How Does The Wild Card Work In Baseball? Detail Overview

Last Updated on March 18, 2024 by Alex PT

In baseball, the Wild Card allows non-division-winning teams with the best records to compete in the playoffs. Each league typically has two Wild Card spots, leading to a one-game playoff between the two Wild Card teams to advance to the postseason.

Baseball Wildcards 

In baseball, there is always a wild card team from the American and National leagues that would be chosen at the end of the season based on their winnings. A wild card team can be chosen from any division, this means that there will always be two teams to qualify for the playoffs from each league in the same division. However, the wild card teams are chosen by their amount of wins which sometimes can even be more than the wins of a division winner. Apart from the World Series, the wild card team is to surrender its home-field advantage against its opponent after qualifying for the playoffs. For the first game in the playoffs, the wild card team will be scheduled to play against the team with the most winnings in the league. 

The wild card came into play in 1995, it was put in place to heighten the excitement of the Postseason. Also, it was good because it gave teams who didn’t win their division the privilege to compete in the playoffs. 

How Does The Wild Card Work In Baseball?

1. What is the wild card?
The wild card is an additional playoff spot awarded to the non-division winners with the best records in each league. It was introduced in 1994 as a way to increase the level of competition and provide more teams with a chance to play in the postseason.

2. How many wild card spots are there?
In Major League Baseball (MLB), there are currently two wild card spots available in each league: the American League (AL) and the National League (NL). This means that four teams in total get the opportunity to compete for a spot in the divisional series.

3. How are the wild card teams determined?
The wild card teams are determined based on their regular-season records. The two teams with the best records among non-division winners in each league qualify for the wild card game. In case of a tie for the final wild card spot, tiebreaker games are played to decide the winner.

4. What happens in the wild card game?
The wild card game is a single-elimination match-up featuring the two wild card teams in each league. It takes place before the divisional series and serves as a thrilling do-or-die scenario. The team with the better regular-season record hosts the game in their home ballpark.

5. How is the venue decided for the wild card game?
The team with the better regular-season record hosts the wild card game in their home ballpark. However, if the two teams have the same record, tiebreaker rules come into play to determine which team earns the right to host the game.

6. Does the wild card winner advance to the next round?
Yes, the winner of the wild card game advances to the next round, which is the divisional series. They face the team with the best regular-season record in their respective league. This divisional series follows a best-of-five format, providing another opportunity for the wild card winner to progress further in the postseason.

How many teams make the playoffs in MLB Wild Card standings?

In Major League Baseball (MLB), each league (American League and National League) has two Wild Card spots, making a total of four Wild Card teams that make the playoffs. These teams are determined by their regular-season records, as they didn’t win their respective division titles.

Here’s how the Wild Card playoff format works in MLB:

  1. Regular Season: During the regular season, teams in each league compete for their division titles.
  2. Wild Card Qualification: The two teams in each league with the best regular-season records among those that didn’t win their divisions qualify as Wild Card teams. They earn the right to compete in the Wild Card game.
  3. Wild Card Game: The two Wild Card teams in each league face off in a single-elimination Wild Card game. The winner advances to the division series of the playoffs.
  4. Division Series: The Wild Card winner goes on to compete against one of the division-winning teams in a best-of-five division series. This is the start of the traditional MLB playoff structure.
  5. League Championship Series: The winners of the division series in each league meet in the League Championship Series, a best-of-seven contest.
  6. World Series: The champions of the American League and National League face off in the World Series, a best-of-seven series to determine the MLB champion.

What Do You Mean By MLB(Major League Baseball) Playoffs?

It is MLB’s yearly championship game. The MLB playoff is commonly known as the tournament for elimination, it is held every year after the regular season. The playoff is held to determine the World Series Champions. 

How Does The Playoffs For The MLB Teams Work?

The first round of games in the playoff is known as the wild card game. This round is an introductory round where the wild card teams from both leagues face off for one game of elimination. After the introductory round, two winners progress to the next round which is seen as the first main round of the playoffs which is also called the division series.

The Division series which is called the ALDS or NLDS is practically the quarter-final because only eight teams are remaining. The winners go against the team in the same league as them that has the highest win record. While the two remaining teams from each league play against each other. For the division series, they have a format where five games are being played to determine the qualifiers for the next round. It is done by making the first team that wins three games advance to the next round. 

After this stage, the two winners from the division series of each league will now advance to the league championship series which is also the semi-finals. This stage is also called the ALCS and the NLCS. Both LCS combined are 7 played games to pick out the first team to win four games. The winners of this stage now advance to the World Series. 

Just like the semi-finals, the World Series is a seven-game play fighting for the first team to win four games. 

How Does Home-Field Advantage Work? Also, What Is Home Field Advantage?

The home team advantage is caused by the fact that each round of the playoffs has a total odd number of games and each team has to host an equal amount of time. This cannot be possible because the number of games is odd, therefore, one team will host more than the other. We would now say that such a team has a home-field advantage. In the wild card elimination round, the home-team advantage is given to the team with the better regular-season advantage. 

For the division series, the two-division champions in both leagues with the best regular-season record get the home-field advantage.

For the semi-finals or championship series, the home-field advantage is given to the team with the best regular-season record just like in the division series. Although, it’s a little bit different here, because if the team liable for the home-field advantage is a wild card then the other team gets the home-field advantage not minding the regular-season record. Also, the team with the advantage gets to host twice first before hosting the series’ last two games. 

Now, for the World Series which is the highest series, the league champion with the best regular-season records is given the home-field advantage. The World Series schedules games in a 2-3-2 format and the team with the advantage gets to host the first two and then the last two. 

How Many MLB Teams Are Put In The Playoffs?

10! The MLB moves to the playoffs with 10 teams. These 10 teams consist of four wildcard teams, four from each league, and 6 divisional league winners, 3 from each league and one from each division. 

In The History Of Baseball, Has A Wildcard Team Won The World Series?

Yes! The first-ever team to qualify using the wild card advantage and then still move on to win the Super Bowl was the Oakland Raiders in 1980. 


The Wild card in baseball is an advantage, a privilege given to a team. The MLB had to increase the fun in baseball and tried to make sure that not only winners get the chance to win the World Series. We’ve reached the end of this informative article. We hope that this article helped you find resources in your quest to know how baseball wild cards work. Do not hesitate to contact us with any questions or comments. Thanks!


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