MLB Expanded Postseason Explained; How Twins Stack Up

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The 2022 Major League Baseball Postseason is coming up fast and there are a lot of changes to how this year’s playoff bracket will work. Yes, the Minnesota Twins are locked in a battle with the Cleveland Guardians and (to a lesser extent) the Chicago White Sox, for the AL Central crown. But they’re also nipping at the heels of all three American League wildcard teams too.

Yes, three wildcard teams will make the MLB Postseason in 2022, and going forward. That means 6 teams in each conference and 12 playoff teams in total. Two teams in each conference will receive a 1st-round bye and will not participate in Wildcard Weekend. That leaves the worst division winner of the three (the AL Central this season), and three wildcard teams to duke it out.

Twins’ Playoff Picture

The AL West (Astros) and AL East (Yankees) have far better records than the teams battling for AL Central superiority. That means, unless the Yankees continue to lose at the same pace they have been lately, the Twins will play on Wildcard Weekend, even if they win the division.

As of Saturday morning, the Minnesota Twins sit 1 game back of the Cleveland Guardians, in the AL Central standings. The White Sox are 3.5 games behind the division leaders. But winning the AL Central isn’t the Twins’ only opportunity to get into the postseason.

Earlier in the year, many believed the AL East was so good that they would run away with all three wildcard sports in the American League. But with 45 games remaining on the Twins schedule, they sit just 0.5 games behind the Tampa Bay Rays for the 3rd wildcard spot and just 2 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the 1st wildcard.

Wildcard Weekend explained

There are more significant changes that need to be mentioned, as it pertains to the 1st round of the upcoming playoffs. There will be two wildcard series in each conference (four total). Three wildcard teams and the worst of the three division winners. All 1st round series will be “best-of-3”. So, the first team to win two games will move onto the Divisional Round.

The other twist? All three games of each series will be played at the higher seed’s stadium. No switching locations. That means, should the Minnesota Twins win the AL Central, but miss out on a 1st round bye, they’d play all 1st round games at Target Field (vs the #3 wildcard team). The #1 wildcard will also play all of that weekend at home (vs the #2 wildcard team).

After the wildcard round, the playoff bracket looks much more familiar. Eight teams battling through the Divisional and Championship rounds, to reach the World Series. All games, from the Divisional round on will be “best-of-7”.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan