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Win (baseball)

Win (baseball)

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In professional baseball
Professional baseball
Baseball is a team sport which is played by several professional leagues throughout the world. In these leagues, and associated farm teams, players are selected for their talents and are paid to play for a specific team or club system....

, there are two types of decisions
Decision (baseball)
A decision is a statistical credit given to a baseball pitcher.There are two types of decisions: win and loss.In order to receive a win, the starting pitcher must complete at least five innings and leave with the lead. If the pitcher's lead is preserved by the bullpen, he is credited with a win...

: a win (denoted "W") and a loss (denoted "L") . In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record
Pitchers of record
Pitcher of record is a baseball term that refers to a pitcher who is credited with the win or charged with the loss in a particular game. These pitchers are known respectively as the winning and losing pitchers and collectively as the pitchers of record; thus, there are always two pitchers of...

. Only one pitcher for each game receives each type of decision. In certain situations, another pitcher on the winning team who pitched in relief of the winning pitcher can be credited with a save, and holds
Hold (baseball)
A hold is awarded to a relief pitcher who meets the following three conditions:Unlike saves, wins, and losses, more than one pitcher per team can earn a hold for a game, though it is not possible for a pitcher to receive more than one hold in a given game...

 can be awarded to relief pitchers on both sides, but these are never awarded to the same pitcher who receives the win.

The decisions are awarded by the official scorer
Official scorer
In the game of baseball, the official scorer is a person appointed by the league to record the events on the field, and to send the official scoring record of the game back to the league offices...

 of the game in accordance with the league's rules. The official scorer does not assign a winning or losing pitcher in some games which are forfeited
Forfeit (baseball)
In rare cases, baseball games are forfeited, usually in the event when a team is no longer able to play. In the event of forfeiture, the score is recorded as "9 to 0", as per rule 2.00 of the Major League Baseball Rules Book...

, such as those that are tied at the time of forfeiture. If the game is tied (a rare event), no pitchers are awarded any decision. A pitcher's winning percentage is commonly expressed with three decimal places.

Winning pitcher


In Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

, the winning pitcher is defined as the pitcher who last pitched prior to the half-inning when the winning team took the lead for the last time.

There are two exceptions to this rule. The more common exception is that a starting pitcher must complete five innings to earn a win (four innings for a game that lasted five innings on defense). If the starting pitcher fails to meet the innings requirement, the official scorer
Official scorer
In the game of baseball, the official scorer is a person appointed by the league to record the events on the field, and to send the official scoring record of the game back to the league offices...

 awards the win to the relief pitcher
Relief pitcher
A relief pitcher or reliever is a baseball or softball pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, fatigue, ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as being substituted by a pinch hitter...

 who, in the official scorer’s judgment, was the most effective.

The second exception applies only to a relief pitcher who makes a "brief appearance" and is himself later relieved. If, in the official scorer's judgment, the relief pitcher was "ineffective," the win is awarded to the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the official scorer's judgment.

Losing pitcher


The losing pitcher is the pitcher who allows the go-ahead run to reach base for a lead that the winning team never relinquishes. A pitcher can be credited with a loss if they allow a runner to reach base, and is then replaced by a relief pitcher who subsequently allows that base runner to score. The pitcher receives the loss, even if this or any other runs are not earned
Earned run
In baseball, an earned run is any run for which the pitcher is held accountable . Any runner who tags his base and reaches home plate is scored against the pitcher as an earned run...

. If a pitcher allows a run which gives the opposing team the lead, his team comes back to lead or tie the game, and then the opposing team regains the lead against a subsequent pitcher, the earlier pitcher does not get the loss.

If a pitcher leaves the game with his team in the lead or with the score tied, but with the go-ahead run on base, and this runner subsequently scores the go-ahead run, the pitcher who allowed this runner to reach base is responsible for the loss. This is true, regardless of the manner in which this batter originally reached base, and how he subsequently scored. If the relief pitching successfully completes the half-inning without surrendering the go-ahead run, the departed pitcher cannot receive a loss.

For example, on April 13, 2007, Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Zambrano
Carlos Alberto Zambrano is a Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher with the Chicago Cubs of Major League Baseball. Zambrano, who stands 6' 5" and weighs 260 pounds, was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 1997 and made his debut in 2001...

 of the Chicago Cubs
Chicago Cubs
The Chicago Cubs are a professional baseball team located in Chicago, Illinois. They are members of the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League. They are one of two Major League clubs based in Chicago . The Cubs are also one of the two remaining charter members of the National...

 was facing the Cincinnati Reds
Cincinnati Reds
The Cincinnati Reds are a Major League Baseball team based in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are members of the National League Central Division. The club was established in 1882 as a charter member of the American Association and joined the National League in 1890....

 in the top of the 5th inning. He was taken out of the game with the Cubs leading 5–4 and the bases loaded
Bases loaded
In the sport of baseball, the bases are loaded when there is a runner on each base . This presents a great scoring opportunity for the batting team, but it also presents an easy double play opportunity for the defense. Causing the bases to become loaded is called loading the bases...

. The pitcher who replaced him, Will Ohman
Will Ohman
William McDaniel Ohman is a left-handed pitcher, who is currently a member of the Chicago White Sox. He lives in Agoura Hills, California.-Chicago Cubs:...

, proceeded to allow two of the runners on base to score, giving the Reds a 6–5 lead. Although Zambrano was not pitching at the time the runs were scored, he was charged with the loss, as the base runners who scored were his responsibility.

Background


The pitchers who receive the win and the loss are known, collectively, as the pitchers of record
Pitchers of record
Pitcher of record is a baseball term that refers to a pitcher who is credited with the win or charged with the loss in a particular game. These pitchers are known respectively as the winning and losing pitchers and collectively as the pitchers of record; thus, there are always two pitchers of...

. 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
Decision (baseball)
A decision is a statistical credit given to a baseball pitcher.There are two types of decisions: win and loss.In order to receive a win, the starting pitcher must complete at least five innings and leave with the lead. If the pitcher's lead is preserved by the bullpen, he is credited with a win...

, 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
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 before 1900 it was common for an exceptional pitcher to win 30 or more games in one season with Old Hoss Radbourn of the defunct Providence Grays
Providence Grays
The Providence Grays were a Major League Baseball team based in Providence, Rhode Island who played in the National League from until . The Grays played at Messer Field in the Olneyville neighborhood. The team won the National League title twice, in and...

 holding the record with an astounding 59 wins in 1884
1884 in baseball
-Champions:*First World's Championship Series: Providence Grays over New York Metropolitans *National League: Providence Grays*American Association: New York Metropolitans*Union Association: St...

. 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 after 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
Denny McLain
Dennis Dale "Denny" McLain is a former American professional baseball player, and the last major league pitcher to win 30 or more games during a season —a feat accomplished by only thirteen players in the 20th century....

 in 1968
1968 Major League Baseball season
The Athletics played their first season in Oakland this year, following the team's relocation from Kansas City. It was also the last season of play before each of the two leagues were split into divisions for the following season.-The Year of the Pitcher:...

, 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 and again in 2009, no pitcher in either league won 20 games. The last pitcher to win 25 games was Bob Welch
Bob Welch (baseball player)
Robert Lynn "Bob" Welch is a former starting pitcher in Major League Baseball who played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and Oakland Athletics . He played in college for Eastern Michigan. Welch was best known for his blazing fastball, and he is the last pitcher to win 27 games in a single season...

 back in 1990.

The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

wrote in 2011 that as advanced statistics have expanded, a pitcher's won-loss record has decreased in importance. For example, Felix Hernandez
Félix Hernández
Félix Abraham Hernández , nicknamed "King Félix", is a Major League Baseball starting pitcher for the Seattle Mariners....

 won the Cy Young Award
Cy Young Award
The Cy Young Award is an honor given annually in baseball to the best pitchers in Major League Baseball , one each for the American League and National League . The award was first introduced in 1956 by Baseball Commissioner Ford Frick in honor of Hall of Fame pitcher Cy Young, who died in 1955...

 in in spite of a 13–12 record. 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 run
Run (baseball)
In baseball, a run is scored when a player advances around first, second and third base and returns safely to home plate, touching the bases in that order, before three outs are recorded and all obligations to reach base safely on batted balls are met or assured...

s for him. For instance, in 2004, Milwaukee Brewers
Milwaukee Brewers
The Milwaukee Brewers are a professional baseball team based in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, currently playing in the Central Division of Major League Baseball's National League...

 starting pitcher Ben Sheets
Ben Sheets
Ben M. Sheets is an American baseball starting pitcher who is currently a free agent. He is a four-time All-Star, but has been hampered with injury problems throughout his career.-Prep and college:...

 had a losing record of 12–14, despite displaying an easy league-best 8:1 strikeout
Strikeout
In baseball or softball, a strikeout or strike-out occurs when a batter receives three strikes during his time at bat. A strikeout is a statistic recorded for both pitchers and batters....

-to-walk ratio and was among baseball's Top 5 in ERA
Earned run average
In baseball statistics, earned run average is the mean of earned runs given up by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. It is determined by dividing the number of earned runs allowed by the number of innings pitched and multiplying by nine...

 (2.70) and WHIP
Walks plus hits per inning pitched
In baseball statistics, walks plus hits per inning pitched is a sabermetric measurement of the number of baserunners a pitcher has allowed per inning pitched. It is a measure of a pitcher's ability to prevent batters from reaching base...

 (0.98). In addition to its dependence on run support, wins for a starting pitcher are also dependent on bullpen
Bullpen
In baseball, the bullpen is the area where relief pitchers warm-up before entering a game. Depending on the ballpark, it may be situated in foul territory along the baselines or just beyond the outfield fence. Also, a team's roster of relief pitchers is metonymically referred to as "the 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. Likewise, a pitcher can give a poor performance and give up many runs and leave the game earlier than desired, but still win because his team scored even more runs. Some often prefer the quality start
Quality start
In baseball, a quality start is a statistic for a starting pitcher defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs....

statistic as an indication of how many times a starting pitcher gave his team a realistic chance to win.

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