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2012 MLB Season: Baseball Wild Card Changes, how many teams make it in the Playoffs

Updated on April 15, 2013

Baseball All Star Game

The National League celebrating their 2011 All-Star victory.
The National League celebrating their 2011 All-Star victory. | Source

Free Agents

Free agency has once again shuffled the deck when it comes to team expectations for the upcoming 2012 baseball season. Some teams’ stock went up (Angels and Marlins) while others decreased their odds at being competitive this season (A’s). Fans of the teams that didn’t fair well this off-season can at least take solace in knowing the games are not decided on paper, but on the ball fields. Unfortunately for some of them they really do not have a legitimate shot at postseason play based on their current rosters.

As with every Major League Baseball season some team will defy the odds stacked against them and be a strong competitor come the postseason. With the changes being implemented this season will these alterations benefit one of the smaller market teams or allow another one of the free spending teams to secure a playoff spot?

Baseball Playoffs

Do you agree with MLB's changes to the wild card format?

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How Many Teams Make the MLB Playoffs

Whoever makes it to the 2012 postseason will be greeted with a new format because Major League Baseball is revising how many teams make it in. The old format was a division winner from each of the three divisions, in each league, plus a wild card team that possessed the next best record. The wild card team could come from any of the three divisions.

The proposed format will still have the three division winners but an additional wild card winner will be added giving two teams the keys to unlock the postseason door. I have no personal objections to increasing the amount of teams competing in the postseason, especially since other professional sports allow such a higher percentage of their teams to participate in their postseasons. For example the NBA has 16 playoff teams (53% of the league) and the NFL allows 12 teams (37% of the league) to go to the playoffs. In comparison MLB lets 8 teams in but it is only 26% of the league; adding two more teams would only bring that percentage up to 33%.

My initial objection to what Major League Baseball is proposing is that the two wild card winners, in each league, play each other in a one game playoff to become the ‘real’ wild card winner. This is a tough pill for me to swallow because, unlike professional football, professional baseball is not geared to be a one game, winner take all deal. Baseball is made up of series’ of games, usually five and then seven games in the postseason. Expecting two teams to come off of a 162 game schedule to only play one more pre-postseason game, just to get into the postseason seems a little bit unusual to me. I don’t pretend to have all of the answers but the executives could come up with something better right? I’m cautiously optimistic however since these are the same suits that came up with the winner of the All-Star game being the home team for the World Series.

At the end of the 2011 season fans witnessed the final games of the season, in both leagues, deciding the eventual wild card winners. These games were documented as some of the best, non-playoff games, which can be played. The Cardinals came out of no where to win the NL wild card while the Rays pulled of the same feat in the AL. Throw in the collapse of the Braves and Red Sox and every baseball fan, no matter which team you root for, was talking about the games.

As a huge baseball fan I sincerely hope that Major League Baseball's tinkering with the playoff format does not negatively affect the action on the field that we all had the joy of witnessing last season. It would be a travesty to implement procedures that would take this kind of drama away from us.

MLB Schedule

If you are interested in attending a MLB game in person every team's schedule can be found by visiting Major League Baseball's website for all of the games on the MLB Schedule.


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    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      FSlovenec - As a lifelong fan of the game I can sympathize on the off-season leaving a void in my sports life. After high school I was in Scottsdale during a spring training season and I wish I had a chance to catch some of the games.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      As we are in the Championship series, I am finding the format very exciting. St Louis still in the mix after the long road now requiring 12 wins for the WC to win the World Series. My only sadness is the short time left in the season and the wait for February for the teams to report...we are now planning our annual Spring Training Golf and Baseball vacation (all guys)

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      FSlovenec - It does seem to be a little bit of a work in progress from the commissioners office on this one. I don't think they are done tinkering with the postseason format so I guess we will all need to stay tuned.

    • FSlovenec profile image

      Frank Slovenec 5 years ago from San Francisco, CA

      The one game Wild Card Play off is tough to take. I would hope it does not expand to a 5 game playoff, but I would like to see the teams go into the post season and play based on record. This could have an interesting effect as the Wild Card Teams could have a better record than the division winners..matter of fact that is a likely outcome...throw them all into a playoff... thanks for your thinking

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 5 years ago from Northern California

      Scott - The drama last September was great. Seeing these teams fighting hard up to the last game is a perfect scenario for the sport. With the Astros moving to the AL the inter league schedule will now be balanced and we won't have one NL contest occurring when the inter league games are going on. I don't know if you are insinuating if the sport is some how pre-determined or not don't I don't think it is.

    • profile image

      Scott 5 years ago

      All one has to do is go back five years and see what is really being tinkered with. Last year's end of season drama was no fluke. Look at all of the teams Septembers schedule. Prior to last year the schedule was spread fairly evenly with who teams played. Prior to last year teams only played games against divisional opponents about a rate of 35-55% in the month of September. Last year however, that percentage shot up to between 75-89%. This is the reason why there was so much drama. I can't imagine how much drama will occur this year.

      Also next year with the Astros coming into the AL, this will stabilize the National Leagues schedule and create the same pattern that has and now will continue to occur in the American League. All one has to do is look at the details of what is going on and they can truly see just how "fixed" this sport is.

    • adjkp25 profile image

      David 6 years ago from Northern California

      Baseball has been a passion of mine for a very long time. So far I have been focusing on the season as a whole but I'm about to start writing about each team for the 2012 season. It should be a blast!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      Glad to hear from another baseball fan! February can't get here soon enough.