The MLB playoffs are underway and teams like the Houston Astros, New York Yankees and Los Angeles Dodgers want to cash in on the regular season. Meanwhile, upstarts like the Washington Nationals and Tampa Bay Rays are trying to defy the odds. Let’s take a look at seven crazy facts about the MLB playoffs.
1. The MLB Playoffs have had several format changes
Prior to 1969, the World Series was the only postseason series held. The best team in the American League played the best team in the National League. In 1969, however, each league separated into two divisions (East and West). The two division winners played in their respective League Championship Series; the winners played in the Fall Classic.
Starting in 1994, MLB realigned yet again. Both leagues split into three divisions (East, West, and Central). Each division winner made the playoffs with a fourth wild-card team (the best non-division winner). In 2012, both leagues added a second wild-card team, creating a wild-card game where the non-division winners needed to win a one-game playoff to qualify for the postseason tournament.
2. The first World Series lasted eight games
These days, a seven-game series is as exciting as it gets. But did you know the first-ever World Series went eight games? The Boston Americans defeated the Pittsburgh Pirates, 5-3.
3. The New York Yankees are the most successful playoff team
Throughout the various format changes, one thing remains consistent: No team has won as much as the New York Yankees. Consider some of their postseason achievements in 117 seasons of play:
- 27 World Series championships
- 40 American League championships
- 55 playoff appearances
4. Wild-card teams can win it all
A wild-card team has won the World Series six times, including:
- 1997 and 2003 Florida Marlins
- 2002 Anaheim Angels
- 2004 Boston Red Sox
- 2011 St. Louis Cardinals
- 2014 San Francisco Giants
Other wild-card teams to make the World Series but ultimately lose included:
- 2000 New York Mets
- 2002 San Francisco Giants
- 2005 Houston Astros
- 2006 Detroit Tigers
- 2007 Colorado Rockies
- 2014 Kansas City Royals
That’s what makes the MLB Playoffs so special; every team has a chance to win it all.
5. Only one player in sports history has played in a Super Bowl and a World Series
Former cornerback and outfielder Deion Sanders won two Super Bowls with the Dallas Cowboys and played for the Atlanta Braves in the 1992 World Series.
6. Only one team has won the World Series in three cities
The Braves have been in Atlanta so long, it may seem like they’ve always been there. But they’ve moved quite a lot. The Braves are the only franchise to win the World Series in three cities:
- Atlanta (1995)
- Milwaukee (1957)
- Boston (1914)
The fate of the Atlanta Braves always seems to be intertwined with the New York Yankees. The Braves were one of the most dominant teams of the ’90s but only managed to win one championship, a season before the Yankees dynasty of the late ’90s began.
The ’57 Braves won one of the few World Series of the ’50s not won by the Yankees. And while the Braves won a 1914 title before the Yankees’ historic run of dominance began, they were the final team Yankee legend Babe Ruth played for at the end of his career.
7. Only two teams have yet to reach the World Series
One of those teams is the Seattle Mariners. Despite having some great players in Seattle (Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Randy Johnson, and Edgar Martinez to name a few), the Mariners have never won a title. The closest they came was 2001 when Seattle won 116 games on their way to an ALCS loss to the Yankees.
The second? The Washington Nationals/Montreal Expos. The Expos were never able to get there during their long history. The Nationals have knocked on the door a few times but haven’t pushed through to the final stage.