The wild card was established for Major League Baseball's playoffs in 1994 with the intention of helping the best teams that did not win their division to still have a chance to win the World Series. The restructuring of both the American and National Leagues from two divisions each to three made it necessary to either give one team a bye in the first round of playoffs, or create the wild card for the best second-place team. In addition, the wild card guaranteed that the team with the second best record in each league would qualify for the playoffs, even if they were in the same division with the team having the best record.
Beginning in 2012 a second wild card team was added to each league. The two wild card teams in each league face each other in a one game playoff, the winner advancing to meet the number one seed in the Division Series.
As of October 2014, the AL East has produced 15 of 23 wild-card teams; the AL West is second with five teams, while the AL Central has qualified three wild-card teams.
As of 2011, two AL wild-card teams went on to win the World Series (Anaheim in 2002 and Boston in 2004). One team won the AL pennant but lost the World Series (Detroit in 2006). Six other teams won the division series but lost the championship series.
Team names link to the season in which each team played
** In 2013, the Texas Rangers and the Tampa Bay Rays finished the season with the identical records of 91–71. A one-game playoff was held and the Rays won it 5–2 over the Rangers to capture the second Wild Card berth.