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The Cubs would have made the postseason nine times since 2000 in an 82-game season

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A look at where teams would have wound up over the last 20 years.

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If there is a MLB season this year, the latest proposal has teams going through an 82-game season with an expanded postseason (14 teams instead of 10) that would wrap up by the end of October.

So that got me to wondering: How have the Cubs stood at the 82-game mark of each season in the last 20? What follows is a brief synopsis of where the Cubs would have wound up at that point each year from 2000 through 2019.

It should be noted that when the Cubs were at 82 games in each of these seasons, not all the other teams had played exactly that number of games. So this becomes a thought exercise, a rough estimate of where the Cubs would have been if each season had ended after they had played 82 games, even if other teams were slightly above or below that number of games on the dates indicated.

I’ve also noted whether they would have made an expanded postseason that year, too. The way the expanded postseason would work was first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

In this concept, the team with the best record in each league would receive a bye to avoid the wild-card round and go directly to the Division Series. The two other division winners and the wild card with the next-best record would each host all three games in a best-of-three wild-card round. So the bottom three wild cards would have no first-round home games.

You’ll note that below, various tiebreakers are indicated. These would probably not be actual tiebreaker games, as with an expanded postseason there wouldn’t be time to play such games. Tiebreakers for these matchups would probably begin with head-to-head records and continue through other criteria if needed.

Got all that? Let’s begin!

2000

The Cubs were 33-49 after 82 games, in fifth place in the N.L. Central (which then had six teams), 16 games out of first place on July 4.

Postseason byes: Cardinals, White Sox

First-round matchups: Giants at Braves, Rockies at Diamondbacks, Marlins at Mets, Red Sox at Mariners, Indians at Athletics, Yankees at Blue Jays

2001

The Cubs were 48-34 after 82 games, in first place in the N.L. Central by four games on July 4.

Postseason byes: Diamondbacks, Mariners

First-round matchups: Astros at Cubs, Dodgers at Braves, Marlins at Phillies, Orioles at Twins, Athletics at Indians, Red Sox at Yankees. (O’s and A’s were under .500)

2002

The Cubs were 34-48 after 82 games, in fifth place in the N.L. Central, 11½ games out of first place on July 3.

Postseason byes: Braves, Mariners

First-round matchups: Marlins at Dodgers, Giants at Diamondbacks, Expos at Cardinals, Orioles at Yankees, White Sox at Angels, Red Sox at Twins. (O’s and White Sox were under .500)

2003

The Cubs were 42-40 after 82 games, in third place in the N.L. Central but only one game out of first place, on July 1.

Postseason byes: Braves, Mariners

First-round matchups: Expos at Giants, Phillies at Dodgers, Astros vs. Cardinals (tiebreaker required to determine the host team), Twins at Yankees, Blue Jays at Athletics, Red Sox at Royals

2004

The Cubs were 46-36 after 82 games, in second place in the N.L. Central, four games out of first place on July 5.

Postseason byes: Cardinals, Yankees

First-round matchups: Reds at Cubs, Dodgers at Phillies, Giants at Padres, Angels at Rangers or Athletics, Red Sox at Athletics or Rangers, White Sox at Twins (Note: A’s and Rangers were tied, a tiebreaker would have decided the opponent for each, both would have hosted series.)

2005

The Cubs were 40-42 after 82 games, tied with the Astros for second place in the N.L. Central, 12½ games out of first place on July 5.

Postseason byes: Cardinals, White Sox

First-round matchups: Mets at Nationals, Phillies at Braves, Marlins at Padres, Orioles at Angels, Indians at Twins, Yankees or Rangers at Red Sox (tiebreaker required)

2006

The Cubs were 30-52 after 82 games, in fifth place in the N.L. Central, 14½ games out of first place on July 3.

Postseason byes: Mets, Tigers

First-round matchups: Rockies or Dodgers at Cardinals, Dodgers or Rockies at Padres (Rockies and Dodgers were tied, a tiebreaker would have been required to determine their opponent), Giants at Reds, Twins at White Sox, Blue Jays at Athletics, Yankees at Red Sox

2007

The Cubs were 42-40 after 82 games, in second place in the N.L. Central, 5½ games out of first place on July 3.

Postseason byes: Brewers, Red Sox

First-round matchups: Cubs at Padres, Diamondbacks at Dodgers, Braves at Mets, Twins at Angels or Indians, Athletics at Angels or Indians (Indians and Angels were tied, a tiebreaker would have determined their opponent), Twins at Mariners

2008

The Cubs were 49-33 after 82 games, in first place in the N.L. Central by 2½ games on June 29.

Postseason byes: Cubs, Rays

First-round matchups: Mets at Phillies, Marlins at Diamondbacks, Brewers at Cardinals, Yankees at Angels, Orioles at White Sox, Twins at Red Sox

2009

The Cubs were 41-41 after 82 games, in third place in the N.L. Central but only three games out of first place on July 8.

Postseason byes: Dodgers, Red Sox

First-round matchups: Marlins at Cardinals, Brewers at Giants, Rockies at Phillies, Mariners at Yankees, White Sox at Rangers, Angels at Tigers

2010

The Cubs were 35-47 after 82 games, in fourth place in the N.L. Central, 11½ games out of first place on July 4.

Postseason byes: Padres, Yankees

First-round matchups: Rockies at Padres, Cardinals at Braves, Dodgers at Reds, Twins at Red Sox, Angels at Rangers, Tigers at Rays

2011

The Cubs were 34-48 after 82 games, in fifth place in the N.L. Central, 10 games out of first place on June 30.

Postseason byes: Phillies, Yankees

First-round matchups: Pirates at Giants, Diamondbacks vs. Cardinals (tiebreaker required to determine the host team), Brewers at Braves, Angels at Red Sox, Indians at Rangers, Rays at Tigers

2012

The Cubs were 31-51 after 82 games, in last place in the N.L. Central, 15 games out of first place on July 5.

Postseason byes: Nationals, Yankees

First-round matchups: Cardinals at Dodgers, Giants vs. Mets (tiebreaker required to determine the host team), Reds at Pirates, Rays at Rangers, Indians at Angels, Orioles at White Sox

2013

The Cubs were 36-46 after 82 games, in fourth place in the N.L. Central, 15½ games out of first place on July 3.

Postseason byes: Pirates, Red Sox

First-round matchups: Dodgers at Braves, Nationals at Diamondbacks, Reds at Cardinals, Indians or Yankees at Athletics, Indians or Yankees at Rangers, Orioles at Rangers (Indians and Yankees tied, tiebreaker required to determine opponent)

2014

The Cubs were 36-46 after 82 games, in last place in the N.L. Central, 13½ games out of first place on July 1.

Postseason byes: Brewers, Athletics

First-round matchups: Pirates or Reds at Giants (tiebreaker required to determine who plays the Giants), Dodgers at Braves, Cardinals at Nationals, Royals at Blue Jays, Orioles at Tigers, Mariners at Angels

2015

The Cubs were 45-37 after 82 games, in third place in the N.L. Central, 7½ games out of first place on July 7. You’ll note that link says they were 46-37 on that date. That’s because Game 82 was the first game of a doubleheader. They won Game 2 of the DH. That did not affect the matchups listed below.

Postseason byes: Cardinals, Astros

First-round matchups: Giants or Mets at Dodgers, Giants or Mets at Nationals (tiebreaker required to determine who plays the Dodgers and who plays the Nats), Cubs at Pirates, Blue Jays at Royals, Orioles at Yankees, Twins at Angels

2016

The Cubs were 52-30 after 82 games, in first place in the N.L. Central by nine games on July 4.

Postseason byes: Cubs, Rangers

First-round matchups: Marlins at Giants, Mets at Dodgers, Cardinals at Nationals, Tigers or Astros at Indians, Tigers or Astros at Orioles (tiebreaker required to determine who plays the Indians and who plays the Orioles), Blue Jays at Red Sox

2017

The Cubs were 41-41 after 82 games, in second place in the N.L. Central, two games out of first place on July 2.

Postseason byes: Dodgers, Astros

First-round matchups: Cardinals at Nationals, Braves at Diamondbacks, Cubs at Rockies, Twins or Royals at Red Sox, Twins or Royals at Indians (tiebreaker required to determine who plays the Red Sox and who plays the Indians), Angels at Yankees

2018

The Cubs were 47-35 after 82 games, in second place in the N.L. Central, half a game out of first place on July 1.

Postseason byes: Braves, Yankees

First-round matchups: Giants at Brewers, Phillies at Diamondbacks, Dodgers at Cubs, Rays at Red Sox, Athletics at Astros, Indians at Mariners

2019

The Cubs were 44-38 after 82 games, in first place in the N.L. Central by one game on June 28.

Postseason byes: Dodgers, Yankees

First-round matchups: Nationals or Padres at Braves (tiebreaker required), Rockies, Brewers or Phillies at Cubs (three-way tie — tiebreaker required and the teams that lose the tiebreaker to play the Cubs play each other, with another tiebreaker to determine the host team), Red Sox at Twins, Indians at Astros, Rays vs. Rangers (tiebreaker required to determine the host team).

Conclusion

In real life, the Cubs made the postseason seven times between 2000 and 2019 (2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018).

With the acknowledgment that this just takes the first 82 Cubs games out of existing schedules, which would not be how a real 82-game schedule would work, the Cubs get a bonus. They would have missed out on the 2003 postseason, but would have made it in 2001, 2004 and 2019, a net gain of two postseason appearances for a total of nine over the 20 seasons.

Again, it’s a thought exercise that shows you how some teams had great first or second halves of various seasons. The real-life champions in 2002 (Angels) and 2010 (Giants) would not have even made the postseason under these scenarios and a couple of others would have had to win tiebreakers just to get in the expanded tournament.

Lastly, the 14-team postseason is not just an idea for an abbreviated season in 2020. The New York Post article notes that this was on the table to become permanent in 2022. That very well could happen, or even take effect in 2021.