The wait is finally over. After 3 months that seemed like an eternity, the MLB and the Major League Baseball Players Association have finally agreed to a new labor deal, putting the lockout to an end.
Among the many changes that will come with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, one that will probably catch the eye of fans is the change in the playoff format. Yes, the postseason will suffer a modification once again.
After an unusual, 16-team playoff in 2020 as a result of the pandemic-shortened season, in 2021 the MLB returned to the 10-team playoff system that was implemented in 2012. However, the new CBA determines that the 2022 MLB playoffs will be expanded to 12 teams.
New MLB playoff format 2022: How will the postseason work this year?
Even though Opening Day was postponed, the MLB and the MLBPA reached an agreement to play a full, 162-game regular season with the four series that were originally removed set to be rescheduled. The deal also brings a change in the playoff format, with an extra playoff berth per league.
The expanded 12-team format of the 2022 MLB playoffs will work as follows (all of this is per league): the top two division winners receive a bye to the second round, while the third-best division winner and the best three teams among non-division winners will play in three-game series for a place in the Division Series. The worst division winner will face the bottom Wild Card team, while the other two take on each other.
As a result, the single game playoff that was known as the Wild Card game was removed. Instead, the first round will consist of a three-game series involving the 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th seeds from each league. The 3rd seed hosts the 6th, while the 4th host the 5th in the other tie. Additionally, there won't be reseedings: the team with the best overall record hosts the winner of the 4-5 seeds while the #2 seed hosts the winner of the #3 vs. #6.
Besides, there won't be a '163', tiebreaker game to determine playoff teams. If teams finish with the same regular season record, the MLB would implement a prearranged system of tiebreakers that has yet to be confirmed. To sum up, this is how the 2022 MLB playoffs will work (per league):
Get first-round byes:
- Seed #1: Team with the best overall record
- Seed #2: Second-best division winner
Qualify for the first round of the playoffs:
- Seed #3: Third-best division winner
- Seed #4, #5, #6: Best three teams that were not division winners, ordered by record
- #3 vs. #6
- #4 vs. #5
- #1 vs. Winner of 4-5
- #2 vs. Winner of 3-6