Shout-out to committee members Johnny Walbert, Jeff Burkett, Scott Benson, Jeff Meyer, and Ken Simone for shepherding this process. Several plans were under consideration, but our main objective always was to form a long-term sustainable divisional alignment and a fair playoff seeding structure that would allow for an enhanced opportunity for all managers. The door will remain open for alterations every few years in case of long-term inequity, but these new divisions/leagues won't be changed every time there's an imbalance, and should be considered "semi-permanent."
How we arrived at these divisions
While most teams have historically weaved in and out of championship contention, the best place to start was a quick re-balancing of current team strengths. Traditionally strong teams were divided equally, with a similar dividing among fluctuating and rebuilding teams. While past rivalries were considered, it wasn't a main determiner in how we split the teams. Also, rather than align teams strictly by geography, we'll use the American League and National League as our naming convention. What we ended up with was an arrangement somewhat similar to the alignment prior to the three-division set-up. These changes are effective immediately and will be used for the upcoming season.
We'll have slight modifications to our playoffs by adding a seventh team. Their are now three tiers of qualifiers—the 2 division winners, the next 3 best records from either division (Wildcards) and the next 2 best records will square off in a 1-game play-in. The committee also worked on a format that will eliminate inequities we sustained last year. Here's the new playoff structure, with higher seed always having home-field advantage:
Play-in Game: Play-in Team #6 vs. Play-in Team #7 (1 game only)
Wildcard Round: Wildcard #3 vs. winner of Play-in game; Wildcard #4 vs. Wildcard #5 (7 games)
LCS: Division winner #1 vs. lowest seed; Division winner #2 vs. highest seed (7 games)
World Series: Winners of LCS (7 games)
Player usage of 10% per series remains unchanged, but with one small detail. Due to the difficulty of managing usage in a one-game Play-in (and for the sake of simplicity), participating teams will have no usage limitation for that elimination game, but the winning team can't change their roster for the Wildcard Round, hopefully minimizing any advantage gained by a limited-use "supercard."