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Effects of Additional Wild Card Team

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Yesterday, it was announced by baseball commissioner Bud Selig that there will be an additional wild card team in both the American League and National League. It's possible that the change could become effective in 2012, but no later than 2013.

There are certainly plenty of positives and negatives to the situation. This move was likely fueled by the guarantee of yet another revenue stream for Major League Baseball and the prospect that this change will add an exciting do-or-die scenario at the end of the year.

In this scenario, the two wild card teams will have a one game playoff to compete for the final spot in the postseason. Instead of breaking down whether or not this is good for baseball, I'd like to display who the two wild card teams from each league would have been over the past ten years. The away team in each of the following games is the second wild card team, whereas the home team is the official wild card winner from the past ten years.

Follow past the jump.


Year American League National League
2011 Boston (90-72) vs. Tampa Bay (91-71) Atlanta (89-73) vs. St. Louis (90-72)
2010 Boston (89-73) vs. New York (95-67) San Diego (90-72) vs. Atlanta (91-71)
2009 Texas (87-75) vs. Boston (95-67) Florida (88-74) vs. Colorado (92-70)
2008 New York (89-73) vs. Boston (95-67) New York (89-73) vs. Milwaukee (90-72)
2007 Detroit (88-74) vs. New York (94-68) San Diego (89-73) vs. Colorado (90-73)*
2006 Chicago (90-72) vs. Detroit (95-67) Philadelphia (85-77) vs. San Diego (88-74)
2005 Cleveland (93-69) vs. New York (95-67) Philadelphia (88-74) vs. Houston (89-73)
2004 Oakland (91-71) vs. Boston (98-64) San Francisco (91-71) vs. Houston (92-70)
2003 Seattle (93-69) vs. Boston (95-67) Houston (87-57) vs. Florida (91-71)
2002 Boston (93-69) vs. Los Angeles (99-63) Los Angeles (92-70) vs. San Francisco (95-66)

Here are a few of my initial observations...

1) Of the ten years listed, eight of the 20 wild card teams made it as far as the world series for their respective years. Those teams are: San Francisco (2002), Los Angeles (2002), Florida (2003), Boston (2004), Houston (2005), Detroit (2006), Colorado (2007), St. Louis (2011). Four of those teams won the world series. With this additional wild card team added to the playoff mix, there's a good chance that some of these past teams wouldn't have made it as far as the world series.

2. The difference in wins between the two teams is sometimes concerning. While 2011 was seemingly the only exception of the season coming down to the final day in both leagues, there are seasons where the wins/losses of both wild card teams aren't even close. Take a look at the American League between 2006 and 2010. The closest margin was five games in 2006. This is a prime example of why many fans aren't satisfied with the change.

3. However, what could potentially be exciting is the chase for that second wild card spot. There isn't particularly any evidence of two teams being close in the end of the regular season standings for the second wild card spot due to the fact that there's never been one. If teams are 5+ games out of the wild card in the last week of the season, what's the point of playing hard if nothing will come of it? Therefore, not as many cases of two teams finishing neck and neck for second in the wild card standings. I'm looking forward to how teams that normally wouldn't have a chance at the postseason play down the stretch of the season.

4. Of all the teams listed above, Boston is most affected by the change. They're fortunate to to get an opportunity to play for a spot in 2002, 2010 and 2011, but find themselves fighting for the playoffs in 2003, 2004, 2007, and 2008.

5. The Yankees don't exactly benefit from this, having to play in four games and only being the second wild card team once.


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