In MLB Wild Card playoffs, teams ranked third to sixth compete in a three-game series. The winner moves on to the Division Series.
The wild card teams are the top three teams with the best records but didn’t win their division. The fourth team playing is the division winner with the least impressive record.
The MLB postseason starts with the Wild Card Series and ends when a team wins the World Series title. The Wild Card system was introduced in 1994, allowing an extra team from each league into the playoffs.
For 2023, the MLB playoffs will begin on October 3. The World Series is set to start on October 27, concluding by November 4 if all seven games are played. The series could end as early as October 31 with the fourth game.
MLB Wild Card Playoff Rules
In 2022, Major League Baseball (MLB) introduced a new change in the Wild Card playoff rules. Now, three teams can advance to the postseason as MLB Wild Card teams.
When the MLB started, it had two leagues: East and West. The best teams from these leagues competed against each other in the World Series.
However, in 1969, each league was divided into two divisions due to more teams joining. The top teams from each division played in the League Championship Series, and their winners went on to play in the World Series.
By 1993, with even more teams in the mix, both leagues saw the addition of a Central division. As the league kept growing, securing a playoff spot became more challenging.
To address this, MLB introduced a Wild Card team that would also qualify for a new round called the Division Series. Four teams participated, and the winner moved on to the League Championship.
In 2011, a decision was made to allow two teams to qualify as MLB wild cards from the 2012 season onwards.
These teams would play one game, and the winner would then face the top-ranked division team in the Division Series. But, in 2020, this approach changed temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That year, the second-best team from every division also made it to the playoffs, along with two more teams based on their records. All eight teams competed in a best-of-three MLB Wild Card Series. The winners then advanced to the Division Series.
The rules saw another revision in 2022. MLB decided to have a third Wild Card team for each league. With this setup, the two top division winners bypass the initial round and move straight to the Division Series.
The third-ranking division team and the three Wild Card teams then compete in the MLB Wild Card Series. Here, the third-ranking division team goes against the sixth-ranked team, while the fourth and fifth-ranked teams face off.
The winners then proceed to the Division Series, with the winning Wild Card teams facing the top two division winners. As of 2023, the Philadelphia Phillies lead the National League’s wild card standings, and the Tampa Bay Rays are ahead in the American League.
Lastly, there’s a unique rule for overtime during the playoffs. In regular season games, a runner is placed on second base at the beginning of extra innings.
However, in playoff matches, including the MLB Wild Card Series, this doesn’t happen – there’s no runner placed on base during extra innings.
American League Wild Card Standings 2023
In the American League wild card standings, the Tampa Bay Rays are leading by six and a half games. Following them are the Astros and then the Rangers.
Although the Bay Rays have an impressive second-best record in the league, they share the division with the Baltimore Orioles, who are at the top.
The Rays trail the Orioles by just one and a half games, which means they could potentially take the lead in the East division.
Elsewhere, the Mariners are doing well, holding the third-best league record and leading the AL West division.
They are currently in second place in the league rankings, while the Minnesota Twins come in third.
Interestingly, even though the Twins rank third, they only have the seventh-best record in the American League. They’re leading in the Central division, which explains their higher rank.
Meanwhile, the Toronto Blue Jays, who are just two and a half games from the final Wild Card position, have a stronger record than the Twins.
As for the wild card race, the Astros and the Rangers are in the second and third spots. They are just a game away from overtaking the Mariners.
As teams have only 28 to 30 games left, the competition for the playoffs is getting intense. The final results might be different from the current standings.
As of August’s conclusion, here are the American League’s standings:
- Baltimore Orioles: 83 wins, 50 losses (0.624)
- Seattle Mariners: 76 wins, 57 losses (0.571)
- Minnesota Twins: 69 wins, 65 losses (0.515)
Wild Card Rankings:
- Tampa Bay Rays: 82 wins, 52 losses (0.612)
- Houston Astros: 77 wins, 58 losses (0.570)
- Texas Rangers: 75 wins, 58 losses (0.564)
- Toronto Blue Jays: 73 wins, 61 losses (0.545)
- Boston Red Sox: 69 wins, 65 losses (0.515)
- New York Yankees: 65 wins, 69 losses (0.485)
- Cleveland Guardians: 64 wins, 70 losses (0.478)
- Los Angeles Angels: 64 wins, 70 losses (0.478)
- Detroit Tigers: 60 wins, 74 losses (0.448)
- Chicago White Sox: 53 wins, 81 losses (0.396)
- Kansas City Royals: 41 wins, 94 losses (0.304)
- Oakland Athletics: 39 wins, 95 losses (0.291)
National League Wild Card Standings 2023
The Philadelphia Phillies lead in the National League wild card standings. They’re five games above the team in third. The Cubs and the Giants come after them.
The Atlanta Braves and the Los Angeles Dodgers are leading their divisions. It looks like they will likely win.
The Braves are ahead by thirteen and a half games, while the Dodgers lead by fourteen and a half. The season is almost over.
The Brewers are third in the National League. They are three games ahead of the Cubs. The Cubs could still win the NL Central Division. But both teams could make it to the 2023 MLB playoffs.
In the wild card race, the Arizona Diamondbacks, Cincinnati Reds, and Miami Marlins are fighting for spots.
The Giants currently hold the third Wild Card position. The Diamondbacks are very close, just half a game behind. The Reds trail the Giants by a game, and the Marlins are three games behind.
It’s harder for the Padres and the Nationals. They are seven and a half games behind and need to work hard to make the playoffs.
As of August’s conclusion, let’s look at the standings in the National League:
- The Atlanta Braves with a win rate of 0.659, having 87 wins and 45 losses.
- The Los Angeles Dodgers were at 0.629 with an 83-49 record.
- The Milwaukee Brewers had 74 wins and 59 losses, giving them a 0.556 percentage.
Wild Card Rankings:
- Philadelphia Phillies: 74 wins, 59 losses (0.556)
- Chicago Cubs: 71 wins, 62 losses (0.534)
- San Francisco Giants: 69 wins, 64 losses (0.519)
- Arizona Diamondbacks: 69 wins, 65 losses (0.515)
- Cincinnati Reds: 69 wins, 66 losses (0.511)
- Miami Marlins: 66 wins, 67 losses (0.496)
- San Diego Padres: 62 wins, 72 losses (0.463)
- Washington Nationals: 62 wins, 72 losses (0.463)
- New York Mets:61 wins, 73 losses (0.455)
- Pittsburgh Pirates: 61 wins, 73 losses (0.455)
- St. Louis Cardinals: 58 wins, 76 losses (0.433)
- Lastly, the Colorado Rockies stood at 0.368 with a 49-84 record.