|Part of a series on the|
|Major League Baseball postseason|
|League Championship Series|
The Major League Baseball Wild Card Game or Series[a] are games that serve as the opening round of the Major League Baseball (MLB) postseason. A single wild card game was first instituted in 2012; three-game wild card series were adopted for the 2022 season.
Under the current playoff structure, there are two series in both the American League (AL) and National League (NL). The lowest-seeded division winner and three wild card teams in each league play in a best-of-three series after the end of the regular season. The winners of each league's wild card rounds advance to face the top two division winners in that league's Division Series. This expansion of the postseason also abolished any regular season extending tie-breaker games.
Under the format adopted in 2022, six teams in each league are assigned seeds for the postseason. The top three seeds in each league are the three division winners. The division winners are always assigned seeds No 1 though No 3, per their relative winning percentages. The wild cards in each league are the three teams with the best winning percentages among non-division winning teams. These wild card teams are assigned seeds No. 4 through No. 6, per their relative winning percentages. Any ties are broken using MLB tie-breaking procedures, no tie-breaking games (colloquially known as "Game 163") are contested.
The top two seeds in each league receive byes and do not play in a wild card series. The remaining four teams, seeds No. 3 through No. 6, play in two wild card series. All games in each wild card series are played at the higher-seeded club's home ballpark. These two series are: No. 3 hosting No. 6, and No. 4 hosting No. 5.
In the Division Series, the winner of the No. 4 vs. No. 5 series faces the No. 1 seed, and the winner of the No. 3. vs. No. 6 series faces the No. 2 seed. The bracket structure in each league looks as follows:
|Wild Card Series|
|League Championship Series|
|4||Wild Card team|
|5||Wild Card team|
|6||Wild Card team|
The Wild Card round was initially introduced in 2012 as a single-game playoff between two wild-card teams in each league, with the winner advancing to the Division Series. 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. This format was used through the 2019 season.
For the 2020 postseason, following a shortened 60-game regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MLB held Wild Card Series with eight teams in each league, thus a total of 16 playoff teams. Division champions were seeded 1-3 by record, the second-place teams seeded 4-6 by record, and the two teams with the next-best records were seeded seventh and eighth. Matchups were contested as best-of-three series rather than individual games. MLB returned to the previous format of one Wild Card Game per league for the 2021 postseason, before it changed to two best-of-three Wild Card series per league the next year.
As of the beginning of the 2021 postseason, 26 of the 30 MLB franchises have reached the Wild Card round of the postseason (either a Wild Card Game or the 2020 Wild Card Series). The New York Yankees have the most appearances with five. The Yankees and the Tampa Bay Rays have the most wins during the Wild Card round with three each. The Oakland Athletics have the most losses during the Wild Card round, having lost three of their four appearances.
Through the 2021 postseason, Wild Card Game winners have gone on to compile an overall 9–9 record in League Division Series, with Wild Card Game winners going 4–5 in the ALDS and 5–4 in the NLDS. Two Wild Card Game winners have gone on to win the World Series (the 2014 Giants and the 2019 Nationals). 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.
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 three 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 2021 postseason, visiting teams and home teams have each won nine of the 18 games played. 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. Three games have ended in walk-off victory for the home team, with the 2021 NL edition being the only one in regulation.
|bold||Wild Card Game winner|
|↓||Lost tie-breaker game to reach Wild Card Game (arrow links to game)|
|↑||Won tie-breaker game to reach Wild Card Game (arrow links to game)|
|Reached League Championship Series|
|Reached World Series|
|Won World Series|
|2012||Baltimore Orioles||Buck Showalter||5–1||Texas Rangers||Ron Washington|
|2013||Tampa Bay Rays↑||Joe Maddon||4–0||Cleveland Indians||Terry Francona|
|2014||Oakland Athletics||Bob Melvin||8–9 (12)||Kansas City Royals||Ned Yost|
|2015||Houston Astros||A. J. Hinch||3–0||New York Yankees||Joe Girardi|
|2016||Baltimore Orioles||Buck Showalter||2–5 (11)||Toronto Blue Jays||John Gibbons|
|2017||Minnesota Twins||Paul Molitor||4–8||New York Yankees||Joe Girardi|
|2018||Oakland Athletics||Bob Melvin||2–7||New York Yankees||Aaron Boone|
|2019||Tampa Bay Rays||Kevin Cash||5–1||Oakland Athletics||Bob Melvin|
|2021||New York Yankees||Aaron Boone||2–6||Boston Red Sox||Alex Cora|
|2012||St. Louis Cardinals||Mike Matheny||6–3||Atlanta Braves||Fredi González|
|2013||Cincinnati Reds||Dusty Baker||2–6||Pittsburgh Pirates||Clint Hurdle|
|2014||San Francisco Giants||Bruce Bochy||8–0||Pittsburgh Pirates||Clint Hurdle|
|2015||Chicago Cubs||Joe Maddon||4–0||Pittsburgh Pirates||Clint Hurdle|
|2016||San Francisco Giants||Bruce Bochy||3–0||New York Mets||Terry Collins|
|2017||Colorado Rockies||Bud Black||8–11||Arizona Diamondbacks||Torey Lovullo|
|2018||Colorado Rockies↓||Bud Black||2–1 (13)||Chicago Cubs↓||Joe Maddon|
|2019||Milwaukee Brewers||Craig Counsell||3–4||Washington Nationals||Dave Martinez|
|2021||St. Louis Cardinals||Mike Shildt||1–3||Los Angeles Dodgers||Dave Roberts|
After the shortened 60-game regular season of 2020, the first round of the MLB postseason consisted of four Wild Card Series in each league, each series being a best-of-three hosted by the higher seed. 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). Thus, while each league's Wild Card Series featured a total of eight teams, there were still only two wild card qualifiers per league.
|E1 C1 W1||Division winners for East, Central, West|
|E2 C2 W2||Division runners-up for East, Central, West|
|WC||Wild card teams|
|bold||Wild Card Series winner|
|Higher seeded team||Manager||Games||Lower seeded team||Manager|
|Tampa Bay RaysE1||Kevin Cash||2–0||Toronto Blue JaysWC||Charlie Montoyo|
|Oakland AthleticsW1||Bob Melvin||2–1||Chicago White SoxWC||Rick Renteria|
|Minnesota TwinsC1||Rocco Baldelli||0–2||Houston AstrosW2||Dusty Baker|
|Cleveland IndiansC2||Sandy Alomar Jr.[b]||0–2||New York YankeesE2||Aaron Boone|
|Higher seeded team||Manager||Games||Lower seeded team||Manager|
|Los Angeles DodgersW1||Dave Roberts||2–0||Milwaukee BrewersWC||Craig Counsell|
|Atlanta BravesE1||Brian Snitker||2–0||Cincinnati RedsWC||David Bell|
|Chicago CubsC1||David Ross||0–2||Miami MarlinsE2||Don Mattingly|
|San Diego PadresW2||Jayce Tingler||2–1||St. Louis CardinalsC2||Mike Shildt|
In the sortable tables below, teams are ordered first by number of wins, then by number of appearances, and finally by year of first appearance. These records reflect series outcomes of the 2020 Wild Card Series, not individual games. In the "Season(s)" column, bold years indicate winning appearances.
|5||New York Yankees||3||2||.600||2015, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021|
|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|
|1||Boston Red Sox||1||0||1.000||2021|
|2||Cleveland Indians||0||2||.000||2013, 2020|
|2||Minnesota Twins||0||2||.000||2017, 2020|
|1||Chicago White Sox||0||1||.000||2020|
|2||San Francisco Giants||2||0||1.000||2014, 2016|
|2||Los Angeles Dodgers||2||0||1.000||2020, 2021|
|3||Pittsburgh Pirates||1||2||.333||2013, 2014, 2015|
|3||Chicago Cubs||1||2||.333||2015, 2018, 2020|
|3||St. Louis Cardinals||1||2||.333||2012, 2020, 2021|
|2||Atlanta Braves||1||1||.500||2012, 2020|
|2||Colorado Rockies||1||1||.500||2017, 2018|
|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|
Updated through the 2021 postseason. These records reflect individual game results of the 2020 Wild Card Series.
|Games||Series||Win–loss record||Winning pct.|
|Boston Red Sox||AL||1||0||1–0||1.000|
|Chicago White Sox||AL||0||1||1–2||.333|
|Kansas City Royals||AL||1||0||1–0||1.000|
|Los Angeles Dodgers||NL||1||1||3–0||1.000|
|New York Mets||NL||1||0||0–1||.000|
|New York Yankees||AL||4||1||4–2||.667|
|San Diego Padres||NL||0||1||2–1||.667|
|San Francisco Giants||NL||2||0||2–0||1.000|
|St. Louis Cardinals||NL||2||1||2–3||.400|
|Tampa Bay Rays||AL||2||1||4–0||1.000|
|Toronto Blue Jays||AL||1||1||1–2||.333|
The following current MLB teams have not yet appeared in a Wild Card playoff: