How the Dodgers won 106 games but lost home-field advantage



San Francisco, CA - October 14: Los Angeles Dodgers' Corey Seager, left, talks with Clayton Kershaw after game five of the 2021 National League Division Series against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park on Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021 in San Francisco, CA. The Dodgers won 2-1. (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)
Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager, left, talks with Clayton Kershaw after their Game 5 victory on Thursday in San Francisco. They won’t play again at Dodger Stadium until Games 3 of the NLCS on Tuesday. (Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

The Dodgers won 106 games this season. The Atlanta Braves won 88.

So, when the teams open the National League Championship Series on Saturday, the game will be played in … Atlanta?

For all the games they won, the Dodgers finished one game behind the San Francisco Giants in the NL West. That left the Dodgers as a wild-card entrant to the playoffs, and a wild-card team is not permitted to have home-field advantage in a division series or a league championship series.

That rule is part of a playoff system designed to incentivize teams to win their division. If a playoff team fails to win its division — no matter how many games it wins — the team is forced into a one-game wild-card playoff. The team that wins that one-game playoff can advance in the league playoffs, but it cannot enjoy home-field advantage.

For the World Series, the rule changes: The team with the best record gets home-field advantage. You can see why: The Dodgers and Boston Red Sox could make the World Series this year, both as wild-card teams, and one of them would have to get home-field advantage.

The Dodgers have the best record of any team still alive in postseason play. So, if the Dodgers beat the Braves in the NLCS, the World Series would open at Dodger Stadium on Oct. 26.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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