How many teams are in the major league baseball playoffs? Major League Baseball unveiled a postseason format in 2022 that expanded both the pool of teams and the Wild Card round. Here are answers to questions you might have about the format.
How many teams reach the postseason?
The bracket-style postseason involves 12 teams (six from each league) — an increase from 10 teams (five in each league) in the previous format. That includes the three division winners in each league and three Wild Card teams per league.
Does the Wild Card Game still exist?
No, the single-elimination Wild Card Game, which was in use from 2012-19 and again in ’21, was replaced by a best-of-three Wild Card Series.
What is the format for the Wild Card Series?
Each Wild Card Series game will be played in the home park of the team with the higher seed (so, the Nos. 3 and 4 seeds will have the hosting duties). The games will be scheduled to take place in a three-day window so that the division winners with byes are not forced to wait around longer than is beneficial.
The winners of the Wild Card Series will advance to the Division Series, and the losers are eliminated from the postseason.
Are teams reseeded after the Wild Card Series?
No. The No. 1 seed will face the winner of the Wild Card Series between the Nos. 4/5 seeds, while the No. 2 seed will face the winner of the Nos. 3/6 series. This ensures that the No. 1 seed won’t face another division winner in the Division Series round while still preserving the bracket system.
Is the Division Series still a best-of-five?
Yes. The only thing that has changed with regard to the Division Series is how teams get there. It will remain a best-of-five in a 2-2-1 format, with home-field advantage going to the higher seed.
Are there any other changes to the postseason?
No. The League Championship Series and World Series rounds remain best-of-seven in a 2-3-2 format, with regard to home-field advantage.
What if two (or more) teams vying for a division title or postseason spot have identical records at the end of the regular season?
Tiebreaker games (otherwise known as Game 163) have been eliminated. All ties will be resolved mathematically, with head-to-head record being the first tiebreaker. Here is a full explanation of the tiebreaker system.
Which pennant winner gets home-field advantage in the World Series?
Home-field for the World Series round goes to the team with the best regular-season record, regardless of postseason seeding within that team’s league.
If the two teams had identical regular season records, the tiebreaker format linked above (head-to-head record, then intradivision record, then interdivision record) applies.
Will the MLB playoffs have reseeding?
There will be no reseeding in this format. The winner of the No. 4- and 5-seeded matchup will advance to the Division Series and play the No. 1 seed. The winner of the No. 3 and 6 seeded series will take on the No. 2 seed. The goal is to keep the No. 1 seed from having to face a divisional winner until the League Championship Round.
HOW DOES BASEBALL’S WILD-CARD ROUND WORK?
The best-of-three wild card format is in its second season. The format was changed in 2022 from the sudden death one-game format that was in place since 2012 with the exception of the COVID-19 pandemic-affected 2020 season.
Six teams each from the American League and National League qualified for the postseason, including the three division winners in each league. The three wild card teams in each league are the teams with the best records that didn’t win their division.
The top two division winners with the best records in each league got a bye and don’t have to play in the wild card round. One big advantage for the higher seed in those wild card series is they get to host all three games.
The Rangers-Rays winner faces Baltimore in the Division Series, the Twins-Blue Jays winner plays Houston, the Phillies-Marlins winner starts at Atlanta and the Brewers-Diamondbacks winner gets a matchup with the Dodgers.
Many of baseball’s recent rule changes will still be in effect during the postseason, including the pitch clock, a ban on extreme infield shifts and a limit to how many times a pitcher can disengage from the rubber. The pitch clock was a huge change for the sport and widely celebrated, cutting average game time by more than 20 minutes this season.
There is one rule that won’t make the postseason cut: the so-called “ghost runner” in extra innings.
During the MLB regular season, if a game goes to extra innings, a runner is placed at second base to start the 10th inning when each team bats. That won’t happen in the postseason. Extra innings will be played just like the previous nine.
How many games are in the MLB playoffs?
The wild-card round features four teams in each league: the three wild cards and the division winner seeded the lowest. Those teams will face off in a best-of-three series hosted by the higher seed, with the winners then headed to the ALDS or NLDS. At most, a series could take up to three games to be decided.
For the second straight round, there are four teams in each league competing in series. Those are comprised of the top two division winners that earned the byes to this round, and the other two are the winners of the wild-card rounds.
Here, the teams match up in best-of-five series. The first two games and a potential fifth game would be hosted by the higher seed, while the third and potential fourth games are hosted at the lower seed. At most, the series can take up to five games to end.
League Championship Series
Only two teams in each league will reach the League Championship Series. The winner of those series will then head on to the World Series. This series is a best-of-seven. The first and second, as well as potential sixth and seventh games are hosted by the higher seed in the league, and the third, fourth and potential fifth games are hosted by the lower seed.
If the series goes the full length, it can reach seven games.
The winner of each league meets in the World Series in a best-of-seven series. Unlike in past years when home-field advantage was determined by the winning league in the All-Star Game, the World Series is determined by the team with the best record or by the league’s system of tiebreakers.
The World Series is scheduled begin on Friday, Oct. 27, and if it goes a full seven games, then it would end on Saturday, Nov. 4.
The order of the games is the same as the LCS: Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 are at the higher seed and Games 3, 4 and 5 are at the lower seed. If the series goes full, it can get to seven games.
The longest road a team can go in the playoffs in order to win the World Series would be to 22 games, if they emerge from the wild-card round and win every series in the maximum amount of games needed to be played.
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