Win–loss record (pitching)

Last updated

Denny McLain pitched to a 31-6 record during the 1968 Major League Baseball season. Denny McLain 1966.jpg
Denny McLain pitched to a 31–6 record during the 1968 Major League Baseball season.

In baseball and softball, a win–loss record (also referred to simply as a record) is a statistic that indicates the number of wins (denoted "W") and losses (denoted "L") credited to a pitcher. For example, a 20–10 win–loss record would represent 20 wins and 10 losses.


In each game, one pitcher on the winning team is awarded a win (the "winning pitcher") and one pitcher on the losing team is given a loss (the "losing pitcher") in their respective statistics. These pitchers are collectively known as the pitchers of record. The designation of win or loss for a pitcher is known as a decision, and only one pitcher for each team receives a decision. A starting pitcher who does not receive credit for a win or loss is said to have no 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 can be awarded to relief pitchers on both sides, but these are never awarded to the pitcher who is awarded the win.

The decisions are awarded by the official scorer 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, such as those that are tied at the time of forfeiture. If the game is tied (a rare event), no pitcher is awarded any decision. A pitcher's winning percentage is calculated by dividing the number of wins by the number of decisions (wins plus losses), and it is commonly expressed to three decimal places.

Winning pitcher

In Major League Baseball, the winning pitcher is defined as the pitcher who last pitched prior to the half-inning when his team maintains the lead that it never relinquishes.

There are two exceptions to this rule. The first is that a starting pitcher must complete a minimum of five innings to earn a win. If he fails to do so, he is ineligible to be the winning pitcher, even if he last pitched prior to the half-inning when he maintains his team's lead. The official scorer awards the win to the relief pitcher who, in the official scorer's judgment, was the most effective.

The second exception applies if the relief pitcher who last pitched prior to the half-inning when the winning team took the lead the last time was "ineffective in a brief appearance" in the official scorer's judgment, in which case the win is awarded to the succeeding relief pitcher who, in the official scorer's judgment, was the most effective. [1]

In the Major League Baseball All-Star Game, every pitcher is considered as a relief pitcher for the purpose of this rule. For example, Shohei Ohtani, the starter for the American League, was awarded the win in the 2021 All-Star Game despite throwing only 14 pitches in a single inning. [2]

Losing pitcher

The losing pitcher is the pitcher who is responsible for a go-ahead run charged against his team that proves to be the opposing team's game-winning 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 prior 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 of the Chicago Cubs was facing the Cincinnati Reds in the top of the 5th inning. He was taken out of the game with the Cubs leading 5–4 and the bases loaded. The pitcher who replaced him, Will Ohman, 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. [3]


The pitchers who receive the win and the loss are known, collectively, as the pitchers of record. 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 30 or more games in one season with Old Hoss Radbourn of the defunct Providence Grays holding the record with 59 wins in 1884. 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 game 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 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 and again in 2009, no pitcher in either league won 20 games. [4] The last pitcher to win 25 games was Bob Welch in 1990.

The New York Times wrote in 2011 that as advanced statistics have expanded, a pitcher's win–loss record has decreased in importance. For example, Félix Hernández won the Cy Young Award in 2010 in spite of a 13–12 record. [5] 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 a league-best 8:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio and was among the top 5 pitchers in ERA (2.70) and WHIP (0.98). [6] In addition to their 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 performances, 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 prefer the quality start statistic as an indication of how many times a starting pitcher gave his team a realistic chance to win. [7]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Save (baseball)</span> Credited to a pitcher who finishes a game for the winning team under certain circumstances

In baseball, a save is credited to a pitcher who finishes a game for the winning team under certain prescribed circumstances. Most commonly a pitcher earns a save by entering in the ninth inning of a game in which his team is winning by three or fewer runs and finishing the game by pitching one inning without losing the lead. The number of saves or percentage of save opportunities successfully converted are oft-cited statistics of relief pitchers, particularly those in the closer role. The save statistic was created by journalist Jerome Holtzman in 1959 to "measure the effectiveness of relief pitchers" and was adopted as an official Major League Baseball (MLB) statistic in 1969. The save has been retroactively tabulated for pitchers before that date. Mariano Rivera is MLB's all-time leader in regular-season saves with 652, while Francisco Rodríguez earned the most saves in a single season with 62 in 2008.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Relief pitcher</span> A baseball or softball pitcher that enters a game to pitch after a starting pitcher

In baseball and softball, a relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher who pitches in the game after the starting pitcher has been removed because of fatigue, ineffectiveness, injury, or ejection, or for other strategic reasons, such as inclement weather delays or pinch hitter substitutions. Relief pitchers are further divided informally into various roles, such as closers, setup men, middle relief pitchers, left/right-handed specialists, and long relievers. Whereas starting pitchers usually throw so many pitches in a single game that they must rest several days before pitching in another, relief pitchers are expected to be more flexible and typically pitch in more games with a shorter time period between pitching appearances but with fewer innings pitched per appearance. A team's staff of relievers is normally referred to metonymically as a team's bullpen, which refers to the area where the relievers sit during games, and where they warm-up prior to entering the game.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Carlos Zambrano</span> Venezuelan baseball player (born 1981)

Carlos Alberto Zambrano Matos, nicknamed "Big Z" or "El Toro", is a Venezuelan former professional baseball pitcher. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 2001 to 2012 for the Chicago Cubs and Miami Marlins. Zambrano, who stands 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) and weighs 275 pounds (125 kg), was signed by the Cubs as a free agent in 1997 and made his debut in 2001. After being used in both starting and relief duties, he enjoyed his first full season as a starter in 2003, finishing with a 13–11 record, 168 strikeouts and a 3.11 ERA.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Johnny Antonelli</span> American baseball player (1930–2020)

John August Antonelli was an American professional baseball player, a left-handed starting pitcher who played for the Boston / Milwaukee Braves, New York / San Francisco Giants, and Cleveland Indians between 1948 and 1961. Noted at the outset of his pro career as the recipient of the biggest bonus in baseball history when he signed with the Braves for $52,000 in 1948, he later became a six-time National League All-Star, a two-time 20-game-winner, and an important member of the 1954 World Series champion Giants' pitching staff. He batted left-handed, stood 6 feet 1 inch (1.85 m) tall and weighed 185 pounds (84 kg). He was the first person born in the 1930s to make his MLB debut.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Al Worthington</span> American baseball player (born 1929)

Allan Fulton Worthington, nicknamed "Red", is a former professional baseball pitcher. He played all or part of 14 seasons in Major League Baseball for the New York / San Francisco Giants, Boston Red Sox (1960), Chicago White Sox (1960), Cincinnati Reds (1963–64) and Minnesota Twins (1965–69). Worthington batted and threw right-handed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ken Holtzman</span> American baseball player

Kenneth Dale Holtzman is an American former professional baseball player and coach. He played in Major League Baseball as a left-handed pitcher from 1965 through 1979, most notably as a member of the Chicago Cubs for whom he pitched two no-hitters and, with the Oakland Athletics dynasty that won three consecutive World Series championships between 1972 and 1974. A two-time All-Star, Holtzman was a 20-game-winner for the Athletics in 1973. He also played for the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Dick Tidrow</span> American baseball player and executive (1947–2021)

Richard William Tidrow was an American professional baseball pitcher and the senior vice president of player personnel and senior advisor to the general manager for the San Francisco Giants of Major League Baseball (MLB).

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pat Zachry</span> American baseball player

Patrick Paul Zachry is an American former professional baseball pitcher. He pitched in Major League Baseball from 1976 to 1985. Zachry was awarded the Major League Baseball Rookie of the Year Award for his play in the National League in 1976, but he is likely best remembered as one of the players the Cincinnati Reds sent to the New York Mets for Tom Seaver in one of the infamous Mets trades now referred to as the "Midnight Masssacre".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Ray Burris</span> American baseball player

Bertram Ray Burris is an American former pitcher in Major League Baseball (MLB), and the current rehabilitation pitching coordinator in the Philadelphia Phillies organization. He played in MLB from 1973 through 1987 for seven different teams. Listed at 6 feet 5 inches (1.96 m) and 200 pounds (91 kg), he threw and batted right-handed.

A no decision is one of either of two sports statistics scenarios; one in baseball and softball, and the other in boxing and related combat sports.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Moe Drabowsky</span> American baseball player

Myron Walter Drabowsky was an American professional baseball pitcher, best-remembered for throwing 6+23 scoreless innings of relief to win Game 1 of the 1966 World Series. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves, Cincinnati Reds, Kansas City Athletics, Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and Chicago White Sox. A noted practical joker, Drabowsky engaged in such antics as leaving snakes in teammates' lockers or phoning the opposing team's bullpen to tell a pitcher to warm up. He batted and threw right-handed.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pat Malone</span> American baseball player

Perce Leigh "Pat" Malone was an American pitcher in Major League Baseball who played from for the Chicago Cubs (1928–1934) and New York Yankees (1935–1937). Listed at 6 feet 0 inches (1.83 m) and 200 pounds (91 kg), Malone batted left-handed and threw right-handed. He played for four pennant winners and two World Series champions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bob Miller (pitcher, born 1939)</span> American baseball player (1939–1993)

Robert Lane "Bob" Miller was an American professional baseball player. He played in Major League Baseball as a right-handed pitcher from 1957 to 1974. Miller played for three World Series champions: the 1963 Los Angeles Dodgers, 1965 Los Angeles Dodgers and the 1971 Pittsburgh Pirates—five league champions and four division winners, as well as for four teams that lost 100 or more games in a season.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bob Muncrief</span> American baseball player (1916-1996)

Robert Cleveland Muncrief was an American professional baseball pitcher who appeared in 288 games in Major League Baseball over 12 seasons between 1937 and 1951 with the St. Louis Browns, Cleveland Indians, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs and New York Yankees. Born in Madill, Oklahoma, he batted and threw right-handed and was listed as 6 feet 2 inches (1.88 m) tall and 190 pounds (86 kg). He is perhaps best known as a key starting pitcher for the 1944 Browns, the only American League team from St. Louis to win a pennant. The following season, in 1945, Muncrief led all Junior Circuit hurlers in winning percentage, posting a .765 mark based on his 13–4 record.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bob Rush (baseball)</span> American baseball player (1925-2011)

Robert Ransom Rush was an American professional baseball pitcher who appeared in 417 games in Major League Baseball from 1948 to 1960 for the Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Braves and Chicago White Sox. He threw and batted right-handed, stood 6 feet 4 inches (1.93 m) tall and weighed 205 pounds (93 kg). Rush was a National League All-Star selection in 1950 and 1952. Although he was a starting pitcher for the Cubs for ten seasons, and worked in 339 total games for them, he did not reach the postseason until he was a Milwaukee Brave, when he appeared in the 1958 World Series.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Closer (baseball)</span> Baseball relief pitcher who specializes in finishing close games

In baseball, a closing pitcher, more frequently referred to as a closer, is a relief pitcher who specializes in getting the final outs in a close game when his team is leading. The role is often assigned to a team's best reliever. Before the 1990s, pitchers in similar roles were referred to as a fireman, short reliever, and stopper. A small number of closers have won the Cy Young Award. Eight closers have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame: Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, Lee Smith, Bruce Sutter and Hoyt Wilhelm.

The 2010 Atlanta Braves season was the franchise's 45th season in Atlanta along with the 135th season in the National League and 140th overall. It featured the Braves' attempt to reclaim a postseason berth for the first time since 2005. The Braves once again were skippered by Bobby Cox, in his 25th and final overall season managing the team. It was their 45th season in Atlanta, and the 135th of the franchise. Finishing the season with a 91–71 record, the Braves won the NL Wild Card, only to be eliminated in the NLDS by the San Francisco Giants in four games.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Shutout (baseball)</span> Baseball achievement

In Major League Baseball, a shutout refers to the act by which a single pitcher pitches a complete game and does not allow the opposing team to score a run. If two or more pitchers combine to complete this act, no pitcher is awarded a shutout, although the team itself can be said to have "shut out" the opposing team.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2016 National League Division Series</span> Review of the series

The 2016 National League Division Series were two best-of-five-game series to determine the participating teams in the 2016 National League Championship Series. The three divisional winners and a fourth team—the winner of a one-game Wild Card playoff— played in two series. FS1 and MLB Network carried all the games in the United States.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">2017 Chicago Cubs season</span> Major League Baseball season

The 2017 Chicago Cubs season was the 146th season of the Chicago Cubs franchise, the 142nd in the National League and the Cubs' 102nd season at Wrigley Field. The Cubs were managed by Joe Maddon, in his third year as Cubs manager, and played their home games at Wrigley Field as members of the National League Central Division.


  1. "Official Rules". Major League Baseball. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  2. "July 10, 2021 All-Star Game Play-By-Play and Box Score". Retrieved August 9, 2021.
  3. "Cincinnati Reds vs. Chicago Cubs – Play By Play – April 13, 2007". Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  4. "MLB denied 20-game winner in '09". Major League Baseball. Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  5. Kepner, Tyler (May 25, 2011). "Hapless but Not Hopeless, Blue Jays' Reyes Carries On". The New York Times . p. B11. Archived from the original on May 25, 2011.
  6. "Ben Sheets Statistics and History –". Retrieved October 11, 2015.
  7. "Baseball Prospectus – Prospectus Hit and Run: A Quality Stat, Better than Wins". Baseball Prospectus. Retrieved October 11, 2015.