Major League Baseball wild card
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|Major League Baseball postseason|
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In Major League Baseball (MLB), a wild card refers to two teams in each of the two leagues (American and National) that qualify for the postseason despite failing to win their division. The wild card is the team that has the best winning percentage in their league, excluding the three division winners.
One wild card (1994–2011)
From 1969 through 1993, division leaders in each league advanced to the League Championship Series, with the winners of each LCS meeting in the World Series. However, with an expanding number of teams over the years, making the playoffs became increasingly difficult. The new system was instituted in 1994 (but first used in 1995 because a players strike canceled the 1994 playoffs) when Major League Baseball expanded from two to three divisions per league. In the new three-division leagues, each league had four teams in the playoffs. In addition to the three division winners, a wild card team made the playoffs as the fourth seed. This was the team with the most wins amongst non-division winner. The wild card matchup is played in the first round between the League leader in wins and the wild card team.
A "wild card" rule was used in the 1981 season after a players' strike wiped out the "middle third" of the season. The owners decided that the winners (in each division) of either "half" of the abbreviated season would make playoffs, with the caveat that if the same team won both halves then the team from the division with the second-best record from the second half would enter the playoffs as a wild card. (All four divisions had different first-half and second-half winners.)
Two wild cards (2012–present)
On November 17, 2011, MLB announced that it would be adding two wild-card teams to the postseason. The top two wild-card teams in each league face each other in a one-game playoff. The winner of this game advances to meet the top seed in the Division Series. The revised playoff system began with the 2012 season.
Wild-card winners by year and by most wild-card titles
For each league's list of wild-card winners by year and teams with most wild-card titles, see:
Combined wild-card game, division-series, LCS, and World Series record as wild-card winners
(*) – Counts one-game wild-card playoff in the statistics.
- The following teams have won the World Series as a wild-card team: Marlins (1997 and 2003), Angels (2002), Red Sox (2004), and Cardinals (2011), meaning that three consecutive titles were won by a wild card (2002–2004).
- A wild-card team appeared in the World Series each year from 2002–2007.
- The Angels beat the Giants in the 2002 World Series, the only time when both teams were wild cards.
- The Baltimore Orioles, in 1996, were the first wild-card team to win a Division Series.
- The Florida Marlins, in 1997, were the first wild-card team to reach the World Series, the first to win a World Series (1997), and, by winning in 2003, the first to win the World Series twice as a wild card. Also, the Marlins are the only team to win a World Series without winning a division title.
- The Red Sox have been a wild-card team seven times, with the Yankees appearing four times, and the Rockies three times.
- The following teams have won the wild card in consecutive years: Red Sox (1998–1999, 2003–2005, 2008–2009), Astros (2004, 2005), Mets (1999, 2000), and Cardinals (2011, 2012).
- Wild card (sports)#Major League Baseball
- Wild card (sports)#Record disparities
- Major League Baseball division winners (and wild-card winners)
- Lacques,Gabe (2010-11-17). "MLB adds 2 wild cards, moves Astros to AL". USA Today. Retrieved 2011-12-02.
- Bloom, Barry M. (March 2, 2012). "Addition of Wild Card berths finalized for 2012". MLB.com. MLB.com.
- ; also: Lost 1998 American League Division Series; Lost 1999 American League Championship Series; Lost 2003 American League Championship Series; Lost 2005 American League Division Series; Lost 2008 American League Championship Series; Lost 2009 American League Division Series.
- The Cardinals also: Lost 2001 National League Division Series and 2012 National League Championship Series.
- The Mets also: Lost 1999 National League Championship Series.
- The Astros also: Lost 2004 National League Championship Series.
- The Orioles also: Lost 2012 American League Division Series.
- The Rockies also: Lost 1995 National League Division Series; Lost 2009 National League Division Series.
- The Yankees also: Lost 1995 American League Division Series; Lost 1997 American League Division Series; Lost 2007 American League Division Series.
- The Dodgers also: Lost 1996 National League Division Series.
- The Braves also: Lost 2012 National League wild-card game.