With the MLB playoff format changing in 2022, most fans need the MLB Wild Card explained just so that they’re up to date. The format changes have put additional teams into the postseason and should make the month of October even more compelling.
But the MLB Wild Card rules still need to be explained so that fans understand the new MLB Wild Card format.
MLB Wild Card explained
So what changes can we expect and how is the new MLB Wild Card format going to work?
After all, the previous MLB Wild Card rules created some memorable moments in a winner-take-all game. But if things work out as planned, the baseball playoffs will be better than ever. But if you need the new MLB Wild Card explained, here are the answers to some pressing questions.
How Do the Wildcards work in MLB?
In baseball, any team that doesn’t win its own division is eligible to make the playoffs as a Wild Card team. Essentially, the Wild Card standings are made up of every team in each league that isn’t at the top of its division.
The division that a team plays in is meaningless when it comes to the Wild Card standings. They are ranked solely on the team with the best record among those that aren’t division winners.
How many games are in the MLB Wild Card Round?
The MLB Wild Card Round, which made its debut in 2020 and was adopted as a permanent part of the playoff format in 2022, has three games.
Technically, it’s a best-of-three series, which means that if one team wins the first two games, the third game isn’t played. Unlike the later rounds of the MLB playoffs, the entire series is played in one location.
Whatever team is the higher seed will host all three games, which means there are no off days for travel during the series. This also gives teams incentives to finish in a position that will allow them to host games during the Wild Card Round.
Of the three division winners, the two teams with the best records receive a bye. The division winner with the worst record is the top seed for the Wild Card Round, and will take on the third Wild Card team. The Wild Card team with the best record faces the Wild Card team with the second-best record.
Has a Wild Card team won the World Series?
Starting with the first year of the Wild Card in 1994, seven Wild Card teams have won the World Series. The Florida (now Miami) Marlins won the World Series in 1997 and 2003 as a Wild Card. In fact, the Marlins are yet to win a division title (as of 2022) but have won the World Series twice.
The 2002 Anaheim (now Los Angeles) Angels, the 2002 Boston Red Sox, the 2004 St. Louis Cardinals, the 2014 San Francisco Giants, and the 2019 Washington Nationals won the World Series after making the playoffs as a Wild Card team.
It’s also worth noting that at least one Wild Card team reached the World Series between 2002 and 2007. Also, the 2002 World Series and the 2014 World Series featured two Wild Card teams facing one another.
How many Wild Card teams are there in the new Playoff format?
In the new MLB playoff format, there will be six Wild Card teams, three from the National League and three from the American League.
Adding one extra Wild Card team compared to the last decade (outside of the 2020 season) will require an extra round of postseason play rather than a one-game playoff between the two Wild Card teams from each round.
Why did MLB change the Postseason format?
MLB negotiated an expanded playoff format as part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement with the Players’ Association, which was agreed to prior to the 2022 season. MLB pushed for the expansion in order to allow more teams to make the playoffs, hoping it would lead to more exciting playoff races with more teams in contention since each league now has three Wild Card spots.
There are also more playoff games since the Wild Card Round has four best-of-three series. More playoff games mean more revenue for MLB, which was another motivating factor in expanding the playoffs and changing the format.