5. The Wild Card Game
Prior to the 2012 season, the Wild Card game was not a thing. Was it a working system? Yes. Is it better now? I’d say so.
2012 was the first season that the Wild Card game became a thing. That year, the Baltimore Orioles defeated the Texas Rangers in Texas, and the St. Louis Cardinals defeated the Atlanta Braves in Atlanta.
Including those two, eight Wild Card games have been played in Major League Baseball history; four in the American League, four in the National League. Of those eight contests, six of the winners were the road team, which is known as the second Wild Card winner. Those teams were the 2012 Orioles (defeated Rangers), 2012 Cardinals (defeated Braves), 2013 Tampa Bay Rays (defeated Cleveland Indians), 2014 Giants (defeated Pittsburgh Pirates), 2015 Houston Astros (defeated New York Yankees), and 2015 Chicago Cubs (defeated Pirates). Without the Wild Card game being part of the playoff system, who knows what would’ve happened in the playoffs.
On another note, adding a second Wild Card winning team to each league keeps more teams in the race for a lot longer. The 2009 Boston Red Sox won the AL Wild Card with a 95-67 record, eight games above the 87-75 Rangers. If the Wild Card game was implemented in 2009, the Rangers would’ve had a chance to beat the Red Sox in the one-game playoff series. This would’ve also kept the 86-76 Detroit Tigers and 85-77 Seattle Mariners in the hunt for a lot longer that year.
The idea to make the Wild Card game a part of the postseason system was a great idea to give more teams a chance at winning the World Series, even if they don’t have the best record in baseball. This should stick for many years to come.