How Our MLB Forecast Is Changing For 2022 (2023)

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How Our MLB Forecast Is Changing For 2022 (1)
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After an extra-long offseason of doubt and acrimony, baseball is finally back. Thursday’s slightly belated opening day will feature 18 teams in action — including many of the ones we think will be the most interesting to watch throughout the year. To help you prepare for the new season, we have booted up our MLB prediction model once again — with a few twists this time around. Some are due to new format changes in the sport, while others involve our own improvements to the forecast. Read on to find out what’s new in the model and what it says about the favorites in the season to come.

The first major alteration is a structural one to the sport itself. As part of MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement, the playoff field is expanding this season from 10 teams to 12, giving the American and National Leagues one new wild-card slot each. The change has come with criticism that it might affect teams’ behavior or inject even more randomness into an already chaotic sport. But in the big picture, the new format changed surprisingly little in our World Series forecast. Here are the favorites’ odds for 2022, under both the old and new playoff systems:

MLB’s new playoff format didn’t change the title odds much

Odds of making the playoffs and winning the World Series for 2022 championship favorites in the FiveThirtyEight forecast, under MLB’s old and new playoff formats

Old Format (10 teams) New Format (12 teams)
Team Make PO% Win WS% Team Make PO% Win WS%
Dodgers 89.3% 19.0% Dodgers 93.1% 19.0%
Braves 73.8 9.7 Braves 80.9 9.5
Blue Jays 65.6 8.4 Yankees 75.5 8.8
Yankees 66.1 8.4 Blue Jays 74.8 8.6
Astros 68.2 7.5 Astros 74.9 7.2
Brewers 68.9 7.2 Brewers 75.0 6.7
White Sox 66.4 7.0 White Sox 73.0 6.6
Rays 45.0 3.9 Padres 61.6 4.3
Padres 50.4 3.9 Rays 56.0 4.1
Red Sox 42.3 3.6 Red Sox 53.6 3.8

Although a number of the top teams saw a reduction in their championship probability under the expanded format, the changes were mostly very small. (The Milwaukee Brewers were the biggest losers, with 0.5 percentage points shaved off their World Series odds; everyone else lost fewer than 0.4 percentage points.) The biggest effects came in terms of playoff chances, where six teams saw their odds of making the postseason rise by double-digit percentage points — a group headlined by the Boston Red Sox and their 11.3-point boost in playoff odds.

The biggest bounces in MLB’s new 12-team playoff format

2022 MLB teams with the biggest boosts in playoff odds between the old (10-team) and new (12-team) postseason formats, according to the FiveThirtyEight forecast

Playoff Odds
Team Old Format New Format Change
Boston Red Sox 42.3% 53.6% +11.3
San Diego Padres 50.4 61.6 11.2
San Francisco Giants 37.7 48.8 11.1
Tampa Bay Rays 45.0 56.0 11.0
New York Mets 38.0 48.9 10.9
Philadelphia Phillies 40.5 51.0 10.6
New York Yankees 66.1 75.5 9.4
Toronto Blue Jays 65.6 74.8 9.3
Los Angeles Angels 38.7 47.9 9.2
Minnesota Twins 35.7 44.3 8.6
St. Louis Cardinals 29.0 36.9 7.9
Cincinnati Reds 25.9 33.5 7.6
Seattle Mariners 24.5 32.1 7.6
Atlanta Braves 73.8 80.9 7.1
Cleveland Guardians 18.9 25.7 6.8
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The change primarily helps talented teams that play in difficult divisions — like Boston, but also its AL East rivals in Tampa Bay and New York (or the Padres and Giants in the NL West, to use another example). These clubs are dangerous if they make the playoffs, but they would have been more likely to miss out on a postseason spot under the old system. By contrast, the new format hurts teams like Milwaukee and the Chicago White Sox, who are favorites in comparatively weaker divisions — and therefore need the extra wild-card slot less, while simultaneously being hurt by the increased probability of facing more dangerous teams in the postseason (particularly since only the two top-seeded division winners in each league receive byes out of the wild-card round now).

Though these changes may not make a huge difference to the overall World Series picture, it will be intriguing to see who uses them to their advantage — and whether the road to either league’s pennant goes through a team that wouldn’t have made the playoffs at all just last year.

The other seismic change for this season is the adoption of the designated hitter in both leagues, forever eliminating the presence of light-hitting pitchers at the bottom of NL lineups. (There’s also a special rule tweak made for two-way players such as Shohei Ohtani, allowing them to stay in the lineup at DH even after being replaced as a pitcher.) But while the ripple effects of the universal DH will be wide-ranging, they don’t necessarily show up in our model beyond how the extra firepower in NL lineups affects their ability to score runs and win games.

However, we did introduce a new wrinkle to the model to handle another specific type of player: the opener. Under normal circumstances, each starting pitcher carries a pitcher rating — based on a rolling average of his performance over time — which is then used to modify his team’s chances of winning in any given start (by comparing his rating to the performance the team typically gets out of its starters). This works well when pitchers are used conventionally, which remains true in the vast majority of games, but not so well when teams use a relief pitcher to “open” a game before bringing in another pitcher (or pitchers) to handle the bulk of the subsequent innings.

The most high-profile instance of openers confusing our model came in last year’s National League Division Series, when the Los Angeles Dodgers opted to start reliever Corey Knebel in their pivotal Game 5 contest against the Giants. Knebel’s low pitcher rating artificially depressed L.A.’s chances of winning in our forecast, especially when compared with the rating of eventual “follower” Julio Urías. So in response, we’ve changed how our model handles the pitching adjustments in games involving openers.

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First, we use a combination of previous statistics to identify cases where an opener is likely being used.1 Then, in games featuring an opener, we use the average pitcher rating of available starters on the roster when calculating a team’s pitching adjustment, rather than the rating for the opener. (This effectively estimates the expected performance of the follower who will enter the game after the opener is done.) Finally, we also ignore the opener’s pitching performance in the game for the purposes of updating the team’s rolling pitcher rating, to avoid misleading stats affecting the team’s forecast going forward.

We hope this change will improve the model’s performance — even if only slightly in the grand scheme of the season — and prevent cases where a team’s odds are being unfairly penalized when they use an opener, particularly in the playoffs. With an expanded postseason field this year, there will be more opportunities than ever to look for small edges like the opener strategy, and our model will help you keep track of who’s inching ahead in the World Series race all season long.

Footnotes

  1. A scheduled starter is considered an opener if he has at least five previous appearances (in any capacity); hasn’t lasted longer than two innings in any start over his previous 10 appearances; and has been used as an opener at least once in his past 20 appearances.

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Neil Paine is the acting sports editor at FiveThirtyEight. @Neil_Paine

Jay Boice is a computational journalist for FiveThirtyEight. @jayboice

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FAQs

Is there going to be a baseball season in 2022? ›

The 2022 Major League Baseball season (MLB) was originally scheduled to begin on March 31 and end on October 2. The 2021–22 MLB lockout caused the season to be delayed by one week, starting on April 7.
...
2022 Major League Baseball season.
2022 MLB season
LeagueMajor League Baseball
SportBaseball
DurationApril 7 – November 5, 2022
Number of games162
18 more rows

Who has the best record in MLB 2022? ›

The Los Angeles Dodgers had the best record in MLB for the 2022 season. LA finished with a record of 111-51 and had the best overall mark for the league.

Who will be in the World Series 2022? ›

2022 MLB playoffs: World Series scores, full postseason bracket as Astros win title over Phillies. The Houston Astros are the 2022 World Series champions. The Astros won their second title in franchise history and first since 2017 as they took down the Philadelphia Phillies in World Series Game 6 on Saturday night.

How does the MLB post season work in 2022? ›

Playoff seeds

Under the new format, the top two seeds in each league earned a first-round BYE into the LDS. The three wild card teams are the fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds respectively. While the third-seeded team hosts the sixth seed, the fourth seed hosts the fifth seed.

Will the 2022 MLB schedule change? ›

Major League Baseball on Wednesday announced the revised schedule for the 2022 regular season, which will officially begin on Thursday, April 7 with nine Opening Day contests, including seven divisional matchups.

What changed in MLB 2023? ›

The MLB has made it official that major changes are coming in their 2023 season. Starting next year the MLB will implement a pitch clock for the first time ever at the major league level. As well as a ban on defensive shifts and adopting larger bases.

Who is the best home run hitter in MLB 2022? ›

Who has the most home runs in 2022? Aaron Judge led MLB with 62 home runs this season.

Who is the fastest pitcher in the MLB 2022? ›

SAN DIEGO — Cardinals reliever Ryan Helsley set a new standard for throwing heat in 2022 against the Padres on Thursday. Helsley delivered a 104 mph pitch to San Diego's Josh Bell in the eighth inning of Thursday's game that Bell impressively managed to foul off.

Who is leading MLB Rookie of the Year 2022? ›

Julio Rodriguez Wins Baseball America's 2022 MLB Rookie of the Year. Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez is Baseball America's 2022 Major League Rookie of the Year, becoming the first Mariner to ever win the award. Rodriguez has hit . 280/.

How much does each player get for winning the World Series? ›

Relive the joy and excitement of the Astros' 2022 World Series championship parade celebration in the video above. Each player's share of the pool amounts to $516,347, which is also the highest paid per player in MLB history.

What teams are left in the MLB playoffs? ›

Which teams are in the 2022 MLB playoffs?
  • AL West champion: Houston Astros.
  • AL East champion: New York Yankees.
  • AL Central champion: Cleveland Guardians.
  • AL Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays.
  • AL Wild Card: Seattle Mariners.
  • AL Wild Card: Tampa Bay Rays.
  • NL West champion: Los Angeles Dodgers.
  • NL East champion: Atlanta Braves.

Who has the best record in MLB? ›

Best MLB Regular Season Records
TeamRecord
1Chicago Cubs116-36
2Seattle Mariners116-46
3New York Yankees114-48
4Cleveland Indians111-43
46 more rows

Who will have home-field advantage in the World Series 2022? ›

2022 World Series: The Phillies have best playoff home-field advantage in baseball, and they need it in Game 5 - CBSSports.com.

How is home-field advantage determined in MLB? ›

The home field advantage refers to the edge which the team hosting a baseball game (the "home team") has over its opponent (the "visiting team"). Home field advantage also refers to the team that will host the greater number of games in a best-of-five or best-of-seven postseason series, if the series goes to the limit.

Is wild card the best of 3? ›

The Wild Card Series (formerly known as Wild Card Game from 2012 to 2019 and in 2021) are games that serve as the opening round of the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason. A single wild card game was first instituted in 2012; best-of-three playoff wild card series were adopted for the 2022 season.

Is MLB banning the shift in 2023? ›

Major League Baseball passed a sweeping set of rules changes it hopes will fundamentally overhaul the game, voting Friday to implement a pitch clock and ban defensive shifts in 2023 to hasten the game's pace and increase action.

Is the MLB schedule going to change? ›

Major League Baseball released the full 162-game schedule for all 30 teams on Thursday. The number of games remains the same, but the way those 162 matchups are broken down will change starting in 2023. Notably, for the first time, each MLB team will go up against each of the 29 other teams during the regular season.

Will there be AAA baseball in 2022? ›

This past week, Minor League Baseball announced that six additional games will be added to the 2022 Triple-A season, expanding the slate from 144 games to 150. The change was made to help Triple-A “better align with the Major League season and push the end date of the minor league campaign to September 28.”

How is baseball changing next year? ›

A pitch timer, limits on defensive shifts and bigger bases are coming to Major League Baseball in 2023. Following recent experiments in the Minor Leagues, the recently formed Joint Competition Committee voted Friday in favor of three rule changes aimed at improving pace of play, action and safety at the MLB level.

How much bigger will the bases be in baseball? ›

MLB is also increasing the size of bases from 15 inches square to 18 inches square. This gives infielders more distance between themselves and baserunners, in a bid to decrease collisions. The change also decreases base-to-base distance by 4.5 inches.

What is changing in baseball? ›

The MLB Competition Committee is expected Friday to adopt three rule changes starting in 2023: a pitch timer to improve pace of play, a ban on shifts to restore offense and athleticism, and bigger bases to encourage stolen bases.

Who is the strongest hitter in the MLB? ›

1. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees. Aaron Judge: Come for the home-run record; stay for the possible batting title. He has been hitting well all season long, but he was on a completely different level from Sept.

Can Aaron Judge win the Triple Crown? ›

Neither Judge nor Paul Goldschmidt of the Cardinals could come up with a Triple Crown (leading the league in homers, RBI and average) in 2022, meaning Miguel Cabrera still has MLB's most recent (2012). Judge was trying to become just the second AL Triple Crown winner since 1967.

Who is the best hitter of all time? ›

1. Ty Cobb. The Georgia Peach's career batting average over his 24 seasons in baseball is the highest in major league history. Plus, historians have proven he wasn't the worst human being to ever play the game as early biographies reported.

How fast is Nolan Ryan pitch? ›

Ryan was a right-handed pitcher who consistently threw pitches that were clocked above 100 miles per hour (161 km/h). He maintained this velocity throughout his pitching career. Ryan was also known to throw a devastating 12–6 curveball at exceptional velocity for a breaking ball.

What is the hardest pitch to hit in baseball? ›

Each baseball player has their own specialties. However, the two pitches that stand out to be the hardest to hit are the splitter and the slider. This conclusion is backed by research that has been done to detect the whiff rate for various pitches.

Who is the hardest pitcher in the MLB? ›

1. Jhoan Duran, RP, Twins. Duran is the only pitcher in MLB averaging better than 100 mph on his fastball, and he's been a dominant reliever for Minnesota. He has a 2.81 ERA and 36/4 K/BB in 25.2 innings with four saves.

Who won MVP in MLB 2022? ›

Aaron Judge on winning AL MVP

Currently a free agent, Judge received 28 of a possible 30 first-place votes, claiming the MVP over two-way player Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and outfielder Yordan Alvarez of the Astros. Ohtani received the other two first-place votes.

Who won nl Rookie of the Year 2022? ›

The votes are in and Atlanta Braves outfielder Michael Harris was named as the recipient of the 2022 Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award for the National League. Harris captured 22 of 30 first place votes to win the award. Spencer Strider received eight first-place votes and finished second.

Who is leading the MLB in batting average 2022? ›

Major League Baseball Batting Leaders
1.Judge • NYY1.111
2.Alvarez • HOU1.019
3.Trout • LAA.999
4.Goldschmidt • STL.981
5.Altuve • HOU.921
5 more rows

Do umpires get World Series ring? ›

Umpires do get World Series rings. But they don't get the gigantic rocks with big garish diamonds. Umps get a modest ring for every World Series they work.

Do MLB players get paid extra for playoff games? ›

The answer is yes, they do. According to MLB's collective bargaining agreement, players on teams that make the playoffs receive what is called a “playoff share.” Each player on a division-winning team gets an extra half-share, and each player on a league-winning or World Series-winning team gets an extra full share.

Do World Series losers get a ring? ›

In professional sports leagues—such as the NFL and MLB—rings are also awarded to the team that lost the championship game (e.g., Super Bowl) or series (e.g., World Series), because that team is the champion of their conference (e.g., AFC or NFC in the NFL) or league (AL or NL in MLB).

What MLB team has no championship? ›

The Seattle Mariners are the only current MLB franchise that has never appeared in a World Series; the San Diego Padres, Colorado Rockies, Texas Rangers, Tampa Bay Rays, and Milwaukee Brewers have all played in the Series but have never won it.

Has a losing team made the MLB playoffs? ›

1981 Kansas City Royals (50-53)

What MLB teams are in the wild-card? ›

WILD CARD
WILD CARDW-L
1Mariners W90-72
1Rays X86-76
4Orioles83-79
5White Sox81-81
8 more rows

Who is the winningest baseball player? ›

A starting pitcher must complete five innings to earn a win; if this does not happen, the official scorer awards the win based on guidelines set forth in the official rules.Cy Young holds the MLB win record with 511; Walter Johnson is second with 417.

Who is the winningest MLB team? ›

The San Francisco Giants have the most overall wins (11,301), while the Tampa Bay Rays have the fewest (1,826). The Philadelphia Phillies have the most losses, with 11,112, while the Arizona Diamondbacks have the fewest, with 1,946.

Which MLB team has the best batting? ›

Toronto

How much does a World Series ticket cost? ›

The most expensive prices for World Series tickets sold on the secondary market, since 2010
YearAverage ticket price
42017$2,778
52019$2,492
62016$2,474
72021$2,086
6 more rows
25 Oct 2022

How is home-field decided in World Series? ›

From 2003 to 2016, home-field advantage was given to the league that won that year's All-Star Game. Starting in 2017, home-field advantage was awarded to the league champion team with the better regular-season win–loss record.

How often does the team with home-field advantage win the World Series? ›

World Series Bump

Meanwhile, teams with home-field advantage in the World Series have become champions over 59% of the time since 1925.

Why do baseball teams win more at home? ›

Home Runs.

Batters hit home runs in 3.22 percent of their at-bats at home and in just 3.07 percent of their at-bats on the road. This is also significant at the 99.9 percent level. Home teams are able to hit for more power than road teams.

Does the winning All Star team get home-field advantage? ›

The agreement was extended for both 2005 and 2006, and it remained in place until 2016. Since 2017, home-field advantage has been awarded to the World Series team having the better regular season record. Previously, home-field advantage in the World Series alternated between the two leagues each year.

Can wild card winner have home-field advantage? ›

Each wild card slot is awarded to the best overall record of the remaining teams in the league. Both the first and second seeds receive automatic births to the Division Series. Across the Wild Card, Division and Championship Series, the higher seed will retain home-field advantage, regardless of record.

Can you triple captain on wildcard? ›

No, only one chip can be active at one time, so you can't play both Wildcard and Triple Captain in one gameweek.

Has a wild card team ever won? ›

Since the Wild Card System began in 1970, only ten wild card teams have advanced all the way to the Super Bowl. Of those, six won the Super Bowl.

How does the 2022 wild card work? ›

Playoff seeds

Under the new format, the top two seeds in each league earned a first-round BYE into the LDS. The three wild card teams are the fourth, fifth, and sixth seeds respectively. While the third-seeded team hosts the sixth seed, the fourth seed hosts the fifth seed.

Will MLB 2022 season be Cancelled? ›

How many games were going to be canceled by the MLB lockout? Despite the 99-day lockout and announcements from the league canceling matchups, no games will be missed in 2022.

Will MLB 2022 season be delayed? ›

Major League Baseball has announced the delay of the 2022 regular season after the MLBPA player leaders agreed unanimously not to accept MLB's final proposal before the league's 5 p.m. ET deadline. What's next?

Why is 2022 MLB Cancelled? ›

— Major League Baseball will cancel the first two series of the 2022 regular season on Tuesday after it failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' union by its self-imposed deadline, Commissioner Rob Manfred announced in a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

Will MLB 2022 be delayed? ›

We heard about a lot of talk regarding an international draft in the discussions of a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), but without a final deal in place today, the 2022 regular season debut has been delayed again, to April 14.

Why are they canceling MLB? ›

The cancellations come after two days of marathon bargaining sessions between MLB and the MLB Players' Association failed to result in a new collective bargaining agreement.

Why is the MLB Cancelling the season? ›

Cancels Games, Delaying Start of Season. After the league and the players' union failed to reach a new collective bargaining agreement by M.L.B.'s self-imposed deadline Tuesday evening, the league said the season would not start on March 31.

What is MLB fighting over? ›

In broad terms, both sides are fighting over how the league's revenues will be divided up. The players want to address their dwindling share, and owners want to thwart those efforts.

Will the MLB season be postponed? ›

The 2022 Major League Baseball season will not start on time, according to commissioner Rob Manfred. "I had hoped against hope that I would not have to have this particular press conference in which I am going to cancel some regular season games," Manfred said Tuesday afternoon.

What is up with MLB lockout? ›

March 10, 2022 update

The lockout is over! Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association have reached a tentative agreement on a new labor deal, sources told ESPN's Jeff Passan.

Is MLB Spring Training going to happen? ›

What is the 2022 Spring Training schedule? Spring Training games will take place from March 18-29. The Cactus League will kick off their first set of games on the 18th starting with the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks. You can find the full schedule here.

Will there ever be another MLB expansion? ›

Major League Baseball added its 29th (Arizona Diamondbacks) and 30th (Tampa Bay Rays) teams before the 1998 season and has held firm at that number for more than two decades. In a few years, MLB expansion is expected to return.

Is spring training Cancelled for 2022? ›

MLB Cancels Additional 2022 Spring Training Games Amid Ongoing CBA Negotiations. If playback doesn't begin shortly, try restarting your device.

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