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The MLB Postseason Explained: How Do Teams Make It to the World Series?

by Leap on October 3, 2023

Every season, all 30 MLB teams share one goal: Win the World Series championship. Each team plays 162 games throughout the year, only for 12 teams to get a chance to take home the Commissioner's Trophy in the postseason. We'll break down the MLB Postseason 2023 schedule and matchups between the best teams in baseball so you know exactly what to expect.

MLB Postseason - Baseball Field Stock Photo

MLB Postseason Overview

MLB is divided into two leagues, the American League and the National League, and each league has three divisions consisting of five teams based on location (West, Central and East). At the end of the regular season, each first-place team wins the division and automatically gets a spot in the postseason. For the remaining six spots, the "runner-up" teams with the top three best records among non-division winners from each league win a Wild Card berth.

In other words, each league has three division winners and three Wild Card teams, and are seeded, as follows:

  • No. 1 seed: Best league record
  • No. 2 seed: Second-best division winner
  • No. 3 seed: Third-best division winner
  • 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

MLB Postseason - Tropicana Field

Each Playoff Series Explained

There are four main playoff series in the MLB Postseason: the Wild Card Series, the Division Series, the League Championship Series and the World Series.

Wild Card Series

The No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in each league skip the Wild Card Series and advance directly to the Division Series. In the Wild Card round, the No. 3 seed faces No. 6, while the No. 4 seed competes with No. 5.

The Wild Card Series is a best-of-three series. The higher-seeded teams (No. 3 and No. 4) have home-field advantage for all three games, which are played within three consecutive days. The winners advance to the Division Series, and the losers are eliminated from the postseason.

Division Series

The No. 1 seed faces the winner of the Wild Card Series between the No. 4 and 5 seeds, and the No. 2 seed plays the winner of the Wild Card Series between the No. 3 and 6 seeds. This ensures that the No. 1 seed won't face another division winner in this round.

The Division Series is a best-of-five series in a 2-2-1 format with home-field advantage for the higher seeds (No. 1 and 2). This format means the first two games are guaranteed to be played at the higher seed’s ballpark, while the third and potential fourth games take place at the lower seed’s ballpark. If the series needs a Game 5, the teams would return to the higher seed’s ballpark. The first team to win three games advances, and the loser is eliminated.

League Championship Series

At this point, there are four teams left. The Division Series winners compete against each other for a spot in the World Series.

The League Championship Series is a best-of-seven series in a 2-3-2 format with home-field advantage for the higher seed. This format means the first two games play at the higher seed’s ballpark, while the third, fourth and potential fifth games take place at the lower seed’s ballpark. If the series needs a Game 6 or 7, the teams would return to the higher seed’s ballpark. The first team to win four games advances, and the loser is eliminated.

World Series

The League Championship Series winners make it to the final round — the World Series. The World Series follows the same best-of-seven format as the previous round. The home-field advantage goes to the team with the best regular-season record, regardless of postseason seeding. The first team to win four games is the World Series champion.

2023 MLB Postseason Schedule

Here's when each round begins, along with the last potential date of the series.

  • Wild Card Series: Oct. 3, 4 and 5*, 2023
  • Division Series: Oct. 7-14*, 2023
  • League Championship Series: Oct. 15-24*, 2023
  • World Series: Oct. 27 - Nov. 4*, 2023

*if necessary

There are select days when all teams are playing on the same day, but the schedule can alternate between American League and National League games during the Division Series and League Championship Series. For instance, all ALDS and NLDS games begin Oct. 7, but the ALDS Game 2 is Oct. 8, while the NLDS Game 2 is Oct. 9, so be sure to check the exact schedule for your favorite team.

2023 MLB Postseason Teams and Tickets

MLB Postseason - Los Angeles Dodgers Game

The 2023 regular season has come to a close and the postseason brackets are officially set, as follows!

Wild Card Series outcome: The Texas Rangers beat the Tampa Bay Rays (2-0) and played the Baltimore Orioles in the Division Series. The Minnesota Twins defeated the Toronto Blue Jays (2-0) and played the Houston Astros in the Division Series.

Division Series outcome: The Texas Rangers swept the Baltimore Orioles (3-0), and the Houston Astros beat the Minnesota Twins (3-1). The two Texas teams faced each other in the AL Championship Series.

League Championship Series outcome: The Texas Rangers defeated the Houston Astros (4-3) and moved on to the World Series.

National League Teams

Wild Card Series outcome: The Philadelphia Phillies beat the Miami Marlins (2-0) and played the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Milwaukee Brewers (2-0) and played the Los Angeles Dodgers in the Division Series.

Division Series outcome: The Philadelphia Phillies lead the series (2-1) over the Atlanta Braves, and the Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers (3-0).

League Championship Series outcome: The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Philadelphia Phillies (4-3) and moved on to the World Series.

World Series outcomeThe Texas Rangers won the World Series after defeating the Arizona Diamondbacks (4-1).

You won't want to miss an exciting month of baseball! Once the teams are locked in for each series, you'll be able to purchase MLB postseason tickets through Undercover Tourist. Visit your team's page to view available tickets. Undercover Tourist has been a trusted ticket seller for over 20 years, and we offer tickets for a variety of seating options from the baselines to the outfield and upper decks.

We're ready for the 2023 MLB Postseason! Are you rooting for postseason veterans such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves and Tampa Bay Rays, or the underdogs who haven't been to the playoffs in years such as the Baltimore Orioles or Texas Rangers? 

Related: How to Save on MLB Tickets

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