How Does Major League Baseball’s Playoff System Work?

Major League Baseball’s playoff system is a complex animal.
In this post, we’ll take a look at how the MLB playoff system works, from the Wild Card game to the World Series.


Major League Baseball’s playoff system has been in place since 1995, and though it has undergone a few small changes, the basic structure remains the same. The playoffs go like this: After the long 162-game regular season, the top team from each division (the American and National League East, West, and Central) automatically advance to the postseason. After that, two wild card teams (the two non-division-winning teams with the best records in each league) are selected to fill out the bracket. From there, it’s a best-of-five series to determine who goes to the World Series.

How the Regular Season Works

During the regular season, each team plays 162 games. These games are spread out over a six-month period, from late March/early April ( Opening Day) to late September/early October. By the end of the regular season, each team has played enough games to know where they stack up against the rest of the league.

Divisional Play

In order to ensure a fair and balanced regular season, MLB is divided into two leagues—the National League (NL) and the American League (AL)—each of which is further divided into three divisions:

-The NL Central includes the Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, and St. Louis Cardinals.
-The NL East includes the Atlanta Braves, Miami Marlins, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, and Washington Nationals.
-The NL West includes the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and San Francisco Giants.

-The AL Central includes the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians, Detroit Tigers, Kansas City Royals, and Minnesota Twins.
-The AL East includes the Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Rays ,and Toronto Blue Jays.
-The AL Westin the Houston Astros ,Los Angeles Angels ,Oakland Athletics ,Seattle Mariners ,and Texas Rangers .

Wild Card Teams

In Major League Baseball, the two teams with the best record in each league who did not win their divisional title qualify for the playoffs as “wild card” teams. These teams play each other in a one-game playoff. The winner of this game goes on to play the team that had the best record in their league in the next round of the playoffs.

The Postseason

Major League Baseball’s (MLB) playoff system is a four-tiered system used to determine the annual winner of the World Series, the top baseball championship in North America. The first two tiers are the Wild Card games and the Division Series. These series are a best-of-five format. The third tier is the League Championship Series, which is a best-of-seven format. Finally, the fourth tier is the World Series, which is also a best-of-seven format.

The Divisional Series

In each league (AL and NL), the three division winners and a “wild card” team (the team with the best record from the remaining non-division-winning teams) play each other in a best-of-five series. The team that wins this series moves on to play the league’s pennant winner in the best-of-seven League Championship Series.

The League Championship Series

The League Championship Series (LCS) is a best-of-seven series played between the winners of the two American League (AL) Division Series (NL) and the winners of the two National League (NL) Division Series. The LCS is played after the NL and AL Division Series and before the World Series, and takes place in October.

In each league, the team with the best record from each division plays against the wild card team, which is the team with the best record that did not win its division. The LCS is a best-of-seven series; this means that whichever team wins four games first, wins the series.

If a team loses the first two games of the LCS, that team can still come back to win the series. This has happened before in baseball history. In fact, in 2004, the Boston Red Sox lost the first three games of the ALCS to their hated rivals, the New York Yankees. The Red Sox then won four straight games to become only the second team in baseball history to come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a seven-game series.

The LCS is considered by some to be baseball’s most exciting postseason series because it features two teams fighting for their lives with everything on the line.

The World Series

The World Series is the annual championship series of Major League Baseball (MLB) and culminates a postseason tournament that begins in late September. The World Series brings together the winning teams from the American League (AL) and National League (NL), who play a best-of-seven game series to determine which team will be crowned MLB champion for that year.

The first modern World Series was held in 1903, and since then the winners of the AL and NL pennant have met in what has become one of the most highly anticipated sporting events in North America. While the AL and NL were established in 1876 and 1890 respectively, it wasn’t until 1892 that an agreement was reached to hold an annual championship series between the two leagues. The first World Series was held in 1903 between the Boston Americans (now the Red Sox) and the Pittsburgh Pirates, with Boston winning five games to three.

Since that time, a number of traditions have been established, including the use of metal bats (begun in 1963), player introductions (introduced at Yankee Stadium in 1947), and awarding a Commissioner’s Trophy to the team owner after each win (first presented in 1967). Perhaps most iconic is the seventh game, which is often considered one of sport’s most tension-filled events. If a Game 7 is necessary, it is usually scheduled for October 30 or 31, providing a fitting end to what has become known as baseball’s “Autumn Classic.”


In conclusion, the Major League Baseball playoff system is a complex but fair way to determine who the best team in the league is. It takes into account regular season performance, head-to-head match-ups, and divisional play. While it may be confusing at first, it is easy to understand once you know the basics.

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