Through the 2019 Wild Card Games, traveling teams have won nine more games than home teams (seven). There have been five shutouts, with the visiting club winning each one (including three consecutive shutouts in the 2014-2016 NL editions). The all-time record is now 34-20 in favor of the away team.
This trend has continued even after you take out the years when there were no byes in the schedule. From 2000 to 2018, there were never more than two straight series where the road team won every game.
There have been some very close calls over the years, such as in 2011 when the San Francisco Giants lost a one-game playoff to the Texas Rangers by a score of 3-2. Or in 2016 when the Chicago Cubs lost a seven-game series to the Cleveland Indians by a margin of 1-0.
In fact, the last time that a visiting team won a one-game playoff by a wide margin was back in 2014 when the Houston Astros beat the Kansas City Royals 11-1.
The club with the higher regular-season winning percentage is the home team for the Wild Card Game; if the two teams have equal winning percentages, MLB tie-breaking methods are utilized to choose the home team, with no further games played. The winner of the Wild Card Game advances to play either the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Yankees in the Division Series.
During the regular season, if a game is scheduled between these two teams but there is not enough time to complete the game, it will be canceled by the league on what is called a "makeup date". The last game played by each team before the cancellation takes place determines who gets the win and advancees to the next round. For example, if the Chicago Cubs and Cincinnati Reds were to play today, with the Cubs having more wins than the Reds (although both teams have the same record), then the game would be canceled due to time constraints and neither team would get their win at this point.
If there is still time left on the schedule after the makeup date has been announced, those remaining games will be played (with any changes taking place where necessary). For example, if the Cubs and Reds were to play each other again some time later in the year and finish the season with identical records, then the first game that was canceled would not be replayed - they would simply move on to the next game on the schedule.
The Pirates, on the other hand, were awarded the right to host the wild card game due to their 4-2 regular season record versus the Giants. Similarly, the New York Mets and the San Francisco Giants ended the 2016 season with identical 87-75 records. Based on their 4-3 regular season record versus the Giants, the Mets hosted the Wild Card Game.
Both teams came into the game with high hopes of making a run at the postseason. The Pirates had just finished up one of the best seasons in franchise history, while the Mets were looking to build off of their first playoff appearance since 2003.
In the end, it was the Pirates' turn to disappoint their fans as they went on to lose to the Cubs 3-0. Andrew McCutchen and Daniel Murphy were both voted in by their teammates as members of the All-Star Team. Murphy was the only Met to play in all 160 games this season and he finished with 31 homers and 99 RBI's.
Cutch was also nominated but did not make the team. He finished the year with 29 homers and 97 RBI's. Brandon Nimmo (24 homers, 91 RBIs) and Josh Harrison (20 homers, 81 RBIs) were the only other Pirates players to reach 20 homers and 80 RBIs this season.
On the other hand, the Mets played well above expectations this season and they deserve credit for that.
Yearly NL Wild Card qualifiers As of 2019, five National League wild card clubs had won the World Series (Miami, as Florida in 1997 and 2003, St. Louis in 2011, San Francisco in 2014, and Washington in 2019). The Miami franchise has never finished lower than second place. The St. Louis team has never been shut out or lost by more than three runs.
The last time there were four National League teams qualifying for the World Series was 1998. There have been only two other times when there were three NL teams playing in the Series: 1907 and 2009. The New York Giants and Chicago Cubs have played in every Series since it began in 1890. The Boston Red Sox joined the Series in 1903. The Cardinals are making their first appearance since 1989.
In the American League, there have been nine years with only one AL club remaining after both conferences have completed their rounds of games. This happened in 1914, '15, '16, '17, '18, and again in 2019. In all but one of these years (2019), the league champion has gone on to win the Series. That exception is in 1915, when the Detroit Tigers defeated the red-hot Philadelphia Phillies in seven games. The Tigers went on to lose the next three Games 6's against Johnny Egan of the Yankees.
As of 2019, five National League wild card clubs had won the World Series (Miami, as Florida in 1997 and 2003, St. Louis in 2011, San Francisco in 2014, and Washington in 2019). Four clubs won the National League pennant but were defeated in the World Series (NY Mets in 2000, San Francisco in 2002, Houston in 2005, and Colorado in 2007). The New York Yankees have most frequently appeared in the Series with six wins. They also have most consecutive World Series appearances with nine straight from 2000 to 2008.
In the American League, three wild card teams had won the World Series (Toronto in 1992, Baltimore in 1996, and Cleveland in 2017). Two other AL wild card teams had also won their division titles before being defeated in the Series (Seattle in 2001 and Boston in 1918). The Chicago White Sox have most frequently appeared in the Series with seven wins. They also have most consecutive World Series appearances with 10 straight from 1991 to 2001.
Overall, there have been ten different winners of the World Series since its inception in 1903. The Yankees have most often appeared in the Series with six wins. They also have most consecutive World Series appearances with eleven straight from 2000 to 2020.
In the first two rounds of the playoffs, a wild-card club must give up home-field advantage. However, in the World Series, home-field advantage is established independently of wild-card status. Prior to 2003, it was chosen by rotating between the American and National Leagues each year.
Since the Wild Card was introduced in 1994, all but one of the seasons has ended with the same number of games left to be played in both conferences. That exception occurred in 1999 when the New York Yankees finished with more wins than the Oakland A's but lost out on the division title because they were held back by their own ineptitude. In that case, if there had been any sort of tiebreaker system used, then perhaps the A's would have gotten the nod instead. But since there isn't, both teams enjoyed the same amount of success during the season and thus got an equal share of those valuable home games.
There was some talk prior to the 2014 season about giving the top seed in each conference a head start in the regular season schedule, but this never came to pass.
It should be noted that while the wild card does not guarantee you a spot in the postseason, it does ensure you will play at least one game at home. If you happen to be one of the four last-place clubs in each league, however, then you could be in for a long summer.