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 How to unknot a tie: Facing the playoff scenarios

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PostSubject: How to unknot a tie: Facing the playoff scenarios   Thu Oct 01, 2009 9:06 pm

How to unknot a tie: Facing the scenarios
In most but not all cases, head-to-head records will decide

By Bobbie Dittmeier / MLB.com

10/01/09 6:05 PM ET

With the precise fate of seven teams still to be determined as play began on Thursday, tiebreaker rules loomed as potential factors in races and matchups still to be decided.

In the National League, things aren't as simple as they appear, while in the American League, it's quite simple. Here is a rundown of possibilities and how tiebreakers would be used to determine outcomes.

WHAT IF THERE'S A TIE IN THE NL WEST?

There can't be. The Dodgers' magic number would appear to be two, but it really is one thanks to their current 12-3 season-series edge over the Rockies.


The Rockies can take the division title only one way -- outright, by winning each game of their three-game series at Los Angeles beginning Friday. A single Colorado loss or a Dodgers win would mean that the Rockies could only equal the Dodgers' final record. In that case, the Dodgers would be awarded the division flag because they have already won their season series against the Rockies, and that is the first tiebreaker.

No scenario exists by which the Dodgers and Rockies would have a one-game playoff to determine the winner. Los Angeles already has clinched at least the Wild Card, and when two teams atop a division are assured of making the postseason, tiebreakers are used instead of playoff games to determine seeding.

WHAT IF THERE'S A TIE FOR NL'S BEST RECORD?

The Dodgers and Phillies entered Thursday with the same number of losses, 66, and the Cardinals' loss total remained at 68 after they beat the Reds. The team with the best record receives home-field advantage throughout the NL playoffs, and could determine the Division Series pairings.

If there is a two-way tie between ...

• Dodgers and Phillies: Dodgers win due to their 4-3 record against Philadelphia.

• Dodgers and Cardinals: Cardinals win due to their 5-2 record against Los Angeles.

• Phillies and Cardinals: Phillies win due to their 4-1 record against St. Louis.

In the event of a three-way tie, the first tiebreaker is the teams' combined record against the other two teams. That would go to the Phillies, who were 7-5 against St. Louis and Los Angeles. The Cardinals were 6-6 and the Dodgers were 6-8.

That would make the Cardinals the No. 2 seed and give them home-field advantage in the Division Series.

The twist to all of this is that it appears that the Wild Card will come out of the West, so even if the Dodgers or Rockies finish with the league's best record, the Wild Card team would play the team with the league's second-best record. That would be the Phillies or Cardinals. If the Braves manage to take the Wild Card, they would play the Dodgers or Cardinals.

WHAT IF THERE'S A TIE IN THE AL CENTRAL? A one-game playoff would be played in Minnesota because the Twins went 11-7 against the Tigers.

With Detroit leading by two games, a tie would be possible if the Twins sweep their three-game series against the Royals and Detroit loses two of three to the White Sox.

A tiebreaker, though, would be expected to be played on Tuesday because of the NFL's scheduled Monday Night Football game between the Packers and Vikings at the Metrodome.

Bobbie Dittmeier is an editor/producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.


“It takes pitching, hitting and defense. Any two can win. All three make you unbeatable.”    
–Joe Garagiola
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