September baseball is always about teams making their last push for postseason positioning, but this year a new format gives even more of them an opportunity to extend their season into October.
As part of the new collective-bargaining agreement that the MLB and MLBPA ratified this past March, 12 teams will now make the playoffs.
Here’s everything you need to know about MLB playoff formats – what they looked like through the years and how they will look in 2022:
What can we expect the 2022 playoff format to look like?
The 2022 playoff format will include 12 teams, rather than 10 teams.
In the 12-team format, there will be six playoff teams per league: the three division winners and three wild cards. They will be seeded as follows:
1 seed: Best overall record
2 seed: Second-best record among division winners
3 seed: Third-best division winner record
4-6 seeds: Three best records among non-division winners (in order of record)
The top two seeds will get a bye to the divisional round.
How will the 2022 playoff format differ from previous years?
Different from previous years, there will be one extra playoff team per league competing in the playoffs. Additionally, there will not be any tiebreaker games to determine playoff teams in the 2022 season.
In the wild-card round, the No. 3 seed will host the No. 6 seed for a three-game series. Similarly, the No. 4 seed will host the No. 5 seed.
Then the winners will move on to the divisional round, where there is no re-seeding. The No. 1 seed hosts the winner of the 4-5 series, and the No. 2 hosts the winner of the 3-6 series.
How has the playoff format changed throughout history?
Playoff formats started with only four teams, and now we have reached 12.
Well actually, before 1969, when only the World Series existed, two teams competed in the playoffs. Then from 1969 all the way until 1993, four teams began to compete in the playoffs: the winners of the four divisions played in the LCS, with the victors advancing to the World Series.
Beginning in 1995, eight teams competed in the playoffs. Each league had three division winners and one wild card advance to the divisional round, followed by the LCS and World Series. This lasted until 2011.
In 2012, 10 teams began to compete in the playoffs, including six division winners and four wild card winners. One game embodied a single-elimination wild-card game per league before the divisional series. This format lasted until 2019. It resurfaced again in 2021.
In 2020, an unprecedented 16 teams, eight per league, competed in the playoffs in a one-off format because the season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.