The Australian Baseball League has unveiled a new-look playoff structure and key changes to league rules, which include specific conditions surrounding the Australian National Team’s upcoming Japan Series.
This season’s chase for the Claxton Shield will look unlike any previous season. Starting on November 10, home schedules this season feature 10 four-game rounds, with each franchise hosting five series. Teams will play divisional rivals twice — once at home and once on the road — and each inter-divisional opponent once.
Brisbane, Auckland, Canberra and Sydney make up the Northeast Division, while defending-champion Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and Geelong-Korea encompass the Southwest Division.
The ABL has updated its playoff format to include:
• The Australian Baseball League Semifinals (ABLSF), Best of 3: Best team in Northeast vs. Second-Best team in Southwest 2 + Best team in Southwest vs. Second-Best team in Northeast (All games at division winners’ ballparks)
• The Australian Baseball League Championship Series (ABLCS), Best of 3: Highest-ranked team of the two chooses to either open the series at home or finish with the final two games at home
In addition to the updated format as ABL teams pursue the Claxton Shield, the league has amended its roster rules for 2022-23.
Each team will carry a 35-player roster throughout the season and submit a 22-man player list for each round. Each franchise is granted 150 player points to use, and not exceed, throughout the season. Player point limits are as follows:
• 0 Points: Marquee Players (Current MLB, CPBL, NPB or KBO players, previous All-Stars or players with 5+ years of service time in the above leagues)
• -1 Point: Australian National Identified Players
• -2 Points: All Other Australian/Native Country Players
• 1 Point: Asian League Players (Imports)
• 2 Points: MLB Assigned Players (Imports)
• 4 Points: Independent Players not from Australia, New Zealand or Asia (Imports)
An additional 15 points per team are added for each round of the playoffs.
Teams must also nominate up to three players to add to their Reserve List before the start of each round. These reserve players are not eligible to move onto the active list other than in cases of injury or suspension.
The ABL has also announced relaxed rules for Round 1, prompted by the Australian National Team’s Japan Series on November 9-10, as manager David Nilsson will lead Team Australia to Japan’s Sapporo Dome to face the No. 1 ranked team in the world for two marquee matchups.
To accommodate the overlap between this series and the ABL’s opening round, the league will allow teams to replace players on their active rosters with Australian National Team players with no point penalties. For example, the Canberra Cavalry have four Australian National players, and those four can be replaced on the team’s active roster.
In addition, teams that are required to allocate reserve players for Team Australia representatives in Japan will not have a point value. The final roster for the last two games of the series will be calculated to form the point total for each team.