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How Long is the MLB Season?

Teams are gearing up for the next MLB season! Learn how long the MLB season is, discover facts and dates, and get ready to enjoy this season with fuboTV.

How Long is an MLB season?

The beginning of spring always marks an exciting time for a sports fan. It means the beginning of the MLB season, which lasts approximately six months. That can be extended or shortened depending on certain variables. This year, the first game of the regular season begins on March 30, and the final game of the regular season is Oct. 1. That means that the regular season schedule will be played in eight months this year. 

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That long of a season, which is more than any other professional sport, is because baseball is not as physically demanding. While the three other major American sports are constantly in contact, baseball is the opposite. We’ll provide a guide to help baseball fans follow the MLB season and all of its details. 

How many games in a regular season?

The Major League Baseball season is 162 games long. While that may seem like a lot comparatively speaking, MLB believes it is the correct number of regular season games to determine who makes it to the playoffs and will eventually win the championship. It also helps baseball players amass statistics.

The 162-game season does not include any spring training games, the All-Star game or the postseason. However, sometimes during the season because of weather or other circumstances, games are postponed.

What makes a season longer or shorter?

If the postponed games do not impact the standings, the games will not be played and teams will not total 162 baseball games played. On the flip side, teams may play an additional game at the end of the season if there is a tie for a playoff position after 162 games. Player strikes or lockouts have also occurred throughout baseball history. In the last 30 years, MLB has had two strikes and two lockouts, with the biggest coming in the 1994 season, which canceled nearly the last two months of the season and then the entire playoffs, meaning no champion was crowned. 

The History Behind MLB’s Schedule Changes

In 1961, the American League established the 162-game schedule in its first season. As a result, the National League followed suit in 1962. Before that, teams played 154 games. In baseball, series are common occurrences, in which two teams compete for three or four consecutive games, instead of a single game.

Certain instances have caused the season schedule and the number of games to change. Those have included the season ending on Sept. 2 instead of Sept. 29 by decree of U.S. Secretary of War Newton D. Baker. Teams played 123-129 decisions that year (1918). The National League expanded to 10 teams one year later than the American League. Leagues played uneven schedules in 1961. The games scheduled on the first ten days of the 1972 season were canceled due to a player strike. The season was shortened due to the 2020 pandemic.

Interleague play is one big schedule change over the last four decades. For a long time, teams would not play each other if they were in a different league. The only time that happened was in the World Series. 

However, from 1997 to 2001, teams played against the same division from the other league. For example, the American League West played teams from the National League West, typically scheduled to alternate between home and away in consecutive years. In 2002, however, the league began alternating which divisions played which divisions. Thus, in 2002 the American League East played the National League West, the American League Central played the National League East, and the American League West played the National League Central. Matchups that had been of particular interest prior to this format — mainly geographic rivals — were preserved. Corresponding divisions were skipped once when this rotation began, but were put back in rotation in 2006.

From 2002 to 2012, all interleague games were played prior to the All-Star game except for games postponed by weather that were made up after the All-Star Game. Most games were played in June and early July, although beginning in 2005, interleague games were played during one weekend in mid-May.

What New Changes are Coming in the 2023 Season?

For the first time, every team will play every other team regardless of league. The number of divisional games for each team will decrease from 76 to 52. Each team will face each divisional foe 13 times across four series. The 52 games will also be split up evenly between home and road games, though there will be an imbalance within each individual matchup (seven home games and six road games, or vice-versa). 

A handful of other new rule changes will begin to take effect during the 2023 season. There is a 30-second timer between batters and a time limit between pitches. After receiving the ball from the catcher or umpire, pitchers are required to begin their motion within 15 seconds with the bases empty or within 20 seconds with runners on base. If they don’t, they’re charged with an automatic ball. Hitters also share the responsibility to keep the game moving. They must be in the batter’s box and ready for the pitch by the time the clock reaches eight seconds. If not, they’re charged with an automatic strike. A batter can call time out only once per plate appearance.

The bases are now 18 inches square (previously 15 inches). That decreases the distance between first, second and third base by 4.5 inches. (Home plate – which stays the same size – to first base is 3 inches shorter.)

While it’s not new in 2023, MLB did say this past offseason it was permanently implementing a provision in use since 2020 that every half inning after the ninth begins with a runner on second base. The idea was first instituted in 2020 to cut down on long games and prevent pitchers from being overused in the pandemic-shortened season. It added a new layer of strategy and increased scoring considerably in extra innings. However, that rule is not implemented in the playoffs. Those games will be played under the traditional rules.

Unmissable MLB Events and Where to Watch

  • Opening Day – March 30
  • MLB World Tour – June 24-25
  • All-Star Game – July 10-13
  • Game 162 – October 1

Stream all of these events and many more on fuboTV! Instead of just watching one game on basic cable, get the chance to see more than one game in your region. 

MLB Season Facts & Highlights

  • In a Major League Baseball season, teams play 162 games, not including Spring Training Games, the All-Star Game, or the postseason.
  • Teams can play fewer than 162 games under certain circumstances.
  • If a game is rained out, it cannot be rescheduled immediately.
  • There are twenty-six and one-half weeks in the MLB regular season.

The 2023 season is unique with so many new rules and updates to make the game quicker and more exciting. You don’t want to miss it!

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