MLB: Playoff positions, new format and monthly awards

With three weeks left in the 2020 MLB regular season, many teams are making their final push to earn a spot in the postseason.

In the shortened 60-game season, 16 teams will be in the playoffs for the first time in MLB history. With six more teams making a run for the World Series title, MLB will implement a new postseason format, which includes more games than the usual 10-team setup.

There will be four rounds in the 2020 postseason, no different than the previous eight MLB seasons.

Instead of the postseason opening with the usual one-and-done wildcard game, there will be a new best-of-three Wild Card Series with all games hosted at the higher seed’s home ballpark.

The opponent seeding for both the American League and National League will be as follows:

Wild Card Series (Best of Three): No. 1 seed vs. No.8, No.2 vs. No.7, No.3 vs. No. 6 and No. 4 vs. No. 5.

Division Series (Best of Five): No. 1-8 winner vs. No. 4-5 winner and No. 2-7 winner vs. No. 3-6 winner.

Championship Series (Best of Seven): No. 1-4-5-8 winner vs. No. 2-3-6-7 winner. World Series (Best of Seven): American League Champion vs. National League Champion.

The top three seeds (No. 1-3) go to the division winners of each league. In the AL, the Tampa Bay Rays hold the top spot in the East, as well as the best record in the AL (28-15). It is backed by their strong performances against the New York Yankees this season, with an 8-2 record against the Bronx Bombers.

In the AL Central, the young Chicago White Sox are leading the charge by a slim margin. The Cleveland Indians and the Minnesota Twins are behind by only one game, as of Sept. 9.

In the Western division, the Oakland Athletics lead the Houston Astros by 4.5 games.

In the NL, the Atlanta Braves lead the NL East with the help of their Cy Young Award candidate Max Fried and free-agent acquisition Marcell Ozuna.

The Chicago Cubs lead the NL Central, thanks to a strong campaign by Yu Darvish, who is second in the NL in ERA behind Cincinnati Red Trevor Bauer.

In the West, the Los Angeles Dodgers are steam-rolling their way to the postseason with the best record in MLB, 32-12. A large portion of their success is due to their newly acquired superstar Mookie Betts and a healthy Clayton Kershaw.

The next three seeds (No. 4-6) will go to the second-place finisher of each division in order of record. In the AL, the second-place teams are the Toronto Blue Jays, Indians and the Astros. In the NL, the second-place teams are the Philadelphia Phillies, St. Louis Cardinals and the San Diego Padres.

The final two seeds (No. 7-8) go to the teams with the next best record, regardless of their division and place.

These teams will be listed as the “Wild Card teams,” as the first and second place teams have an automatic bid into the playoffs.

In the AL, they are the Twins and the Yankees.

In the NL, they are two surprise teams in the San Francisco Giants and the Miami Marlins.

If there is a tie for the champion of the division or any other postseason spot, there will not be a tiebreaker game, unlike what would usually happen in a regular season.

The first tiebreaker will be decided on the team’s head-to-head record, second will be decided on their intra-division record and the third will be decided on the record of their final 20 division games (plus one more until the tie is broken).

The first full month of the MLB season saw many players showcase their best abilities in the field.

On Sept. 2, the organization handed out the monthly awards to those that stood out during the month of August: In the AL, the White Sox saw two of their own sluggers take home hardware, as outfielder Luis Robert won AL Rookie of the Month and first baseman Jose Abreu won AL Player of the Month. Indian Shane Bieber, won AL Pitcher of the Month. Athletics closing pitcher Liam Hendriks won the AL Reliever of the Month award, the second of his career (July 2019).

In the NL, the Padres had two recipients for monthly awards, as utility infielder Jake Cronenworth won NL Rookie of the Month, and shortstop Fernando Tatis won NL Player of the Month. Darvish had an impressive August for the Cubs, taking home the NL Pitcher of the Month award. Cosing pitcher Kenley Jansen of the Dodgers won the NL Reliever of the Month (June 2017).