The most unusual regular season in the history of Major League Baseball has finally come to an end. It was 60 games (for most teams) filled with all of the usual action: big hits, shutdown pitching, outstanding defense.

A few teams took advantage of the abbreviated schedule, playing beyond their preseason expectations to reach the expanded postseason. Others fell short of those expectations, disappointing their fan bases. Among the latter were the local Philadelphia Phillies, who miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive year.

Division winners in the National League were the Atlanta Braves (East), Chicago Cubs (Central), and Los Angeles Dodgers (West). The second place clubs from each division also received automatic berths. Those go to the Miami Marlins (East), Saint Louis Cardinals (Central), and San Diego Padres (West).

A pair of Wildcard berths were captured by the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers, meaning that four NL Central Division clubs have advanced into the playoffs. The Brew Crew become one of the first losing teams in MLB history to reach postseason play. The other comes from this year’s American League playoff participants.

In the American League, division winners were the Tampa Bay Rays (East), Minnesota Twins (Central), and Oakland Athletics (West), highlighting that small-market teams can not only compete, but can win big. The second place automatic berths went to the New York Yankees (East), Cleveland Indians (Central), and Houston Astros (West). The Astros join Milwaukee from the NL as the only teams in MLB history to make the playoffs with a losing regular season record.

Wildcards from the AL are the Chicago White Sox and Toronto Blue Jays. All three of the Twins, Indians, and Chisox from the American League Central Division finished with winning regular season records of more than 10 games over the .500 mark.

Here is the MLB Wildcard Round playoff schedule. The American League games will play out over Tuesday-Thursday, the National League from Wednesday-Friday. These best-of-three series will all be played at the home park of the higher seed and with no off-days between games.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES

This being a Philadelphia Phillies fan site, I’ll always specifically highlight the ball club and its performance in its own breakdown section. To say that the Phillies missing these expanded 2020 playoffs is a disappointment would be an understatement. I’ll expand more on that in a separate piece.

As for the Phillies finish in the MLB Power Ranking for this season, they are once again a middle-of-the-road ball club. But their finish as the 12th overall ranked team in Major League Baseball only serves to highlight the frustration of a losing record and missing out on the postseason.

The Phillies finished 18th in MLB in winning percentage, and by the end of the season their defense, a strength over the first month of play, had slipped to 23rd among the 30 teams. However, the offense propped up their overall ranking, finishing tied with the White Sox as the fifth-best offensive attack in baseball.

The much-maligned pitching staff actually rated out at 14th overall. The performances of starters Zack Wheeler, Aaron Nola, and Zach Eflin in most of their outings made up for much of the absolute failure of the Phillies historically bad bullpen group.

RANKINGS METHODOLOGY

The formula is always being researched and evaluated to see if it can be improved upon. It is currently made up of the following categories: winning percentage (most recent 30 games), runs-per-game, FIP (fielding independent pitching), and defensive runs saved as measured by Fangraphs. For the 2020 season the rankings use the overall full season win percentage because of the unbalanced number of games played and breaks in the schedule due to the COVID pandemic outbreaks.

The ‘winning percentage/30 days’ component reflects each team’s ability to actually win ball games during recent weeks. ‘FIP’ reflects a pitching staff’s ability to control the game and limit damage. The ‘runs-per-game‘ component acknowledges that teams play various numbers of games as of the time of each ranking. For example, it wouldn’t be fair to consider a club that had scored 100 runs over 50 games as effective as a club who scored 100 runs over just 45 games. ‘Defensive runs saved‘ is a stat measuring the effectiveness of each club’s defenders to keep opposition runs off the scoreboard.

Each team’s placement in the four component categories gets them assigned a 1-30 numerical value. Those are added up to determine a final overall rankings points total. The lower the overall points total, the higher you finish in the rankings.

Where there are any ties, those are broken using each team’s winning percentage over the last 30 (full season here in 2020), and then by their current overall winning percentage since, in the end, winning is what it’s all about. If still even, run differential is used to break the tie.

2020 FINAL MLB RANKINGS

In parentheses below are each team’s final total ranking points

  1. San Diego Padres (14)
  2. Tampa Bay Rays (24)
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers (28)
  4. Oakland Athletics (29)
  5. Chicago White Sox (30)
  6. Minnesota Twins (32)
  7. Cleveland Indians (38)
  8. Chicago Cubs (43)
  9. New York Yankees (44)
  10. Atlanta Braves (46)
  11. Toronto Blue Jays (56)
  12. Philadelphia Phillies (60)
  13. Saint Louis Cardinals (62)
  14. San Francisco Giants (64)
  15. Colorado Rockies (65)
  16. New York Mets (65)
  17. Cincinnati Reds (66)
  18. Milwaukee Brewers (68)
  19. Houston Astros (69)
  20. Seattle Mariners (70)
  21. Miami Marlins (71)
  22. Los Angeles Angels (74)
  23. Kansas City Royals (75)
  24. Arizona Diamondbacks (78)
  25. Baltimore Orioles (82)
  26. Boston Red Sox (83)
  27. Washington Nationals (86)
  28. Detroit Tigers (90)
  29. Pittsburgh Pirates (101)
  30. Texas Rangers (108)

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