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MLB playoff standings, tiebreakers and scenarios

With just a week left in the season, the MLB playoff picture is becoming clearer, but much has yet to be decided. Here are the updated playoff scenarios for both leagues, plus the updated tiebreaker chart.

Terry Francona has the Indians on the verge of a wild card playoff berth
Terry Francona has the Indians on the verge of a wild card playoff berth
John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

UPDATE: The playoff races and tiebreaker scenarios are updated as of Thursday, Sept 27 here.

With just one week to play in the 2013 MLB season, the American League's division races have been all but decided, but there are still half a dozen teams with a shot at making the Wild Card, and home field has yet to be determined.

The Oakland Athletics have officially clinched the AL West for the second consecutive season, thanks to a four-game sweep of the Minnesota Twins and a backward slide by the Texas Rangers. The Boston Red Sox have already clinched the AL East, and the Detroit Tigers have all but locked up the Central Division.

Home field advantage, however, has not been decided. The standings among the three division leaders look like this:

Won- Lost
95- 62
93- 63
91- 65

While it's unlikely that the Tigers will be able to overtake both teams and claim home field advantage throughout the playoffs with just six games remaining, Oakland is still within striking distance of Boston. The team with the best overall record would host the winner of the one game wild card playoff, while the other two teams would play each other in the League Division Series (LDS).

In case of a tie, no playoff would be used to determine which teams play each other, or where the games would be played. An extra game is only played when winning the division or one club being potentially eliminated is at stake. In any case, the A's hold the tiebreaker over the Tigers by virtue of winning four of seven games during the regular season. The Tigers hold a 4-3 advantage over Boston, while the A's split the season series with the Red Sox, 3- 3, but Oakland would win a tiebreaker, as explained here. The second criteria after head to head record is intradivision record.

In the event of a three way tie, Detroit, Oakland, and Boston would all be 10- 10 in head to head records, but the Tigers have the best intradivision record, and would be in line for home field advantage. However, the Tigers have to finish with a better record than Oakland in order to gain home field advantage in a series between the two clubs. That means that the A's effectively hold a three game edge over the Tigers in terms of home field for the ALDS.

So here is the chart showing tiebreaker scenarios among the three AL division leaders.

Team 1 Team 2 Tiebreaker winner
Boston Oakland Oakland
Detroit Detroit
Oakland Detroit Oakland




3 way tie

1. Detroit

2. Oakland

3. Boston

Wild Card race

The Cleveland Indians made a big move over the weekend by sweeping the Houston Astros to move 1½ ahead of the Texas Rangers for the second and final Wild Card playoff spot. The Rays held steady by taking their last three straight over the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays are a half game ahead of Cleveland and two games up on the Texas Rangers.

The Indians also have a very favorable schedule, with two games against Chicago and four against the Twins remaining. The Rays play three against the Yankees before finishing up in Toronto, and the Rangers will host the Astros and the Angels to finish up the regular season.

Still in the picture but fading fast are the New York Yankees, Kansas City Royals and the Orioles. Although they are mathematically alive, they're on life support. Here are the wild card standings after the weekend's action:

American League Wild Card Standings

Tampa Bay 86 69 .555 0 Won3
Cleveland 86 70 .545 0.5 Won4
Texas 84 71 .542 1,5 Lost 1
Kansas City 82 73 .529 3.5 Won1
New York 82 74 .529 4 Lost1
Baltimore 81 74 .523 4.5 Lost 4

If two teams are tied for the two Wild Card playoff spots, the tiebreaking procedure is used only to determine home field. If two teams are tied for only the second Wild Card spot, a playoff will be held. Refer to the charts below to see which team has the home field. If three or more teams are tied for one or two spots, then a two-round playoff will determine which team advances.

Following are the tiebreaker charts for two way and three way ties among the contenders for the two American League wild card spots. The full tie breaking formula is here. The first tiebreaker is always the head-to-head record between the teams that are tied, and this is enough to decide all ties between the AL Wild Card contenders this season, with the exception of the Rangers and Royals, who split their six game season series

The following charts will help you cut to the chase and see where the games will be played:


Team 1 Team 2 Tiebreaker winner
Yankees Orioles Yankees
Yankees Indians Yankees
Yankees Rangers Rangers
Yankees Rays Rays lead 9- 7, 3 games at NY
Yankees Royals Yankees
Indians Orioles Indians
Indians Rangers Indians
Indians Royals Indians
Indians Rays Rays
Orioles Rangers Orioles
Orioles Royals Royals
Orioles Rays Rays
Rays Royals Royals
Rangers Rays Rangers
Rangers Royals Royals win tiebreaker

In the case of a three way tie, where one club has won the season series against the other two, that team wins the tiebreaker. Where no team has won the season series against the two others, the cumulative record in head to head games between the clubs will decide home field. Only one series remains between wild card contenders, and that is the Yankees vs Rays.


Team 1 Team 2 Team 3 Schedule Comments
Yankees Orioles Rays

Orioles at Yankees

Winner at Rays

Yankees get home field if they sweep Rays
Yankees Orioles Rangers

Texas at New York

Winner at Baltimore

Net win pct gives Baltimore home field.
Yankees Orioles Royals

Orioles at KC

Winner at New York

Yankees took both season series.
Yankees Orioles Indians

Orioles at Cleveland

Winner at New York

Yankees won both season series.
Yankees Rays Rangers

New York at Tampa

Winner at Texas

Rangers won both series
Yankees Rays Royals

Likely Rays at New York

Winner at Kansas City

But if Yankees sweep the Rays, Rays at KC, winner at NY
Yankees Rays Indians

Cleveland at New York

Winner at Tampa

If Yankees sweep TB, Cleveland at TB, winner at NY
Yankees Rangers Royals

Texas at KC

Winner at New York

Any of these three would be just glad to get in
Yankees Rangers Indians

Rangers at Cleveland

Winner at New York

Rock, paper scissors again
Yankees Royals Indians

KC at Cleveland

Winner at New York

Yanks beat both Central clubs
Orioles Rays Rangers

Rangers at Baltimore

Winner at Tampa

Rays win on cumulative record vs Rangers and Rays
Orioles Rays Royals

Orioles at Rays

Winner at KC

Royals beat both clubs
Orioles Rays Indians

Orioles at Cleveland

Winner at Tampa

Net wins between three teams
Orioles Rangers Royals

Texas at KC

Winner at Baltimore

Rangers and Royals split, Orioles win tiebreaker
Orioles Rangers Indians

Rangers at Baltimore

Winner at Cleveland

Indians won series vs both teams
Orioles Royals Indians

Baltimore at KC

Winner at Cleveland

Tribe won both series
Rays Rangers Royals

Rays at Texas

Winner at KC

Rays lost both series
Rays Rangers Indians

Texas at Tampa

Winner at Cleveland

Total win pct among 3 teams
Rays Royals Indians

Rays at Cleveland

Winner at KC

Central teams host two games
Rangers Royals Indians

Rangers vs KC

Winner at Cleveland

Tribe beat both teams


The Atlanta Braves and Los Angeles Dodgers have wrapped up the East and West divisions in the National League, respectively. Still at stake is the winner of the NL Central, as well as home field advantage in the playoffs.

Here are the standings in the NL central division.

Won- Lost
St Louis
91- 65
89- 67
89- 67 .571

The Reds took two out of three from the Pirates to pull even with them, and the two clubs will meet in Cincinnati to finish the regular season. The winner of that series will also hold the tiebreaker for home field advantage, should the two clubs face off in the playoffs. The Pirates won the season series over the Cardinals, but St Louis won the series over the Reds.

In the event of a tie for the division title, a playoff would be held among the tied teams. Here is how the two way tiebreakers look through games of Sunday.

Team A
Team B
St Louis
Bucs won series 10- 9
St Louis
St Louis won series, 11- 8
Tied, 8- 8
Winner of final series gets home field

In the event of a three way tie for the division, there would be a playoff. St Louis likely would await the winner of Pirates vs. Reds unless the Pirates sweep Cincinnati. In that case, it's difficult to imagine a three-way tie. Should the Cardinals hang on to win the division, the Reds and Pirates would be the two Wild Card teams. The winner of the final season series would host the playoff if the teams finish with identical records. If the Reds either finish with a better record than PIttsburgh or if the teams tie, but the Reds win the final series, the Pirates could just remain in Cincinnati for their playoff game.

Finally, here are the standings showing the division leaders in the National League.

Won- Lost
92- 63
St Louis 91- 65 .583
Los Angeles
90- 66 .577

The Braves hold a two game lead with five left to play, and they also won the season series against both the Cardinals and the Dodgers. Los Angeles holds the tiebreaker over St Louis, so they would only need to finish with the same record in order to gain the home field advantage in the NLDS.

So, if the season ended today, the Indians would play the Rays in the AL Wild Card game, with the winner going to play Boston, while the Tigers would begin the playoffs at Oakland. The Reds and Pirates would play in the NL wild card game with the winner going to Atlanta, while the Cardinals would host the Dodgers in the NLDS.

The National League wild card game is scheduled for October 1. The American League Wild card is set for October 2.

The NLDS commences on October 3 and 4. The ALDS begins October 4 and 5.

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