This decision added another Wild Card team into the mix in both leagues, meaning three teams that aren’t divisional winners can now make it.
It was a major change, encouraging borderline MLB playoff teams to push a little harder to make it.
Now, with the All-Star break approaching, it’s becoming clear who may benefit the most from this.
Here are three teams that may be very thankful for the expanded playoff picture.
3. Seattle Mariners
The Seattle Mariners have not made it to the playoffs since 2001, when they won 116 games.
JULIO RODRIGUEZ DESTROYS THE BASEBALL AGAIN.
MARINERS HAVE A STAR ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/WvQXnPkG69
— Seattle Mariners ON Tap (@MarinersONtap) July 4, 2022
Last year, with a 90-72 record, the team came up just a couple games short of the second Wild Card spot.
Now, they are in a similar position again as they sit in a tight race to make the final playoff spot.
However, with the expanded MLB playoffs this season, there is a better chance for the Mariners to make that spot.
List of @Mariners players to be selected to an All-Star Game at the age of 21 or younger:
Ken Griffey Jr.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) July 12, 2022
With all of this, the Mariners are shaping into a playoff team.
It is no secret that the AL East is strong this year, and are strong candidates to fill all three of the Wild Card spots.
Despite this, the faltering Toronto Blue Jays have made a potential Mariners playoff run to be more likely.
Expect the Mariners to be fighting for that final spot come October.
2. St. Louis Cardinals
As of today, the St. Louis Cardinals sit in second place in the NL Central.
They also find themselves situated in the third Wild Card spot.
Considering how weak their division is, and the strength of some other Wild Card contenders, the Cardinals could find themselves in the same spot come October.
The Cardinals are the definition of a “middle of the pack” team.
Yeah, Nolan Arenado and Paul Goldschmidt are good at baseball. pic.twitter.com/50V8R6DzGZ
— Mr Matthew CFB (@MrMatthewCFB) July 7, 2022
That is most evident in their pitching staff, where some arms have had stellar years but it gets weaker the deeper you go.
With it seeming that it is just a two-team battle with teams in other divisions, the Cardinals will just have to beat out other third-place teams for the final spot.
Of course, they could jump past the Milwaukee Brewers if they get hot at the right time.
However, it seems increasingly likely that the second-place NL Central team could be the third Wild Card spot.
And, with the big names the Cardinals have, making it in with the third Wild Card spot may be all they need to make a run.
1. Baltimore Orioles
Call me crazy, but if anyone even considered the Baltimore Orioles for a playoff at the start of the year they would’ve been banned from sports.
Home sweep home 🧹🧹 pic.twitter.com/avIbpODENj
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 10, 2022
However, we are a week from the All-Star Game and need to have this conversation.
There is something about the Orioles.
They have been injected with the youth of Adley Rutschman and have gotten hot, winning eight straight games and being just a game shy of .500.
Granted, that stretch hasn’t come against the best teams, but there is reason to be hopeful.
The biggest thing for the Orioles is the trade deadline.
Another thing in the Orioles’ favor is also their biggest negative: being in the AL East.
They will be facing off against the best division in the sport a lot over the final months.
If they can carry the momentum, it could be easy for them to jump other teams that are in the Wild Card race.
THE COMEBACK KIDS pic.twitter.com/gYglN1t38g
— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) July 9, 2022
Is it likely?
Is it crazy?
But there is a world where the Orioles could sneak into the playoffs, all thanks to the expanded format.