If two teams are deadlocked for the first wildcard spot, no tie-breaking game is played. Rather, the two teams compete in the wildcard game against each other, with home-field advantage determined by tie-breaking procedures specified in the next section. If after this second round both teams are still tied, then there is no higher authority to which they can appeal; instead, one of them will be randomly selected by a process called "wildcard play-in game."
The purpose of this random selection is to avoid having two identical match-ups between teams that are still tied after the wildcard games have been played. For example, if the Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox were to meet in the final week of the season with both teams locked into the same division, it would be impossible to determine which team would get the better seed through pure luck - because they would be playing each other twice during the final week of the season.
In such cases, the only way to determine the order in which the two teams will face off during the wildcard round is to use some sort of statistical algorithm. The two main methods used are the "percentage method" and the "seed method". Under the percentage method, each team's winning percentage compared to all other remaining teams is added up and divided by two.
To determine the division champion, one tiebreak game will be played. The above-mentioned parameters for a two-team tiebreaker will be used to decide home field advantage. Both the losing team and the team from the opposite division will be declared Wild Cards. These two teams will play each other at a time and date to be set by Major League Baseball. The winner of this game will advance to the next round of the playoffs.
In the League Championship Series, if the tying team is ahead in the series after six games have been played, then that team will receive the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scheduling the seventh game. If the series is still tied after seven games have been played, then another tiebreaker game will be played using the same parameters as the division series tiebreaker game.
In the World Series, if the tying team is ahead in the series after six games have been played, then that team will receive the benefit of the doubt when it comes to scheduling the seventh game. However, instead of playing each other, the winning team from the division series will play the winning team from the league championship series. The winning team from the league championship series will play the winning team from the world series.
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 team wins its division, it receives the "first seed" into the playoffs. If two different teams win their divisions, they receive matching first-round byes. However, if more than two teams win their divisions, a one-game playoff will be held to determine which of them gets the top seed.
In the American League, the Chicago White Sox won the division despite having the second lowest winning percentage (44-58), while the Houston Astros won the division despite having the highest winning percentage (.542). As such, each team will play a one-game playoff to determine who moves on to face the Los Angeles Angels in the AL Wild Card Game. $1 million is also being awarded as part of the new system designed to give extra incentive for teams that finish at or near the bottom of their division.
In the National League, the San Francisco Giants finished with the best record in the league but lost the division title to the Colorado Rockies by 1 game.