Less than one week remains in the 2022 MLB regular season and next Friday the postseason will begin with the best-of-three Wild Card Series. Baseball has a new 12-team postseason format and it remains to be seen whether it improves the product. I was skeptical of the Wild Card Game at first, but I quickly grew to love it. Maybe the same will happen with the 12-team format.

Anyway, five of the six division titles have been clinched, with only the NL East undecided. Five of the six wild-card spots are up for grabs as well, though we know who the three wild-card teams will be in the American League, and the National League wild-card race is down to three teams for two spots. With less than a week to play, there's not that much on the line around the league.

For posterity's sake, this is what the postseason bracket would look like if the season ended Thursday, which of course it does not:



Byes: No. 1 Astros and No. 2 Yankees

WC: No. 6 Mariners at No. 3 Guardians (winner plays No. 2 in ALDS)

WC: No. 5 Rays vs. No. 4 Blue Jays (winner plays No. 1 in ALDS)



Byes: No. 1 Dodgers and No. 2 Mets

WC: No. 6 Phillies at No. 3 Cardinals (winner plays No. 2 in NLDS)

WC: No. 5 Padres at No. 4 Braves (winner plays No. 1 in NLDS)  

Here is the 2022 postseason schedule. It's a bit unusual (off-days are scattered throughout each series rather than the usual 2-2-1 LDS and 2-3-2 LCS formats) but it works just as well. How is the new 12-team format impacting the postseason races? A few ways, really. Let's break 'em down. 


1. The No. 6 seed may be more desirable than the No. 5 seed

Teams will not be reseeded after the Wild Card Series. The winner of the No. 3 vs. No. 6 Wild Card Series will play the No. 2 seed in the LDS no matter what, and the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 Wild Card Series will play the No. 1 seed in the LDS no matter what. In the LDS the team with the league's best record will face a wild-card team, not a division winner, period.

That sounds great in theory, but in practice it doesn't always work out so neatly. Some wild-card teams are better than some division winners every season, and this year's NL East is the great example. The NL East runner-up will have a much better record and run differential than the NL Central winner. Because of that, the No. 6 seed might be more desirable than the No. 5 seed.