A lot of discussion has gone on this season about the probable expansion of the MLB playoffs from 8 teams to 10 teams. Right now, of course, that discussion has been around the events of Wednesday; that if the teams with the top two non-division-winning records had a playoff automatically then we wouldn't have had the ridiculously insane drama of that night.
I think the key to the playoffs is really deciding what teams deserve to make it, so I did a little research.
Since 1996, the division winner with the LEAST number of wins has averaged 90.4. Suppose you restructure the playoffs so that every division winner gets in, then every other team in each league with 90 or more wins makes it? How would that change things?
Thing is, it wouldn't change much, for the most part. In 17 of the 32 league-seasons since '96, four teams either won divisions or had 90+ wins. The Red Sox managed 90 this year, so they would have earned a one-game playoff with the Rays despite their collapse, but I'm okay with that.
Here are the teams that would have made it to some kind of playoff if they changed the rule to be for 90-wins:
2011 Red Sox (90)
2010 Padres (90)
2006 White Sox (90)
2005 Indians (93)
2004 Giants (91), Athletics (91)
2003 Mariners (93)
2002 Mariners (93), Red Sox (93), Dodgers (92)
2001 Giants (90)
2000 Indians (90)
1999 Reds (96)
It's worth noting that the teams that earned Wild Card berths in the NL in 2005 and 2006 DID NOT have 90 wins (Astros with 89, Padres/Dodgers with 88, respectively), and the 1996 Orioles made the Wild Card with 88 wins.
I haven't figured out what to do with those seasons where no team earns the Wild Card by getting to 90, nor the 2002 AL season where six teams would have made it, but I do like the idea in general. What do you think?