MLB Playoffs 2017: Division series shaping up to be the best in over a decade
Once the NL Wild Card games are done, this year’s contenders will have impressive win totals
With the New York Yankees defeating the Minnesota Twins, this year’s divisional round is shaping up to be one of the most loaded in terms of win totals in recent history. The Arizona Diamondbacks will square off against the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday night to determine who the final contestant will be, but as it stands 2017’s top-heavy regular season looks like it’s finally going to pay off.
This year’s playoffs feature the Cleveland Indians (102 wins), Los Angeles Dodgers (104), Houston Astros (101), Washington Nationals (97), Boston Red Sox (93), New York Yankees (91) and Chicago Cubs (92). Should the Diamondbacks beat the Rockies, it would add a 93-win team to the fold, bringing the grand total for all divisional teams to 773. If the Rockies pull off the upset, their 87 wins would bring the total to 767. A Diamondbacks win would also put the Cubs at the second-lowest win total among all playoff teams — only ahead of the Yankees.
Since the current playoff format was implemented in 2012, there has been only one other instance that every team in the divisional round has had at least 90 wins (2013). Indeed, even as things stand, the last time there were three 100-win teams in the divisional round was in 2002, when the Braves, Athletics and Yankees all played (notably, all three of those teams lost their division series).
If the Diamondbacks win, it would be the highest win total in a divisional series since 2002, when the total was an astounding 790. If the Rockies advance, it would be the most combined wins since 2004, when the eight teams playing in the divisional round had 769 wins. Either way, what stands out about 2017 is the balance of the teams playing. A maximum of 17 games will separate the top-seeded Dodgers from the wild-card entry, and if the Diamondbacks prevail then that would cut the gap to a mere 11 games.
Whatever happens, it makes what could at times feel like a regular-season slog worth it. Fans will be treated to the Indians and Yankees in an ALDS, which almost feels criminal. Even the Red Sox and the Astros will have an LCS vibe to it, though that’s just by virtue of two divisional winners playing. The Dodgers have the added element of playing against a division rival in the NLDS, which should spark the competition regardless of who they face off against.
Obviously, all of those regular-season wins are for naught if a team can’t advance past the divisional round. But no matter who wins, 22 fanbases watching passively will at least get a show.