Postseason seeds and tiebreakers explained

September 6th, 2016

The six division winners and one NL Wild Card team have been decided. However, the three remaining Wild Card spots are up in the air, and home-field advantage is still in play in a couple of races. Two teams are in must-win situations today: Detroit in the American League and St. Louis in the National League.

We are set up for possible baseball on Monday in the form of a tiebreaker, San Francisco at St. Louis (if the Giants lose today and the Cardinals win), and/or a makeup game with postseason implications, Cleveland at Detroit at 1 p.m. ET. Then we could have a second tiebreaker, if not a three-team tie situation, begin to get settled Tuesday if Toronto and/or Baltimore lose today and Detroit wins today and in a makeup game vs. Cleveland on Monday.

If Toronto beats Boston (93-68) and Baltimore beats the Yankees, getting both the Jays and O's to 89 wins today, the Indians-Tigers makeup game would be necessary if Cleveland (93-67) also loses today (because Cleveland would have a chance at the No. 2 AL seed by subsequently defeating Detroit, even though the Tigers will have been eliminated in that scenario).

If Boston wins today, Cleveland would need to win at Kansas City today and in the makeup game at Detroit to finish the necessary one game ahead of the Red Sox to secure the second seed.

Up-to-the-minute standings

What we know about the races

-- The Rangers have clinched home-field advantage through the World Series. They will play the AL Wild Card winner in the ALDS.

-- The Red Sox will play the Indians in the ALDS. Home-field advantage is still to be determined. If Boston and Cleveland finish tied, the Red Sox will get it because of a better head-to-head record.

-- The Cubs have clinched home-field advantage through the NLCS. They will play the NL Wild Card winner in the NLDS.

-- The Nationals will host the Dodgers in the NLDS.

-- The Mets will host the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday against either the Giants or Cardinals. The winner of the NL Wild Card Game will face the Cubs in the NLDS.

How to determine playoff tiebreakers

Three teams tie for two Wild Card spots

If three teams 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.

For example, let's assume that Team A (first pick) and Team B (second pick) both choose the designations that give them two chances to make the postseason, leaving Team C with only one chance. Teams A and B would play at the home field of Team A on Tuesday.

The winner of that game would advance to the AL Wild Card Game on Thursday, while the loser would travel to face Team C on Wednesday. The winner of that game would earn the second Wild Card spot.

However, the Orioles would throw a wrinkle into conventional wisdom if there were a three-team tie between them, the Blue Jays and Tigers. The Blue Jays, who have the "first pick," would choose to be Team A and host the Tigers in the first game on Tuesday. (Remember: In this scenario, the Tigers will have had to play a makeup game on Monday just to force the three-team tie.)

However, the Orioles, who had second preference, would opt for "C" designation, meaning that they would be choosing to rest their pitching staff and host one winner-take-all game at Camden Yards rather than risk having to play two road games on consecutive days in different cities.

Here is exactly how it would play out:

If it ends up being Detroit vs. Toronto -- a rematch of that first tiebreaker game on Tuesday -- in the Wild Card Game, then the winner of the earlier tiebreaker game would have home-field advantage in the Wild Card Game. Otherwise, Toronto would have home-field advantage over Baltimore, and Baltimore over Detroit, by virtue of having won the season series.

Two teams tie for one Wild Card spot

If there is a two-team tiebreaker game needed, here is how home-field advantage would be decided:


*Cardinals: They hold the tiebreaker over the Giants and would host a potential tiebreaker game against the Giants on Monday.

*Mets: They hold the tiebreaker over the Giants and cannot be caught by the Cardinals. The Mets will host the NL Wild Card Game on Wednesday.

*Giants: Both the Mets and Cardinals hold the tiebreaker over the Giants. The Cardinals would host a potential tiebreaker on Monday.


*Blue Jays: They hold the tiebreaker over the Orioles and Tigers.

*Orioles: They hold the tiebreaker over the Tigers. They lost the season series to the Blue Jays.

*Tigers: They lost the season series to the Orioles and Blue Jays.