in the NL) and three for the AL Central (tied for most in the AL). Teams like the San Fransisco Giants and Philadelphia Phillies should be furious at the fact the Reds and Brewers were able to sneak in above them.
Obviously this playoff format is different and was going to give us viewers some new things in the postseason we have never seen before, but when all seven teams from one region lose in the first round it shows an unbalance. There actually was competitive unbalance within the MLB due to the COVID schedule and I have never seen that. Some teams always play in tougher divisions than others, but they get other games outside of their division and region to help make up for this and even out their record. We got to see a lot of teams in the postseason that had much better records than the teams they were, and it showed big time last week.