Trying out what an aggregated scoring MLB season would look like
How would the Cleveland Guardians and the rest of the American League Central fair if each series counted as just one win, loss or tie?
I have an idea to revolutionize the course of Major League Baseball. It’s an idea that will change the game for the better, increase attendance and keep fans engaged throughout the season. No longer will critics chastise the “painfully long” regular season. No more will people see random games throughout the year and skip them. “Eh, game 65 doesn’t matter long-term.”
Nay, every game matters in this model.
Picture this: an aggregated scoring series. Soccer cup competitions such as the Champions League, Europa League and FA Cup utilize this strategy. Every two or three games, the total number of goals is what determines the winner. My thought is, instead of each MLB game counting as its own entity (i.e. there’s a winner and loser for each game) the scores should be aggregated throughout the series. The team with the most runs throughout the stretch of games gets one win.
Now, each game matters that much more. If the Cleveland Guardians open a three-game series with the Detroit Tigers by losing 10-1, they’ve got some absurd work cut out for them. If they win by that margin, maybe Terry Francona can tinker with the lineup and rotation.
I took the liberty of going through the Guardians’ schedule so far to see what this would change about the trajectory of the season. Currently, they sit at 35-28, tied for first place in the AL Central. Now, through tedious work, let’s redo the Central division standings under this new format (this took quite a lot of meticulous work):
1. Minnesota Twins (38-31)
2. Cleveland Guardians (35-28)
3. Chicago White Sox (33-33) 3.5 GB
4. Detroit Tigers (26-42) 11.5 GB
5. Kansas City Royals (25-42) 12 GB
Aggregated Scores Standings:
1. Cleveland Guardians: (12-6-3) 3 outstanding series
2. Minnesota Twins: (12-8-1)
3. Chicago White Sox (8-12-1) 1 outstanding series
4. Detroit Tigers: (6-15) 3 outstanding series
5. Kansas City Royals (5-16) 1 outstanding series
Well, your hometown team lucks out and leapfrogs the Twins for first place in the division. The rest of the teams stay in place, with the Tigers and Royals in a running gun battle for dead last and the Chicago White Sox looking a lot more like a rebuilding team than a .500 one. The outcome of each series drastically changed under this model. Some series that the Guardians won handily turned into aggregate losses. Other nail-biting lost series flipped into the win column.
One thing that needs to be explained is the “outstanding series.” Guardians fans know that plenty of games have been postponed by inclement weather. It’s the nature of the beast playing outside in Northeast Ohio. Well, under the aggregate score model in MLB, series that have postponed games fall into the win, loss or tie column for as many games in that series that were actually played. (Cleveland’s series with the White Sox that got cut short due to COVID-19 is currently tied at 13 runs apiece.)
Then, once the final game is played and the overall outcome is determined, the series can permanently go into whichever column it lands. Confusing, yes, I’ll concede that. Intriguing? Absolutely. Imagine a makeup game in the middle of July against a division rival. It’s a Thursday 12 p.m. first pitch, but Progressive Field is packed because if the Guardians win by two or more runs, they move into first place over the Twins in the Central.
It’s not perfect, but neither is playing a 162-game season and two teams squaring off for a 163rd to determine whose season plays on. The model adds intrigue and sustains engagement throughout the otherwise long, grueling regular season.