The MLB postseason has not been the same since the addition of the Wild Card. On this day in 2012, the playoffs changed even more, as a second Wild Card was added.
We have seen the Wild Card change the postseason since it was introduced after realignment in the MLB in 1994. The Marlins won both of their World Series titles as the Wild Card, and the Boston Red Sox ended their 86 year streak without a championship in that role. In fact, from 1995 through 2011, the Wild Card had appeared in the World Series nine times, taking home five championships.
And yet, even that one Wild Card was not enough. Teams would see a mediocre team in a weak division win 83 games, but go on to win a championship because they got hot at the right time. Meanwhile, those squads with closer to 90 wins would be on the outside. A second Wild Card began to enter the conversation.
On this day in 2012, that idea became reality. The second Wild Card was introduced effective for that season, leading to a one game play-in matchup to advance to the playoffs. This also, theoretically, gave the top seed an advantage, with the Wild Card teams having to use one of their top starters in order to advance.
That second Wild Card has also factored in to the World Series. In 2014, The San Francisco Giants, who were the second Wild Card in the National League, faced the Kansas City Royals. Not only was this the second time two Wild Card teams faced off, but it was the first time that second Wild Card advanced to the Fall Classic. That year, Madison Bumgarner and the Giants even year magic led to a title.
Adding another Wild Card has also led to more excitement at the trade deadline. As more teams feel they have a chance at the postseason, more deals have been made. We have seen far more excitement amongst the fanbases, and for those teams that are already out of contention, the quality of prospects has increased, given the number of possible trade partners.
Although there was concern that adding two more playoff teams would dilute the postseason, that has not been the case. If anything, the playoffs have been more exciting, with several memorable matchups in that play-in game. The second Wild Card has been a hit.
The MLB postseason has undergone a few changes over the past couple of decades, with the addition of the Wild Card changing the course of history for several teams. Adding a second Wild Card has helped bring a potential dynasty a third title.