The Wild Card Series (formerly known as Wild Card Game prior to 2022) are games that serve as the opening round of the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason. A single wild card game was first instituted in 2012; best-of-three playoff wild card series were adopted for the 2022 season.
The new, 12-team playoff format
The Wild Card Game has been replaced by the best-of-three Wild Card Series, which functions as the first round of play. The higher seed in each Wild Card Series will host all the games of that series, be it two or the maximum three games.
Both the National and American Leagues each give six playoff slots: winners of each division (the East, Central and West) and three wild card spots. The teams are seeded as follows: Number one overall seed is awarded to the division winner with the best overall record.
The winners of the American League Championship Series (ALCS) and the National League Championship Series (NLCS) play each other in the best-of-seven World Series. The current system allows for up to 54 postseason games and at least 32 games.
The American League Championship Series (ALCS) is a best-of-seven playoff and one of two League Championship Series comprising the penultimate round of Major League Baseball’s (MLB) postseason. It is contested by the winners of the two American League (AL) Division Series.
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.
Starting with the 2022 MLB playoff format bracket, there will be six wild card teams. A total of 12 teams from each league make the playoffs, six division winners and six non-division winners with the best records, called Wild Cards.
The League Championship Series and World Series rounds remain best-of-seven in a 2-3-2 format, with regard to home-field advantage. What if two (or more) teams vying for a division title or postseason spot have identical records at the end of the regular season?
The top two seeds of the American and National leagues will receive first-round byes into the Division Series (DS) and the other two division winners will be the third seed in their respective league. The three Wild Card teams will be the fourth, fifth and sixth seeds.
The Divisional Series is a best-of-five series, featuring the three division winners and a wild-card team. Typically, the wild-card team plays the division leader with the best winning percentage in one series, and the other two division leaders play the other series.
Starting with the 2022 season, MLB added a third wild card team in each league. In the new Wild Card Series, the top two division winners in each league receive a bye to the Division Series, while the lowest-seeded division winner and three wild card teams will play in this round.
The World Series pits the champion of the American League against the champion of the National League to determine an overall winner. Each league is divided into three divisions each – West, Central and East. The team with the best record in each division gets an automatic playoff berth.
The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) and concludes the MLB postseason. First played in 1903, the World Series championship is a best-of-seven playoff and is a contest between the champions of baseball’s National League (NL) and American League (AL).
The LCS is a best-of-seven format, so the first team to win four games progresses. The winners of the ALCS and NLCS – the American League champions and National League champions – then advance to the World Series.
The ALDS is a best-of-five series where the wild card team is assigned to play the divisional winner with the best winning percentage in the regular season in one series, and the other two division winners met in the other series with the team with the second best winning percentage, getting home-field.
The League Championship Series began as best-of-five series, in both the American League and the National League, in 1969. Since the 1985 season, they have used a best-of-seven format, except for 1994 as noted above.
The regular season runs from late March/early April to late September/early October, followed by the postseason which can run to early November. The season begins with the official Opening Day, and, as of 2018, runs 26½ weeks through the last Sunday of September or first Sunday of October.
The Yankees secured their sixth straight playoff berth with a walk-off win over the Red Sox on Thursday night and now turn their attention to wrapping up the AL East, which they can clinch with a win at Toronto tonight.
Even though the magic number is three, the Cardinals would clinch the division by winning one of the two games in Milwaukee this week. Head-to-head records will be used to break ties this season, and one win would allow the Cardinals to win the season series.
MLB.com’s Sarah Langs and Elias confirmed that the Guardians will be the eighth team to qualify for the playoffs as MLB’s youngest team (weighted by plate appearances and batters faced), assuming they remain the youngest when the season concludes, and the first to do so since the Mets in 1986.
The Phillies’ magic number is eight as they open a 10-game road trip Tuesday at Wrigley Field. If the Phillies keep their third wild-card spot, it’s off to St. Louis for a best-of-three series. Win that, and it’s Games 1 and 2 of the NLDS on the road, with Atlanta or the New York Mets the most likely starting spot.
Aaron Boone on walk-off win
The Yanks’ magic number for the division is six over the Blue Jays, and as such, their clubhouse celebration was more of a muted acknowledgment.
Beginning with the 2012 playoffs, the MLB added a single elimination wild card game to both the American League and National League. This is not a series, as is the case with the remainder of the playoff matches, but instead one elimination game where the winner moves on and the loser is eliminated.