It is universal that you have to beat everyone to win the World Series. I get that. But is there a playoff seeding that might be more preferable than even one or two seeds higher? That is the question.
As it stands (games through September 10, roughly 15 games to go), the AL standings show:
We know some things are pretty certain - the 2nd and 3rd place teams in the AL Central are likely to be the #4 and #7 seeds (best second-place record and best Wildcard/3rd place record). But what about the difference between being the #1, #2, and #3 seed? Sure, #1 plays the last team in, but then they play the winner of the two best second-place finishers.
The #3 seed, on the other hand, plays the worst second-place team in the first round, and then the winner of the series between the second-best division winner and the best third-place team.
There is certainly some argument that being the #1 seed doesn't necessarily make you the best team. Could be that there is only one strong team in a division, and that team runs away with the best record. I think you can argue that a team that finishes with the best record in a highly-competitive division may well be more battle-tested and ready than the #1 or #2 seed who beat up on the other teams in a division of mediocre clubs.
Applying this to the current standings, are the Rays really the best team in the AL, or are they just better than Toronto, New York, Baltimore and Boston by a fairly wide margin? Are the A's for real, or are they benefiting from playing against Seattle, Texas, the Angels and the Astros? What's an easier path to the LCS - the winner of Tampa/New York versus Toronto/Minnesota? Or the winner of Oakland/Cleveland versus the winner of the White Sox/Astros series?
I'd love to see the Twins win the Central for a lot of reasons - but playoff seeding, even being the #3 seed, might be the biggest prize of all. Thoughts?