As of this writing, the morning of August 6, the St. Louis Cardinals are tied atop the NL Central with the Milwaukee Brewers. The Cardinals are currently riding a 5 game winning streak as they earned a hard fought come from behind victory against the New York Yankees Friday night thanks to Paul DeJong's go ahead 8th inning 2 out, 2 run double.
As we are inching ever so closer to the playoffs, what would happen if we tied with the Brewers for the division lead? What would happen if we tied for a wild card spot? In year's past, the teams that tied would square off for game 163. That game would decide who wins the division or who gets the wild card, etc. This year however, that's different as there will no longer be a game 163. So how would the winner be determined? Let's dive in.
If teams are tied for a division title or playoff seeding, tiebreakers would be used. Once a team "wins" a tiebreaker, that's it. However, if they tie in that tiebreaker, they would move on to the next one. The tiebreakers are as follows:
Tiebreaker 1 - Head to head
Very simply, who has the better record against each other.
Tiebreaker 2 - Division Record
How did the teams fare against their division?
Tiebreaker 3 - Interdivision Record
How did the teams do against the other 2 divisions?
Tiebreaker 4 - Last half of the intraleague games
Who has the higher win percentage in games 82 through 162 against their league?
Tiebreaker 5 - Last half of intraleague games PLUS one
If tiebreaker 4 is tied, they will go back, starting with Game 81 one game at a time against their league until a winner is found.
So what does this mean for the Cardinals. If the season ended today, because we are tied with the Brewers, we would resort to the above tiebreakers.
Tiebreaker 1 - Head to head - Cardinals are 6-6 against the Brewers. So we would move to the next tiebreaker (Keep in mind Division teams play each other 19 times so this would never be a tie)
Tiebreaker 2 - Division record - The Cardinals have a win percentage of .636 against the NL Central compared to .569 for the Brewers.
Since we "win" tiebreaker 2, that means the Cardinals are technically leading the NL Central and would be the 3 seed in the playoffs hosting the 6 seed. Who would the 6 seed be? Well I'm glad you asked because guess what, tiebreakers need to be used again as the Brewers are tied with the Phillies!
Tiebreaker 1 - Head to Head - Brewers are 2-4 against the Phillies meaning the Phillies would get the 6 seed and travel to St. Louis for a best of 3 Wild Card Series (all games in St. Louis).
In the "old" way of breaking ties (Game 163), there were numerous insane scenarios that could have happened. A few times there were 3 way ties where 164 games were played. However, that is now a thing of the past with these new series of tiebreakers. We close the season with 8 games against NL Central teams (2 MIL & 6 PIT) so winning these games could certainly help the Cardinals win that 2nd tiebreaker, if needed.