If you’ve ever looked at the schedule for an MLB team, you’ll notice teams play each other multiple times over the course of a few days. This stretch of games between two teams is known as a “series”, but the one thing you’ll quickly notice is that the number of games in a baseball series varies from series to series. This leads a lot of people to wonder – how many games in a baseball series?
Baseball series typically contain three to four games. However, some baseball series will last as short as one game while other baseball series can last as long as seven games.
In the rest of this article, we’ll dive into the most common number of games in a baseball series, as well as how it’s possible for some series to last one game while other series last seven games.
Most Baseball Series Last Three to Four Games
The most common number of games you’ll see in a baseball series in Major League Baseball is either three or four games. Playing three or four games in a series has been a standard part of a baseball team’s schedule for decades.
Depending upon how the schedule is laid out, teams will typically play three or four games at one stadium on consecutive days. The nice thing about a lot of these schedules is that away games are geographically located, meaning that teams typically play in the same region of the United States while they are traveling.
This comes in handy while traveling because teams don’t need to travel as far between away games. Additionally, teams don’t have to travel every single day when they are playing three or four games at one stadium. This type of scheduling system allows teams to be in one place for a few days before they need to hit the road again.
Some Baseball Series Are Scheduled for Two Games
While three to four games is the standard number of games in a baseball series, the scheduling system sometimes allows for only two games to be played for one baseball series.
Playing two games for a baseball series is not a normal occurrence, but it is the next most common number of games you’ll see for a baseball series when you’re looking at a schedule. Typically teams will only have a couple of two-game baseball series each season.
There are a lot of different factors that go into play when schedules are created at the beginning of the year and sometimes teams simply cannot play in one stadium for three or four games. In these unique situations, only two games are scheduled for that baseball series.
Postponed Games Can Cause Baseball Series to be Between One and Six Games
When teams play an average of 162 games in a season, there are bound to be multiple postponed games. Unlike other sports, baseball is not able to be played in the rain and these rain-out games will still need to be played. In fact, there are 9 main reasons why baseball isn’t played in the rain.
Sometimes, these postponed games can not be made up right away and they need to be scheduled at a much later date. This new schedule can take some three or four game series and turn them into a series with an uncommon number of games.
Let’s take a closer look at how postponed games can influence the number of games played in a series.
How to Play a One Game Series
Depending on the specific circumstances, postponed games can easily turn a three or four game series into a one-game series.
Playing a one-game baseball series can happen in one of two ways: either multiple games are rained out in the series and only one game could be played or one game was rained out and that game gets made up at a much later date.
For example, if you look at the 2019 season for the Colorado Rockies you’ll see that the Rockies played the Braves for a one-game series on August 26. This was a makeup game from April 10, but nonetheless, that postponed game turned this series into a one-game series.
One additional way that teams can play a one-game series is by playing Game 163. Game 163 is played between two teams who have tied during the regular season, so they play a one-game playoff game to determine which team will make the playoffs. For additional info, read all about how many baseball games there are in a season.
How to Play a Five or Six Game Series
When games get rained out, the easiest way to make up that game is to play a doubleheader when those two teams meet later on in the season.
This means that if a team was already scheduled to play a four game series later in the season, it could turn into a five or a six game series if doubleheaders are scheduled.
While a five or a six game series is rare during the regular season, it does happen on occasion.
A good example can be seen by looking at the 2018 schedule for the Chicago Cubs. You’ll see that the Cubs played the Cardinals in a five-game series between July 19 and July Jul 22. This was originally scheduled to be a four-game series, but one of their previous games needed to be made up so they ended up playing a doubleheader on July 21.
It’s Rare to See a Seven-Game Series During the Regular Season
On very very rare occasions, two teams can play each other on seven consecutive days during the regular season.
A great example of this happening is during the 2021 season for the Cincinnati Reds. If you look at the Reds schedule for 2021, you’ll see that the Cincinnati Reds played the Milwaukee Brewers seven times in a row.
Four games were played at the Brewers stadium while three games were played at the Reds stadium. Depending upon your definition of what a series is in baseball, this can either be looked at as one long seven-game series or it can be looked at as two different series because they were played on two separate fields.
But either way you look at it, playing the same team 7 games in a row during the regular season is very rare in the MLB.
The Postseason Series Can be up to Seven Games
While a three or a four game series is the most common number of games in a series during the regular season, the postseason has its own set of rules.
Postseason games are typically best-of-five or best-of-seven series. This means that baseball series in the postseason can last as long as five or seven games if needed.
While all those games are not always needed, it does go to show that postseason baseball series has the potential to be long.
For more information on what series is the best-of-three, best-of-five, and best-of-seven, read this beginner’s guide to how the MLB playoffs work.