- American League Division Series
Major League Baseball, the American League Division Series (ALDS) determines which two teams from the American Leaguewill advance to the American League Championship Series. The Division Series consist of two best-of-five series, featuring the three division winners and a wild-card team (the non-division winning team with the best record).
The Division Series was permanently created after the by|1993 season when Major League Baseball restructured each league into three divisions, but their first regular playing was in by|1995 due to the cancellation of the 1994 playoffs. Previously, because of a players' strike in by|1981, a split-season format forced a divisional playoff series, in which the
New York Yankeeswon the Eastern Division series over the Milwaukee Brewers(who were in the American League until by|1998) in five games while the Oakland Athleticsswept the Kansas City Royalsin three games in the Western Division. The Yankees have currently played in the most division series in history, with fourteen appearances. One team has yet to play in an A.L. division series, the Toronto Blue Jays(though they have won the World Series twice, they won both before the division series existed).
Determining the matchups
Since 1998, the wild-card team has been assigned to play the division winner with the best winning percentage (outside of their own division) in one series, and the other two division winners meet in the other series. The two series winners move on to the best-of-seven ALCS. Home field advantage goes to the team with the better regular season record, except for the wild card team, which never receives the home field advantage.
Beginning in by|2007, MLB has implemented a new rule to give the team with the best regular season record a slightly greater advantage. [cite news|date=
2007-09-12| title = AL's top team to pick first-round format | url = http://www.usatoday.com/sports/baseball/playoffs/2007-09-11-Options_N.htm | publisher = USA Today| accessdate = 2007-09-27] In order to spread out the Division Series games for broadcast purposes, the two ALDS series follow one of two off-day schedules. Starting in 2007, after consulting the MLBPA, MLB has decided to allow the team with the best record in the AL to choose whether to use the seven-day schedule (1-2-off-3-4-off-5) or the eight-day schedule (1-off-2-off-3-4-off-5). The team only gets to choose the schedule; the opponent is still determined by win-loss records. This rule change does not apply to the two NLDS, since they are not similarly staggered.
Currently, the Division Series follows a 2-2-1 format. [ [http://pressbox.mlb.com/pressbox/news/pressbox_story.jsp?ymd=20070514&content_id=1964536&vkey=pressbox&fext=.jsp Major League Baseball announces revamped postseason schedule] , MLB.com Press Releases] The higher seed plays at home in Games 1 and 2. The lower seed plays at home in Game 3 and Game 4 (if necessary). If a Game 5 is needed, the teams return to the higher seed's field.
Historically, MLB had also used a 2-3 format in a best-of-5 series, but no longer uses that format. [ [http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1984_NLCS.shtml 1984 NL Championship Series] , Baseball-Reference.com] [ [http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/1997_ALDS1.shtml 1997 AL Division Series] , Baseball-Reference.com]
Since the ALDS's inception, several pairs of opponents have met more than once.
*Criticism of Scheduling in the Division Series
American League pennant winners 1901-68
National League pennant winners 1876-1900
National League pennant winners 1901-68
National League Division Series(NLDS)
American League Championship Series(ALCS)
National League Championship Series(NLCS)
* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/postseason/ Baseball-Reference.com] - annual playoffs
* [http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/history/postseason/mlb_ds.jsp MLB.com] - MLB's Division Series historical reference - box scores, highlights, etc.
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