MLB playoff picture: Standings, bracket, projections, new format explained as Braves, Mets clinch berths

MLB playoff picture: Standings, bracket, projections, new format explained as Braves, Mets clinch berths

The 2022 Major League Baseball season is winding down, and the focus is on the race for playoff spots. Four teams (the Dodgers, Astros, Mets and Braves) have clinched playoff berths, but quite a bit still hangs in the balance with less than two weeks remaining in the regular season.

The league-leading Dodgers became the first team to clinch a playoff berth, doing so last week (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 are still one game back of the Mets in the NL East, punched their playoff ticket on Tuesday.

The NL East and AL Central are still hotly contested, and in the NL the Padres, Phillies, and Brewers are jousting for the final two wild-card spots. In the AL, the Rays, Blue Jays, and Mariners are essentially locked into the three wild-card spots, and are battling over seeding. 

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 byeAstros: Clinched AL West, first-round byeMets: Clinched playoff berthBraves: Clinched playoff berth

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grows from 10 teams to 12 teams with the addition of an extra wild-card entrant in each league.The Wild Card Game has been replaced by the best-of-three Wild Card Series, which functions as the first round of play.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 YankeesWild 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 MetsWild 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)

Houston (clinched AL West)9951—100.0%Seattle816717.098.6%L.A. Angels (eliminated)658433.50.0%Texas (eliminated)648434.00.0%Oakland (eliminated)559443.50.0%

MLB wild-card standings

NL WILD CARDWLWCGBAtlanta (clinched playoff berth)9456+11.5San Diego8366+1.5Philadelphia8167—Milwaukee79702.5

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