Baseball has been a part of American culture since who-knows-when. Still, it has gone a long way before it became the sport that people know and love today. Take a trip down baseball history and learn about where it really started, the numerous changes that its features underwent, and more. These baseball facts will answer your questions before you even ask them.
The first-ever mention of the term “baseball” was in John Newbery’s A Little Pretty Pocket-Book.
Dating back to 1744, the children’s book featured a short poem and an illustration portraying the so-called baseball game. Posts marked the bases in the illustration instead of modern-day bags and flat home plates. Aside from being popular in England, the book was also reprinted in North America, specifically in New York in 1762 and in Massachusetts in 1787.
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The “sweet spot” on a baseball bat is an infamous number in baseball.
Apparently, a player has an automatically increased chance of hitting a home run upon hitting the said spot. It sits in the area between 5-7 inches from the barrel end of the bat. When the bat makes a satisfying crack sound and there is less vibration, then it can be said that a player hit the sweet spot.
In some places, baseball often serves as a metaphor for sex.
For one, “first base” refers to mouth-to-mouth kissing. People on the “second base” have established skin-to-skin contact or manual arousal of the genitals. The performance of oral sex or touching of the mouth to the genitals occurs at “third base.” Lastly, “homerun” refers to full sexual intercourse.
A labrum tear is one of the worst shoulder injuries for a baseball pitcher.
It occurs when the cartilage between the upper arm and the shoulder socket tears. While a healing torn labrum usually requires surgery, only a few pitchers still managed to have a successful career afterward. “Pitcher’s elbow” and “rotator cuff injuries” also count among the most severe injuries that a baseball pitcher can experience.
“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” serves as the unofficial anthem of American baseball.
American songwriters Jack Norworth and Albert von Tilzer wrote the song in 1908. Ironically, neither of them has ever been to a baseball game. “Take Me Out to the Ballgame” traditionally plays during the middle of the 7th inning.
The fastest recorded Major League game only lasted for 51 minutes.
It happened on September 28, 1919, at the Polo Grounds. Back then, the New York Giants beat the Philadelphia Phillies by 6-1.
The fastest professional baseball game only lasted for 31 minutes.
The Winston-Salem Twins defeated the Asheville Tourists at 2-1 on August 30, 1916, in Asheville, North Carolina. While the game was originally scheduled at 2:00 PM, it ended before it was officially supposed to begin.
The longest MLB game in terms of time lasted for 8 hours and 6 minutes.
Between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers, the game had to be completed in more than two days. It began on May 8, 1984, at Comiskey Park where the score tied at 3-3 after 17 innings. However, the game resulted in a tie when no more scores were hit the following day even with a total of 25 innings played.
The longest MLB game in terms of innings had 26 innings.
On May 1, 1920, the Brooklyn Robins and Boston Braves tied at 1-1. The game could have lasted longer than 3 hours and 50 minutes if not for the night’s darkness that caused the calling of the game.
William Howard Taft was the first U.S. President to throw the ceremonial first ball.
Several years prior to the historical event on April 14, 1910, the 27th U.S. President was once a semipro baseball player. American presidents have been doing the honor of throwing out the first ball on Opening Day since then. Still, Jimmy Carter remains to be the only exception to this tradition.
The record of most home runs in a baseball match by one person is 4.
So far, 18 players have managed to achieve this feat. The first player to do so was Bobby Lowe (USA) back in 1894. Meanwhile, the most recent player to hit 4 home runs was J. D. Martinez (USA). He was playing for the Arizona Diamondbacks against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California, USA.
The record for the fastest baseball pitch by a woman is 69 mph (111.05 km/h).
On September 20, 2013, Lauren Boden (USA) achieved the feat on the set of ‘Officially Amazing’ in Claremont, California, USA.
The most expensive autographed baseball sold for $191,200 (£103,766).
On May 5, 2006, Heritage Auction Galleries sold it at an auction in Dallas, Texas, USA. Legendary player Joe DiMaggio and then-wife film star Marilyn Monroe signed the said baseball in 1961. Moreover, this price already includes the buyers’ premium.
The first baseball team to ever wear numbers on their backs were the New York Yankees.
In the 1920s, the team wore numbers in order of their batting. Babe Ruth wears the number 3 as he always hit third.
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The first father-son to play in the Major Leagues was Ken Griffey Sr. and Ken Griffey Jr.
The played as teammates for the Seattle Mariners in 1990. On September 14 of the same year, the Griffeys hit back-to-back home runs. It was another father-son first in baseball facts.
The least amount of people recorded at a baseball game is 347.
Set in 2011, the Florida Marlins were playing against the Cincinnati Reds. However, only 347 people were able to attend the game due to Hurricane Irene.
Various references have different takes on who invented the game of baseball.
Some even date as far back as the 18th century-USA. However, the most direct ancestors of the game turn out to be two different English games. One is the cricket while the other is rounders, a children’s game that earliest colonists brought to New England.
Baseball was invented in the 1800s with the Knickerbocker Rules.
Different groups of players began crafting individual sets of rules by then. Still, the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York earned the credit for the first true effort. The group outlined a 20-rule perimeter setting foul lines, paces between bases, and the limit of 3 outs. Moreover, they eliminated the dodgeball-style rule where players can get a runner out by hitting him with a thrown ball.
The New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club has been a huge part of baseball history in 1845.
Founder Alexander J. Cartwright started as an amateur player in the city before rising to his legendary status. Many from the set of baseball rules that his group formulated still remains to date.
There were once 2 versions of baseball until the American Civil War (1861-1865).
One was the Massachusetts game which used a softball. On the other hand, the New York game used a hardball. Soldiers from NY and NJ taught their game to others during the Civil War. Eventually, the New York game became predominant.
Since the Civil War, baseball has earned the tag “America’s national pastime.”
Both Union and Confederate soldiers played the game to boost morale and even escape emotionally when they had time. Hence, baseball increased in popularity during the war in 1861-65 and many years after that.
The World War II situation inspired some changes in baseball rules.
Major League Baseball declared that in the event of an enemy bombing, the leading time after five innings would automatically be the winner.
In 1857, the National Association of Baseball Players was founded.
It comprised clubs from New York City and neighboring places. By 1859, Washington, D.C. organized a club as well. Then, Lowell, Massachusetts; Allegheny, Pennsylvania; and Hartford, Connecticut all followed suit the following year.
In 1865, what seemed as the first official baseball convention was called.
The gathering aimed to confirm the rules and amateur status of baseball players. Hence, 91 amateur teams from different cities and states participated. A few on the list are St. Louis, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Louisville, Kentucky, Washington, D.C., Boston, and Philadelphia.
Baseball listed 8 original MLB teams.
They are the Philadelphia Athletics, St. Louis Brown Stockings, Hartford Dark Blues, Louisville Grays, Mutual of New York, Boston Red Stockings (now the Atlanta Braves), Cincinnati Red Stockings, and the Chicago White Stockings (now the Chicago Cubs).
The first World Series took place in 1903.
Then, the winners of the National League and the American League competed in a “best-of-nine series.” More baseball facts of that year are how the Boston Americans, later became the Red Sox, won the title. Two years later, the World Series was reduced to a best-of-seven game.
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A baseball scandal in 1919 turned the Chicago White Sox into “Black Sox.”
Accusations of intentionally losing the World Series befell eight players of the team. Consequently, they were banned from baseball for life. One of them was “Shoeless” Joe Jackson, one of the greatest baseball hitters of all time. Unfortunately, his being kicked out also made him ineligible for the Hall of Fame.
The years 1900-1919 earned the tag “The Dead Ball Era” of baseball history.
During those years, baseballs were harder to hit far due to their soft and loosely wound form. It gave a clear advantage for pitchers of the day like Grover Cleaveland, Walter Johnson, and Cy Young over hitters. Still, hitters like Ty Cobb, Joe Jackson, and Honus Wagner were some of the most prolific at that time.
Baseball used to be a full medal sport in the Olympics in 1992-2008.
However, the International Olympic Committee voted to take the sport off the calendar starting in 2012. Still, the World baseball groups pursue the return of the sport to the world-renowned games.
Major League teams prohibited African-American players for the first half of the 20th century.
This conspicuous racist move later paved the way for the minority’s founding of the “Negro Leagues.” Eventually, the group had introduced some of the greatest baseball players of the century.
The National Baseball Hall of Fame was founded in 1963 in Cooperstown, New York.
Since then, this nonprofit organization has been committed to preserving the history of America’s pastime. It also celebrates not just legendary players but managers, umpires, and executives as well.
There are 2 ways to elect Baseball Hall of Fame members.
First, selected Baseball Writers Association of America members are each granted a vote. They must have at least 10 years of experience. However, if an eligible player fails to receive 5% of the writers’ votes, then he is automatically eliminated from any future considerations on the ballots.
A player can be considered for election by 1 of 4 Veteran’s Committees.
That is if he has exhausted ten years of eligibility on the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot but failed to obtain 75% of the eligible vote. The committees include Early Baseball (1871-1949), Golden Days (1950-1969), Modern Baseball (1970-1987), and Today’s Game (1998-present).
The National Baseball Hall of Fame is also known as “Cooperstown”.
Legendary players Ty Cobb, Walter Johnson, Christy Mathewson, Babe Ruth, and Honus Wagner were the first five men to be elected.
Minor League baseball players make no salary.
They receive no pay during the offseason or spring training. What they get instead is housing and a $10 per diem allowance during spring training. During the regular season, Minor League baseball players only make $1,160-$2,100 per month. Still, the amount depends on which level they play at.
Henry Chadwick is known, among several others, as the “Father of Baseball.”
The New York Clipper sportswriter reported games and invented an early version of the box score. Thus, increasing the popularity of the game. Moreover, he is the only writer to have been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
In 1931, the Chattanooga Shortstop traded Johnny Jones to the Charlotte Hornets for a 25-pound turkey.
Another bizarre trading was of Pacific Coast League’s Jack Fenton to San Francisco for a bag of prunes. However, the most famous trade in baseball history costs $125,000. The Yankees paid Boston for Babe Ruth in 1919. Today, that amount is equivalent to nearly $2 million.
Toni Stone (1921–1996) became the first woman to play in baseball’s Negro League.
There were only three women over the 40-year history of the organization. Moreover, baseball historians dub her the “female Jackie Robinson.” In 1953, Stone even became the fourth-best batter in the league.
Ray Chapman was the only major league player killed by a pitched ball in baseball history.
On August 16, 1920, he was playing for the Cleveland Indians when he received a fatal hit in the head. Yankee pitcher Carl Mays was the one who threw the deadly ball.
Since 1989, Major League Baseball has not had any left-handed throwers play catcher.
The most common reason for it is being a left-handed catcher has the disadvantage of making the throw to third base, especially with a right-handed hitter at the plate. Hence, left-handed players are excluded from the position of catcher except in rare cases.
Benny Distefano was the last left-handed catcher to play in the big leagues.
In 1989 alone, he caught in three games for the Pittsburgh Pirates. There are only 30 left-handed throwing players caught in at least 1 defensive inning. However, there were only 5 left-handed catchers if counting those who caught 100 or more games in their career.
The recorded speed of the fastest baseball pitch ever thrown is 105.1 mph (169.14 km/h).
Aroldis Chapman from Cuba threw the record-holder pitch. On September 24, 2010, he was playing for the Cincinnati Reds against the San Diego Padres at PETCO Park, San Diego, California, USA.
Cal Ripken Jr. holds the record for most consecutive games played in Major League Baseball history.
Lou Gehrig had a 2,130-game streak and was the previous title-holder for 56 years until 1995. After beating the record, Ripken Jr. still continued to play 501 more games. Hence, setting the seemingly unbeatable record of 2,632 games.
Major League Baseball’s Yogi Berra’s real first name is Lawrence.
American professional baseball catcher Lawrence Peter Berra has been carrying the nickname since his teenage years. Back then, he was playing American Legion Baseball. After attending a movie, his friend Jack Maguire noticed a resemblance between Berra and the “yogi” (the person who practiced yoga). From the moment Maguire said “I’m going to call you Yogi,” the name stuck.
Honus Wagner is featured on the most expensive baseball card ever sold at auction.
In 2016, the Wagner card sold for a shocking $3.12 million. It only bested its previous high of $2.8 million from 9 years earlier. Originally produced by the American Tobacco Company, the card was included in the company’s cigarette packs. However, for unknown reasons, Wagner made the company pull the card from the market. It resulted in having only 25-200 released cards with the scarcity making it a beacon in sports collectibles.
The peak of baseball cards was in the 1990s.
In other words, baseball cards from the 90s are worth handsome money. Collectors and speculators alike flock over the releases from Topps, Upper Deck, Fleer, Donruss, and Score. With card shops on every corner, baseball cards easily became part of the mainstream of this era.
Upper Deck’s Reggie Jackson Autograph is one of the 90s baseball cards worth money.
Its release was the first time where collectors had the chance of finding a real autograph in a Big League pack of cards. In the following years, autographs became the expectation instead of the 2,500 Golden Tickets hidden in packs.
Another one is the Frank Thomas No Name on Front #414 from Topps.
This card is considered the most valuable 1990 baseball card originally available to the general public. At the time, basic printing errors made things primarily novelty. Hence, despite its lesser condition, the 1990 Topps Frank Thomas No Name on Front sold for thousands.
The most notable use of the 1990 Score Bo Jackson #697 was in a Nike campaign.
Entitled “The Player,” the black and white photo featured a shirtless Jackson wearing shoulder pads and holding a bat behind his head. The card also graced the June 1990 cover of Beckett Baseball Card Monthly.
There were legal disputes over the 1990 Score Bo Jackson card.
Photographer Richard Noble called out the unauthorized use of the iconic shot. Hence, the dying of any hopes of having Jackson sign the photograph after that.
Richie Ashburn (1927-1997) hit 2 consecutive fouls that hit the same woman twice.
If not for the injuries incurred, the Philadelphia Phillies star’s foul pitches hitting the woman in the stands might have been fate. The first foul ball ended up breaking the nose of the woman. As the medics were carrying her off on a stretcher, Ashburn hit her with a second foul ball.
Joel Youngblood is the only MLB player to get hits for 2 teams on the same day.
As a Mets member, Youngblood played an afternoon game against the Cubs. He was traded to the Expos after the game. That night made history in baseball facts as he played against the Phillies in Philadelphia.
Jackie Mitchell (1913–1987) struck out Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth in succession in the 1930s.
The remarkable feat immediately meant fame for the 17-year-old Minor League pitcher. However, the same fame also banned Mitchell from Major and Minor League Baseball.
Baseball legend Lou Gehrig retired due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
Still, he made it a point in his farewell speech how he was “the luckiest man on the dace of the earth.” Gehrig’s speech earned the title “Gettysburg Address of Baseball.”
All baseball fields bear certain common features.
For one, the distance between the bases is always 90 feet (27 meters). The pitching rubber (where the pitcher stands) is at 60 feet 6 inches (18 meters) from the back tip of the home plate.
Rollers on a lawnmower can achieve the crosshatched diamond pattern of a baseball field.
In pushing the grass slightly forward, its motion is similar to that of a back-and-forth run of a vacuum on a plush carpet. As a result, grass blades bending away from the viewer appear paler as it captures more light. Otherwise, blades bending toward the viewer seem darker.
Each baseball by the Major League Baseball is made of the same materials.
For the inner core, three layers of wool yarn and a winding of cotton or polyester yarn surrounds the rubber-coated cork. Cowhide covering a latex adhesive or rubber cement coats the core. Lastly, 108 raised cotton stitches complete the structure with red cotton thread.
It’s a requirement for a Major League baseball to have exactly 108 stitches.
Its circumference must be at 9.00-9.25 inches and it must weigh 5.00-5.25 ounces. Specifically, the red-waxed cotton stitches must lace together two pieces of cowhide.
Covering a ball in mud is another requirement for every MLB game.
In a secret New Jersey location, a man must skim through riverbanks to find the mud. The so-called Lena Blackburne Original Baseball Rubbing Mud is then refined before being applied to the balls.
A Major League baseball only has a life span of 5-7 pitches.
It is equivalent to having approximately 70 balls used during a typical game.
Minor and Major leagues use wooden baseball bats; college-level uses metal bats.
While the two variations may weigh the same, they may feel lighter or heavier when swung. The distribution of mass in a bat causes the differences in the “swing weight.”
Major league players are required to wear helmets with at least one earflap.
The rule dates back to 1983 aimed at the protection of the side of the head facing the pitcher. Recently, the latest helmet models also provide enhanced protection to the back of the head.
We can trace the first baseball cap to be made of straw.
The New York Knickerbockers first wore the caps on April 24, 1849. Within a few years, the same team began wearing fine merino wool caps featuring a crown with an attached visor or “bill.” It soon served as a prototype for one of the most popular baseball cap styles until today.
Visiting teams usually wear gray uniforms for easier team distinction for fans.
Dating back to the late 1800s, the tradition smartly differentiates the visiting team from the home team. Traveling teams back then did not have time to launder uniforms, hence, wearing gray is also a hack to hide the dirt.
Among baseball field positions, the pitcher is a defensive player.
Their place is on the pitching mound where the must be touching the rubber to deliver a pitch. Then, it will be thrown to the catcher behind the home plate. A pitcher plays with the objective of getting batters out either by a struck ball or a strikeout (when the hitter records 3 strikes in an at-bat).
Pitchers can either be starters or reliefs.
As a starter, the pitcher begins the game and usually pitches for many innings at a time. They have a tendency to be control specialists with many different pitches to throw. Once the starter becomes tired or seemingly ineffective due to yielding too many runs, hits, or walks, the relief pitcher comes in.
The catcher is also known as the field general of the defense.
The catcher is the only player facing outward toward the entire playing field. Moreover, the catcher’s position is behind the home plate and the batter where he can receive pitches from the pitcher.
The nature of its baseball field position requires a catcher to have quick feet and hands.
They must also be extremely tough. Basically, catchers put down hidden signs from the offense to relay to the pitcher which pitches to throw. Their play can indicate location as well. Sometimes, the catcher calls his own pitches. Other times, the coach calls the pitch from the dugout which is then relayed to the pitcher.
The first baseman is the most involved defensive player compared to other baseball field positions.
It is in regard to the playing action other than the pitcher and the catcher. Essentially, the position of the first baseman is the closest to the first base. There, the first baseman plays a few feet behind the baseline and into the fair territory from the first baseline.
The first baseman plays with the main objective of receiving throws.
Hence, the position requires the player to be good at catching the ball. They must also be able to scoop up balls that hit the dirt before arriving near first base. Moreover, the first basemen usually count among the best hitters of the team as they usually hit for power like in home runs and doubles.
The second baseman is the middle infielder of the baseball field positions.
Their station is between the first and second bases. There, they shade toward second base to cover the middle of the infield. Due to the nature of their role, second basemen must be quick and agile as they often have to get rid of the ball quickly and cover lots of ground.
The second baseman is vital to an effective defense as they help anchor the middle of the infield.
Moreover, their position inclines them to have a shorter throw first and usually more time to make a play. Hence, they are a bit less agile and have a little less arm strength than the shortstop, traditionally.
In baseball field positions, the third baseman is also known as the “hot corner.”
They earned the nickname due to the third base requiring the fastest reaction time on the field. Still, third basemen must bear a very versatile skill set. Their position needs a strong arm for the length of the throw to first base. Also, they should also be quick to handle a hard hit ball by a right-hander down the third baseline or a bunt by a batter.
The shortstop serves as the anchor of the infield defense and is the “other” middle infield position.
Their play between the second and third bases shades heavily toward the second base. Also, their main role is to cover balls hit from the second base moving to the batter’s left until the third baseman.
Strong arms are a prerequisite for shortstops.
With it, they can make throws from a long distance to first base. Their need to cover the most ground also requires shortstops the agility to be able to get up after a diving stop to retire a runner. Moreover, the shortstop is similar to the second baseman with their heavy involvement in double plays. Often, they are the fielder in charge of putting out base stealers at second base.
The left fielder is one of the 3 outfield positions in baseball.
It means that the positions they play are the farthest away from the home plate. As it is a corner outfield position, the left fielder has less territory to cover and traditionally has the weakest arms in the outfield. Also, they have the shortest throw to third base of any outfield positions.
One of the most important baseball field positions is the centerfielder.
These players have the greatest area to cover compared to any other players on the defense. Hence, they have the requirement of being among the fastest players on the team.
The centerfielder is the captain of the outfield.
Also, they have the catching priority over the other outfielders in the convergence of multiple players. Their motion is in toward the ball instead of having to backpedal or catch over the shoulder. Hence, the centerfielder’s role includes calling off any infielder catching a ball if they can. This position requires strong arms as well; they need it in assisting in throwing out runners on the bases on extra base.
The right fielder usually has the strongest arm in the outfield.
They need it due as they have the longest throw to third base for an outfielder. Most of the time, the right field position garners the most iconic baseball hitters of all time.
Fantasy baseball refers to a virtual version of the baseball game.
Here, the player manages rosters of real players who would then compete against each other. The game uses the real-life player’s game statistics in scoring points. Some excellent examples are the Yahoo Fantasy Baseball and the ESPN fantasy baseball. Moreover, this game allows the creativity of players due to numerous ways to play like the different ways to draft, score, and roster players.
The team that scores the most runs in 9 innings wins the game.
Teams rotate positions as batters (offense) and fielders (defense). They exchange places upon the “put out” of three members of the batting team. Batter attempt to hit the ball out of the reach of the fielding team. Then, they make a complete circuit around the bases for a “run.”
OPS in baseball refers to the sum of the on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
The On-base Plus Slugging aims to combine how well a hitter can reach base relevant to how well he can hit for average and for power. When used in that context, the OPS can be used in evaluating pitchers in what is referred to as “OPS against.”
A balk in baseball refers to the illegal motion of a pitcher.
It occurs when the umpire deems the pitcher’s motion on the mound deceitful to the runner/s. Consequently, any men on base receive the award of the next base. If the pitch was thrown in the first place, it is waved off for a dead ball.
The specific balk rules were not introduced until 1898.
This amendment prevented pitchers from intentionally duping the baserunners. Hence, the balk rules eradicated any means of the pitcher to fool baserunners who acts conservatively on the bases as a result. Section 8 of the MLB rules sums up the exact constitution of a balk describing a legal pitching delivery as well.
A WHIP in baseball serves as a commonly used stats for evaluating the performance of a pitcher.
It is an abbreviation for “Walks And Hits Per Inning Pitched” but is in word form in a call. This figure determines how well a pitcher has kept runners off the basepaths as it is among his main goals. For WHIP, the sum of a pitcher’s walks and hits is divided by his total innings pitched.
Generally, pitchers with the lowest WHIPs are the best pitchers in the league.
Such baseball facts make sense as it is the best pitcher’s duty to prevent baserunners. Still, a WHIP does not consider the way the hitter reaches the base. It means that a pitcher’s WHIP does not count the errors, hitters, and hit batsmen reached via fielder’s choice.
Before, WHIP was called the “inning pitched ratio.”
American writer Daniel Okrent coined the term in 1979. He is the same person who invented rotisserie league fantasy baseball. When the term eventually developed into WHIP, it is called as an acronym instead of being spelled out.
WAR in baseball measures a player’s value in all facets of the game.
Wins Above Replacement (WAR) deciphers how many more wins a player is worth than a replacement-level player of the same position. An example is having a Minor League replacement or a readily available fill-in free agent.
There are different calculations for different WAR varieties.
For one, fWAR as a Fangraph’s calculation uses FIP in determining the WAR of a pitcher. On the other hand, a Baseball-Reference’s calculation (bWAR or rWAR) uses RA9. All three figures answer the same question of how valuable a player is in comparison to replacement level.
WAR sets the quantified value of each player in terms of a specific number of wins.
Due to WAR factors in a positional adjustment, the figure suits well for comparing players who man different defensive positions.
ERA in baseball stands for the number of earned runs that a pitcher allows per 9 innings.
The Earned Run Average (ERA) refers to any runs that scored without the aid of an error or a passed ball. More often, the ERA serves as a statistical tool in the evaluation of pitchers.
While ERA is useful in evaluating a starting pitcher, it is not as effective for relief pitchers.
It is because relief pitchers often only pitch fractions of an inning, thence leaving the ERA in the hands of other relievers. Relief pitchers have a tendency of exerting all their energy on the 3 outs in pitching a full inning instead of spreading it out over the whole game. In other words, relievers tend to have lower ERAs than starting pitchers.
The Major League Baseball playoffs signal the end of a regular season.
It typically begins in the first full week of October, in the latter part of the 162-game event. As an exciting event for fans, the baseball playoffs are where league leaders can collapse and wild-card teams can take everyone in for a surprise.
Ten teams make up the playoffs.
Five of them are from the American League while the other five come from the National Leagues. For each league, a one-game playoff would transpire between two wild-card teams. The two best-of-five Division Series playoffs (DS) then produces the wild-card winners and the winner of each division. Then, the best-of-seven League Championship Series (LCS) follows.
The wild card rule was first introduced to baseball in 1994.
It was when Major League Baseball expanded the American and National Leagues from two divisions to three each. Hence, one wild-card team was added to the playoffs in each league. Each team holds the best record that did not win its division.
The Division Series baseball games is a best-of-five series.
Here, the team holding the best overall record grabs the top seed and home-field advantage in the playoffs. It also hosts Games 1, 2, and 5 in the Division Series round, facing off against the said league’s wild card team.
Those remaining (2) divisional champs would compete against one another in a best-of-five matchup.
In this series, the home-field advantage goes to the team with the second-best season record. It then hosts Games 1, 2, and 5 in its series. Then, the two winning teams would advance to the League Championship Series.
The Division Series winners advance to the American League and National League Championship Series.
It is a best-of-seven series where the team with the best record in each league earns the right to the home-field advantage.
The winners of the ALCS and NLCS advance to the World Series.
Before the 2002 season, the home-field advantage in games 1, 2, 6, and 7 alternates every year between the leagues. A change in the rules that year altered the approach. Hence, the home-field advantage now goes to the league that won that year’s All-Star Game. Another change in 2017 granted the home-field advantage to the team that has the better overall regular-season record.
The first team to win 4 games in the best-of-seven-game series wins the Major League Championship.
In 2016, the World Series had Chicago Cubs fight play against the Cleveland Indians. What makes the game remarkable in baseball history is how it was the first time that the two teams had met in the championship. Also, it was Chicago’s first World Series title since 1908, making 2017 Houston franchise’s first-ever World Series win.