Rob Manfred: ‘Anybody Can Win’ In MLB Postseason Despite Talent Differences

The Los Angeles Dodgers began their offseason splash by signing Shohei Ohtani, adding another MVP winner to the top of their lineup with Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

The Dodgers followed that up by acquiring an ace in Tyler Glasnow, and then another by signing Yoshinobu Yamamoto to the richest contract for pitcher in MLB history. The Dodgers’ payroll may creep into the highest luxury tax threshold after multiple seasons of avoiding such a scenario, but that’s the cost of adding elite talent.

The Dodgers endured early playoff exits in two consecutive seasons at the hands of teams who reached October baseball on Wild Card berths with significantly less talent on paper. That further demonstrated nothing is guaranteed in the postseason, no matter how much star talent a team has.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred believes that October randomness is part of what makes the game so special when the postseason rolls around, per Evan Drellich of The Athletic:

“My own view on this is that our teams play really hard all year long to get into the playoffs,” Manfred continued. “But one of the greatest things about the playoffs in baseball is, anybody can win. And, you know, it’s about the competition that takes place in the postseason. … I don’t think what happened this year is all that out of line with history.”

Manfred further elaborated that he does not believe the best teams from the regular season routinely winning the World Series would be as compelling to the upsets and surprises that have been seen:

“That’s kind of how baseball playoffs are, and frankly, how I think they should be,” Manfred said. “If the die was cast — meaning, that if I win 100 in the regular season, I’m going to win the World Series — I don’t think that’s as interesting as what we have witnessed over the last month.”

While disappointing showings in the playoffs are a factor, the Dodgers’ spending spree is tied into a few unique situations with both Ohtani and Yamamoto. One is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, and the other is an incredibly accomplished starting pitcher embarking on his MLB career at the age of 25.

Ohtani chose the Dodger because of their organizational structure and their ability to sustainably put together a winning environment. Yamamoto echoed those same thoughts, noting the importance of winning, not only now, but in the future.

The Dodgers are set up to win, but as Manfred points out, it’s still a hard path to get there, even with all the talent they have.

MLB rules changes for 2024 season

MLB announced modifications to several rules were approved by the joint competition committee and will go into effect at the start of the 2024 regular season.

The MLB rule changes being implemented are widening the runner’s lane to first base, reducing time on the pitch clock with a runner on base, timer during pitching changes, reducing the number of mound visits allowed per game, a pitcher that warms up for an inning needing to face at least one batter, time permitted for a relief pitcher to enter, and when a pitch clock starts.

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