With the final weekend series's of the 2014 MLB season about to begin, playoff chases are approaching resolutions. But some may be too close to determine without some rule book technicalities.
The tie-breaking procedures changed ever so slightly following the changes to the playoff format, which opened up a second wildcard spot in each league. To save everyone from the fine print, I explored all of the four realistic potential tie situations and how they'll be resolved below.
Scenario #1: Cardinals and Pirates tie for NL Central crown
Divisional tie-breakers are easy enough. The two sides will play a single game to determine the NL Central crown. This game will happen on Monday with the loser having to play another play-in game on Wednesday against the San Francisco Giants. The Cardinals would host a potential tie-breaking game for the NL Central by virtue of head-to-head record. Currently, St. Louis has a 1.5-game lead, with a one-game advantage in the loss column.
Scenario #2: Pirates and Giants tie in the NL wildcard
The Pirates currently hold a one-game lead in the NL wildcard over the Giants, which is as good as two. That's because Pittsburgh won the season series, 4-2, with San Francisco and would win a tie-breaker between the two sides. Although both teams will make the playoffs due to the expanded wildcard format, PNC Park will be the site of the play-in game if the Pirates and Giants were to finish the regular season with identical records.
Scenario #3: Tigers and Royals tie for AL Central crown
Same as scenario one goes. Detroit dominated the season series with Kansas City so the Tigers would go on to win the division and gain an automatic berth in the ALDS. So the Tigers essentially own a three-game lead in the division with four to play and can clinch with another win, or Royals loss.
Scenario #4: Royals and Athletics tie in the AL wildcard
The Royals hold the same advantage that the Pirates do in the NL wildcard. Because Kansas City won five out of seven against Oakland this season, it would be the host of the play-in game between these two teams. It would be the first playoff game that Kauffman Stadium has hosted since 1985. Currently the two teams are tied in the wildcard entering their final four games. Kansas City plays in Chicago against the White Sox, while the A's battle the Rangers in Arlington.
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