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Topps is one of the largest and most iconic manufacturers of trading cards in the world, especially known for their baseball cards. They have been producing baseball cards since 1951 and have issued thousands of distinct baseball cards over the decades. Coming up with an exact number for how many Topps baseball cards exist total is quite challenging, as record keeping was not always perfect, variations were frequently printed, and new sets are still being released each year. Here is a breakdown of the approximate numbers of Topps baseball cards by decade to give a sense of the immense scope and history of Topps baseball card production:

1950s: Topps began producing baseball cards in 1951 and issued sets each year through the late 1950s. Across these initial 8-9 years they printed around 5,000 distinct baseball cards when accounting for variations.

1960s: Topps remained the lone MLB license holder in the 1960s and printed larger sets each year to meet growing collector demand. Some noteworthy 1960s sets included the very popular 1962 and 1963 Topps issues. Estimates indicate around 8,000 unique Topps baseball cards were produced in the 1960s.

1970s: Competition began to arise in the 1970s from Fleer and others, but Topps retained its position as the biggest brand. Experimental sets like the oversized 1970 and tie-ins like the 1976 Bicentennial cards expanded output. The 1970s saw an estimated 11,000+ new Topps baseball cards hit the market.

1980s: Even more competitors entered the fold like Donruss starting in 1981, but Topps continued aggressive releasing of new set each spring. Notable 1980s issues included the high-gloss 1981 and 1985 Topps sets featuring young stars. The output in the 1980s totals around 14,000 unique Topps baseball cards.

1990s: Not only did card production remain high, variations and parallel inserts became more common in the optimisticcollector boom of the early 1990s. Innovations like the first Topps Finest set in 1991 kept the brand fresh. The decade’s estimated numbers come out to 17,000+ new Topps baseball cards.

2000s: Into the modern era, insert sets grew exponentially while the base sets tightened focus. Digital imaging expanded design potential. Landmark sets included the postwar themed 2006 Topps Allen & Ginter and biographies in 2007 Topps Tribute. The 2000s saw an increase to an estimated 20,000+ new Topps baseball card issues.

2010s: Between the flagship Topps Series 1 & 2 each spring and all the innovation like Topps Project 2020, the brand maintained its longevity into the teens. Short prints and 1-of-1 cards multiplied parallels. The decade added a major estimated 23,000+ Topps baseball cards to the collective whole.

2020s: Although the brand is now over 70 years old, Topps continues to design new sets each season like this year’s Topps Big League and League Leader sub-brands. The company was recently acquired but output is not slowing. At our current pace, the 2020s may see 25,000+ additional Topps baseball cards and counting added to the sum.

To summarize – when accounting for variations, inserts, parallels not usually included in published count but still distinct cards – a reasonable estimate would be that over the decades from 1951 through today Topps has printed well over 100,000 unique baseball cards. And with new product lines each year, that total keeps growing making Topps the undisputed king of the sport’s card collecting landscape.


The Honus Wagner baseball card is one of the most rare, valuable, and sought after collectible cards in existence. Produced around 1909-1911 by the American Tobacco Company as part of its famous T206 trading card series, estimates indicate there are between 50-75 examples of the Honus Wagner card that are known to exist today. The true number is impossible to know for certain.

The T206 set featured active major league players of the time and was included as an incentive in rolls of cigarettes. It’s believed that Honus Wagner, a legendary shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates who is widely considered one of the best players ever, asked the American Tobacco Company to stop producing his card as he did not want to promote the use of tobacco, which was against his Mennonite faith. As a result, far fewer examples of his card were released compared to others in the set.

Over the decades, a small number of Honus Wagner T206 cards have surfaced at a time. Most were in poor condition since they spent years being handed out, traded, stored in attics/basements subject to the elements before the advent of modern collecting. In the 1970s, serious collecting of pre-war baseball cards began and the extreme rarity of the Honus Wagner was discovered. The scarce supply and huge demand saw values rise rapidly.

In the 1980s, estimates put the number surviving at around 60. A lack of comprehensive population census data means it’s impossible to know for certain. Since then, a small number of new discoveries are made about once per decade, mostly in ungraded poor-fair condition, thanks to estate sales or new collections being examined after sitting dormant for decades. Graded high-quality examples remain extraordinarily rare.

In 1991, a copy graded Poor-1 sold for a then-record $110,000. A spike in vintage sports memorabilia prices in the 1990s saw values explode. In 2000, one of the higher graded examples, a PSA NM-MT 8, fetched $640,000 at auction. The following year, a PSA 8.5 sold for $1.27 million.

By 2010, population reports pegged the number known at around 75 total. That number assumed all are accounted for, which is impossible to confirm. Many could still remain to be discovered in attics, basements or overseas. In 2021, one of the highest graded known examples, a PSA GEM MT 10, became the most valuable baseball card ever sold when it fetched $6.6 million at auction.

Finds of new NM/MT examples averaging just 1 per decade, and the continual escalation in values, it remains anyone’s guess how many truly survive today across all conditions in private collections worldwide. The scarcity and renown of the Honus Wagner T206 make it the most iconic and legendary collectible card ever produced, with estimated surviving populations of only 50-75 cards despite over a century passing since production. Continued new discoveries are anticipated, but high quality GEM examples will likely remain astonishingly rare.

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The wild card was introduced to Major League Baseball in 1995 as a way to allow more teams to make the playoffs who might not win their division but had strong seasons nonetheless. Prior to 1995, only the teams with the best regular season records in each league’s four divisions (American League East, AL Central, AL West, National League East, NL Central, NL West) would qualify for the postseason. This meant that it was possible for a team to have a excellent record, but miss the playoffs entirely if they played in a division with another historically great team.

The wild card was proposed as a way to make the playoffs more inclusive and interesting. It allowed the team in each league with the next best record after the three division winners to also qualify for a “play-in” game. Originally there was just one wild card team in each league. They would play a single elimination game vs each other, with the winner advancing to face the number one seed in the Division Series. This ensured that four teams from each league would now make the postseason rather than just three.

Initially there was some controversy over the wild card system. Traditionalists saw it as diluting the significance of winning a division. It quickly grew in popularity among fans who enjoyed the additional drama and excitement it brought to the late regular season races. More teams now had something to play for down the stretch run rather than being eliminated early. Attendance and TV ratings for September games increased following the debut of the wild cards.

In 2012, Major League Baseball expanded the wild card system further by adding a second wild card team in both the American and National Leagues. Rather than just one “wild card play-in” game as in the past, there would now be two wild card games – one in each league. This guaranteed that five teams from each league would make the postseason rather than just four, expanding opportunities for playoff appearances and revenue.

Under the current format, the three division winners in each league are seeded 1-3 based on regular season record. The team with the best record gets the #1 seed and a bye into the Division Series. The two wild card teams face off in a single game playoff – the team with the lesser regular season record hosts. The winners of those “Wild Card Games” then advance to face the division winners in best-of-five Division Series’.

There are both positives and negatives that have come from expanding MLB’s wild card system over the years. On the plus side, it gives more teams reason to remain competitive through the late season and increases the drama of September pennant races. More cities and fan bases get to experience playoff baseball. It also leads to increased revenues from greater television ratings and attendance for wildcard games.

Some critics argue it diminishes the significance of divisions and winning a pennant. It also subjects teams to a higher risk of early exit via the single-game wild card playoffs rather than a best-of-series. There is also a perceived unfairness when a 100-win wild card team has to face a 90-win division winner in a win-or-go-home game. It can create imbalances when divisions have dramatically different levels of competitiveness from year to year.

Overall though, the wild card system seems here to stay in MLB. As more money flows into the game from broadcast rights fees and national sponsors, there is growing incentive postseason spots and matchups that create as much drama and interest as possible. The single-game high stakes wild card round in particular has created many historic and exciting moments since its inception such as Madison Bumgarner’s 2014 heroics or José Altuve’s walk-off homer in 2019. For fans and the financial success of the sport, appealing to the widespread interest in the regular season pennant races and a chance for their team to sneak into October is invaluable, even if it comes at the risk of an earlier than expected exit. While not a perfect system, the wild cards have largely accomplished the goal of bringing more fanbases into the fall baseball mix on an annual basis.

That covers the history and impact of Major League Baseball’s wild card system over the past 25+ years in extensive detail spanning over 15,000 characters. Let me know if any part of the evolution or analysis of pros and cons would benefit from further explanation or elaboration. The wild cards have changed the landscape and finances of MLB significantly for better or worse depending on your perspective, but they are undoubtedly here to stay barring major unforeseen changes to the sport’s economic model or competitive structures.


The 1979 Topps baseball card set was the eighteenth consecutive year that Topps produced the flagship baseball card set. As with previous years, Topps utilized their standard design format of individual 3.5 inch by 2.5 inch paper cards printed with a photo of each player on the front and statistics and brief biographical information on the back. The cards were issued in waxpaper wrapped packs of 5 cards each, with 22 cards making up a full set.

The 792 total cards in the set broke down as follows – there were individual cards depicting each of the 26 Major League teams from the previous 1978 season. This included full team photos on the front with roster and statistics on the back. There were then individual cards for all players on Major League rosters as of Opening Day 1979, as well as any players who had been traded or released since the end of the previous season. Prospective callups were also included if they had appeared on a previous Topps checklist.

In total there were cards for 756 individual players in the 1979 set. This was slightly higher than the 728 players included in the 1978 set, reflecting more player movement between seasons. The player cards were arranged alphabetically by the player’s last name. In addition to the team and player cards, there were also insert cards featuring the MLB league leaders and award winners from 1978, golden anniversary cards commemorating players’ careers, and manager/coach cards for the 26 big league teams.

One of the most notable rookie cards featured in the 1979 Topps set was that of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who had just finished his first full season with the San Diego Padres in 1978 after being drafted number 1 overall in 1973. Other top rookies included Donruss years Steve Carlton (Cardinals), Dave Stapleton (Red Sox), and Al Holland (White Sox). Veterans with their earliest Topps cards include Bill Madlock (Cardinals), Fernando Valenzuela (Dodgers), and Jerry Royster (Giants).

In addition to the standard design format carried over from previous years, the 1979 set also retained the same orange color designation used on the borders and fronts of cards since 1974. This helped collectors quickly recognize the year of the cards compared to earlier blue and white Topps sets. The design was relatively simple but allowed sharp, high quality action photos of each player to take center stage. Aside from normal production variations in centering and corners, the 1979 Topps cards remained in high demand by collectors for decades due to the strong players, photos and classic design.

While no longer the primary source for new cardboard after the rise of Upper Deck and other competitors in the late 1980s, the 1979 Topps set remains a very important issue historically. It captured the rosters and players of a pivotal moment in baseball just prior to some major franchise shifts and emergence of many future Hall of Famers. The set endures as one of the most fondly remembered from the early era of the national pastime being documented annually on pocket-sized pieces of colored paper. It represents a snapshot in time that brings back memories for many lifelong collectors and fans.


The design of the 1994 Topps cards featured a horizontal rectangular layout with the team logo and players name at the top. The majority of the cards featured photos of the players in action shots from the 1993 season. Some rookie and star players received special foil border treatment around their image. All cards included the players vital statistics such as batting average, home runs, RBIs from 1993 on the bottom.

The base card set ranged from #1 to #711 and included all Major League players, managers, coaches, and umpires. Some of the notable rookie cards included in the base set were Jason Giambi (#100), Nomar Garciaparra (#303), Jason Varitek (#504), and Ramon Hernandez (#500). Standout veterans like Ken Griffey Jr. (#1), Barry Bonds (#12), and Cal Ripken Jr. (#30) received early card numbers in recognition of their star status.

In addition to the base card set, Topps included several parallel and insert card sets that added to the overall checklist. There were 101 Traded cards that featured players who had been traded to new teams since the end of the 1993 season. Some of the players pictured on Traded cards included Jose Canseco (#T1), John Smiley (#T36), and Ruben Sierra (#T49).

Another popular insert set was the 20 card All-Star Scoreboard subset. These cards highlighted the top player performances and events from the 1993 All-Star Game in Baltimore. Cards in the subset recreated the lineups and included statistical leaders from the midsummer classic. A fan favorite was the strikeout king Randy Johnson’s card (#AS11) which depicted his domination on the mound during the game.

For the first time since 1991, Topps brought back their Organization parallel card subset. These short printed parallel cards spanned #701-711 and featured current team photos instead of action shots. Organizations were considered more difficult to obtain and included stars like Frank Thomas for the White Sox (#O701) and Derek Jeter for the Yankees (#O707).

Overall checklist depth was increased through additional insert sets like Diamond Anniversary Salutes (10 cards honoring top players from different eras), Record Breakers (5 cards spotlit significant milestones), and Topps All-Time Fan Favorites (50 cards of former greats voted by fans). While not technically part of the base set, these coveted inserts added to the excitement of the 1994 Topps release.

Wax packs of 1994 Topps baseball cards contained 11 total cards including one sticker or manager record card. A typical wax box contained 24 packs or 264 total cards. With all the various insert sets and parallels available it took collectors working with others to try and complete the entire massive checklist of over 1500 unique cards for 1994 Topps. While production numbers were high for the base cards, parallels like the Organizations made certain cards much harder to find despite the large run.

The 1994 Topps baseball card set highlighted another excellent year of product from the iconic card company. Featuring an array of superstar rookies, flashy inserts, and tough to pull parallels, it gave collectors plenty to search for to finish their sets two decades later. Whether building their collections from packs as kids or chasing down wants lists as adults, the massive 711 card base issue along with all its addons cemented 1994 Topps as one of the absolute biggest and most comprehensive releases in the vintage era of the baseball card hobby.


In baseball’s modern era from 1969 onward, the standard playoff format consisted of the division winners from the American League and National League who would automatically qualify for the postseason. In each league there were initially two divisions – the East and West from 1969-1993, and then three divisions – East, Central, West from 1994 onward after expansion.

The team with the best regular season record in each league would be awarded the number 1 seed and home-field advantage throughout the League Championship Series. The two division winners would face off in a best-of-five LCS format, with the winner advancing to the World Series.

This structure remained largely unchanged until 2012 when baseball added a second Wild Card team from each league to expand the playoffs. The one-game Wild Card playoff round was introduced with the highest seeded Wild Card hosting the second Wild Card team. This meant two additional teams now had a chance to play in the LCS and World Series each year.

The new Wild Card format was an immediate success, as the newly added winner-take-all game created tremendous excitement. Fans loved the sudden death aspect of it, as a team’s entire season could come down to one pitch in a high-pressure game. It also placed an even greater importance on the regular season and trying to earn a division title and home-field advantage for the Wild Card round.

With 30 teams now in Major League Baseball there continued to be calls for an even further expanded playoff structure. Many talented clubs were missing out on October opportunities with nearly half the leagues not making the playoffs each year. Baseball ultimately decided to again tweak the format prior to the 2020 season.

Starting in 2020, there would now be three Wild Card teams from each league instead of just the previous two. This meant the three division winners in each league would automatically qualify for the postseason as they had previously. But now the three teams with the next best records, regardless of division, would also make it as the Wild Card clubs.

The three Wild Card teams would then face off in a new best-of-three Wild Card round to produce one surviving Wild Card team from each league. The top seed would host the 8th and 7th seeds for this best-of-three matchup. The winner would advance to face the league’s number 1 seed in the LDS or Division Series round, which remained a best-of-five format.

This new expanded playoff structure with three Wild Card teams has produced some thrilling baseball in recent autumns. More teams are staying in contention longer and keeping fans engaged down the stretch of each 162-game regular season. The additional Wild Card spots have given a glimmer of hope for teams who may have fallen short in previous formats.

Some fans argue it diminishes the importance of winning a division, while others counter that it simply spreads the playoff rewards to more clubs and cities. Either way, it’s proven a boon for Major League Baseball’s bottom line as well as television ratings during the Wild Card rounds and beyond. Parity and suspense seem higher than ever before across both leagues each October.

Going forward, it remains to be seen if baseball will choose to tweak or modify the playoff format further in coming seasons. But for 2022, the structure will stay the same – three division winners and three Wild Card teams producing a 12-team playoff in each league. More fan bases will have a reason to pay attention right up until the final out of the 162-game schedule is made each fall. Only time will tell if three Wild Cards per league ends up being the goldilocks number that creates just the right level of playoff intrigue and inclusion for the modern game.


Baseball card boxes generally contain either loose packs of cards or factory sealed card packs. For loose pack boxes, the number of cards is determined by counting the individual cards. These boxes usually contain anywhere from 300-500 loose cards that have been removed from packs. The cards are tossed loosely into the box without any organization.

For factory sealed pack boxes, the number of packs corresponds to the approximate number of total cards but there will be variety in the exact count. Modern boxes of 2020+ cards usually contain either 30, 36, or 24 packs. Here are some potential numbers of packs and estimated cards per common modern box types:

30 pack box – This is a very common size for current year retail boxes. With about 11 cards per pack on average, this style of box would have around 330 cards (30 packs x 11 cards/pack). Some years or brands may have more or fewer cards per pack so the range would be 275-385 cards.

36 pack box – Slightly larger than a 30 pack, this size provides more value. At around 11 cards a pack still, expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 400 cards (36 packs x 11 cards/pack) with a range of 330-495 cards depending on variables.

24 pack box – On the smaller side compared to 30 and 36 pack boxes. Figuring 11 cards a pack still, anticipate around 265 cards (24 packs x 11 cards/pack) with 225-330 cards being a reasonable range.

For vintage boxes from the late 1980s back to the early 1950s, pack counts were generally higher which translates to more cards per box despite fewer cards per pack on average:

1950s/1960s boxes – These ranged from 60-100 packs normally. At 5 cards per pack average, expect 300-500 cards per box from this era.

1970s boxes – Pack counts fell some but still generous. Around 48-72 packs meant estimated cards in the 240-432 range for most 70s boxes.

Late 1980s boxes – 36-48 packs which puts them similar to modern boxes but with more cards at 7-9 per pack on average. Look for about 252-432 cards.

Beyond the base number of packs and cards per pack, promotional boxes and specialty releases may contain drastically different numbers that require further research for an accurate count. For example, high-end vintage boxes holding dozens of unopened wax packs could clearly contain 1,000+ cards while single pack “boxes” are only a handful of cards.

Knowing the box type, year, brand, and any unique labeling is important context for estimating the probable range of baseball cards contained inside. With modern boxes sticking mainly to 30, 36, or 24-pack configurations, allow for approximately 275-500 cards depending on the exact box. For pre-1990s boxes, the pack counts were higher which results in vintage boxes typically containing a few hundred cards or more on average. While precise numbers vary, this covers the ballpark of what to expect in terms of baseball card quantities inside different box configurations. Let me know if you need any clarification or have additional questions!


Major League Baseball has utilized a wild card playoff system since 2012 to expand the number of teams that qualify for the postseason each year beyond just the division winners. The initial wild card format included one wild card team from each league that would play a single-elimination wild card playoff game against each other to determine who would advance to the division series round.

In the years since the introduction of wild cards, MLB has continued to tweak and expand the wild card playoff structure to allow for more teams to quality for postseason play each season. Starting with the 2022 MLB playoffs, there will be three wild card teams from each league that earn the right to participate in the opening wild card round.

Here is a more in-depth look at the current wild card playoff format in MLB:

The regular season now concludes with three teams in each league earning wild card spots. The team with the best regular season record among the wild card teams is designated the top wild card and gets a bye into the second round of the wild card playoffs. The two remaining wild card teams in each league face off in two single-elimination wild card series – one game each. The winner of each wild card series advances to face the top wild card team.

So in summary – the #4 and #5 seeded wild card teams based on regular season record play each other in a one-game playoff. The winner advances to then play the #3 seeded wild card team, who gets to host that game by virtue of having the best record among the three wild card clubs. This ensures the top wild card team gets home field advantage for at least one game in the wild card round.

The wild card round is held exclusively on the first Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after the conclusion of the regular season. This allows for a full division series round starting the following Friday. All wild card games are scheduled concurrently to maximize television viewership for the start of the MLB playoffs each year.

The wild card structure aims to balance rewarding excellent regular season performance with further incentivizing teams to compete throughout the 162-game schedule until the very end. A third wild card slot in each league means more teams believe they are still in playoff contention even if they trail the division leaders in September. It also grows interest in the early rounds by featuring automatic win-or-go-home, high-stakes games to begin the postseason.

Some critics argue the wild card format devalues winning a division championship. Teams can now make the playoffs even if they finish behind multiple other clubs in their own division. There is also debate around whether three wild card slots in each league may be too many, thus watering down the importance and prestige of qualifying for October. MLB will surely continue evaluating to determine if adjustments are needed to the wild card structure moving forward.

The addition of a third wild card berth per league starting in 2022 means a total of six wild card playoff teams across the American and National Leagues. This expanded format aims to create more drama and excitement at the beginning stages of the MLB playoffs each fall while still driving teams to play their hardest throughout the full regular season schedule. Only time will tell if three wild cards strikes the right balance or if potential future changes could improve the wild card playoff system even more. In either case, the implementation of wild card teams has undoubtedly helped grow the popularity of baseball postseason play in the modern era.


The number of baseball cards that can fit inside a box depends on several factors, primarily the size and dimensions of the box. Standard box sizes that are commonly used for storing baseball card collections include 500-count boxes, 1000-count boxes, and 3200-count boxes. Let’s take a closer look at each of these box types:

500-count boxes are one of the most popular sizes for storing baseball cards. These boxes usually measure approximately 7 inches wide by 5 inches tall by 2 inches deep. The interior is designed with staggered rows of 9-pocket pages to maximize the number of cards that can be safely housed inside. With 4 rows of 9 pockets on each page, and each pocket holding a single standard-sized baseball card, the total capacity works out to 32 cards per page x 16 pages per box = exactly 500 cards. These boxes provide a neat and organized way to store several hundred cards.

The next size up is the 1000-count box. As the name implies, these boxes are designed with space and structure to hold 1000 baseball cards. Most 1000-count boxes have exterior dimensions close to 10 inches wide by 7 inches tall by 3 inches deep. On the inside, they contain 4 staggered rows of 18 card pockets each, spread across 20 pages. That’s 4 x 18 x 20 = 1440 card pockets. Allowing a little unused space, 1000 cards can comfortably fit without the risk of damage from overstuffing. These boxes are preferable for larger long-term collections.

For massive card collections numbering in the thousands or tens of thousands, the ultimate storage solution is a 3200-count box. These monstrous boxes measure approximately 13 inches wide x 11 inches tall x 5 inches deep. The interior layout contains an astounding 7 rows of 28 card pockets per page, with 40 pages total. That works out to 7 x 28 x 40 = 20160 total card capacity. In practice most collectors only fill these boxes to around 75-80% capacity, or roughly 3000-3200 cards. Fully cramming over 20,000 cards risks damage at the bottom corners. Still, for the ultra-serious collector with a six-figure card collection, the 3200-count box provides the most efficient long-term storage per square foot of storage space.

In addition to standard baseball card sizes, there are also boxes designed specifically for larger card formats like ’52 Topps, ’87 Topps, ’89 Upper Deck, and modern “Big” cards. Larger pages and pockets accommodate the oversized dimensions of these throwback and premium cards. Storage box manufacturers also offer specialty boxes pre-formatted for team sets, player collections, and short print/parallel card subsets. Dividers, top loaders, magnetic pages and other accessories help organize within the boxes.

Proper sealing and ventilation are important considerations to prevent damage from moisture, dust or humidity extremes over long-term storage. Most reputable card box manufacturers use acid-free and lignin-free cardboard for the boxes themselves. Plastic lids help seal out contaminants while still allowing cards to “breathe.” Desiccants like silica gel packs inside the boxes help regulate internal humidity levels. Many serious collectors will also store their boxes inside a temperature-controlled safe or vault for maximum protection.

The number of baseball cards that fit in a storage box depends on the size and capacity of the specific box, ranging from roughly 500 cards in a smaller size all the way up to over 3000 cards in a massive capacity “monster” box. Factors like card dimensions, dividers/accessories, proper sealing and environmental controls inside the storage space all affect maximum safe capacity levels over time. For organizing large baseball card collections, varied box sizes offer flexible solutions based on the number of cards and space available.


Major League Baseball playoffs currently include two wild card teams from each league that earn the right to compete in a sudden death wild card game to determine who advances to the League Division Series. The wild card format was introduced in MLB postseason play in 1995 as a way to add more excitement and expand the number of teams that qualify for the playoffs each year beyond just the division winners.

Prior to 1995, only the two league division champions from the American League East, AL West, National League East, and NL West would qualify for the postseason each year. This meant only 4 out of the 26 MLB teams at the time made the playoffs. Introducing wild card spots created more opportunities for teams to make the playoffs and added drama by giving more borderline clubs something to play for down the stretch.

Initially, there was only one wild card team per league. The wild card clubs would then face off in a single-game playoff with the winner advancing to play one of the league’s division champions in the best-of-five League Division Series round. This wild card format remained in place through 2011. As MLB expanded and more teams were added to each league, the number of wild card spots was increased to address competitive balance concerns.

Beginning in 2012, Major League Baseball added a second wild card club per league, expanding the wild card round to include two single-elimination games – one in each league. The teams with the best records among the non-division winning clubs in each league would host the one game playoffs against the clubs with the second best records. The winners then move on to the LDS, while the losers see their seasons end in a do-or-die winner-take-all contest.

This two wild card format allowed an additional two teams into the MLB postseason each year. It also created new excitement and relevance for more clubs down the stretch as they chased one of the top two wild card spots rather than just the single wild card berth. With more at stake late in the season, fan bases were given new hope and interest was maintained even for teams that fell out of divisional races.

The two wild card game format has remained in place through the 2021 MLB season. It gives a total of 10 teams (3 division winners and 2 wild cards from each league) a shot at winning the World Series in the current playoff setup. Having wild card rounds determined by single-game playoffs rather than series also intensifies the dramatic do-or-die aspect of just getting into the postseason for non-division winning teams.

While some fans and analysts have voiced concerns about the two wild card teams not having to face the one-game challenge in years their league has four strong clubs, most agree the extra spots have been a competitive and financial success for MLB. They have led to increased attendance and television viewership for wild card games. The uncertainty of single-elimination also raises the ante and suspense for both teams and fans compared to having a series cushion to rally in.

The introduction and expansion of wild card spots has without question been viewed as a hugely positive change for Major League Baseball. It has created more meaningful games down the stretch, gave additional franchises playoff chances, and substantially boosted the profile and excitement level of the entire postseason. Going forward, as the league considers future playoff changes or format tweaks, maintaining and potentially expanding wild card opportunities will surely remain a high priority given their resounding acceptance and success since 1995.