The Major League Baseball (MLB) playoffs have evolved over the years, featuring various formats for teams to contend for a spot in the coveted World Series.
In particular, the wild card system has gained prominence as a method for granting additional opportunities to teams that do not win their division, opening the door for more competitive playoff races.
In each of MLB’s two leagues, the American and National, three wild card teams are selected based on their winning percentages after the three division winners have been determined.
These teams, though not boasting the best records, may still possess the potential for exciting postseason runs.
By including wild card teams in the playoff structure, MLB ensures that a greater number of talented and deserving teams have a chance to participate in postseason play and, ultimately, possibly achieve World Series glory.
Overview of Wild Card Teams in MLB
Purpose of Wild Card Teams
In Major League Baseball (MLB), wild card teams are an essential part of the playoff structure. They serve to reward non-division-winning teams that still performed well during the season.
By including these teams in the postseason, MLB creates more interest and excitement for fans, as well as more opportunities for talented teams to compete for the championship.
Wild card spots are filled by the three teams in each of the American League (AL) and National League (NL) that have the best winning percentages after the three division winners in each league.
This ensures that the deserving teams from both leagues are recognized and given the chance to vie for the World Series title.
The concept of wild card teams in MLB was first introduced in 1994 as a way to expand the playoffs and add more competition. However, due to the players’ strike that year, the first actual wild card teams played in the 1995 postseason.
The original format included just one wild card team from each league, making the total number of playoff teams eight.
In 2022, MLB introduced an expanded postseason format, increasing the total number of teams making the playoffs. As a result, three wild card teams from both the AL and NL now join the three division winners in each league.
This change has further enhanced the playoff landscape and provided more thrilling baseball action for fans and teams alike.
Determining Wild Card Teams
In Major League Baseball (MLB), the wild card teams are determined by their performance in the regular season. Each league, American and National, consists of three divisions. The winners of each division automatically qualify for the postseason. However, there are also additional teams that make the playoffs as wild card teams.
The wild card teams are the three teams in each league (American and National) with the best winning percentages after the division winners are determined. These are the teams with the best win-loss records who did not win their division. In the updated playoff format for 2022, there are now a total of 12 teams in the MLB playoffs, with three division winners and three wild card teams from each league.
Wild Card Game
With the implementation of the new playoff format in MLB, the previous single-elimination Wild Card Game has now been replaced. Instead of having one Wild Card team from each league competing in a single game, the new format includes a total of six Wild Card teams (three per league). These teams will now participate in best-of-three Wild Card Series, allowing for a more competitive chance to advance in the postseason.
Division Series and Beyond
After the Wild Card Series, the surviving teams move on to the Division Series (DS). The DS is a best-of-five series, as it has been in the past. To reach this stage, teams need to be successful in their leagues, whether they win their divisions or survive as Wild Card teams through the newly structured opening round.
Advancing from the DS means reaching the League Championship Series (LCS). In the LCS, the remaining two teams from each league contest in a best-of-seven series. Winners of the American League Championship Series and the National League Championship Series will eventually face off in the World Series for the MLB championship.
An overview of the MLB postseason:
- Wild Card Series : 6 teams, best-of-three series
- Division Series : 4 teams (2 winners from Wild Card + 2 division winners), best-of-five series
- League Championship Series: 2 teams, best-of-seven series
- World Series: 1 team from each league, best-of-seven series
This expansion and restructuring in the postseason format allows more teams to participate and provides increased competition and opportunity for the Wild Card contenders.
James is a big time NBA Golden State follower, who makes sure to catch games when he's in the area. He likes to follow International Soccer, with an interest in small town soccer club, Blackburn Rovers located in the North on the UK.