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Why is there a one-game wildcard playoff in Major League Baseball 2012?

Stashed in: Moneyball

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Wikipedia lists several reasons:

1. Added importance to division races. Before 1995, only division-winning teams advanced to the playoffs, creating excitement when teams within a division competed for the best record in that division. From 1995-2011, the division race took a back seat to the wild card race. The addition of a single-game elimination creates a 50% chance that each team will be eliminated, adding incentive to win the division instead of settling for the wild card berth.

2. Competition for home field advantage (such as between division winners) gains importance. Before the Wild Card game, there was virtually no advantage to having the best record in your league. Now, that team gains the advantage of facing the survivor of the Wild Card game—a team that has probably just used up their best pitcher in order to advance.

3. Wild card teams are penalized. In the four-team format from 1995 to 2011, the wild card team had just as good a chance to reach the World Series as a division winner. Now the winner of the Wild Card game is at a disadvantage because they have to play in an extra round.

4. Increases post-season excitement and revenue, but adds only one day to the post-season (assuming there are no regular season ties requiring additional tie-breakers). Recent examples of this kind of excitement were seen in tie-breaking games in 2007, 2008, and 2009, as well as the final day of the 2011 regular season.

5. The Wild Card game adds sudden death tension at the beginning of the post-season. This elimination game is similar to a Game 7, but on the first day of the postseason.

6. Because the second Wild Card will likely have fewer wins, more teams will be in the race for the spot, leading to a more exciting finish to the regular season.

How do the 2012 Baseball Playoffs work?

1. One-game wildcard

2. Best-of-5 Division series

3. Best-of-7 Championship series

4. Best-of-7 World Series

November 2011's collective bargaining agreement led to the new playoff system, with the one-game Wild Card Showdown chosen as the format.

Here's how Home Field Advantage works throughout the 2012 playoffs.

Wild-card teams have won a total of five World Series, and won three years in a row from 2002 - 04. The 2002 World Series was a competition between wild-card teams from both leagues.

This year should be very exciting for baseball. Can't wait!!

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