Major League Baseball Wild Card Game
Get Major League Baseball Wild Card Game essential facts below. View Videos or join the Major League Baseball Wild Card Game discussion. Add Major League Baseball Wild Card Game to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
Major League Baseball Wild Card Game

The Major League Baseball Wild Card Game is a play-in game which was added to the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason in 2012, and marks the beginning of the playoffs for both the American League and National League.[1] The addition of a play-in game essentially maintained the three-tiered format used from 1995 through 2011, while adding a second wild-card team. Two wild-card teams in each league play each other in a single-game playoff after the end of the regular season. The winner of each league's Wild Card Game advances to face the top-seeded team in that league's Division Series.

The home team for the Wild Card Game is the team with the better regular-season winning percentage; if the two teams have identical winning percentages, MLB tie-breaking procedures are used to determine the home team, with no additional games being played. This is in contrast to teams tied for a division title, which, since the introduction of the Wild Card Game in 2012, do play a one-game tiebreaker for the division title, even if both teams are already qualified for the postseason. This differs from previous tie-breaking; for example, at the conclusion of the 2005 regular season, the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox tied for first place in their division but did not play an additional game, as both teams were already qualified for the postseason.

In the Division Series, the winner of the Wild Card Game faces whichever division champion has the best record. Before 2012, a wild-card team could not face the winner of its own division in a Division Series. It is now possible for the two teams with the best record in a league to face each other before the League Championship Series for the first time since 1997, if the Wild Card Game winner has the second-best record in the league and the top seed is from the same division. From 1995 to 1997, the matchups for the Division Series were determined by an annual rotation between divisions.

Through the 2018 postseason, 19 of the 30 MLB franchises have appeared in a Wild Card Game. The New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, and Pittsburgh Pirates have each appeared in a record 3 games. The San Francisco Giants and the New York Yankees have won the most Wild Card Games, two each. The Oakland Athletics have lost the most games, losing all three of their Wild Card Game appearances to date.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB announced that the Wild Card Series would be played by eight teams in each league. Division champions would be seeded 1 through 3 by record, the second place teams seeded 4 through 6 by record, and the two teams with the next best records remaining seeded 7 and 8.[2]


The addition of a second wild-card team to each league was completed for multiple reasons:

  • Added importance to division races.[3] Before 1994, only division-winning teams advanced to the playoffs, creating excitement when teams within a division competed for the best record in that division. From 1994 to 2011, the urgency of a division race was somewhat reduced as one second place team from each league made the playoffs as a wild card. In addition, the winner of the wild-card game is at a disadvantage in the next series, due to having to make strategic decisions to avoid immediate elimination, such as play its best pitchers available, without regard for future playoff games.
  • Wild-card teams are penalized. In the four-team format from 1994 to 2011, the wild-card team had to win just as many postseason games as a division winner in order to reach the World Series. Now the winner of the wild-card game is at a disadvantage because it has to play an extra game.
  • Increases postseason interest and revenue, with the tension of a sudden-death match at the start of the playoffs, similar to tie-breaker games held to resolve regular season ties. Recent examples of this were seen in tie-breaking games in 2007, 2008, and 2009, as well as the final day of the 2011 regular season.
  • With an additional playoff spot at stake, more teams are competing at the end of the regular season for a place in the playoffs.


With the adoption of MLB's new collective bargaining agreement in November 2011, baseball commissioner Bud Selig announced that a new playoff system would begin within the next two years; the change was ultimately put into place in 2012.[4]

The 2014 San Francisco Giants won the National League Wild Card Game and went on to win that season's World Series.

Through the 2019 postseason, Wild Card Game winners have gone on to compile an overall 7-9 record in League Division Series, with Wild Card Game winners going 3-5 in the ALDS and 4-4 in the NLDS. The 2014 postseason featured the first series sweeps involving a Wild Card Game winner; both in favor of the AL Wild Card Kansas City Royals, who swept the Los Angeles Angels in the ALDS and the Baltimore Orioles in the ALCS. The Royals then met the San Francisco Giants in the 2014 World Series, the second all-Wild Card fall classic, which the Giants won in seven games. The first all-Wild Card World Series had also involved the Giants, who lost the 2002 World Series to the then-Anaheim Angels in seven games.

The one-game, win-or-go-home Wild Card format favors teams with at least one dominant pitcher.[according to whom?] In the sixteen games played since the new Wild Card system began in 2012, five have been shutouts. In eight of the eleven others, the losing team scored 3 or fewer runs. Only the 2014 AL Wild Card game between the Kansas City Royals and Oakland Athletics and the 2017 NL Wild Card game between the Colorado Rockies and the Arizona Diamondbacks featured high scoring by both teams,[clarification needed] with the Royals eventually winning 9-8 in 12 innings and the Diamondbacks winning 11-8 with the most runs scored in a Wild Card game. The margin of victory has been four runs or more in eight of the sixteen games played, and one run only three times--in the 2014 Royals-Athletics game, the 2018 Rockies-Cubs game, and the 2019 Nationals-Brewers game.


Through the 2019 Wild Card Games, visiting teams have won more games (nine) than home teams have won (seven). There have been five shutouts, each of which has been won by the visiting team (including three consecutive shutouts in the 2014-2016 NL editions). Two of the three extra innings games have been won by the home team.

bold Wild Card Game winner

American League

National League

2020 Wild Card Series

In 2020, the first round in the postseason consisted of four Wild Card Series in each league, each series being a best-of-three. Eight teams from each league participated: three division winners, three division runners-up, and two wild card teams (the two remaining teams with the best records, based on winning percentage).

dagger Wild card
bold Wild Card Series winner

American League

National League

Win-loss records by team

Updated through 2019 results; table only includes MLB teams that have appeared in a Wild Card Game.

Joe Maddon has managed both the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs to Wild Card Game victories.
Team League Win-loss record Apps Winning Pct
Arizona Diamondbacks NL 1-0 1 1.000
Atlanta Braves NL 0-1 1 .000
Baltimore Orioles AL 1-1 2 .500
Cincinnati Reds NL 0-1 1 .000
Chicago Cubs NL 1-1 2 .500
Cleveland Indians AL 0-1 1 .000
Colorado Rockies NL 1-1 2 .500
Houston Astros AL 1-0 1 1.000
Kansas City Royals AL 1-0 1 1.000
Milwaukee Brewers NL 0-1 1 .000
Minnesota Twins AL 0-1 1 .000
New York Mets NL 0-1 1 .000
New York Yankees AL 2-1 3 .667
Oakland Athletics AL 0-3 3 .000
Pittsburgh Pirates NL 1-2 3 .333
San Francisco Giants NL 2-0 2 1.000
St. Louis Cardinals NL 1-0 1 1.000
Tampa Bay Rays AL 2-0 2 1.000
Texas Rangers AL 0-1 1 .000
Toronto Blue Jays AL 1-0 1 1.000
Washington Nationals NL 1-0 1 1.000

The following current MLB teams have not yet appeared in a Wild Card Playoff:

American League: Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels, Seattle Mariners
National League: Philadelphia Phillies

Appearances by team

In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of wins, then by number of appearances, and finally by year of first appearance. In the "Season(s)" column, bold years indicate winning appearances.

American League

Apps Team Wins Losses Win % Season(s)
4 New York Yankees 3 1 .750 2015, 2017, 2018, 2020
3 Tampa Bay Rays 3 0 1.000 2013, 2019, 2020
2 Houston Astros 2 0 1.000 2015, 2020
4 Oakland Athletics 1 3 .250 2014, 2018, 2019, 2020
2 Baltimore Orioles 1 1 .500 2012, 2016
2 Toronto Blue Jays 1 1 .500 2016, 2020
1 Kansas City Royals 1 0 1.000 2014
2 Cleveland Indians 0 2 .000 2013, 2020
2 Minnesota Twins 0 2 .000 2017, 2020
1 Texas Rangers 0 1 .000 2012
1 Chicago White Sox 0 1 .000 2020

National League

Apps Team Wins Losses Win % Season(s)
2 San Francisco Giants 2 0 1.000 2014, 2016
3 Pittsburgh Pirates 1 2 .333 2013, 2014, 2015
3 Chicago Cubs 1 2 .333 2015, 2018, 2020
2 Atlanta Braves 1 1 .500 2012, 2020
2 St. Louis Cardinals 1 1 .500 2012, 2020
2 Colorado Rockies 1 1 .500 2017, 2018
1 Arizona Diamondbacks 1 0 1.000 2017
1 Washington Nationals 1 0 1.000 2019
1 Los Angeles Dodgers 1 0 1.000 2020
1 Miami Marlins 1 0 1.000 2020
1 San Diego Padres 1 0 1.000 2020
2 Cincinnati Reds 0 2 .000 2013, 2020
2 Milwaukee Brewers 0 2 .000 2019, 2020
1 New York Mets 0 1 .000 2016



  1. ^ Alomar was designated as the interim manager in lieu of Terry Francona who missed the 2020 postseason due to health concerns.

See also


  1. ^ Jayson Stark (March 2, 2012). "The new MLB postseason".
  2. ^ "MLB expands playoffs to 16 teams for shortened 2020 season, adds best-of-three Wild Card Series". Retrieved 2020.
  3. ^ "MLB adopts expanded format for 2012 postseason". Retrieved 2018.
  4. ^ Bloom, Barry M. (March 2, 2012). "Addition of Wild Card berths finalized for 2012".
  5. ^ a b c d "Team Batting Game Finder: In the LWC, From 1903 to 2017, sorted by most recent date". Baseball Reference. Retrieved 2018.
  6. ^ Dale, Shane (October 3, 2018). "Rockies beat Cubs in longest winner-take-all game in MLB history". KNXV. Retrieved 2018.

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes