Win (baseball)


Win (baseball)

A win is a statistic in Major League Baseball credited to the pitcher for the winning team who was in the game when his team last took the lead. The main exception is that a starting pitcher must complete five innings to earn a win or four innings for a game that lasted five innings on defense; if this does not happen, the official scorer awards the win based on guidelines set forth in the official rules. The winning pitcher cannot be credited with a save in the same game.

Overview

The pitchers who receive the win and the loss are known, collectively, as the pitchers of record.

Every game has both a winning and a losing pitcher. A pitcher who starts a game but leaves without earning either a win or a loss (that is, before either team gains or surrenders the ultimate lead) is said to have received a no decision, regardless of his individual performance.

A pitcher's total wins and losses are commonly noted together; for instance, a pitching record of 12-10 indicates 12 wins and 10 losses.

In the early years of major league baseball before 1900 it was common for an exceptional pitcher to win 40 or more games in one season. Since 1900, however, pitchers have made fewer and fewer starts and the standard has changed. Gradually, as hitting improved, better pitching was needed. This meant, among other things, throwing the ball much harder, and it became unrealistic to ask a pitcher to throw nearly as hard as he could for over 100 pitches a night without giving him several days to recover.

In the first third of the 20th century (especially in the Live Ball Era), winning 30 games became the rare mark of excellent achievement; this standard diminished to 25 games during the 1940s through 1980s (the only pitcher to win 30 or more games during that time was Denny McLain in 1968, in what was an anomalous pitching-dominated season).

Since 1990, this has changed even further, as winning 20 or more games in a single season is now achieved by only a handful of pitchers each season. For example, in 2004 only three of the more than five hundred major league pitchers did so. In 2006, no pitcher in either league won more than 20 games, for the first time ever. The last pitcher to win 25 games was Bob Welch back in 1990, though it was achieved several times per decade immediately before that.

Wins, though a traditional method for determining a pitcher's success and ability (for instance helping journalists determine the recipient of the Cy Young Award), have become significantly less popular as a gauge of pitcher skill in the past fifteen years. Many times a win is substantially out of the pitcher's control; even a dominant pitcher cannot record a win if his team does not score any runs for him. For instance, in 2004, Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Ben Sheets had a losing record of 12-14, despite displaying an easy league best 8:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and was among baseball's Top 5 in ERA (2.70) and WHIP (0.98). In addition to its dependence on run support, wins for a starting pitcher are also dependent on bullpen support. A starting pitcher can pitch brilliantly, leaving the game with the lead, and then watch helplessly from the dugout as the bullpen blows the save and gives up the lead. That would entitle the starting pitcher to a no-decision instead of a win despite the strong performance, regardless of whether or not the team ends up winning. Starting pitchers on teams with a weak bullpen tend to have fewer wins because of this. Some often prefer the quality start statistic as an indication of how many times a starting pitcher gave his team a realistic chance to win.

Nevertheless, there are still many traditionalists who value wins as a key statistic for pitchers, arguing that a good pitcher will have a high number of wins because he pitches "good enough to win", or "pitches to the situation", suggesting that a top pitcher might allow a few runs if his team's offense is routing the other team, yet be able to work a shutout if his offense has only put up a run or two. One should note that there is no empirical evidence to support this notion.

References

* [http://mlb.mlb.com/NASApp/mlb/mlb/official_info/official_rules/official_scorer_10.jsp Winning-losing pitcher] - MLB Official Rule 10.17

External links

* [http://www.baseball-reference.com/sotd/archives/51 Since 1957, Wins without facing a batter]


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