The 2022 Major League Baseball playoffs are well underway, with a third of the field already eliminated as of October 13. The new playoff format solidified under the new collective bargaining agreement expands the playoff field to 12 teams, eight of which play in an initial three-game wild card series. The Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, and Atlanta Braves earned byes into the second round since they finished first and second in their respective leagues. 

The Dodgers were easily the best team in the regular season, winning five more games than the Astros, who came in second. Their 111 regular season wins place them fourth in MLB history. Powered by the highest-scoring offense and stingiest pitching staff, the Dodgers dominated the regular season and now look to vanquish the Padres, whom they beat 14 times during the season. Having won a World Series, been runners up twice, and made the playoffs for the past nine years, the Dodgers were a safe bet for a strong 2022 season, and have done just that. They entered the playoff as the consensus favorite in the betting markets and certainly remained the favorites to win late October’s World Series if they made it past their division rival Padres.

The Astros, American League frontrunners, finished the regular season with seven more wins than the second-place Yankees. They commanded the AL powered by a strong starting rotation and bullpen, as well as one of the scariest hitters in the league in Yordan Alvarez. With a 2-0 series lead against the Seattle Mariners in the best-of-five division series, the Astros appeared well-positioned to advance to the championship series. If they moved on, the Astros would play either the Cleveland Guardians or the Yankees. The Astros won four out of six and five out of six games, respectively, against each team during the season.

After a late surge to win the National League East, the defending champions Braves were locked in a series tie with the Philadelphia Phillies despite churning out a much better regular season. Even if the Braves advance, the path does not get any easier with either the otherworldly Dodgers or star-studded San Diego Padres waiting in the next round 

Overall, the expanded MLB playoffs provide an opportunity for more teams to have a shot at a world championship, but in the end the teams at the top are again in a prime position to make deep playoff runs. The World Series has been played with either the Dodgers or Astros each of the past five seasons, and chances are at least one of the top-seeded teams will again vie for the Fall Classic.