In Major League Baseball, the National League Championship Series (NLCS) is a round in the postseason that determines who wins the National League pennant and advances to Major League Baseball's championship, the World Series, facing the winner of the American League Championship Series. The reigning National League Champions are the San Francisco Giants.
Prior to 1969, the National League champion (the "pennant winner") was determined by the best win-loss record at the end of the regular season. There were four ad hoc three-game playoff series due to ties under this formulation (in 1946, 1951, 1959 and 1962). (The American League had to resolve a tie in 1948, but used a single-game playoff for that.)
A structured postseason series began in 1969, when both the National and American Leagues were reorganized into two divisions each, East and West. The two division winners within each league 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.
The NLCS and ALCS, 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. Home field advantage is given to the team that has the better record, with the exception that the team that made the postseason as the Wild Card team cannot get home field advantage. From 1969 to 1993, home field advantage was alternated between divisions each year regardless of regular season record and from 1995 to 1997 home field advantage was predetermined before the season.
In 1981, a divisional series was held due to a split season caused by a players' strike.
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, the National League Division Series (NLDS). The winners of that round advance to the best-of-seven NLCS. The NLDS was first played in 1995 due to the cancellation of the 1994 postseason during another players' strike.
Every current National League team except the Washington Nationals has appeared in the NLCS at least once.
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