American League Championship Series

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"ALCS" redirects here. For other uses, see ALCS (disambiguation).

The American League Championship Series (ALCS) is a best-of-seven series played in October in the Major League Baseball postseason that determines the winner of the American League pennant. The winner of the series advances to play the winner of the National League Championship Series in the World Series, Major League Baseball's championship series.


It started in 1969, when the American League was reorganized into two divisions, East and West. The winners of each division played each other in a best-of-five series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven. In 1994, the league was restructured into three divisions, with the three division winners and a wild-card team advancing to a best-of-five postseason round, known as the American League Division Series (ALDS). The winners of that round then advanced to the best-of-seven ALCS. In 2012, the playoffs were expanded again so that two wild card teams face off in a one-game wild card round to determine which team advances to the division series, with the playoffs then continuing as it had before 2012 (though with the possibility of a fifth seed being in the playoffs and a fourth seed being out) after the end of the wild card round. This is the system currently in use.

The ALCS and NLCS, since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2–3–2 format: Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home field advantage, and Games 3, 4, and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not. The series concludes when one team records its fourth win. Since 1998, home field advantage has been given to the team that has the better regular season record, unless that team happens to be the Wild Card team. In that case, the other team gets home field advantage, because by rule the Wild Card team is never allowed home field advantage in a Division Series or LCS. In the event that both teams have identical records in the regular season, home field advantage goes to the team that has the winning head-to-head record. From 1969 to 1993, home field advantage alternated between the two divisions, and from 1995 to 1997 home field advantage was determined before the season.

Every current American League team except for the Houston Astros[1] has appeared in the ALCS at least once, as did the Milwaukee Brewers, before that club was moved to the National League in 1998.

The 2004 ALCS is noted as the only instance where a team has come back from a 0-3 deficit to win 4-3. The Boston Red Sox achieved this against their bitter rivals, The New York Yankees, and went on to win their first World Series in 86 years.

Recurring matchups[edit]

Count Matchup Record Years
4 Kansas City Royals vs. New York Yankees Yankees, 3–1 1976, 1977, 1978, 1980
3 Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees Yankees, 2–1 1999, 2003, 2004
3 Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics Athletics, 2–1 1971, 1973, 1974
3 Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics Athletics, 2–1 1975, 1988, 1990
2 Baltimore Orioles vs. Minnesota Twins Orioles, 2–0 1969, 1970
2 Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics Tied, 1–1 1972, 2006
2 New York Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners Yankees, 2–0 2000, 2001
2 Oakland Athletics vs. Toronto Blue Jays Tied, 1–1 1989, 1992

Championship Trophy[edit]

The William Harridge Trophy is awarded to the ALCS champion. The trophy's namesake comes from the American League president from 1931 to 1959.[2]

Most Valuable Player Award[edit]

See: League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award#American League winners

The Lee MacPhail Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is given to the outstanding player in the ALCS. No MVP award is given for Division Series play.

Although the National League began its LCS MVP award in 1977, the American League did not begin its LCS MVP award till 1980. The winners are listed (1) below in the section on "ALCS results (1969–present)", in the "Series MVP" column, (2) at League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award, and (3) on the MLB website.[3]

ALCS results (1969–present)[edit]

Click the link on the far left for detailed information on that series.

Denotes wild-card team (since 1995).
Denotes MVP did not play for winning team.
Year Winner Loser Record Series MVP TV
Series Recap
1969 Baltimore Orioles Minnesota Twins 3–0 NBC The first ever ALCS ended with the Orioles sweeping in the Twins in 3 games in a best of 5 format.
1970 Baltimore Orioles Minnesota Twins 3–0   NBC The second ALCS was a rematch of the first one where history repeated itself with Baltimore sweeping Minnesota in 3 games.
1971 Baltimore Orioles Oakland Athletics 3–0   NBC The Orioles had a different opponent in 1971 but the result was the same as Oakland got swept out in 3 games.
1972 Oakland Athletics Detroit Tigers 3–2   NBC Oakland rebounded from their 1971 loss to defeat Detroit in 5 games.
1973 Oakland Athletics Baltimore Orioles 3–2   NBC In a rematch of the 1971 ALCS the A's won this time beating the O's in 5 games en route to their second straight World Series title.
1974 Oakland Athletics Baltimore Orioles 3–1   NBC Once again Baltimore & Oakland battled for the AL Pennant and the Athletics won the rubber match to win their 3rd straight consecutive pennant and eventual World Championship.
1975 Boston Red Sox Oakland Athletics 3–0   NBC Oakland appeared in an unprecedented 5th straight ALCS but this time lost getting swept out by Boston.
1976 New York Yankees Kansas City Royals 3–2   ABC This was the first ALCS not to feature either Baltimore or Oakland. This was a dramatic 5 game series between the Yankees and the Royals won by New York which ended on a walk-off homerun by Chris Chambliss.
1977 New York Yankees Kansas City Royals 3–2   NBC This was another tight 5 game series between New York and Kansas City which the Yankees won again.
1978 New York Yankees Kansas City Royals 3–1   ABC The Yankees beat the Royals again this time in 4 games.
1979 Baltimore Orioles California Angels 3–1   NBC The Angels made their first LCS appearance but it was unsuccessful as they lost to the Orioles in 4 games.
1980 Kansas City Royals New York Yankees 3–0 Frank White, Kansas City ABC Another matchup between New York and Kansas City but this time the Royals prevailed as they swept the Yankees in 3 games.
1981 New York Yankees Oakland Athletics 3–0 Graig Nettles, New York NBC The road to LCS was different this year. A mid season strike caused the season to be split into two causing there to be an additional round of playoffs. The first half Eastern Division Champions would meet the second half Eastern Division Champions, the same with the Western Division. It would be called the Division Series. In the AL Division Series Oakland swept Kansas City in 3 games while the Yankees defeated the Milwaukee Brewers. New York would make their 5th LCS appearance in 6 years and made the most of it by sweeping Oakland.
1982 Milwaukee Brewers California Angels 3–2 Fred Lynn, California* ABC This was the first time the Brewers made it to the ALCS and they dispatched the Angels in 5 games.
1983 Baltimore Orioles Chicago White Sox 3–1 Mike Boddicker, Baltimore NBC Chicago clinched their first postseason berth since 1959 but were unable to defeat eventual World Series Champions Baltimore.
1984 Detroit Tigers Kansas City Royals 3–0 Kirk Gibson, Detroit ABC Detroit returned to the ALCS for the first time since 1972 and swept out Kansas City.
1985 Kansas City Royals Toronto Blue Jays 4–3 George Brett, Kansas City NBC Both the ALCS and the NLCS were expanded to best of 7 series to where a team would have to win 4 games to advance. The Blue Jays made their first ever postseason appearance this year and seemed poised to go to the World Series after taking a 3 games to 1 lead. However Kansas City won game 5 at home then went to Toronto to win games 6 & 7 to win the pennant. In the Fall Classic they found themselves in another 3-1 hole against St. Louis but battled back again to win their first World Championship thus making them the only team to be down 3-1 in both the LCS and World Series only to win it all.
1986 Boston Red Sox California Angels 4–3 Marty Barrett, Boston ABC Like Toronto the year before California took a 3 games to 1 lead. In Game 5 they were 3 outs away from ending the series when Don Baylor and Dave Henderson both hit homeruns for Boston. The Angels tied it in the bottom of the 9th to send the game to extra innings. In the 11th inning the Red Sox managed to load the bases where Henderson hit a sacrifice fly to score Baylor which would win the game. The series headed to Boston for the next 2 games which the Red Sox won to advance to their first World Series since 1975.
1987 Minnesota Twins Detroit Tigers 4–1 Gary Gaetti, Minnesota NBC The Twin made their first postseason appearance in 17 years and they made the most of it by beating the Tigers in 5 games. They would win their first World Series since the franchise had moved to Minnesota from Washington D.C. In an interesting side note they were undefeated at home during the playoff run.
1988 Oakland Athletics Boston Red Sox 4–0 Dennis Eckersley, Oakland ABC Oakland swept out Boston in 4 games to avenge their 1975 ALCS loss to the Red Sox.
1989 Oakland Athletics Toronto Blue Jays 4–1 Rickey Henderson, Oakland NBC After falling short in the previous World Series Oakland won their second straight pennant by defeating Toronto in 5 games en route to their first World Championship in 15 years.
1990 Oakland Athletics Boston Red Sox 4–0 Dave Stewart, Oakland CBS Another Boston vs Oakland rematch ended the same way it had ended in 1988 with the Athletics sweeping the Red Sox to win the third consecutive pennant.
1991 Minnesota Twins Toronto Blue Jays 4–1 Kirby Puckett, Minnesota CBS Toronto made their 3rd ALCS appearance but were unable to get to the World Series as they lost to eventual World Series Champions Minnesota in 5 games.
1992 Toronto Blue Jays Oakland Athletics 4–2 Roberto Alomar, Toronto CBS The Blue Jays finally were able to win their first pennant after eliminating Oakland in 6 games.
1993 Toronto Blue Jays Chicago White Sox 4–2 Dave Stewart, Toronto CBS In what was their 4th LCS berth in 5 years Toronto won their second straight ALCS. They were able to parlay that into their second consecutive World Championship.
1994 Not held due to players' strike.
1995 Cleveland Indians Seattle Mariners 4–2 Orel Hershiser, Cleveland ABC (Games 1–2)
NBC (Games 3–6)
Starting this season, the Division Series was added to the postseason tournament permanently. This ALCS was different as Cleveland returned to postseason for the first time in 41 years while this was the first time Seattle had ever made the playoffs. Despite not having homefield advantage the Indians won in 6 games.
1996 New York Yankees Baltimore Orioles wc 4–1 Bernie Williams, New York NBC This ALCS included one of the most infamous playoff games in baseball history. In Game 1 Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter was awarded a homerun despite what was fan interference by a fan named Jeffrey Maier. Orioles outfielder Tony Tarasco tried to explain this to the umpire but was unsuccessful. Instant replay had not been introduced yet in baseball, which would've confirmed what Tarasco said. New York would win their 1st pennant in 15 years when they defeated Baltimore in 6 games.
1997 Cleveland Indians Baltimore Orioles 4–2 Marquis Grissom, Cleveland Fox Baltimore came into the ALCS as a heavy favorite but lost to Cleveland in 6 games.
1998 New York Yankees Cleveland Indians 4–2 David Wells, New York NBC The Yankees came into the postseason with 114 regular season wins and kept their momentum going by dispatching the Indians in 6 games.
1999 New York Yankees Boston Red Sox wc 4–1 Orlando Hernández, New York Fox New York and Boston have the most storied rivalry in baseball history but since they were in the same division they had never met in the postseason. The addition of the Wild Card berth in 1995 changed that. New York would win this first series meeting in 5 games.
2000 New York Yankees Seattle Mariners wc 4–2 David Justice, New York NBC Seattle made their 2nd ALCS appearance in 2000 but were taken out in 6 games by the Yankees who would win their 4th pennant and eventual World Series title in 5 seasons.
2001 New York Yankees Seattle Mariners 4–1 Andy Pettitte, New York Fox The Mariners set regular season record by winning 116 games that year. However the Yankees killed their momentum to win the series in 5 games.
2002 Anaheim Angels wc Minnesota Twins 4–1 Adam Kennedy, Anaheim Fox The Angels became the first AL Wild Card team to win the pennant after defeating the Twins in 5 games.
2003 New York Yankees Boston Red Sox wc 4–3 Mariano Rivera, New York Fox The Yankees and the Red Sox met again in a rematch of the 1999 ALCS. This series went the full 7 games for the first time since 1986. It ended in dramatic fashion when Yankee hitter Aaron Boone won the game and the series for New York with a walk-off homerun in the bottom of the 11th inning.
2004 Boston Red Sox wc New York Yankees 4–3 David Ortiz, Boston Fox Boston and New York met again a year after perhaps the most memorable ALCS ever. The Yankees won the first 3 games. They seemed poised to sweep the Red Sox and win their 2nd straight pennant. In Game 4 the Yankees were ahead going into the bottom of the 9th inning which meant the Red Sox were down to their last 3 outs. Boston then tied the game. In the bottom of the 12th inning David Ortiz hit a walk off homerun. Boston would make baseball history by winning the next 3 games which enabled them to win their first pennant since 1986 and eventually their first World Series since 1918. This was the first time a team had lost the first 3 games only to win the next 4.
2005 Chicago White Sox Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4–1 Paul Konerko, Chicago Fox Chicago returned to the ALCS for the first time in 12 years and made the most of it by defeating the Angels in 5 games. This was their first pennant since 1959. They would go on to win their first World Championship since 1917.
2006 Detroit Tigers wc Oakland Athletics 4–0 Plácido Polanco, Detroit Fox Detroit returned to the ALCS for the first time since 1987 and swept Oakland in 4 games which was punctuated by a Game 4 walk-off homerun by Magglio Ordóñez.
2007 Boston Red Sox Cleveland Indians 4–3 Josh Beckett, Boston Fox Despite Cleveland taking a 3 games to 1 lead, Boston battled back to win the pennant.
2008 Tampa Bay Rays Boston Red Sox wc 4–3 Matt Garza, Tampa Bay TBS Tampa Bay made their first trip to the playoffs in 2008 and were able to make it to the World Series after defeating defending World Series Champions and division rival Boston in 7 games.
2009 New York Yankees Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim 4–2 CC Sabathia, New York Fox New York upended Anaheim in 6 games en route to winning their first World Series since 2000.
2010 Texas Rangers New York Yankees wc 4–2 Josh Hamilton, Texas TBS Despite being enfranchised in 1961 this was the Rangers first ALCS appearance and their 4th overall playoff berth. With the help of Cliff Lee and Josh Hamilton, Texas was finally able to win a pennant by beating New York in 6 games.
2011 Texas Rangers Detroit Tigers 4–2 Nelson Cruz, Texas Fox Texas took out Detroit in 6 games to win their 2nd consecutive pennant. The Rangers got a big help from Nelson Cruz who hit 6 homeruns in the series including a walk-off grandslam in Game 2.
2012 Detroit Tigers New York Yankees 4–0 Delmon Young, Detroit TBS Detroit was able to make up losing the previous ALCS by sweeping New York.
2013 Boston Red Sox Detroit Tigers 4–2 Koji Uehara, Boston Fox Detroit made their 3rd straight ALCS appearance but they fell to eventual World Series Champion Boston.
2014 Kansas City Royals wc Baltimore Orioles 4–0 Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City TBS Both teams gained their first ALCS berth in the 21st century after they had both swept their respective ALDS opponents. Kansas City however kept their momentum going by sweeping Baltimore. This was the first time the Royals had been in the postseason since 1985.

ALCS Appearances[edit]

Team Wins Losses Win % Most recent
Most recent
15 New York Yankees 11 4 .733 2009 2012
11 Oakland Athletics 6 5 .545 1990 2006
10 Boston Red Sox 5 5 .500 2013 2013
10 Baltimore Orioles 5 5 .500 1983 2014
7 Detroit Tigers 3 4 .429 2012 2013
7 Kansas City Royals 3 4 .429 2014 2014
6 Los Angeles Angels 1 5 .167 2002 2009
5 Minnesota Twins 2 3 .400 1991 2002
5 Toronto Blue Jays 2 3 .400 1993 1993
4 Cleveland Indians 2 2 .500 1997 2007
3 Chicago White Sox 1 2 .333 2005 2005
3 Seattle Mariners 0 3 .000 - 2001
2 Texas Rangers 2 0 1.000 2011 2011
1 Tampa Bay Rays 1 0 1.000 2008 2008
1 Milwaukee Brewers 1 0 1.000 1982 1982
0 Houston Astros 0 0 - -

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The Astros played in the National League before moving to the American League in 2013. They did play in the NLCS in 2004 and 2005
  2. ^ winner. Dave (Tampa Bay Rays fan), "Overjoyed!", Fielder's Choice Baseball Card Blog, Apr. 10, 2009. Retrieved 2009-08-17 (including photo of trophy).
  3. ^ League Championship Series Most Valuable Players ( ). MLB Advanced Media, L.P. Retrieved 2009-08-31.

External links[edit]