The 2012 baseball season is quite different from any other season. The extra wild card spot has brought added intrigue to the season’s final stretch. As I write this, four American League teams are within one game of each other for two wild card spots. In addition, only two games separate the White Sox and Tigers in the Central Division. It begs the question: with so many so close, what happens in the event of a tie? For those of you who prefer to let someone else do the research so you can simply read the answer, here it goes:
If the Tigers and White Sox finish in a tie for the Central Division title, the team that wins the head to head season series will host a one-game playoff. Currently, the Tigers hold a 7-4 series lead over the White Sox, meaning the Sox will have to win 5 of the last 7 against the Tigers just to pull even. If that does happen, the second tie-break is the division record, where the Tigers have a three game lead.
Any tie for a Wild Card spot, whether the first or second, also comes down to the season series. If it’s a tie for the first spot, then both teams are in, with the season series winner getting to host the game. If it’s a tie for the second spot, the winner of the season series gets home field in a play-in game. The Tigers are in good shape here as well. They won the season series versus the Rays, 5-2. The Tigers also hold a 5-2 lead against the Angels, so are assured at least a tie with three games remaining. Against Oakland, the Tigers are an even 2-2, but have a chance to win the series with a three game home series against the A’s in September. Finally, the Tigers and Orioles split their six games, 3-3. With no games remaining, a tie between the Orioles and Tigers would go to their division records, where the Tigers hold a 1 ½ game lead. In fact, the Tigers have a better division record than the A’s and Angels as well.
Complicated? Maybe a little. But the point is, the Tigers are in good shape. I did not expect Baltimore, Oakland, or Chicago to hang around as long as they have, but they don’t appear to be going away. The Rays have the pitching to hang in until the end, and I still believe the Angels will make a run. With so many teams this close, the odds of a tie occurring somewhere are decent. And with Justin Verlander pitching a one game playoff (be it division or wild card) at home, the odds of winning the game are decent as well.