Gregory Polanco and the Pirates Are The Only NL Central Team To Not Make Playoffs This Year
Seventy percent of the teams calling the Central Division home are in the playoffs, which on the surface indicates the strength of Midwest clubs in Major League Baseball. After all, that septet accounts for nearly half of the sixteen teams that qualified for the postseason, an expanded pool because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Qualifying for the National League are the Chicago Cubs, the outright winners of the Central, followed by the second place St. Louis Cardinals. Unlike in any season in baseball history, every second place team has been given an automatic invitation to the playoffs.
Also making the grade as the Wild Card selections are two other Central clubs, the Cincinnati Reds and Milwaukee Brewers. All in all, the only team in the N.L. Central not qualifying for the playoffs is Pittsburgh, whose Pirates finished with the worst record in all of baseball.
Such suffering in the Steel City, obviously a boon to the divison rivals, proved to be an even greater benefit for the teams in the American League. After playing twenty games against its sister clubs, Pittsburgh won just three of them. The Pirates were so beatable that the two bottom feeders, Kansas City and Detroit, swept the six games between them.
The Cleveland Indians, who qualified as one of the two Wild Card teams, especially benefited by winning five of the six games against Pittsburgh. The Wild Card runner-up Angels, on the other hand, had to suffer through six winless games against the Dodgers, whose forty victories were more than double that of the Pirates.
No team was negatively effected so much by the mediocre Central division than the San Francisco Giants, who actually finished with the same record as the Brewers. It was of course Milwaukee's winning percentage within its own division that gave them the notch over San Francisco, which had a much tougher schedule.
The two teams immediately in front of the Giants in the N.L. West boasted the best records in the entire league, the Dodgers and the Padres. Contrast that duo with the barely .500 clubs just ahead of Milwaukee, St. Louis at 28-26 and Cincinnati at 29-28.
The Giants were basically punished for playing in a superior division, which was especially unfair in a season when teams did not play outside of its geography. Baseball should have at least allowed San Francisco a one game shot against the Brewers to determine the second Wild Card, but instead the sport cravenly decided to reward mediocrity.
Such decisions have lead to embarrassing results, so clearly evident in the fact that four teams from baseball's worst division are in the playoffs.