National League Division Series

In Major League Baseball, the National League Division Series (NLDS) determines which two teams from the National League will advance to the National League Championship Series. The Division Series consists of two best-of-five series, featuring each of the two division winners with the best records and the winners of the wild-card play-offs.


The Division Series was implemented in 1981 as a one-off tournament because of a midseason strike, with the first place teams before the strike taking on the teams in first place after the strike. In 1981, a split-season format forced the first ever divisional playoff series, in which the Montreal Expos won the Eastern Division series over the Philadelphia Phillies in five games while in the Western Division, the Los Angeles Dodgers defeated the Houston Astros, also in five games (the Astros were members of the National League until 2012).

In 1994, it was returned permanently when Major League Baseball (MLB) restructured each league into three divisions, but with a different format than in 1981. Each of the division winners, along with one wild card team, qualify for the Division Series. Despite being planned for the 1994 season, the post-season was cancelled that year due to the 1994–95 Major League Baseball strike. In 1995, the first season to feature a division series, the Eastern Division champion Atlanta Braves defeated the wild card Colorado Rockies three games to one, while the Central Division champion Cincinnati Reds defeated the Western Division champion Los Angeles Dodgers in a three game sweep.

From 1994–2011, the wild card was given to the team in the National League with the best overall record that was not a division champion. Beginning with the 2012 season, a second wild card team was added, and the two wild card teams play a single-game playoff to determine which team would play in the NLDS. For the 2020 Major League Baseball season only, there was an expanded playoff format, owing to an abbreviated 60-game regular season due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight teams qualified from the National League: the top two teams in each division plus the next two best records among the remaining teams. These eight teams played a best-of-three game series to determine placement in the NLDS. The regular format returned for the 2021 season.

As of 2021, the Atlanta Braves have currently played in the most NL division series with seventeen appearances. The St. Louis Cardinals have currently won the most NL division series, winning eleven of the fourteen series in which they have played. The Pittsburgh Pirates (who finished with a losing record from 1993 to 2012) were the last team to make their first appearance in the NL division series, making their debut in 2013 after winning the 2013 National League Wild Card Game. In 2008, the Milwaukee Brewers became the first team to play in division series in both leagues when they won the National League wild card, their first postseason berth since winning the American League East Division title in 1982 before switching leagues in 1998. Milwaukee had competed in an American League Division Series in the strike-shortened 1981 season.


The ALDS is a best-of-five series where the divisional winner with the best winning percentage in the regular season hosts the winner of the Wild Card Series between the top two wild card teams in one matchup, and the divisional winner with the second best winning percentage hosts the winner of the Wildcard Series between the lowest-seeded divisional winner and the lowest-seeded wild card team.[1] (From 2012 to 2021, the wild card team was assigned to play the divisional winner with the best winning percentage in the regular season in one series, and the other two division winners met in the other series. From 1998 to 2011, if the wild-card team and the division winner with the best record were from the same division, the wild-card team played the division winner with the second-best record, and the remaining two division leaders played each other.) The two series winners move on to the best-of-seven ALCS. According to Nate Silver, the advent of this playoff series, and especially of the wild card, has caused teams to focus more on "getting to the playoffs" rather than "winning the pennant" as the primary goal of the regular season.[2]

From 2012 to 2021, the wild card team that advances to the Division Series was to face the number 1 seed, regardless whether or not they are in the same division. The two series winners move on to the best-of-seven NLCS. Beginning with the 2022 season, the winner between the lowest ranked division winner and lowest ranked wild card team faces the number 2 seed division winner in the Division Series, while the fourth vs. fifth seeded wild card winner still faces the number 1 seed, as there is no reseeding regardless of whether the sixth seeded wild card advances. Home-field advantage goes to the team with the better regular season record (or head-to-head record if there is a tie between two or more teams), except for the wild-card team, which never receives the home field advantage.

Beginning in 2003, MLB has implemented a new rule to give the team from the league that wins the All-Star Game with the best regular season record a slightly greater advantage. In order to spread out the Division Series games for broadcast purposes, the two NLDS series follow one of two off-day schedules. Starting in 2007, after consulting the MLBPA, MLB has decided to allow the team with the best record in the league that wins the All-Star Game to choose whether to use the seven-day schedule (1-2-off-3-4-off-5) or the eight-day schedule (1-off-2-off-3-4-off-5). The team only gets to choose the schedule; the opponent is still determined by win–loss records.

Initially, the best-of-5 series played in a 2–3 format, with the first two games set at home for the lower seed team and the last three for the higher seed.[3][4] Since 1998, the series has followed a 2–2–1 format,[5] where the higher seed team plays at home in Games 1 and 2, the lower seed plays at home in Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary), and if a Game 5 is needed, the teams return to the higher seed's field. When MLB added a second wild card team in 2012, the Division Series re-adopted the 2–3 format due to scheduling conflicts. It reverted to the 2–2–1 format starting in 2013.[6]


Wild card
Year Winning team Manager Games Losing team Manager
1981 Montreal ExposJim Fanning 3–2 Philadelphia PhilliesDallas Green
Los Angeles DodgersTommy Lasorda 3–2 Houston AstrosBill Virdon
1994 No Series due to a players' strike.
1995 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox 3–1 Colorado RockiesDon Baylor
Cincinnati RedsDavey Johnson 3–0 Los Angeles DodgersTommy Lasorda
1996 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox 3–0 Los Angeles DodgersBill Russell
St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–0 San Diego PadresBruce Bochy
1997 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox 3–0 Houston AstrosLarry Dierker
Florida MarlinsJim Leyland 3–0 San Francisco GiantsDusty Baker
1998 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox 3–0 Chicago CubsJim Riggleman
San Diego PadresBruce Bochy 3–1 Houston AstrosLarry Dierker
1999 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox 3–1 Houston AstrosLarry Dierker
New York MetsBobby Valentine 3–1 Arizona DiamondbacksBuck Showalter
2000 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–0 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox
New York MetsBobby Valentine 3–1 San Francisco GiantsDusty Baker
2001 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox 3–0 Houston AstrosLarry Dierker
Arizona DiamondbacksBob Brenly 3–2 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa
2002 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–0 Arizona DiamondbacksBob Brenly
San Francisco GiantsDusty Baker 3–2 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox
2003 Chicago CubsDusty Baker 3–2 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox
Florida MarlinsJack McKeon 3–1 San Francisco GiantsFelipe Alou
2004 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–1 Los Angeles DodgersJim Tracy
Houston AstrosPhil Garner 3–2 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox
2005 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–0 San Diego PadresBruce Bochy
Houston AstrosPhil Garner 3–1 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox
2006 New York MetsWillie Randolph 3–0 Los Angeles DodgersJim Tracy
St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–1 San Diego PadresBruce Bochy
2007 Colorado RockiesClint Hurdle 3–0 Philadelphia PhilliesCharlie Manuel
Arizona DiamondbacksBob Melvin 3–0 Chicago CubsLou Piniella
2008 Los Angeles DodgersJoe Torre 3–0 Chicago CubsLou Piniella
Philadelphia PhilliesCharlie Manuel 3–1 Milwaukee BrewersDale Sveum
2009 Los Angeles DodgersJoe Torre 3–0 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa
Philadelphia PhilliesCharlie Manuel 3–1 Colorado RockiesJim Tracy
2010 Philadelphia PhilliesCharlie Manuel 3–0 Cincinnati RedsDusty Baker
San Francisco GiantsBruce Bochy 3–1 Atlanta BravesBobby Cox
2011 St. Louis CardinalsTony La Russa 3–2 Philadelphia PhilliesCharlie Manuel
Milwaukee BrewersRon Roenicke 3–2 Arizona DiamondbacksKirk Gibson
2012 San Francisco GiantsBruce Bochy 3–2 Cincinnati RedsDusty Baker
St. Louis CardinalsMike Matheny 3–2 Washington NationalsDavey Johnson
2013 St. Louis CardinalsMike Matheny 3–2 Pittsburgh PiratesClint Hurdle
Los Angeles DodgersDon Mattingly 3–1 Atlanta BravesFredi González
2014 St. Louis CardinalsMike Matheny 3–1 Los Angeles DodgersDon Mattingly
San Francisco GiantsBruce Bochy 3–1 Washington NationalsMatt Williams
2015 New York MetsTerry Collins 3–2 Los Angeles DodgersDon Mattingly
Chicago CubsJoe Maddon 3–1 St. Louis CardinalsMike Matheny
2016 Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts 3–2 Washington NationalsDusty Baker
Chicago CubsJoe Maddon 3–1 San Francisco GiantsBruce Bochy
2017 Chicago CubsJoe Maddon 3–2 Washington NationalsDusty Baker
Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts 3–0 Arizona DiamondbacksTorey Lovullo
2018 Milwaukee BrewersCraig Counsell 3–0 Colorado Rockies Bud Black
Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts 3–1 Atlanta BravesBrian Snitker
2019 Washington Nationals Dave Martinez 3–2 Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts
St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt 3–2 Atlanta BravesBrian Snitker
2020 Atlanta BravesBrian Snitker 3–0 Miami MarlinsDon Mattingly
Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts 3–0 San Diego PadresJayce Tingler
2021 Atlanta BravesBrian Snitker 3–1 Milwaukee BrewersCraig Counsell
Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts 3–2 San Francisco GiantsGabe Kapler
2022 San Diego PadresBob Melvin3–1Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts
Philadelphia PhilliesRob Thomson3–1Atlanta BravesBrian Snitker

Appearances by team

Apps Team Wins Losses Win % Most recent
Most recent
win %
18Atlanta Braves810.444202120223733.529
17Los Angeles Dodgers98.529202120223432.515
14St. Louis Cardinals113.786201920193620.643
9San Francisco Giants45.444201420211721.447
7Houston Astros[lower-alpha 1]25.286200520051018.357
7Chicago Cubs43.571201720171215.444
7Philadelphia Phillies43.571202220221612.571
6Arizona Diamondbacks24.33320072017914.391
6San Diego Padres24.33320222022714.333
6Washington Nationals24.333201920191316.448
4New York Mets401.00020152015124.750
4Milwaukee Brewers22.5002018202188.500
4Colorado Rockies13.2502007201859.357
3Cincinnati Reds12.3331995201256.455
3Miami Marlins21.6672003202064.600
1Pittsburgh Pirates01.000Never201323.400

Years of appearance

In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of wins, then by number of appearances, and finally by year of first appearance. In the "Season(s)" column, bold years indicate winning appearances.

Apps Team Wins Losses Win % Season(s)
14St. Louis Cardinals113.7861996, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2019
17Los Angeles Dodgers98.5291981, 1995, 1996, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
18Atlanta Braves810.4441995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2010, 2013, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022
9San Francisco Giants45.4441997, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2021
7Philadelphia Phillies43.5711981, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2022
7Chicago Cubs43.5711998, 2003, 2007, 2008, 2015, 2016, 2017
4New York Mets401.0001999, 2000, 2006, 2015
7Houston Astros[lower-alpha 1]25.2861981, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005
6Washington Nationals24.3331981, 2012, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2019
6San Diego Padres24.3331996, 1998, 2005, 2006, 2020, 2022
6Arizona Diamondbacks24.3331999, 2001, 2002, 2007, 2011, 2017
4Milwaukee Brewers22.5002008, 2011, 2018, 2021
3Miami Marlins21.6671997, 2003, 2020
4Colorado Rockies13.2501995, 2007, 2009, 2018
3Cincinnati Reds12.3331995, 2010, 2012
1Pittsburgh Pirates01.0002013

Frequent matchups

Count Matchup Record Years
5 Atlanta Braves vs. Houston Astros Braves, 3–2 1997, 1999, 2001, 2004, 2005
3 San Diego Padres vs. St. Louis Cardinals Cardinals, 3–0 1996, 2005, 2006
3 St. Louis Cardinals vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Cardinals, 2–1 2004, 2009, 2014
3 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Atlanta Braves Dodgers, 2–1 1996, 2013, 2018
2 St. Louis Cardinals vs. Arizona Diamondbacks Tied, 1–1 2001, 2002
2 Florida Marlins vs. San Francisco Giants Marlins, 2–0 1997, 2003
2 Chicago Cubs vs. Atlanta Braves Tied, 1–1 1998, 2003
2 Philadelphia Phillies vs. Colorado Rockies Tied, 1–1 2007, 2009
2 San Francisco Giants vs. Atlanta Braves Giants, 2–0 2002, 2010
2 New York Mets vs. Los Angeles Dodgers Mets, 2–0 2006, 2015
2 St. Louis Cardinals vs. Atlanta Braves Cardinals, 2–0 2000, 2019
2 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Washington Nationals Tied, 1–1 2016, 2019
2 Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres Tied, 1–1 2020, 2022

NOTE: With the Houston Astros move to the American League at the conclusion of the 2012 season, the Braves vs. Astros series is not currently possible.

See also


  1. The Houston Astros moved to the American League in 2013.


  1. "New MLB postseason format, explained".
  2. Nate Silver, "Selig's Dream: The Wild Card as Enabler of Pennant Races," in Steven Goldman, Ed., It Ain't Over 'til It's Over (New York: Basic Books): 170-178.
  3. 1984 NL Championship Series,
  4. 1997 AL Division Series,
  5. Gillette, Gary; Palmer, Pete, eds. (2006). "October Classics: Postseason Series and Playoffs". The 2006 ESPN Baseball Encyclopedia. New York: Sterling Publishing. p. 1656.
  6. Sporting News (2012-03-02). "MLB expands playoff field to 10 teams with addition of two wild cards". Retrieved October 28, 2013.
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