Major League Baseball has changed its playoff format for the first time since 1994 and the new changes take effect this season.
The new format will now include 5 teams from each league, which will include the three different division winners and two wild-card teams instead of just the one. The wild-card teams will be the next two teams in each league with the best records that did not win their division.
The two wild-card teams from each division will play one game to determine who will move on to face the team with the best record in each league with the second and third-best division winning records facing each other in a 5 game series.
One other change that will just be for this year is the format of the 5 game division series. Instead of the 2-2-1 home and away format. The higher seeded team will play the first two games at the lower seed’s home field and the final three games, if needed, will be played at the higher seed’s field. This is due to the fact that the decision to add the extra wild-card game was not made until after the schedule for the season was made, and the league needed to eliminate the extra travel day between a game 4 and game 5 to make up the time.
The 7-game League Championship and World Series formats will remain the same.
After the announcement of the playoff expansion Commissioner Bud Selig stated, “I greatly appreciate the MLBPA’s cooperation in putting the new postseason format in place this year. This change increases the rewards of a division championship and allows two additional markets to experience playoff baseball each year.”