September 30, 2022

How does the MLB playoffs work? The new format, explained

For the first time in a non-pandemic season since 2012, Major League Baseball has a new postseason format. As October approaches, here’s a reminder of what the playoffs will look like this year and in the future.

Each league will have six playoff teams – three division winners and three wildcard teams – up from five in previous years.

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The top two division winners in each league will receive byes into the Division Series as the No. 1 and 2 seeds. The remaining division winner in each league will be the No. 3 seed and face the wildcard team with the worst record (the No. 6 seed) in a three-game series. The remaining wildcard teams – the No. 4 and 5 seeds in each league – will face off in another best-of-three first-round series.

All matches in the first round will be hosted by the top seeded teams (i.e. seeds 3 and 4).

After the opening series, the No. 1 seed from each league will face the winner of the series between the No. 4 and 5 seeds, while the No. 2 seed will face the winner of the series between the No. 3 and No. 6 seeds. There is no reseeding for the split series.

The split series remains best of five using a 2-2-1 format, with the higher seed getting home court advantage. The Championship Series and World Series are still best-of-seven affairs, with a 2-3-2 format.

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Previously, teams vying for division titles or wild-card berths that finished with identical records broke their deadlocks via a one-game tiebreaker. Beginning this year, one-game tiebreakers were eliminated so that the playoffs could begin soon after the regular season ended and so teams receiving first-round byes would not have to no excessive pauses. In place, links will be broken using a mathematical system.

The tiebreakers, in order:

In the event of a tie between two teams, the winner of the season series wins the tiebreaker. In the event of a tie between more than two teams, the team with the best combined winning percentage against the other teams wins the tiebreaker.

If two teams split the season series head-to-head, the team with the better record within their division will win the tiebreaker, even if the two teams are not in the same division (in case of a tie for a wild-card place).

If the first two tiebreakers fail to resolve the tie, the team with the better record against teams in its league but outside of its division wins the tiebreaker.

4. Last half of intra-league matches

If head-to-head, intra-division record and inter-division record fail to break the tie, then the team with the better last half record against teams in its league wins the tiebreaker . This implies records during the last math half of the season, not after the all-star break.

5. Last half of intra-league games plus one

In the event of a tie, the team with the best intra-league record during the last mathematical half of the season plus the last game of the first half of the season is the winner. If this also results in a tie, the results of previous intra-league matches from the first half are used, and the process is repeated from there until the tie is broken.

AL/NL first-round series (best of three): Oct. 7-Oct. 9.

NLDS (best of five): October 11, 12, 14, with the remaining matches on October 15 and 16 if necessary.

ALDS (best of five): October 11, 13, 15, with the remaining matches on October 16 and 17 if necessary.

NLCS (best of seven): October 18, 19, 21, 22, with remaining matches October 23-25 ​​if necessary.

ALCS (best of seven): October 19, 20, 22, 23, with remaining matches October 24-26 if necessary.

World Series (best of seven): October 28, 29, 31, November 1, with the remaining matches on November 2, 4 and 5 if necessary.


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