I know I know we're a far ways off so I'm not going to use the Nationals as an example for my question. I'll use the AL and give the following standings for an example of my question.
1. Texas Rangers 108-74 (West Winner)
2. New York Yankees 104-78 (East Winner)
3. Detroit Tigers 98-84 (Central Winner)
4. Oakland Athletics 95-87 (West WC)
5/6. Baltimore Orioles 93-89 (East WC)
5/6. Los Angeles Angels 93-89 (West WC)
First of all how would the 5/6 tie be decided? A playoff game before the wild card playoff game?
But on to my main question, lets suppose the Athletics got the wild card, would they then be placed against the Yankees in round 1 of the playoffs since they are in the same division as the Rangers? If so, isn't that inherently unfair as the 1st place team should get the benefit of playing the slightly depleted rotation of the Wild Card team? (The Athletics would likely use their top ace in their game against LA/BAL and would not be able to immediately start him again in the next series)
If this scenario holds true, the 1st place team is punished for playing in a strong division and winning. Or if you spin it another way, the 2nd place team gets rewarded for playing in an easier division and still not having as many wins as the 1st place team.