Major League Baseball Wild Card

Major League Baseball Wild Card

In Major League Baseball, the wild-card playoff spot is given to the team in each league with the best record among the non-division winners. It 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 (A) give one team a bye in the first round of playoffs or (B) create the wild card for the best second-place team. The wild card system guarantees that the team with the best record in each league, outside of the three division winners, will qualify for the playoffs, even if it is in the same division as the team that has the best record.

The "wild card" rule was first used in the 1981 Major League Baseball season after a players' strike wiped out the middle third of the season. The owners decided that the winners of both "halves" of the abbreviated season from each division would qualify for the playoffs, with the caveat that if the same team won both halves then the team with the second best record from the second half would enter the playoffs as a wild card. However, in none of the then four MLB divisions did same team win both halves, so no club entered the 1981 playoffs as a "wild card" team.

There were no division or wild-card winners in 1994, due to the 1994 Major League Baseball strike.


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:

  • List of AL Wildcard winners
  • List of NL Wildcard winners

Combined division-series, LCS, and World Series record as wild-card winners

Wild-card team Series record Playoffs
Florida Marlins 6-0 Won 1997 World Series and 2003 World Series
Anaheim Angels 3-0 Won 2002 World Series
Boston Red Sox 6-6 Won 2004 World Series[1]
St. Louis Cardinals 3-1 Won 2011 World Series[2]
New York Mets 3-2 Lost 2000 World Series to New York (AL), 4-1[3]
San Francisco Giants 2-1 Lost 2002 World Series to Anaheim, 4-3
Houston Astros 3-2 Lost 2005 World Series to Chicago (AL), 4-0[4]
Detroit Tigers 2-1 Lost 2006 World Series to St. Louis Cardinals, 4-1
Colorado Rockies 2-3 Lost 2007 World Series to Boston Red Sox, 4-0[5]
Baltimore Orioles 1-1 Lost 1996 American League Championship Series to New York (AL), 4-1.
Seattle Mariners 1-1 Lost 2000 American League Championship Series to New York (AL), 4-2.
New York Yankees 1-4 Lost 2010 American League Championship Series[6]
Los Angeles Dodgers 0-2 Lost 2006 National League Division Series[7]
Chicago Cubs 0-1 Lost 1998 National League Division Series
Oakland Athletics 0-1 Lost 2001 American League Division Series
Milwaukee Brewers 0-1 Lost 2008 National League Division Series
Atlanta Braves 0-1 Lost 2010 National League Division Series
Tampa Bay Rays 0-1 Lost 2011 American League Division Series


  • The following teams have won the World Series as a wild-card winner: Florida Marlins (1997 and 2003), Anaheim Angels (2002), Boston Red Sox (2004), St. Louis Cardinals (2011)
  • The World Series was won by a wild-card team in three consecutive years: 2002, 2003, and 2004.
  • A wild-card team appeared in the World Series in six consecutive years: 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2007.
  • 2002 is the only year that both wild-card teams played in the World Series: the Anaheim Angels and San Francisco Giants.
  • The Baltimore Orioles were the first wild-card team to win a Division Series.
  • The Florida Marlins were the first wild-card team to reach the World Series.
  • The Florida Marlins were the first wild-card team to win the World Series.
  • The Florida Marlins were the first team to win two World Series as a wild-card team.
  • The Florida Marlins, as wild-card winners in 1997 and 2003, are the only team in MLB history to have won a World Series, but (as of 2012) have never won a division in the franchise's existence.
  • The Boston Red Sox have the most wild-card appearances: seven (as of 2010). Second — at four appearances — is the New York Yankees. Third - at three appearances- is the Colorado Rockies.
  • The following teams have won the wild card in consecutive years: Boston Red Sox (1998, 1999; 2003, 2004, 2005; 2008, 2009), Houston Astros (2004, 2005), New York Mets (1999, 2000).

See also


External links

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