American League Wild Card tiebreakers explained

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Major League history has yielded just 16 tie-breaking games, only three of which have been from the double Wild Card format (a format some feared too much ties) was instituted in 2012. And of course we should be grateful for the drama contained in these 16 tilts, from Bobby Thomson’s “Shot Heard ‘Round the World” to Bucky Dent’s explosion on the Green Monster in Matt Holliday maybe / maybe / probably not touching the plate.

But given the possibility of a playoff expansion as early as next season – and the added possibility that future ties in an expanded format will be dealt with mathematically and not on the pitch – we simply can’t leave anything to chance here. We are fit to be tied.

Fortunately, the Blue Jays, Mariners, Red Sox and Yankees attempted to play the game ahead of Tuesday’s AL Wild Card Game. A chance for a four-way tie is still alive, and things are still pretty tight in the AL Wild Card picture with a steady day to go:

Red Sox: 91-70 (current 1st Wild Card)
Yankees: 91-70 (current 2nd Wild Card)
Blue jays: 90-71 (one game after the 2nd Wild Card)
Sailors: 90-71 (one game after the 2nd Wild Card)

There is still a chance that the Giants and Dodgers will find themselves tied in National League West if San Francisco loses and Los Angeles wins on Sunday. But it’s a simple scenario: If that happened, they would play a tie-breaker game on Monday in San Francisco (under the Giants’ 10-9 record). The winner is the division champion and No. 1 seed in the NL, the loser is the host of the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.

Here’s what the four remaining teams in the AL Wild Card race have at stake in their final games on Sunday:

Blue Jays vs. Orioles
Sailors vs. angels
Red Sox at national championships
Yankees vs Rays

And remember, just to make it all the more compelling, every game on the Sunday schedule for the season finale starts at 3 p.m. ET.

You’re probably wondering what would happen if all or some of these teams were tied at the end of Sunday’s game. So here is your tie guide:

FOUR-WAY TIE FOR TWO SPOTS WILD CARD

Example: The Yankees go 0-1; Red Sox go 0-1, Mariners go 1-0, Blue Jays go 1-0

What happens next: The above scenario is the only possible four-way tie, and that means all four teams end up with 91 wins (which is the winning cap for Toronto and Seattle). Each team would choose or receive an A, B, C or D designation. The club with the highest percentage of wins in matches among the tied clubs chooses first, the second highest chooses second, and so on. In this scenario, the Red Sox (24-21 vs others) get the first pick, the Blue Jays (22-22) pick the second, the Yankees (22-23) pick the third and the Mariners (9-11) get the remaining place.

On Monday, Club A (probably the Red Sox) would host Club B and Club C (probably the Blue Jays) would host Club D. So for the Yankees, it would be a choice between Boston or Toronto.

The winners of those two matches on Monday would face off in the AL Wild Card Game on Tuesday.

THREE-WAY TIE FOR TWO WILD CARD SPOTS

Example: The Yankees go 0-1; The Red Sox go 0-1; The sailors go 1-0; The Blue Jays go 0-1

What happens next: In this example, the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mariners all end with 91 wins, while the Blue Jays end with 90 and narrowly miss.

For the three tied clubs, the A, B and C designations would be awarded on the basis of head-to-head records. In this example, the Red Sox have the advantage over the Yankees and Mariners, so they would choose A, B or C first. The Yankees won the series of the season against Seattle, so they would pick second. The Mariners would get their remaining spot.

Club A would host club B on Monday. The winner of this match would be declared an AL Wild Card team. Club C would then host the loser of that game on Tuesday to determine the second team Wild Card, with the true AL Wild Card Game being pushed back.

For the Red Sox, the designation decision would amount to having up to two chances to advance (as Club A) or try their luck in a single home game (as Club C) against a team that does not. did not rest and had to travel.

Example: The Yankees go 0-1; The Red Sox go 0-1; The sailors go 0-1; The Blue Jays go 1-0

What happens next: In this example, the Red Sox have the advantage over the Yankees and Blue Jays, so they would choose A, B or C first. The Blue Jays won the series of the season against New York, so they would pick second. The Yankees would get their remaining spot.

THREE-WAY TIE FOR THE 2ND WILD CARD SPOT

Example: the Yankees go 1-0; The Red Sox go 0-1; The sailors go 1-0; The Blue Jays go 1-0

What happens next: In this example, the Yankees take first place in the Wild Cards and host the AL Wild Card Game. But we would need two tiebreakers to determine their opponent.

The Red Sox have the advantage over the Mariners and the Blue Jays, so they would choose an A, B or C designation first. The Mariners have the advantage of the season over the Blue Jays, so they would choose the second. The Blue Jays collect whatever is left.

Club A hosts Club B on Monday. The winner of that game will then host Club C on Tuesday to determine who will travel to face the Yankees in the AL Wild Card Game, which is expected to be pushed back.

Here, the Red Sox’s choice would come down to either having to win twice at home (as Club A) or trying their luck on a game as a resting road team against the winner of AB (as Club C).

Example: The Yankees go 0-1; The Red Sox go 1-0; The sailors go 1-0; The Blue Jays go 1-0

What happens next: In this example, the Red Sox would lock in the Wild Cards’ top spot and could host the AL Wild Card Game.

The Blue Jays have the advantage over the Yankees and Mariners, so they would choose an A, B, or C designation first. The Yankees have the season advantage over the Mariners, so they would choose second. The Mariners recover all that is left.

Club A hosts Club B on Monday. The winner of that match will then host Club C on Tuesday to determine who will travel to face the Red Sox in the AL Wild Card Game.

TWO-WAY TIE FOR 1ST WILD CARD SPOT

Example: the Yankees go 1-0; The Red Sox go 1-0; Sailors go 1-0 or 0-1; The Blue Jays go 1-0 or 0-1

What happens next: Here, only the Yankees and Red Sox, with 92 wins each, would qualify for the AL Wild Card Game. The Mariners and Blue Jays are said to be on the outside to look inside.

All that would have to be worked out is who can host the Wild Card Game, and that would be dealt with mathematically, not with a game. The Red Sox won the series head to head, 10-9, so the AL Wild Card. Game would take place at Fenway Park on Tuesday.

TWO-WAY TIE FOR 2ND WILD CARD SPOT

Example: the Yankees go 1-0; The Red Sox go 0-1; The sailors go 1-0; The Blue Jays go 0-1

What happens next: With the Yankees taking the top spot (and hosting duties of the AL Wild Card game) and the Blue Jays knocked out in this example, the Red Sox and Mariners would play a tiebreaker on Monday to determine who heads to the Bronx Tuesday. The Red Sox would host the tie-breaker because of their 4-3 record against the Mariners in the season-long one-on-one series.

Example: the Yankees go 1-0; The Red Sox go 0-1; The sailors go 0-1; The Blue Jays go 1-0

What happens next: The Yankees would clinch the top spot (and hosting duties of the AL Wild Card game) and the Mariners are eliminated in that scenario. The Red Sox and Blue Jays would play a tiebreaker on Monday to determine who would advance. The Red Sox would host the tiebreaker because of their 10-9 record against the Blue Jays in the season-long head-to-head series.

Example: The Yankees go 0-1; The Red Sox go 1-0; The sailors go 1-0; The Blue Jays go 0-1

What happens next: The Red Sox would clinch the top spot (and hosting duties for the AL Wild Card game) and the Blue Jays are eliminated in that scenario. The Yankees and Mariners would play a tiebreaker on Monday to determine who would advance. The Yankees would host the tiebreaker because of their 5-2 record against the Mariners in the season-long head-to-head series.

Example: The Yankees go 0-1; The Red Sox go 1-0; The sailors go 0-1; The Blue Jays go 1-0

What happens next: The Red Sox would clinch the top spot (and hosting duties of the AL Wild Card game) and the Mariners are eliminated in that scenario. The Yankees and Blue Jays would play a tiebreaker on Monday to determine who would advance. The Blue Jays would host the tie-breaker because of their 11-8 record against the Yankees in the season-long head-to-head series.

Example: The Red Sox go 1-0; The Yankees go 0-1; The sailors go 0-1; the Blue Jays go 0-1 OR the Red Sox go 0-1; the Yankees go 1-0; The sailors go 0-1; The Blue Jays go 0-1

What happens next: We all spend Monday mourning the lack of AL Wild Card tiebreakers and we are recovering on Tuesday when the Yankees and Red Sox play the AL Wild Card Game.


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