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Wild changes for MLB playoffs

AP Photo/Mary Altaffer

Is Bud Selig looking to add one Wild Card to each league?

A decision on MLB playoff expansion is imminent and the new proposal would add one Wild Card team to each league.

Each league’s Wild Card teams would play each other in a one-game playoff. The last three rounds would remain the same.

Since the inception of the World Series in 1903, there have been just two permanent changes to the total number of teams qualifying for MLB’s postseason –- the 1969 addition of divisions and the 1994 change to three divisions plus the Wild Card.

Best Win Percentage
Did Not Make Postseason, Divisional Era

A big reason for the initial Wild Card was the 1993 San Francisco Giants. That team went 103-59, the second-best record in baseball, but didn’t make the playoffs because they were in the same division as the 104-58 Atlanta Braves.

That year, the Giants won six more games during the regular season than the Phillies, who won the NL East.

Since that change in 1994, five Wild Card teams have gone on to win the World Series, including the St. Louis Cardinals this year. In addition, five other Wild Cards reached the World Series, and Wild Cards are an impressive 29-29 in postseason series overall.

So why should major-league baseball add two more Wild Card teams?

During the Wild Card era, there have been 14 teams (12 NL, two AL) to finish outside the playoffs despite having a better record than one of the division winners in its league.

Percent of Teams Making Postseason
4 Major Sports

That’s nearly once per season that a team misses the postseason despite having a better regular-season record than a team that does make it.

Even with the additional two teams in the postseason, only 10 of 30 teams would make the playoffs. Compared to the three other major North American sports, baseball’s postseason would still be the hardest to reach.

Jason McCallum, Vince Masi, David Bearman and Kenton Wong contributed to this post.