MLB playoff photo: Three effects of baseball’s new 12-team postseason format

There is less than a week left in the 2022 MLB regular season and next Friday the season will begin with a best-of-three wild card series. Baseball has a new 12-team postseason format and it remains to be seen whether it improves on the product. I was initially skeptical of the wild card game, but I quickly fell in love with it. Perhaps the same will happen with the 12-team format.

Anyway, five of the six division titles have been won, with only the NL East undecided. Five of the six wild-card spots are also up for grabs, although we do know who the three wild-card teams will be in the American League, and the National League wild-card race is for three teams for two spots. With less than a week to play, there isn’t He Lots on the line around the league.

For posterity, if the season ends on Thursday, the postseason bracket will look like this, which it certainly isn’t:

american league

national league

Here is the schedule after the 2022 season, It’s a bit unusual (instead of the usual 2-2-1 LDS and 2-3-2 LCS formats scattered off-day in each series) but it works just as well. How is the new 12-team format affecting post-season races? Some ways, actually. Let’s break them down.

1. No. 6 seed may be more desirable than No. 5 seed

Teams will not be re-selected after the wild card series. The winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 6 wild card series will play the No. 2 seed in the LDS, no matter what, and the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 wild card series will play the No. 2. 1 seed in LDS doesn’t matter. In the LDS, the team with the league’s best record will face a wild-card team, not a division winner, period.

This sounds great in theory, but it doesn’t always work so well in practice. Some wild-card teams are better than some division winners every season, and this year’s NL East is a great example. The NL East runner-up will have a much better record and run difference than the NL Central winner. Because of that, the number 6 seed may be more desirable than the number 5 seed.

Consider the possibilities in the National League using this moment’s position:

No. 5 Seed: The wild cards take the road to face the No. 4 seed (the Braves) in the series, and if they win, they’ll face the No. 1 seed (the Dodgers) in the NLDS.

No. 6 Seeds: The wild card goes on the road to face the number 3 seed (Cardinals) in the series, and if they win, they must face the number 2 seed (the Mets) in the NLDS.

With all due respect to St. Louis, give me the No. 5 seed to the No. 6 seed. I want no part of the braves going through And Dodgers in a single season. I know full well that any team can beat any other team in this game on any night (or in any series), and you’re facing good teams no matter what happens in October, but sheesh. A tough draw, he is the No. 5 seed.

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There is another aspect to this as well. The Dodgers can compete in the NLDS with a 100-win Brave team, while the Mets face the Cardinals or a sub-90 winning wild-card team. Why should the Dodgers, who own baseball’s best record and historically great run difference, have a tougher road to the NLCS than the No. 2 seed? This is what happens when you don’t do research.

Now here are the wild-card possibilities in the American League, again using the current standings:

No. 5 Seed: The wild card goes on the road to face the No. 4 seed (Blue Jays) in the series, and if they win, they must face the No. 1 seed (Astros) in the ALDS.

No. 6 Seeds: The wild card goes on the road to face the number 3 seed (the Guardians) in the series, and if they win, they must face the number 2 seed (the Yankees in the ALDS).

The AL isn’t as clear as the NL, especially the way Cleveland and the Yankees have played this month, but I can buy into the AL as the No. 6 seed being more desirable than the No. 5 seed. At least you have to think. It’s not clear that higher seed is better, and that’s a bit of a problem, no? The post-season format should encourage teams to finish with the best possible record, and that’s not really the case with the No. 5 and No. 6 seeds this year.

I should focus on losing the game to make sure you are the number 6 seed instead of the number 5 seed, nothing like that will happen. Wild-card races are strategically very close to a losing game, with players not being wired that way. They take to the field every night to win. They don’t care about a better on paper matchup. Fans may be there, but it’s not what players think. Still, it looks like the No. 6 seed is the way to go this year. The road to number 5 seed is tough.

2. Lack of compelling race

It begs a fair question: Will post-season races be more exciting with the old 10-team format? I think the answer is yes. This is what a 10-team postseason bracket would look like using the current standings:

american league

  • Wild Card Game: No. 5 Rays on No. 4 Blue Jessie
  • Elds: No.1 Wild Card Game Winner at Astros
  • Elds: No. 3 Guardian at No. 2 Yankees

national league

  • Wild Card Game: No. 5 Padres No. 4 On Braves
  • NLDS: No. 1 Wild Card Game Winner at the Dodgers
  • NLDS: No. 3 Cardinals No. 2 Mets . Feather

In AL, we’ll have three teams (Blue Jays, Mariners, Rays) battling for two wild-card spots with the old 10-team format. Instead, we have three teams locked in three wild-card spots and battling for nothing more than seeding. It’s not very exciting, is it?

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In the NL, the former NL runner-up is locked in the top wild-card spot, and we have three teams (Bruers, Padres, Phillies) competing for the other two wild-card spots. As with the old postseason format, it will be a three-team competition. One Wild-card spot. I think we can all agree that it will be a lot more compelling.

Post-season races are different from season to season and next year may be more exciting with more expansive open fields, but Year 1 of the 12-team format has given us the Dud Race outside the NL East (a race that will be present, no matter the postseason format) and second and third NL wild-card spots. “More teams in a race” doesn’t automatically equal a better race.

Also, keep in mind that MLB will likely push for a later 14-team format after 2026, when the current collective bargaining agreement expires. The league wanted a 14-team format this time, but the MLBPA protested, citing concerns about water competition. Many .500 or worse teams would have made the postseason with the 14-team format in recent years.,

The 14-team format would have made the 2022 race even less compelling because the Brewers and Orioles, the first two teams outside the postseason, are far ahead of the next best teams (the Giants and White Sox, respectively). And there will be no race for the wild-card spot. The Brewers and Orioles will be in and the only wild-card race will be for seeding.

3. Significance of Tiebreaker

MLB and the MLBPA agreed to eliminate the Game 163 tiebreaker as part of the new collective bargaining agreement, and the fan in me finds this extremely lame. Some classic games were 163 (Bucky Bleepin’ Dent’s home run in 1978, extra innings chaos that Twins vs Tigers in 2009, etc.) and now all ties will be settled mathematically. boring!

Here are the tiebreakers. Things get a bit messy with three- and four-team ties, although tiebreaker scenarios in MLB are ready and ready.

  1. Face to face record.
  2. Records within the Division.
  3. Records against teams in the same league but outside the division.
  4. Record in last 81 matches against league opponents.
  5. The record last 81 matches against league opponents, plus one until the tie was broken.

To be clear, every single tie will be broken mathematically, even ties in which one team will make the postseason and the other will not. MLB used the same tiebreaker formula in 2020 and it cost the Giants a postseason berth. The Brewers and Giants both went 29–31, but the Brewers had a better intradivision record (19–21 versus 18–22), so Milwaukee got the No. 8 seed and went home to San Francisco (both teams did not play). So there was no face-to-face record).

Needless to say, catching the tiebreaker is now more important than ever, when it all determined the home field advantage. In the event of a tie, you always had a chance to play for your season, even if you had to go on the road. That is no longer the case. You can better catch the tiebreaker with this new format. It can decide your season.

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In the AL, the tiebreaker won’t be so important this year as we know who the six postseason teams will be, and three division titles have already been achieved. Tiebreakers can be used to decide which team is the number 4 seed and which is the team number 5 seed, or which team is the number 5 seed and which is the team number 6 seed, but that’s all. . Tiebreakers are relatively low stakes in the junior circuit.

But, in the NL, the tiebreaker can be extremely important. The Braves and Mets are fighting for the division title and if they finish with the same record, the tiebreaker will determine the division winner. This means that one team gets a wild card series bye and the other gets to play in a best of three wild card series. That’s a Huge, World Series Odds Changing Difference!

The Mets currently lead the season 9-7 over the Braves, but both teams begin a three-game series on Friday, giving Atlanta a chance to take it back. The Braves needed to sweep to win the season series, and of course, a sweep put them in a two-game division, making them less likely to fall back on the tiebreaker. Still, you’d be better off not having a tiebreaker.

A tiebreaker can also come into play in a wild-card race. The NL former runner-up is locked in the No. 4 seed, but the No. 5 and 6 seeds are up for grabs. Here’s who holds those tiebreakers (these are final):

vs mill




vs PHI




vs sd




The Brewers are in a tough position despite being only half a game behind the Phillies for third wild-card place. They do not hold a tiebreaker over the Padres or the Phillies, so that a half-game deficit is effectively a 1 1/2-game deficit. A tie is not good for Milwaukee. They would have to finish with a better record than the Padres or the Phillies to come later in the season.

Knowing the tiebreaker’s grip on the Brewers and Padres, the Phillies can sleep a little easier. All they have to do is finish with the same record as one of those teams since 2011. The Padres have a tiebreaker over the Brewers and it is important as Milwaukee looks on the outside.

This is entirely possibly the NL East title and the final NL wild-card place will be determined via a tiebreaker this year. In the past, the Braves and Mets would have played a game 163 to decide the division, and the two teams to tie for the number 6 seed would also play game 163 to determine who went to the postseason and who went home. . Now let’s talk about mathematics.