The MLB playoffs are a highlight of the baseball season and provide excitement for both casual and die-hard fans alike.
Understanding how the playoffs work can help enhance your enjoyment of the games and keep you informed on your favorite team’s journey toward the coveted World Series title.
In this article, we will delve into the structure of the MLB playoffs, including how teams qualify, seeding, and the overall format.
Following the MLB regular season, a total of 12 teams, six from each league, advance into the playoffs to vie for the championship.
The playoff spots are secured by division winners and wild card teams, with seedings determined by a team’s overall record.
The postseason format has seen several expansions over the years, most recently in 2022, resulting in a larger and more competitive field across both leagues.
Throughout the playoffs, teams navigate a series of rounds, starting with the Wild Card round, leading to the Division Series, and ultimately, the League Championship Series.
To be crowned World Series Champions, a team must conquer each stage of the playoffs, facing off against the best talent Major League Baseball has to offer.
The road to victory is challenging, but the glory and excitement of the MLB postseason make it a thrilling time to be a baseball fan.
- Understanding MLB Playoff Structure
- Division Series
- Championship Series
- World Series
Understanding MLB Playoff Structure
The Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason is an exciting time for fans as teams compete for the ultimate prize, the World Series Championship.
Understanding the playoff structure is essential for any baseball enthusiast.
In this section, we will discuss how the regular season standings and wild card teams contribute to the playoff structure.
Regular Season Standings
During the MLB regular season, the 30 teams are split into two leagues: the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). Each league is further divided into three divisions: East, Central, and West. Teams play a total of 162 games, and their performance ultimately determines their position in the season standings.
- Division Winners: The team with the best regular-season record in each division automatically qualifies for the playoffs, securing a spot in the Division Series round.
- Seeding: The Division winners are seeded 1-3, based on their regular-season records, with the top seed having the best record in the league.
Wild Card Teams
In addition to the six Division winners (three from each league), the MLB playoffs also include two wild card teams from each league. These teams do not win their respective divisions but still have the best win-loss records among the remaining teams in the league.
- Wild Card Game: The two wild card teams from each league play in a one-game playoff to determine which team advances to the Division Series round.
- Seeding: The wild card team that wins the one-game playoff is assigned the 4th seed in their respective league.
The final MLB playoff structure consists of eight teams from each league, with the Division Series round featuring four best-of-five series using a 2-2-1 format.
The higher-seeded team has home-field advantage throughout the series.
The winners of these series advance to the League Championship Series and, ultimately, the World Series to determine the champion.
The Division Series in Major League Baseball playoffs consists of four best-of-five series, with each pair of teams vying to advance to the League Championship Series.
The Division Series has two categories – American League Division Series (ALDS) and National League Division Series (NLDS). Each league’s Division Series is played between the three division winners and the Wild Card winner.
American League Division Series
In the American League Division Series (ALDS), the matchups involve the four teams that emerged as winners from the American League after the regular season and Wild Card round. There are two ALDS series, named ALDS A and ALDS B.
ALDS A features the league’s top seed (team with the best record) against the Wild Card winner, while ALDS B involves the second seed facing the third seed. The higher-seeded teams have home-field advantage, hosting Games 1, 2, and 5, while the lower-seeded teams host Games 3 and 4.
National League Division Series
Similarly, the National League Division Series (NLDS) has the same process and format as the ALDS. It includes the three division winners and the Wild Card winner from the National League. The two NLDS series are named NLDS A and NLDS B.
In NLDS A, the top seed faces the Wild Card winner, and NLDS B features the second seed facing the third seed. The higher-seeded teams follow the same home-field advantage pattern as the ALDS, hosting Games 1, 2, and 5, while the lower-seeded teams host Games 3 and 4.
During the Division Series, home-field advantage, strong pitching, and timely hitting often play key roles in determining the victors. The winners of each series in the ALDS and NLDS advance to the best-of-seven League Championship Series for a chance to compete in the World Series.
American League Championship Series (ALCS)
The American League Championship Series (ALCS) determines the American League’s representative in the World Series. It is played as a best-of-seven series between the winners of the American League Division Series (ALDS). The team that wins four games advances to the World Series. The higher-seeded team gets home-field advantage and hosts games 1, 2, 6, and 7, while the lower-seeded team hosts games 3, 4, and 5.
National League Championship Series (NLCS)
Similarly, the National League Championship Series (NLCS) determines the National League’s representative in the World Series. The NLCS is also a best-of-seven series, played between the National League Division Series (NLDS) winners. The first team to win four games advances to the World Series. Home-field advantage follows the same pattern as the ALCS, with the higher-seeded team hosting games 1, 2, 6, and 7, and the lower-seeded team hosting games 3, 4, and 5.
The World Series is the championship round of Major League Baseball (MLB) and culminates after a 162-game regular season. It features the winning teams from the American and National Leagues competing against each other to determine baseball’s annual dominant team.
Determining Home-field Advantage
Home-field advantage in the World Series is determined by the team with the better regular-season record. This approach places a greater emphasis on regular-season performance and rewards teams for their consistency. In case both teams have the same record, the tiebreaker is the head-to-head record during the regular season. If still tied, the next tiebreaker is the higher winning percentage in intraleague games.
The World Series follows a best-of-seven format, meaning the first team to win four games is crowned the champion. The games are structured in a 2-3-2 format, with the team holding home-field advantage hosting the first two games and the last two if necessary, while the other team hosts the middle three games. Specifically, the format is as follows:
- Games 1 & 2: Home-field advantage team’s ballpark
- Games 3, 4, & 5: Opposing team’s ballpark
- Games 6 & 7: Home-field advantage team’s ballpark (if necessary)
This setup ensures that each team has the opportunity to play in front of their home crowd and reduces travel strain on the players, making each game highly competitive.
James is a big time NBA Golden State follower, who makes sure to catch games when he's in the area. He likes to follow International Soccer, with an interest in small town soccer club, Blackburn Rovers located in the North on the UK.