The playoffs are a high-stakes competition where teams battle it out for the coveted World Series championship. But who makes it to these playoffs? Let's delve into the details.
The Playoff Structure
The MLB playoffs involve twelve teams each year, with six from each of the two leagues that make up MLB - the American League and the National League. The teams that win each of the divisions – AL East, AL Central, AL West, NL East, NL Central, and NL West – qualify automatically for the playoffs.
In addition to the division winners, three wild card teams from each league also make it to the playoffs. These teams are selected based on their winning percentages after the division winners have been determined. Despite not having the best records, these teams often possess the potential for exciting postseason runs.
The New Postseason Format
In 2022, MLB unveiled a new postseason format that expanded the pool of teams and the Wild Card round. This bracket-style postseason now involves 12 teams, an increase from the previous 10-team format. The top two division winners with the best record in each league receive a first-round bye, while the No. 3 division winner and the three Wild Card teams play in the Wild Card round of the MLB playoffs bracket.
Determining the Seeds
The seeding of the teams is determined by their overall record. The team with the best league record gets the No. 1 seed, the second-best division winner gets the No. 2 seed, and the third-best division winner gets the No. 3 seed. The best record among Wild Card teams gets the No. 4 seed, the second-best record among Wild Card teams gets the No. 5 seed, and the third-best record among Wild Card teams gets the No. 6 seed. The Nos. 1 and 2 seeds receive first-round byes and advance directly to the Division Series.
The Road to the Playoffs
The road to the playoffs is a grueling journey that tests the mettle of every team. In the 2023 season, the official postseason and broadcast schedule was released, charting out the path the 12 playoff teams will need to navigate to achieve the ultimate goal of winning a championship ring.
The Wild Card Race
The Wild Card race is a fierce competition among teams vying for the last few spots in the playoffs. In the 2023 season, teams like the Cincinnati Reds, Chicago Cubs, Arizona Diamondbacks, Miami Marlins, San Francisco Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, and San Diego Padres were fighting for NL Wild Card spots. In the American League, the Tampa Bay Rays, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees, Houston Astros, Boston Red Sox, Los Angeles Angels, and Seattle Mariners were battling for AL Wild Card spots.