In Major League Baseball, the American League Division Series (ALDS) determines which two teams from the American League will advance to the American League Championship Series. The Division Series consists of two concurrent 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 implemeneted in 1981 as a result of a midseason strike with first place teams before the strike taking on the first place teams after. After 1993, it was implemented for good when Major League Baseball restructured each league into three divisions, but their next playing was in 1995 due to the cancellation of the 1994 playoffs. In 1981, a split-season format forced the first ever divisional playoff series, in which the New York Yankees won the Eastern Division series over the Milwaukee Brewers (who were in the American League until 1998) in five games while the Oakland Athletics swept the Kansas City Royals in three games in the Western Division. The Yankees have currently played in the most division series in history, with fifteen appearances. The Toronto Blue Jays are the only team to have never played in the ALDS and are the last team to win the World Series under the old 4 division format.
Determining the matchups
Since 1968, 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. However, if the wild-card team and the division winner with the best record are from the same division, the wild-card team plays the division winner with the second-best record, and the remaining two division leaders play. 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 2007, MLB has implemented a new rule to give the team from the league that wins the All-Star Game with the best regular season record a slightly greater advantage. 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 league that wins the All-Star Game 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.
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