With the expansion of the MLB playoffs last year, the league did away with winner-take-all games to determine which clubs would reach the postseason.
Instead, the league implemented a series of mathematical tiebreakers, eliminating “Game 163” from the game’s lexicon and ensuring that teams would be able to learn quickly whether or not they had reached the postseason.
So how does it all work? Here’s a breakdown.
If two teams are tied for a playoff spot, whether the divisional crown or a wild card spot, then the first tiebreaker is the easiest: head-to-head record.
If three teams tie for a playoff spot, then things get a bit more complicated. The league uses the following example.
If Team X has a superior head-to-head record against Teams Y and Z, then they make the postseason. If Teams X and Y have identical records against one another, and better records against Team Z, then the two-team tiebreaker is used.
In all other situations, the three teams are ranked by their overall winning percentage against one another.
-In the event that a head-to-head tiebreaker isn’t enough to determine a winner, then the next tiebreaker used is “intradivision record,” a team’s record against clubs within their own division.
This also applies to wild card spots if the two teams are from different divisions.
-If that tiebreaker doesn’t do the trick, then “interdivision record” is used, compiling the teams’ records against clubs in the other two divisions in their league.
-The next tiebreaker gets a bit more complex. The team’s record in the second-half of their intraleague games is used in this situation, and if that still somehow doesn’t produce a winner, then one game is added to the mix until the tie is broken.
Where the Cubs Stand in Terms of Tiebreakers
If the Cubs Tie Milwaukee:
The Cubs have played 10 games against the Brewers so far this season. They are 5-5 in those games, meaning that the three-game series to conclude the season would determine that tiebreaker.
If the Cubs Tie the Phillies:
The Phillies own the tiebreaker, having won five-of-six games against the Cubs.
If the Cubs Tie the Diamondbacks:
The Cubs and Diamondbacks have not played yet this season, but have seven games coming up over the next two weeks.
If the Cubs Tie the Reds:
The Reds won seven of the 13 games against the Cubs this season, giving them the tiebreaker.
If the Cubs Tie the Marlins:
The Marlins won four-of-six against the Cubs this season, giving them the tiebreaker.
If the Cubs Tie the Giants:
The Cubs are currently 3-1 against the Giants this season with two games left to go this week at Wrigley Field.