Wild Card Series

The Wild Card Series (formerly known as Wild Card Game from 2012 to 2019 and in 2021) 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; best-of-three playoff wild card series were adopted for the 2022 season.[1][2]

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 and are always assigned seeds #1–3, per their relative winning percentages. The worst division winner is automatically the No. 3 seed regardless of whether one or all of the other wild-card teams has a better record.[3][4] The wild cards in each league are the three teams with the best winning percentages among non-division winning teams and are assigned seeds #4–6, 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
Division Series
League Championship Series
1 Best division winner
4 Wild Card team #1  
5 Wild Card team #2  
2 Second-best division winner
3 Worst-division winner  
6 Wild Card team #3


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.[5] 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.[6] 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.

The 2014 San Francisco Giants won the National League Wild Card Game and went on to win that season's World Series.

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, 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 timesin 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.

boldWild 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

American League Wild Card Game

Year Visitor Manager Score Host Manager
2012 Baltimore OriolesBuck Showalter 5–1 Texas RangersRon Washington
2013 Tampa Bay RaysJoe Maddon 4–0 Cleveland IndiansTerry Francona
2014 Oakland AthleticsBob Melvin 8–9 (12) Kansas City RoyalsNed Yost
2015 Houston AstrosA. J. Hinch 3–0 New York YankeesJoe Girardi
2016 Baltimore OriolesBuck Showalter 2–5 (11) Toronto Blue JaysJohn Gibbons
2017 Minnesota TwinsPaul Molitor 4–8 New York YankeesJoe Girardi
2018 Oakland AthleticsBob Melvin 2–7 New York YankeesAaron Boone
2019 Tampa Bay RaysKevin Cash 5–1 Oakland AthleticsBob Melvin
2021 New York YankeesAaron Boone 2–6 Boston Red SoxAlex Cora

National League Wild Card Game

Year Visitor Manager Score Host Manager
2012 St. Louis CardinalsMike Matheny 6–3 Atlanta BravesFredi González
2013 Cincinnati RedsDusty Baker 2–6 Pittsburgh PiratesClint Hurdle
2014 San Francisco GiantsBruce Bochy 8–0 Pittsburgh PiratesClint Hurdle
2015 Chicago CubsJoe Maddon 4–0 Pittsburgh PiratesClint Hurdle
2016 San Francisco GiantsBruce Bochy 3–0 New York MetsTerry Collins
2017 Colorado RockiesBud Black 8–11 Arizona DiamondbacksTorey Lovullo
2018 Colorado RockiesBud Black 2–1 (13) Chicago CubsJoe Maddon
2019 Milwaukee BrewersCraig Counsell 3–4 Washington NationalsDave Martinez
2021 St. Louis CardinalsMike Shildt 1–3 Los Angeles DodgersDave Roberts

Wild Card Series

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.

Starting in 2022, a modified version of the Wild Card Series was used. However, only three Wild Cards qualify along with the lowest-seeded division winner.

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

American League Wild Card Series

Year Higher seeded team Manager Games Lower seeded team Manager
2020Tampa Bay RaysE1Kevin Cash 2–0 Toronto Blue JaysWCCharlie Montoyo
Oakland AthleticsW1Bob Melvin 2–1 Chicago White SoxWCRick Renteria
Minnesota TwinsC1Rocco Baldelli 0–2 Houston AstrosW2Dusty Baker
Cleveland IndiansC2Sandy Alomar Jr.[lower-alpha 1] 0–2 New York YankeesE2Aaron Boone
2022Cleveland Guardians C1Terry Francona 2–0 Tampa Bay RaysWCKevin Cash
Toronto Blue JaysWCJohn Schneider 0–2 Seattle MarinersWCScott Servais

National League Wild Card Series

Year Higher seeded team Manager Games Lower seeded team Manager
2020Los Angeles DodgersW1Dave Roberts 2–0 Milwaukee BrewersWCCraig Counsell
Atlanta BravesE1Brian Snitker 2–0 Cincinnati RedsWCDavid Bell
Chicago CubsC1David Ross 0–2 Miami MarlinsE2Don Mattingly
San Diego PadresW2Jayce Tingler 2–1 St. Louis CardinalsC2Mike Shildt
2022St. Louis Cardinals C1Oliver Marmol 0–2 Philadelphia PhilliesWCRob Thomson
New York MetsWCBuck Showalter 1–2 San Diego PadresWCBob Melvin

Appearances by team

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.

American League

Apps Team Wins Losses Win % Season(s)
5New York Yankees32.6002015, 2017, 2018, 2020, 2021
4Tampa Bay Rays31.7502013, 2019, 2020, 2022
2Houston Astros201.0002015, 2020
4Oakland Athletics13.2502014, 2018, 2019, 2020
3Cleveland Guardians12.3332013, 2020, 2022
3Toronto Blue Jays12.3332016, 2020, 2022
2Baltimore Orioles11.5002012, 2016
1Kansas City Royals101.0002014
1Boston Red Sox101.0002021
1Seattle Mariners101.0002022
2Minnesota Twins02.0002017, 2020
1Texas Rangers01.0002012
1Chicago White Sox01.0002020

National League

Apps Team Wins Losses Win % Season(s)
2San Francisco Giants201.0002014, 2016
2Los Angeles Dodgers201.0002020, 2021
2San Diego Padres201.0002020, 2022
4St. Louis Cardinals13.2502012, 2020, 2021, 2022
3Pittsburgh Pirates12.3332013, 2014, 2015
3Chicago Cubs12.3332015, 2018, 2020
2Atlanta Braves11.5002012, 2020
2Colorado Rockies11.5002017, 2018
1Arizona Diamondbacks101.0002017
1Washington Nationals101.0002019
1Miami Marlins101.0002020
1Philadelphia Phillies101.0002022
2Cincinnati Reds02.0002013, 2020
2Milwaukee Brewers02.0002019, 2020
2New York Mets02.0002016, 2022

Game results by team

Updated through the 2022 postseason. These records reflect individual game results of the 2020 Wild Card Series.

Joe Maddon has managed both the Tampa Bay Rays and Chicago Cubs to Wild Card Game victories.
Team League Appearances Individual games
Games Series Win–loss record Winning pct.
Arizona Diamondbacks NL101–01.000
Atlanta Braves NL112–1.667
Baltimore Orioles AL201–1.500
Boston Red Sox AL101–01.000
Cincinnati Reds NL110–3.000
Chicago Cubs NL211–3.250
Chicago White Sox AL011–2.333
Cleveland Guardians AL122–3.400
Colorado Rockies NL201–1.500
Houston Astros AL113–01.000
Kansas City Royals AL101–01.000
Los Angeles Dodgers NL113–01.000
Miami Marlins NL012–01.000
Milwaukee Brewers NL110–3.000
Minnesota Twins AL110–3.000
New York Mets NL111–3.250
New York Yankees AL414–2.667
Oakland Athletics AL312–4.333
Philadelphia Phillies NL012–01.000
Pittsburgh Pirates NL301–2.333
San Diego Padres NL024–2.667
San Francisco Giants NL202–01.000
Seattle Mariners AL012–01.000
St. Louis Cardinals NL222–5.286
Tampa Bay Rays AL224–2.667
Texas Rangers AL100–1.000
Toronto Blue Jays AL111–2.333
Washington Nationals NL101–01.000

The following current MLB teams have not yet appeared in a Wild Card playoff:

American League: Detroit Tigers, Los Angeles Angels


Single team
  • Most runs scored: 12, New York Yankees vs. Cleveland Indians, Game 1 of the 2020 ALWC[7]
  • Most hits: 17, Arizona Diamondbacks vs. Colorado Rockies, 2017 NLWC[8]
Both teams
  • Most runs scored: 20, St. Louis Cardinals (9) vs. San Diego Padres (11), Game 1 of the 2020 NLWC[7]
  • Most hits: 30, Colorado Rockies (13) vs. Arizona Diamondbacks (17), 2017 NLWC[8]
  • Largest run differential: 9, New York Yankees (12) vs. Cleveland Indians (3), Game 1 of the 2020 ALWC[9]
  • Longest game, by time: 297 minutes (4:57), Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Guardians, Game 2 of the 2022 ALWCS[10]
  • Longest game, by innings: 15, Tampa Bay Rays vs. Cleveland Guardians, Game 2 of the 2022 ALWCS[10]

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball Wild Card Round broadcasters


  1. In 2020, Alomar was designated as Cleveland's interim manager in lieu of Terry Francona who missed the postseason due to health concerns.


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