Sunday, October 2, 2016

Explaining the 2016 MLB Postseason

Who gets home field advantage? Who has to run the gauntlet on the road? Who gets what in what tiebreaker and will there be a Game 163? There are a lot of questions to be asked around this time of the year but for whatever reason there are still a whole lot of fans who don't have the answers. That is due in large part to the fact that the mathematics, head-to-head schedules and such can make things complicated sometimes. That's where I am here to help, I hope. 

-- The Texas Rangers will have home field advantage throughout the postseason including the World Series after the American League won the All-Star Game inside Petco Park this season. Texas will play the winner of the American League Wild Card Playoff Game between, as it stands right now, the Toronto Blue Jays and the Baltimore Orioles.

-- The Chicago Cubs will have home field advantage throughout the National League playoffs but not the World Series. Chicago will play host to the winner of the NL Wild Card Game which right now stands at the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants.

-- The Boston Red Sox will play host to the Cleveland Indians inside Fenway Park in the ALDS due to having a better record this season and a better head-to-head record which determines the tiebreaker scenario.

-- The Washington Nationals will play host to the Los Angeles Dodgers as it stands right now in the NLDS due to a better overall record. The Los Angeles Dodgers had the better head-to-head record and would have owned the tiebreaker if it came to that.

That's the simple scenario breakdown. This can get really complicated between now and then so I will quote the MLB rules found on for the rest. For the complete rule set head over there and check it out.

Two teams tie for both Wild Card spots, or two teams tie for the second Wild Card spot
If there is a two-team tie for the two Wild Card spots they do not play a tiebreaker game to decide home-field advantage. Instead, it is decided based on head-to-head record, followed by intradivsion record. If that doesn't settle it, it then goes to intraleague record.

If there is a two-team tie for the second Wild Card spot, a tiebreaker game will be hosted by the team with the better head-to-head record during the regular season. If they split the season series, home-field will be determined by the team with the better intradivision record.

Three teams tie for two Wild Card spots

This is where it gets confusing, but it's looking possible, so let's use the NL as an example.

If the Cardinals, Mets and Giants finish with the same record they would receive an A, B or C designation. Think of this almost like a draft, and the team that holds the tiebreaker over the other two gets the "first pick" and can choose the scenario it likes best.

The Cards and Mets both have the season-series edge over the Giants, and the Cards and Mets split their series set, so first choice would go to the club with the better intradivision record, which is the Cardinals as of now, but that could change before the end of the season.

For example, let's assume that the Cardinals (first pick) and Mets (second pick) both choose the designations that give them two chances to make the Postseason, leaving the Giants with only one chance. The Cardinals and Mets would play in St. Louis on Monday.

The winner of that game would become the host team in the actual Wild Card Game; the loser would travel to San Francisco for a game on Tuesday.

The winner of the game in San Francisco would earn the second Wild Card spot, and would be the road team against the winner of Monday's game in the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.

However, it is possible that the Mets would decide that they prefer to play one home game with a rested pitching staff for a spot in the Wild Card Game. In that case, the Giants would travel to St. Louis for the tiebreaker game on Monday, with the Mets waiting to host the loser on Tuesday. However, in this scenario the Mets would be forfeiting any chance of hosting the actual NL Wild Card Game, making it less likely.

Three teams tie for one Wild Card

In a three-team tie, the three teams would choose their A, B and C designations, with Club C traveling to face the winner of the game between Clubs A and B to determine who advances to the Wild Card Game.

As an example, here's how it would play out in the American League if we get a three-team tie among the Orioles, Tigers and Mariners for the second Wild Card spot.

The Mariners have combined for a 9-5 record against the other two teams, while the Tigers and Orioles are 6-8. Therefore, the Mariners would have "first pick." The Orioles had the superior head-to-head record against the Tigers (5-2), so they would have "second pick."

In this scenario, the Mariners face a choice: Would we rather have to win two home games on consecutive days to clinch a Wild Card spot (Club A designation), or win one road game (Club C designation)?

There has yet to be a three-way tie since the second Wild Card team was added in 2012, so there is no precedent for which designation a team would pick.

If you have any additional questions leave them below in the comments section or hit us up on Twitter @GreedyStripes and I'll do my best to answer them, even if I have to research it first.

Game 162!

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