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How do the MLB Playoffs Work?

The Bracket

The Major League Playoff Bracket is made up of 10 teams, 5 from the American League and 5 from the National League. Beginning with the 2012 playoffs, the MLB added a single elimination wild card game to both the American League and National League. This is not a series, as is the case with the remainder of the playoff matches, but instead one elimination game where the winner moves on and the loser is eliminated. Check out When do the MLB Playoffs Start for a complete playoff schedule.


The winners of each division are awarded the top 3 seeds in each league. They are then seeded based on overall record. The 4th and 5th seeds will be the two teams with the best records outside of the division winners. With this format it is possible for the 4 and 5 seeds to have a better record than the 2 and 3 seeds.


There are 4 rounds to the playoffs:

The Wild Card Round, which consists of a single elimination play-in game.

The Divisional Round, which has the winner of the Wild Card Game playing the number 1 seed, and the 2 and 3 seeds facing off. This is a best-of-5 series.

The League Championship will see the winners of the Divisional Rounds facing off. This is a best-of-7 series.

The 2 winners of the League Championship series will play in the World Series. This is a best-of-7 series.