How the MLB Playoffs Work?

This article may contain affiliate links. For details, visit our Affiliate Disclosure page.


In 2022, the MLB unveiled another playoff format. Though the nuances of the game remain as they were. Some particular things have changed. The league has now expanded the team pool for the postseason games, and also for the wild card round. Sequel to this announcement, several questions have come up from different areas. The players, coaches, fans, and club have questions. Let us see how MLB playoffs work.

How the MLB Playoffs Work?

How the MLB Playoffs Work?

Most of the questions about how MLB playoffs work would be answered in this article. The number of teams, the rules, and regulations guiding the playoffs, and wild card games. The Seeding format would also be discussed. The structural change was proposed, and it became effective in March. There would be 12 teams in the playoff bracket. There would be 6 teams in each bracket comprising 3 wild card teams and 3 division winners. The full details of the new format of how MLB playoffs work would be explicitly explained in this article.

2022 MLB Playoffs Bracket work

The 2022 Postseason games would be a bit different from the norm we are used to. The bracket has now been expanded to accommodate more teams. Instead of the regular 10 teams, with 5 teams per bracket. We now have 12 teams with 6 teams per bracket. The initial round of games would be hosted by the highest-seeded team. The winner from seeds No. 4 and 5 would face seed 1. While the winner from seeds 3 and 6 would face seed No. 2. There would be no reseeding for those playing the division series. The World Series and Championship Series would be played in a best-of-7 format. While the Division Series would be played in a best-of-5 format. 

Reason for Expansion 

After the MLB association announced its decision to expand the bracket, there were some push backs. It was believed that expanding the playoffs bracket would allow the team that is not up to par to have a shot at the title. However, the MLB is not like the NBA where top teams would be fighting for wild card positions. One of the reasons why the expansion took place was to help teams increase their revenue. Most teams rake in more revenue during the postseason. The tickets are often sold-out even before the games begin. The expansion would automatically add an average of 5-8 games. This means more revenue from these extra games. The wild card games would now be played as a round to allow the players to prove themselves to the fullest. Anyone that wins the round would be winning the wild card slot justifiably. 

Parties that get affected 

The announcement would have some negative ripple effects on some teams, while it would have a positive effect on some. Because they would profit from the move, and utilize it to their benefit. The ripple effect would affect the 3rd and 4th seeded teams. This is because the used-to-be one-off wild card game has now been made to be a round officially. The 3rd placed team would also feel the effect because they would play a series against the No. 6 Seed. This would make it difficult for the team to clinch a spot in the World Series. If the No. 6 Seed is from a tough division, it would be a really tough game for the 3rd-placed division team. 

MLB Seeding Structure 

After the introduction of the new Postseason format. There has been a further change in the team seeding structure. This article about how MLB playoffs work would help you understand the basic nitty-gritty of the new changes. This includes the seeding structure. Find below the breakdown of the new seeding structure starting from the lowest to the highest. 

No. 6 Seed: 2nd runner-up from the non-division winners

No. 5 Seed: Runner-up from the non-division winners 

No. 4 Seed: Top performer among non-division winners 

No. 3 Seed: 2nd runner-up division winners

No. 2 Seed: Runner-up division winners 

No. 1 Seed: Division Winners 

Seeding Format 

As stated earlier, Seed No. 1 and No. 2 would automatically qualify for the Division. The No. 3 and No. 6 seeded teams would slug it out to get a winner. While the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds would be vying for the last slot in the series. The losers are automatically eliminated from the post-season games. While the First and Second seeds wait, the other teams have a 3-day window to play the wild card series. The series would be hosted by the higher-seeded wild card team in the game. The winners would qualify to meet the first and second teams that qualified through the bye.  

The winner of the game between the No. 3 and No. 6 seed would face seed No. 2 in the division series. While the winner between seed No. 4 and No. 5 would face the No. 1 seed. This would ensure that the No. 1 seed does not face the winner from another division. It would also help protect the games bracket. The playoffs series remains the best of 5. The games would be played in a 2-2-1 format. There are no changes to how the series should be played. What changed is the way the teams earn their slots.  


It is usual practice that when teams are competing for the wild card spot or the division title There are instances where two teams would have identical season stats. Such scenarios are dealt with by playing a tiebreaker. The affected teams would play a one-off game to determine whom to be yanked off and who is progressing. When MLB introduced the new system, they also canceled the tiebreaker rule. Now when such scenarios occur, there is a mathematical system put in place to help come to a decision. Find below a breakdown of some of the systems put in place to help guide the selection process. 


When 2 teams have a head-to-head record, the eventual winner of the tiebreaker is whoever wins the season series. When the tie involves 2 or more teams. The team with the highest winning percentage would be declared the winner of the tiebreaker. These are the new regulations for teams that go head-to-head. You should keep in mind that more than 2 teams can go head-to-head in a competition. 

Intra-division Record 

If the head-to-head falls short, the teams are still inseparable. If they are from different divisions, the team that has a better division record would win the tie. This would mostly be used for those that are competing for the wild card spot. The wild card spot is usually not a competition between teams in the same division. 

Inter-division record 

When the head-to-head and intra-division fail to yield any positive results. The Inter-division would be brought up. This format breaks the deadlock by comparing the statistics of both teams against other teams in their league but outside of their division. Whichever team has the better record would be the winner of the tiebreaker. These are some of the new formats that were introduced after the traditional tiebreaker was scrapped. 

2nd Half of Intraleague 

If all the aforementioned formats do not provide the desired action. The team that has a better 2nd half of the league playing against teams in its league. For the 2nd half of the intraleague, only teams that are in the same league as the subject team would be used for comparison. Only games that are played in the 2nd half of the season would be recorded. Games played immediately after the All-Star Games would not feature on this list. Though this is not the final trick out of the bag. It should solve the pending tiebreaker challenge. 

2nd Half of Intraleague plus 1 

Should the previous formats fail, the final score is the 2nd half plus 1. This factor operates similarly to the 2nd half of the Intraleague. The only difference is that the last game of the first half of the season would be included. This is to just find a factor to separate the 2 teams. If this does not separate the teams, all the games in the first half of the season would be used bearing in mind that only teams that are on the same level with the case team would be considered. 

After this intriguing process, a winner is yet to be determined. The process would be repeated over again, till there is a stat to separate the 2 teams. Although it would be a rare occurrence that the laid down factor conditions would not be able to dissolve a tiebreaker. The MLB thought that a one-off tiebreaker is not a complete reflection of the struggle and pain the players have undergone during the regular season. This is why the one-off game was canceled. 


The MLB Playoffs is a series of games that are usually held in the MLB Postseason. The playoffs comprise 2 leagues, the National and American leagues. The current Playoffs format allows a maximum of 53 games and a minimum of 32 games. In 2022, a new format was introduced. The format expanded the bracket from a total of 10 teams to 12. It provided the fans with an opportunity to see more games. The teams and the league have an opportunity to make more revenue. The players have an opportunity to redeem/improve on their previous performance. This article has explicitly explained everything you need to know about the MLB Playoffs and how it operates. This includes the expansion of the recent playoffs where we now have a 12-team playoff bracket. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does the new MLB format allow for team reseeding? 

No, the new MLB format does not allow reseeding. It is expressly stated that the No. 1 seed would face the winner between seeds 4 and 5. While seed No.’2 would face the winner between seed No. 3 and No. 6. This would prevent any sort of reseeding and also reserve the playoffs bracket.  The ripple effect of the expansion did not affect some aspects of the game as expected. So, the new format has been properly designed to ensure that no reseeding occurs and to keep the games interesting to the fans. 

Is there a new format for the MLB PostSeason games?

In 2022, an agreement was signed between the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA) and the Major League Baseball (MLB). The ripple effect of this agreement would force a change in many rules and regulations in the game. However, the only major change that the agreement brought was that it increased the number of teams that were playing the postseason games from 10 to 12. These gave all stakeholders involved an opportunity to leverage. The fans, players, clubs, and managers all had something to benefit from the extension. Though it has its negative sides also. 

 How many teams play the postseason games? 

Before the announcement was made in March 2022. There used to be only 10 teams participating in the postseason games. However, the new format now involves 12 teams. The way the teams would be seeded has been explained in the article. Two teams would get byes to play the division series while the remaining teams slugged it out. This is the new strategy, and no reseeding occurrence should occur as every necessary stopgap has been put in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly. 

What is the Wild Card format for the new format?

The team with the higher seed would host each game. What this simply means is that when seed No.3 wants to play seed No. 6. Seed No. 6 would be the team hosting the games. If it were the game between seed No. 4 and No. 5. It would be hosted by the No. 4 seeded team.  The game is no longer a one-off game. It is now a round. However, the teams have a short time frame to play and establish a winner. Whichever team that wins the wild card games would qualify for the division series to play against the teams that got by.  

How the MLB Playoffs Work?
Scroll to top