Baseball, like every sport, has expanded over the years. With more teams comes more playoff spots and with more playoff spots comes the Wild Card. The Wild Card team is the top team in each league who didn’t finish in first in a division. The Wild Card was first used for the 1995 MLB season and was expanded to two teams for the 2012 season and onward. Now, the two Wild Card teams in each league play a one-game playoff to decide who will face the number one seed in the AL and NL Division Series. But those are only just some of the many fun facts the MLB Wild Card has to offer, so here are some more:
Like I said before, the Wild Card was implemented for the 1995 MLB playoffs (but was going to be used in 1994 had there not have been a playoffs-canceling strike). The Yankees and Rockies were the first Wild Card teams in AL and NL history, respectively, but both were knocked out of the playoffs in the first round.
The Marlins are undoubtedly the best Wild Card team the MLB has ever seen. They’ve only been the Wild Card in the National League twice, but won the World Series both times. In 1997, the Marlins became the first Wild Card team to win the World Series and, in 2003, became the first Wild Card team to win the Fall Classic twice (pictured below). The Marlins are the only World Series champion to not have a division title in their history.
Four other teams besides the Marlins have been Wild Card World Series champions: the 2002 Angels, 2004 Red Sox, 2011 Cardinals, and the 2014 Giants (pictured below). The 2002 and 2014 World Series are the only ones to be made up fully of Wild Card teams: Angels versus Giants in ’02 and Giants versus Royals in ’14. The three-year stretch from 2002–2004 of Wild Card World Series champions is a record.
The 2001 Oakland Athletics hold the distinction of being the winningest Wild Card team in MLB history, going 102–60. They lost to the Yankees in the divisional series, three games to two. The winningest NL Wild Card team was the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished the season at 98–64, but lost to the Cubs in the Wild Card Round.
The Astros, because they switched leagues in 2013, are the only MLB team to win the Wild Card in both leagues. In 2004 and 2005, the Astros finished in second place in the NL Central (and in 2005 won the NL pennant) and in 2015, finished in second place in the AL West.
I personally love the Wild Card because it makes the postseason that much more unpredictable and thus, more exciting. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of “all the buzz on what wuzz.”
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