The 2020 MLB playoffs will feature an unprecedented 16 teams (eight in each league). The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox have locked up their spots in the postseason.
The Houston Astros won the World Series last year for the first time in team history. The Chicago Cubs are looking to win the Series for the third consecutive year. The Los Angeles Dodgers are trying to join them this year after winning the National League West title for the second straight season. The Milwaukee Brewers are also looking to end their long playoff drought.
Here is how all 32 teams stack up:
American League: Baltimore Orioles, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians, Houston Astros, Indianapolis Indians, Kansas City Royals, Los Angeles Angels, Tampa Bay Rays
National League: Atlanta Braves, Chicago Cubs, Cincinnati Reds, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, Milwaukee Brewers, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, San Diego Padres
MLB and the MLBPA agreed on July 23 that the playoffs will feature an extended 16-team playoff tournament for 2020 only, rather than the standard 10-team tournament. The top two clubs in each of the six divisions will advance to the playoffs. Each division winner will be given a "wild card" spot by virtue of their ranking; the other wild cards will be determined based on league record. If any team wins its division with a better record than its nearest competitor, that team will receive the second wild card spot.
The new format is designed to increase the number of games played in the postseason while maintaining the current schedule length of 14 days. The 2020 season is expected to begin on April 3 and end on October 1. There will be no All-Star Game in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic; instead, the game will be played in 2021.
The 2020 season will consist of 18 regular-season games per team, with each club playing eight at home and then four away from home. This will be the first time since 1972 that every team has played every other team once at home and once away. Teams will not play multiple games at home or away against one another during the season.
Since the establishment of the American League in 1901, there have been 12 different champions.
Ten Major League Baseball clubs make the playoffs, and 12 professional football teams do as well. Franchises like the New England Patriots, Boston Celtics, and New York Yankees make the playoffs so frequently that it has become a given for their fans. While other franchises have no choice but to keep playing hard year after year, these three organizations have achieved success at a high level for several decades now.
The NFL champions will be determined this year by the Pittsburgh Steelers or Kansas City Chiefs. Both of these teams have been to the playoffs every year since they started play in 1970. The New York Giants, who you might remember lost two Super Bowls to the Dallas Cowboys, are still looking for their first title since 1951. The Chicago Bears have never won the championship while playing in Chi-town!
Conversely, four teams have never made the postseason in baseball. The Baltimore Orioles have only had a presence in the league since 1956 but have never been to the playoffs. The Seattle Mariners began play in 1977 but have never reached the postseason either. The Colorado Rockies joined the major leagues in 1993 but were immediately swept in the first round by the Atlanta Braves.
Finally, there are two basketball-only franchises in the NBA: the Milwaukee Bucks and Vancouver Grizzlies. The former was established before the formation of the NBA in 1946 while the latter came along six years later. Neither team has ever made the playoffs.
Ten Major League Baseball playoff squads will be named this week, including two winners of single-game elimination games. The Chicago Cubs and Cleveland Indians are the only teams to reach the postseason with a 100-win season, as all other teams have finished between 76 and 90-66.
The 10 winning seasons rank first and second among all major professional sports leagues. The Cubs and Indians have the best records in baseball at 100-46, but they were both given wild-card spots by virtue of having better regular-season records than the Washington Nationals (89-73) and Baltimore Orioles (76-86). The Cubs won their division with a 14-1 record while the Indians took advantage of a 100-win New York Yankees team that was tied up with itself during the final weeks of the season. Both teams had strong finishes despite several injuries that depleted their rosters down the stretch.
The Atlanta Braves, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, and Philadelphia Phillies also made it into the playoffs for the first time in their histories. The Braves and Dodgers each won their respective divisions by seven games; the other four teams won their divisions with more conventional methods.
The NFL playoffs in 2020 will include 14 teams in total, with seven from the AFC and seven from the NFC. For the 2020 season, each conference will get three wild-card clubs in addition to the four division champions. The top seed in each conference will host a playoff game, while the No. 2 seed will travel for a contest.
The number of teams that can qualify for the playoffs is determined by the current configuration of league divisions. In the NFL, there are currently 32 teams divided into two conferences of 16 teams each. A club must win its division to qualify for the postseason; however, if one or more other teams in its conference finish with a losing record, they will be eligible for the playoffs if they meet certain criteria. These include having at least eight wins during the regular season.
To date, only six teams have failed to win their division over the past five seasons: the 2011 Colts, 2012 Ravens, 2013 Saints, 2014 Broncos, 2015 Browns and 2019 Chiefs. All six of these teams were able to qualify for the playoffs nonetheless because one or more other teams suffered an injury or illness that prevented them from playing during the season.
In addition to the six division winners that did not qualify this year, four others finished with 7-9 records: the Bears, Giants, Jaguars and Raiders.
Depending on how rapidly a club wins its games, the postseason can last anywhere from 12 to 22 games. There are presently 30 clubs in the league, with 10 making the playoffs. They are automatically qualified for the playoffs, and each league has two "wild-card" clubs that compete in a one-game elimination round to determine who advances. The winner of this game becomes the number-one seed in their division, while the loser is the number-two seed.
To reach the playoffs, a team must win its division or league. If there is a tie for first place, the following season's standings will be used to break the tie. If the same teams are tied for second place, the next highest winning percentage will be used to determine the order. If there is still a tie for second place, the previous year's standings will be used instead.
A club's record in close games may affect its position in the playoff race. If several games are decided by a single score, then the team that finishes above.500 is considered to have a good chance at reaching the postseason. However, if one team keeps winning every game by 3 or more runs, then it is likely to receive even more attention from fans and media members and might even get called "the favorite" to win the division.
The Atlanta Braves were the first team to qualify for the playoffs after winning their division. They did so in 1995 after finishing with the best record in the National League.