Even under the most routine and expected circumstances, the Twins would have been headed into the 2020 season with a strong chance to at least make the playoffs after last year’s 101-win season and AL Central title.
But the proposed format for a truncated, oddball season in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic will only enhance the Twins’ playoff chances.
Any slight ding from playing half as many games — leaving less margin for error for a poor start — will be more than offset by two factors:
1) The playoff format reportedly being proposed by owners expands the field from 10 to 14 teams. That would mean four total additional wild card teams — meaning nearly half of MLB’s 30 teams would qualify for the playoffs.
2) If the schedule really is geography-based, with teams in the American League Central and National League Central facing each other for all 80-plus games in order to reduce travel, the Twins figure to play a lot of mediocre-to-bad teams.
Baseball Prospectus projected the Twins in March to win 93 games. No other team in the AL Central or NL Central is projected to win more than 86, while three of those 10 teams are projected to lose 90-plus games.
It’s hard to imagine the Twins not being among the best 14 teams in MLB, particularly if they don’t have to face some of baseball’s other top teams during the regular season.
An online oddsmaker recently gave the Twins 1 to 6 odds to make the playoffs under a 14-team postseason format — meaning you’d have to wager $600 just to win $100. Only the Yankees, Astros and Dodgers are bigger playoff locks.
The flip side is that additional playoff teams means more playoff rounds and could make it harder to advance deep in the postseason — which, if we’re being honest, should be the Twins’ goal this year beyond just making it.