MLB playoff picture: Standings, projections, bracket, format explained as Mets, Braves fight for NL East

MLB playoff picture: Standings, projections, bracket, format explained as Mets, Braves fight for NL East

The 2022 Major League Baseball season is winding down, and quite a bit still hangs in the balance as teams try to secure their spots in the postseason. Eight teams (the Dodgers, Astros, Mets, Braves, Yankees, Guardians, Cardinals and Blue Jays) have clinched playoff berths in the 12-team field, and six teams are fighting for the final four spots with less than one week remaining. The NL East is the only divisional race that is coming down to the wire. The Mets have a one-game lead over the Braves for first place with a crucial head-to-head series set to begin on Friday.

Two NL wild-card spots are also still up in the air, with the Padres getting closer to clinching one of them, while the Phillies and Brewers vie for the third and final playoff spot. In the AL wild-card race, the Blue Jays clinched a berth Thursday, and the Rays and Mariners should follow suit in the coming days. The Mariners (21 years) and Phillies (11 years) have the two longest postseason droughts in Major League Baseball.

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 NLAstros: Clinched AL West, first-round byeMets: Clinched playoff berthBraves: Clinched playoff berthYankees: Clinched AL East, first-round byeGuardians: Clinched AL CentralCardinals: Clinched NL CentralBlue Jays: 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grows from 10 teams to 12 teams with the addition of an extra wild-card entrant in each league.The Wild Card Game has been replaced by the best-of-three Wild Card Series, which functions as the first round of play.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 YankeesWild 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 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)

N.Y. Yankees (clinched AL East)9659—100.0%Toronto87699.5100.0%Tampa Bay857111.5100.0%Baltimore807616.50.0%Boston (eliminated)758121.50.0%Cleveland (clinched AL Central)8868—100.0%Chi. White Sox777911.00.0%Minnesota
768012.00.0%Detroit (eliminated)639224.00.0%Kansas City (eliminated)639325.00.0%Houston (clinched AL West)10254—100.0%Seattle857016.5100.0%L.A. Angels (eliminated)708632.00.0%Texas (eliminated)668935.50.0%Oakland (eliminated)5610046.00.0%N.Y. Mets (clinched playoff berth)9858—100.0%Atlanta (clinched playoff berth)
97591.0100.0%Philadelphia837214.559.5%Miami (eliminated)659133.00.0%Washington (eliminated)5410143.50.0%St. Louis (clinched NL Central)9066—100%Milwaukee83737.042.6%Chi. Cubs (eliminated)708620.00.0%Cincinnati (eliminated)609630.00.0%Pittsburgh (eliminated)599731.00.0%L.A. Dodgers (clinched NL West)10848—100.0%San Diego867022.098.7%San Francisco787830.00.0%Arizona (eliminated)
728436.00.0%Colorado (eliminated)659143.00.0%

MLB wild-card standings

AL WILD CARDWLWCGBToronto (clinched wild-card spot)8769+2.0Seattle8570+0.5Tampa Bay8470--Baltimore80765.0NL WILD CARDWLWCGBAtlanta (clinched playoff berth)9759+13.5San Diego8670+2.5Philadelphia8372—Milwaukee83730.5

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