MLB Wants Expanded Playoffs and a Few Other Rule Changes to Return in 2021

MLB Wants Expanded Playoffs and a Few Other Rule Changes to Return in 2021

The drastic rule changes for the 2020 season were something most MLB fans were willing to overlook regardless of what they did to the game. Players, coaches, executives, and fans were so desperate to get the season going that any changes probably could have snuck through. 

In 2020, we had an extra-innings rule that saw a runner being placed on second base. We also had 7-inning doubleheaders, expanded playoffs, and a Designated Hitter in the National League. With the 2021 season about to kick off in a couple of weeks, here’s where MLB stands with the rule changes for the year. 


Per USA Today’s Bob Nightengale, the extra-innings rule is something that MLB is hopeful to keep around for 2021. The league is including that in their proposal to the Player’s Union, but there has not been much feedback on how players feel about it. Throughout the 2020 season, it seemed like some guys loved it and some didn’t feel like it sped up the game at all. If it comes down to it, this is probably the rule that both sides would be willing to bend on, and should not be a breaking point for talks. 

7 Inning Double-Headers

The 7-innings doubleheaders actually turned out to be an excellent idea for the 2020 season with teams running out of time due to COVID outbreaks. MLB was able to get more games in less time just to be able to make sure teams got as close to 60 games as possible. That rule carrying over to the 2021 season could once again allow protection from teams facing virus outbreaks within locker rooms, but also just makes doubleheaders less of a headache to manage. 

Expanded Playoffs

Out of all rule changes, this might be the biggest breaking point for MLB. With fan attendance still very much up in the air, the league wants to make sure that it has extra revenue for the 2021 season. Adding in an extra round of playoff baseball would help that. It won’t be the ridiculous 16-team format from 2020, but it might end up being a 14-team postseason. That would create a situation where the #1 seed from both leagues would get a first-round bye. 

Universal Designated Hitter

Another contentious point in the conversations is that of the Universal DH. MLB knows that players and executives around the league would like this rule in place, and they may use that as a bargaining chip in conversations about the expanded playoffs. Expect this one to also be a part of the future moving forward though, as teams will no doubt want to get away from their pitcher’s hitting after a year away from the batter’s box. 

A reminder that all of these rule changes do need to be approved by the Player’s Union before they can pass by MLB. The two sides will continue to have discussions leading up the season, but Spring Training is just a few weeks away. Time is running out if baseball going to start on April 1st as planned. 

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