The second Wildcard spot in the MLB playoffs, implemented in 2012, is one of the more polarizing issues in baseball circles. Replacing a system implemented in 1995 in which the non-division winner with the best record received a playoff berth and a best-of-five series with the team with the best record that wasn’t in their division, the new system puts the two non-division winning clubs with the best records into a one-game playoff, the winner getting a best-of-five with the best regular season club in their respective league.
Some love it. They feel it gives more incentive to winning the division while giving more markets a chance at the playoffs.
Some feel it rewards mediocrity, allowing less-deserving teams to make the playoffs, while it punishes teams who play good baseball for six months.
Lou Merloni likes the second Wildcard, but feels changes could be made to the system.
“I hate the one game play-in,” said Merloni on The Baseball Show. “I love the [second] Wildcard. I would like for them to play two out of three, I would love for them to actually make it a series.”
Fifteen teams – half the teams in all of Major League Baseball – either hold one of the ten desired playoff spots or are within five games of a playoff spot as of August 10, 2013. A three-team increase from the same date in 2011, when twelve teams either held down a playoff spot or were within five games of striking distance.