How Many Baseball Games In An MLB Season? Full Breakdown

how many baseball games

Ever wondered how many baseball games are in an MLB season? In a Major League Baseball season, each team plays 162 regular-season games. This schedule, separate from spring training games, spans from early spring to the World Series in the fall.


Overview of MLB’s 2023 Schedule Changes

The 2023 MLB season introduced a new schedule format while retaining the standard 162-games for each of the 30 major league teams. A notable change is that every team will compete against all other teams in the league at least once during the season.

The schedule change is partly a response to the recent expansion of the playoff field and aims to balance the competition across all teams. This approach lessens the influence of a team’s division strength on their chances of reaching the playoffs. It’s a more fan friendly format and it also improves the fan experience by showcasing matchups between various star players and teams.

Divisional Rival Matchups: Teams will now have 52 games against their division rivals, a decrease from the previous 76 games. These games are distributed over four series, with an equal number of home games and away games.

League Games: The schedule will include 64 games against teams within the same league but outside their divisional opponents.

Interleague Matchups: There’s a significant increase in interleague play, rising to 46 from the previous 20. This includes matchups with each team’s geographically close ‘natural rival,’ plus an even distribution of games against the remaining non-league teams.

This new schedule aims to make it fairer for teams to reach the MLB playoffs, especially with the larger wild card round. It also gives fans the chance to see a variety of matchups and watch famous MLB players from various teams.


MLB’s New Playoff Format Explained

In 2022, Major League Baseball introduced a new format for the playoffs. Here’s a straightforward breakdown of what’s new:

Expanded Playoff Teams: Postseason now features 12 MLB teams, up from the earlier 10. This includes six teams from the American League and National League, with the three division winners and three Wild Card teams per league.

Elimination of Single-Elimination Wild Card Game: The previous one-game Wild Card playoff has also been replaced by a best-of-three Wild Card Series.

Seeding System: Teams are seeded based on their regular season records. In each league, the seeds are 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. The top two seeds in each league receive first-round byes.
mlb season

Wild Card Series Format: The Wild Card Series matches up the No. 3 seed against the No. 6 seed, and the No. 4 seed against the No. 5 seed. All games in this series are also played at the home park of the higher-seeded team.

Post-Wild Card Series: The winners of the Wild Card spot advance to the Division Series. The No. 1 seed faces the winner of the 4/5 matchup, and the No. 2 seed plays against the winner of the 3/6 matchup.

Division Series: This round remains a best-of-five series, with the higher seed having home-field advantage.

League Championship and World Series: Both these rounds continue as best-of-seven series. The World Series home-field advantage goes to the team with the best regular-season record.

Tiebreakers: In the case of identical records, tiebreakers are resolved mathematically, with head-to-head records being the primary factor.


Factors Affecting the Number of Games in a Season

Player Health and Fatigue

Player health and fatigue are crucial factors in determining the number of games in a baseball season. Baseball players, as elite athletes, endure a grueling 162-game season. This doesn’t even include spring training or postseason games, which can increase the total to over 180 games. Consequently, players are constantly traveling, with minimal rest.

Also, considering the physical and mental strain, discussions about changing the game count are common. The players’ union and league officials often engage in negotiations, looking to find a balance between adequate rest and the season’s traditional structure. Some advocate for a shorter season to prevent burnout and lower injury risks, aiming to keep baseball stars active and away from the disabled list.

Revenue and Financial Considerations

Behind the scenes, the length of the season is deeply tied with Revenue and Financial Considerations. Each game represents significant income from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise, and broadcast rights. Fewer games would also have a huge impact on a team’s bottom line. For instance:

Revenue SourcePotential Impact of Reduced Games
Ticket SalesDirect loss in gate receipts
ConcessionsDecreased sales opportunities
MerchandiseFewer game-day purchases
BroadcastsReduced content for networks

Teams and the league need to strike a balance between maximizing revenue and avoiding market oversaturation. While adding games can attract more fans and sponsorships, changing the season length impacts both the sport and business aspects.

Weather Conditions

Lastly, weather conditions are pivotal in determining the number of games played each season. Unlike indoor sports, baseball is subject to bad weather. Rainouts and other weather-related postponements can add doubleheaders later in the season or extend the regular season schedule. The league often schedules built-in off days to accommodate these unforeseen changes. They also must consider players’ safety and performance when dealing with extreme heat or cold.

Most of the baseball season happens in the warmer months, and this isn’t by chance. It helps to avoid weather problems, although it can’t stop them all. Baseball and summer have a long history together. This timing is about keeping traditions and making sure most games can happen without issues.

Comparison to Other Sports Seasons

When looking at the MLB, it’s fascinating to compare it with the scheduling of other major sports. The number of games and the duration of seasons differ, and this comparison offers insights into the unique challenges each sport faces.

Baseball vs. Football Seasons

The NFL’s regular season is significantly shorter than MLB’s, with each team playing 17 regular season games. When including pre-season and post-season, NFL teams might compete in roughly 20-25 games, a massive difference from baseball’s 162-game marathon. Here are key differences impacting the number of games:

  • Physical Toll: Football is a high-impact sport, and player safety concerns limit the number of games.
  • Recovery Time: The weekly format allows players substantial time to recuperate between games.
  • Broadcasting Events: Each football game is an event, given its scarcity relative to baseball games. This makes them highly anticipated and increases their television value.

MLB Season vs. Basketball Seasons

Transitioning to the hardwood, the NBA season includes 82 regular season games. The structure falls between the MLB and NFL in terms of season length:

  • Intensity and Pace: Basketball is less physically demanding than football but more so than baseball, justifying more games than the NFL but fewer than MLB.
  • Venue Sharing: NBA arenas frequently host other events or share space with the city’s pro hockey team. This can restrict available dates for basketball games.
  • Global Appeal: The international following of basketball can influence scheduling for global showcase games.

In both scenarios, it’s clear that while baseball has such a long season in terms of games played, the context of each sport’s demands and audience expectations shape their schedules.

Conclusion: How Many Baseball Games In An MLB SEASON

In conclusion, the 162-game schedule highlights the sport’s popularity and the commitment of its players. It offers teams many opportunities to compete for playoff positions and keeps fans consistently entertained with baseball from spring to early fall. This extensive season distinguishes baseball from other major sports, emphasizing its unique challenges and excitement.

Chris F.

Chris F.

Chris Forbes is the founder and editor of BaseballMode.com, a leading blog in the youth baseball space. As a lifelong baseball player, coach and fan, he decided to team up with his young son to offer advice and share their experiences with the sport they both love. Chris lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.
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