With the addition of the second Wild Card to Major League Baseball this season, the bar for reaching the postseason has just been lowered, and it was lowered significantly in the American League where there tends to be a bigger gap between the best teams and everybody else.
Below is a look at number of wins for the Wild Card team (blue columns) during the Wild Card era*. The number on the left of each column is the average number of wins for those teams. And the error bars represent the maximum and minimum number of wins needed during these years to win the Wild Card.
The red columns are the same data for the best team in each league to miss the playoffs (the team that would have been the 2nd Wild Card those years).
In the NL, the average Wild Card team has won 91.5 games, while the average “2nd Wild Card” won 89.1 games, a drop-off of just 2.4 games. However in the AL, the gap between the average 1st Wild Card and 2nd Wild Card is nearly six games (5.8).
In other words, a team no longer needs to aim for a win total in the mid-90s to make the playoffs. Now, if you can get to 89 or 90 wins, there is a good chance you will be in the playoffs.
* 1995 was a strike-shortened season and is excluded from this data
NOW WATCH: Briefing videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.