MLB playoff picture: Standings, projections, bracket, format explained as Braves take NL East lead

The 2022 Major League Baseball season is winding down, and the expanded, 12-team playoff field is nearly set. Ten teams (Dodgers, Astros, Mets, BravesYankees, Guardians, Cardinals, Blue Jays, RaysMariners) have clinched playoff berths, and three teams are fighting for the final two spots with just four days left in the season. The NL East is the only divisional race that is coming down to the wire. 

The Braves and Mets are battling for the division and Atlanta pulled ahead thanks to back-to-back wins over New York on Friday and Saturday. The Braves and Mets meet for one final time Sunday night, and the winner of that game will be in the driver’s seat to win the division.

As for the NL wild-card race, the last two spots are undecided. The Padres are inching closer to clinching a postseason berth while the fading Phillies are trying to hold off the Brewers. The three AL wild-card teams are known, though they are still battling for seeding. The top wild-card team gets home field advantage throughout the Wild Card Series.

Friday night the Mariners clinched their first postseason berth since Ichiro’s rookie year in 2001. The longest postseason drought in the fourth major North American sports is over. The Phillies now have the longest drought (since 2011), and if they make it this year, the Angels and Tigers will have the longest drought (since 2014).

Now let’s jump into the detailed standings, current playoff matchups, and postseason odds, and let’s also recall that the structure of the postseason is different starting this year.

Clinched spots

  • Dodgers: Clinched NL West, first-round bye, home field throughout postseason
  • Astros: Clinched AL West, first-round bye, home field through ALCS
  • Mets: Clinched playoff berth
  • Braves: Clinched playoff berth
  • Yankees: Clinched AL East, first-round bye, home field through ALDS
  • Guardians: Clinched AL Central
  • Cardinals: Clinched NL Central
  • Blue Jays: Clinched AL wild-card spot
  • Mariners: Clinched AL wild-card spot
  • Rays: Clinched AL wild-card spot

The new, 12-team playoff format

During the recent negotiation of the new collective bargaining agreement, players and owners agreed to a new and expanded postseason structure moving forward. That new structure begins with the current season, and here’s a reminder of how it will work.

  • The postseason field grows from 10 teams to 12 teams with the addition of an extra wild-card entrant in each league.
  • 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.
  • The top two division winners in each league, as determined by best overall record during the regular season, get a first-round bye. That means they advance straight to the best-of-five Division Series that functions as the second round.
  • The four wild-card round participants in each league comprise the division winner with the worst record among division winners and the three non-division winners with the best records. That division winner is automatically the No. 3 seed regardless of whether one or all of the other wild-card teams has a better record.
  • To summarize, here’s how the playoff seeding will work in each league — No. 1 seed (bye to LDS): Best record in league; No. 2 seed (bye to LDS): Second-best record among division winners; No. 3 seed: Third-best record among division winners; 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 League Championship Series and World Series remain best-of-seven series with home-field advantage going to the team with the best record in each series. Note that there’s no re-seeding after any round.

Got it? Now here’s where things stand right now when it comes to the races for these berths and seeds.

If the season ended today…

American League

  • Byes: No. 1 Astros and No. 2 Yankees
  • Wild Card Series: No. 5 Mariners at No. 4 Blue Jays (winner faces No. 1 seed) 
  • Wild Card Series: No. 6 Rays at No. 3 Guardians (winner faces No. 2 seed) 

National League

  • Byes: No. 1 Dodgers and No. 2 Braves
  • Wild Card Series: No. 5 Padres at No. 4 Mets (winner faces No. 1 seed) 
  • Wild Card Series: No. 6 Phillies at No. 3 Cardinals (winner faces No. 2 seed) 

MLB standings

(Postseason projections are from SportsLine; expanded standings can be viewed here)

N.Y. Yankees (clinched AL East) 97 60 100.0%
Toronto (clinched WC spot) 89 69 8.5 100.0%
Tampa Bay (clinched WC Spot) 86 72 11.5 100.0%
Baltimore (eliminated) 81 77 16.5 0.0%
Boston (eliminated) 75 83 22.5 0.0%
Cleveland (clinched AL Central) 89 69 100.0%
Chi. White Sox (eliminated) 78 80 11.0 0.0%
Minnesota (eliminated) 77 81 12.0 0.0%
Detroit (eliminated) 64 93 24.5 0.0%
Kansas City (eliminated) 64 94 25.0 0.0%
Houston (clinched AL West) 103 55 100.0%
Seattle (clinched WC spot) 87 70 15.5 100.0%
L.A. Angels (eliminated) 72 86 31.0 0.0%
Texas (eliminated) 66 91 36.5 0.0%
Oakland (eliminated) 56 102 47.0 0.0%
Atlanta (clinched playoff berth) 99 59 100.0%
N.Y. Mets (clinched playoff berth)  98 60 1.0 100.0%
Philadelphia 85 73 14.0 75.7%
Miami (eliminated) 66 92 33.0 0.0%
Washington (eliminated) 55 103 44.0 0.0%
St. Louis (clinched NL Central) 92 66 100%
Milwaukee 84 74 8.0 24.5%
Chi. Cubs (eliminated) 72 86 20.0 0.0%
Cincinnati (eliminated) 60 98 32.0 0.0%
Pittsburgh (eliminated) 59 99 33.0 0.0%
L.A. Dodgers (clinched NL West) 110 48 100.0%
San Diego 87 71 23.0 95.8%
San Francisco 79 79 31.0 0.0%
Arizona (eliminated) 73 85 37.0 0.0%
Colorado (eliminated) 65 93 45.0 0.0%

MLB wild-card standings

Toronto (clinched WC spot) 89 69 +3.0
Seattle (clinched WC spot) 87 70 +1.5
Tampa Bay (clinched WC spot) 86 72
N.Y. Mets (clinched playoff berth) 98 60 +13.0
San Diego 87 71 +2.0
Philadelphia 85 73
Milwaukee 84 74 1.0

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