MLB playoff picture: Standings, projections, bracket, new format explained as Yankees, Guardians clinch spots

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The 2022 Major League Baseball season is winding down, and the focus is on the race for playoff spots. Six teams (the Dodgers, Astros, Mets, BravesYankees and Guardians) have clinched playoff berths in the 14-team field, but quite a bit still hangs in the balance with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season. The NL East is still hotly contested, and in the NL the PadresPhillies, and Brewers are jousting for the final two wild-card spots. In the AL, the RaysBlue Jays, and Mariners are battling for wild-card seeding.

The league-leading Dodgers became the first team to clinch a playoff spot, doing so earlier this month (after some initial confusion). Los Angeles then clinched its ninth NL West title in 10 years. The Astros clinched the AL West on Monday night, the same day the Mets clinched their first playoff berth since 2016. The Braves, who remain within reach of the Mets in the NL East, punched their playoff ticket on Tuesday, and the Yankees followed suit on Thursday.

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 advantage in NL
  • Astros: Clinched AL West, first-round bye
  • Mets: Clinched playoff berth
  • Braves: Clinched playoff berth
  • Yankees: Clinched playoff berth
  • Guardians: Clinched AL Central

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  • The Wild Card Game has been replaced by the best-of-three Wild Card Series, which functions as the first round of play.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 Rays at No. 4 Blue Jays (winner faces No. 1 seed) 
  • Wild Card Series: No. 6 Mariners at No. 3 Guardians (winner faces No. 2 seed) 

National League

  • Byes: No. 1 Dodgers and No. 2 Mets
  • Wild Card Series: No. 5 Padres at No. 4 Braves (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 playoff berth) 94 58 100.0%
Toronto 86 67 8.5 99.9%
Tampa Bay 84 69 10.5 99.8%
Baltimore 79 73 15.0 <1.0%
Boston (eliminated) 72 80 22.0 0.0%
Cleveland 86 67 100.0%
Chi. White Sox 76 77 10.0 <1.0%
Minnesota 74 79 12.0 0.0%
Kansas City (eliminated) 63 90 23.0 0.0%
Detroit (eliminated) 60 92 25.5 0.0%
Houston (clinched AL West) 101 53 100.0%
Seattle 83 69 17.0 99.8%
L.A. Angels (eliminated) 67 86 33.5 0.0%
Texas (eliminated) 65 87 35.0 0.0%
Oakland (eliminated) 56 97 44.5 0.0%
N.Y. Mets (clinched playoff berth) 97 57 100.0%
Atlanta (clinched playoff berth) 95 58 1.5 100.0%
Philadelphia 83 69 13.0 80.0%
Miami (eliminated) 63 90 33.5 0.0%
Washington (eliminated) 53 99 43.0 0.0%
St. Louis 89 65 100%
Milwaukee 82 71 6.5 26.0%
Chi. Cubs (eliminated) 67 86 21.5 0.0%
Cincinnati (eliminated) 60 93 28.5 0.0%
Pittsburgh (eliminated) 56 97 32.5 0.0%
L.A. Dodgers (clinched NL West) 106 47 100.0%
San Diego 85 68 21.0 94.0%
San Francisco 75 78 31.0 0.0%
Arizona (eliminated) 71 83 35.5 0.0%
Colorado (eliminated) 65 88 41.0 0.0%

MLB wild-card standings

Toronto 86 67 +2.5
Tampa Bay 84 69 +0.5
Seattle 83 69
Baltimore 79 73 4.0
Atlanta (clinched playoff berth) 95 58 +10.0
San Diego 85 68 +1.5
Philadelphia 83 69
Milwaukee 82 71 1.5

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