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 National and American 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 will be added to each league. The two wild card teams in each league will face each other in a one game playoff, the winner advancing to meet the number one seed in the Division Series.
As of 2011, two NL wild-card teams went on to win the World Series (Miami, as Florida in 1997 and 2003 and St. Louis in 2011). Four teams won the NL pennant but lost the World Series (NY Mets in 2000, San Francisco in 2002, Houston in 2005, Colorado in 2007). Two other teams won the division series but lost the championship series.
Team names link to the season in which each team played
** In 2014, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the San Francisco Giants finished the season with identical records of 88–74. The Pirates, however, won the right to host the Wild Card Game based on their 4–2 regular season record against the Giants.