The American League Championship Series (ALCS) is a best-of-seven playoff and one of two League Championship Series comprising the penultimate round of Major League Baseball's (MLB) postseason. It is contested by the winners of the two American League (AL) Division Series. The winner of the ALCS wins the AL pennant and advances to the World Series, MLB's championship series, to play the winner of the National League's (NL) Championship Series. The ALCS began in 1969 as a best-of-five playoff and used this format until 1985, when it changed to its current best-of-seven format.
Prior to 1969, the American League champion (the "pennant winner") was determined by the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season. There was one ad hoc single-game playoff held, in 1948, due to a tie under this formulation. (The National League had to resolve ties four times, but used three-game playoff series.)
The ALCS started in 1969, when the AL reorganized into two divisions, East and West. The winners of each division played each other in a best-of-five series to determine who would advance to the World Series. In 1985, the format changed to best-of-seven.
In 1994, the league was restructured into three divisions, with the three division winners and a wild-card team advancing to a best-of-five postseason round, known as the American League Division Series (ALDS). The winners of that round then advanced to the best-of-seven ALCS. In 2012, the playoffs were expanded again so that two wild card teams face off in a one-game wild card round to determine which team advances to the division series, with the playoffs then continuing as it had before 2012 (though with the possibility of a fifth seed being in the playoffs and a fourth seed being out) after the end of the wild card round. This is the system currently in use.
The ALCS and NLCS, since the expansion to best-of-seven, are always played in a 2–3–2 format: Games 1, 2, 6, and 7 are played in the stadium of the team that has home field advantage, and Games 3, 4, and 5 are played in the stadium of the team that does not. The series concludes when one team records its fourth win. Since 1998, home field advantage has been given to the team that has the better regular season record, unless that team happens to be the Wild Card team. In that case, the other team gets home field advantage, because by rule the Wild Card team is never allowed home field advantage in a Division Series or LCS. In the event that both teams have identical records in the regular season, home field advantage goes to the team that has the winning head-to-head record. From 1969 to 1993, home field advantage alternated between the two divisions, and from 1995 to 1997 home field advantage was determined before the season.
The Milwaukee Brewers, an American League team between 1969 and 1997, and the Houston Astros, a National League team between 1962 and 2012, are the only franchises to play in both the ALCS and NLCS. The Astros are the only team to have won both an NLCS (2005) and an ALCS (2017). Every current American League franchise has appeared in the ALCS.
Most Valuable Player Award
The Lee MacPhail Most Valuable Player (MVP) award is given to the outstanding player in the ALCS. No MVP award is given for Division Series play.
Although the National League began its LCS MVP award in 1977, the American League did not begin its LCS MVP award till 1980. The winners are listed in several locations:
- in the below ALCS results table, in the "Series MVP" column
- in the article League Championship Series Most Valuable Player Award
- on the MLB website
ALCS results (1969–present)
Click the link on the far left for detailed information on that series.
|Wild-card team (since 1995)|
|MVP did not play for winning team|
ALCS appearances by team
|Apps||Team||Wins||Losses||Win %||Most recent
|17||New York Yankees||11||6||.647||2009||2019||50||40||.556|
|11||Boston Red Sox||6||5||.545||2018||2018||30||32||.484|
|8||Kansas City Royals||4||4||.500||2015||2015||20||17||.541|
|7||Toronto Blue Jays||2||5||.286||1993||2016||16||24||.400|
|6||Los Angeles Angels[a]||1||5||.167||2002||2009||13||19||.406|
|3||Chicago White Sox||1||2||.333||2005||2005||7||8||.467|
|1||Tampa Bay Rays||1||0||1.000||2008||2008||4||3||.571|
Years of appearance - ALCS
In the sortable table below, teams are ordered first by number of appearances, then by number of wins, and finally by year of first appearance. In the "Season(s)" column, bold years indicate winning ALCS appearances.
|4||Kansas City Royals vs. New York Yankees||Yankees, 3–1||1976, 1977, 1978, 1980|
|3||Boston Red Sox vs. New York Yankees||Yankees, 2–1||1999, 2003, 2004|
|3||Baltimore Orioles vs. Oakland Athletics||Athletics, 2–1||1971, 1973, 1974|
|3||Boston Red Sox vs. Oakland Athletics||Athletics, 2–1||1975, 1988, 1990|
|2||Baltimore Orioles vs. Minnesota Twins||Orioles, 2–0||1969, 1970|
|2||Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics||Tied, 1–1||1972, 2006|
|2||Kansas City Royals vs. Toronto Blue Jays||Royals, 2–0||1985, 2015|
|2||New York Yankees vs. Seattle Mariners||Yankees, 2–0||2000, 2001|
|2||Oakland Athletics vs. Toronto Blue Jays||Tied, 1–1||1989, 1992|
|2*||Houston Astros vs. New York Yankees||Astros*, 2–0||2017, 2019 (* Astros cheated)|
- List of American League pennant winners
- List of American League Wild Card winners (since 1994)
- American League Division Series
- National League Championship Series
- The Los Angeles Angels franchise previously competed as the California Angels (1965–1996), Anaheim Angels (1997–2004), and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (2005–2015).
- The Milwaukee Brewers moved to the National League in 1998.
- http://fielderschoice.wordpress.com/2009/04/10/overjoyed/ Dave (Tampa Bay Rays fan), "Overjoyed!", Fielder's Choice Baseball Card Blog, April 10, 2009. Retrieved August 17, 2009 (including photo of trophy).
- League Championship Series Most Valuable Players (MLB.com/News/Awards/History/ ). MLB Advanced Media, L.P. Retrieved August 31, 2009.
- "Baseball-Reference Playoff and World Series Index". Baseball-Reference. Sports Reference. Retrieved November 5, 2009.