How Do MLB Playoffs Work & How Many Teams Make It?

How do MLB Playoffs Work

2 minutes

Last Updated: May 24, 2024

Scott Kostov

Many fans still can’t figure out how do MLB playoffs work. Since the league changed its postseason format in 2022, things have been all over the place. And while teams have been trying to figure out what’s the hardest pitch to hit, fans have been trying to figure out how does MLB playoffs work.

Understanding the format is crucial to making plans and bets respectively. Imagine planning to buy tickets for a playoff game only to end up in one of the smallest MLB stadiums. Depending on how many teams make the MLB playoffs, you could get a good deal. 

How Do Baseball Playoffs Work?

How Many Rounds MLB Playoffs Have?

As of 2024, there are four rounds in the MLB playoffs. These are the: Wild Card Round, Divisional Round, League Championship Round, and the World Series. In 2022, the Wild Card round received an update.

Instead of the single-game format, where the winner advances with a win, the wild-card round is now a best-of-three series. All three games are hosted by the higher seed, meaning we have a smaller chance of seeing an upset.

The Division Series remains a best-of-five series. Higher seeds host the first two games, while the lower seed hosts games 3 and 4. If it comes to a Game 5, it will be hosted by the higher seed.

Likewise, the League Championship Series works in the same way, except it’s a best-of-seven series. The higher seed hosts the first two games,  Games 3, 4, and 5 are hosted by the lower seed, and the higher seed hosts Games 6 and 7 (if necessary).

It all culminates with the World Series with the 2-3-2 format, where the team with the better record gets to start and finish the series on its home turf. No bigger stage to hit the longest home run ever than that.

How Many Teams Make MLB Playoffs?

With the 2022 MLB playoff format changes, 12 teams make the postseason now, up from the previous 10. So now, we have 6 representatives for the ALCS and NLCS. These are the 3 division winners and the 3 wild card teams per league. 

MLB Playoffs Seeding Explained

The MLB postseason seeding is quite simple, following these rules:

  • No. 1 seed: Best league record
  • No. 2 seed: Second-best division winner
  • No. 3 seed: Third-best division winner
  • No. 4 seed: Best record among Wild Card teams
  • No. 5 seed: Second-best record among Wild Card teams
  • No. 6 seed: Third-best record among Wild Card teams

The top 2 seeds from both leagues will receive first-round byes and advance directly to the Division Series. At the same time, in the Wild Card Series, the No. 3 seed will face the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed will face the No. 5 seed in order to achieve the same.

MLB Playoffs Tiebreakers

Tie breakers games or Game 163 are now a thing of the past. Instead of playing one final game to decide seeding, this format will be used to decide tiebreakers.

  • Head-to-head record
  • Intra Division record (records within their division)
  • Inter Division record (record against teams outside of their division)
  • Last half of interleague games

MLB Playoffs Total Games Played

Depending on how deep each series runs, there will be between 32 and 53 games in the postseason. To recap, the breakdown is as follows:

  • Wild Card Series (4) — best-of-three format
  • Division Series (4) — best-of-five
  • Championship Series (2) — best-of-seven
  • World Series — best-of-seven

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