Last Thursday, I started a short three-week series on the 1981 MLB Strike. Paul and I went deeper on this week's podcast if you're interested in the topic. This week, I'm looking at the 1981 standings.
Because of the two-month long strike, stretching from June 12 to August 9, Major League Baseball decided to split the standings. That meant giving two playoff spots to the first half division leaders and another two to the second half. At the time of the strike, this is how the standings looked.
That's a surprisingly small amount of games to crown a playoff berth. It's weird that the amount of games played fluctuated so much; the Cardinals only played 50 games, while the A's played 60. If the 2017 season stopped after the same amount of games, who would make the playoffs?
June 2, 2017 Standings
The Brewers and Twins would have snuck into the postseason as division winners. It would have been interesting to see how they would have done the split season standings with wild cards mixed in. Nevertheless, they just crowned division leaders back in the 80s. So, who made it in the second half?
The Royals had the biggest jump, finishing 17 games better in the second half. The Cubs were next with a nine game bump. The two teams that got screwed were the Reds and Cardinals. For the entire season, they were the two best teams in all of baseball. Especially in the NL, it wasn't even close. The Reds (66-42) and Cardinals (59-43) finished several games up on the second and third best teams, the Dodgers (63-47) and Expos (60-48).
1981 was the only playoff appearance for the Montreal Expos. They lost the NLCS in five games (best-of-five) to the eventual World Series champion Dodgers. The Brewers made the playoffs for the first time in their brief history at that point, losing in five games to the Yankees.