### Math 101 Pt. 3

When ESPN made this mistake (twice), I wrote about it (twice) and had hoped that by writing about it (twice), I had eliminated this mistake from ever happening again. Well, it turns I was wrong.

To be honest, I expected such idiocy from ESPN. By virture of who they hire, idiocy is basically the only result one will ever get from ESPN when all is considered. However, the latest person to commit a faux pas when it comes to determining how many games above .500 a team is trouble is someone I never thought would make such a second grade mistake: a sabermetrician. SABR is an organization I hold in high esteem because they have revolutionized the statistical approach taken towards baseball and so it is with great pain that I bring you this.

To his credit, Bill Deane is correct. A pitcher being 100 wins above .500 is a notable milestone. It is such a notable milestone that no pitcher who has ever stepped onto a major league mound 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate has accomplished the feat. The one who comes closest is Christy Mathewson, but even he falls 15 games short of being 100 games above .500.

Glavine certainly is nowhere near what Deane wants to give him credit for because he is only 50 games above .500. You'll probably asking yourself how I plucked that number out of the air so I will tell you. To figure out how many games above .500 something or someone is, you subtract the losses from the wins and then divide by 2. You do not (I repeat: Do Not) subtract the losses from the wins only and call yourself done. Doing so will result in you being called a moron by me.

Bill Deane, you are a moron.

(UPDATE: I replied in the comments section to a commenter, but I decided to post my answer in the actual post as well to make it easier for you.)

I will have to disagree with you as well. .500 is the mark at which successes are equal to failure. In this case a win is a success and a loss is a failure.

Therefore, it cannot be defended if a team is 20-10 and someone says that they are ten games above .500. This is mathematically impossible since the point at which their successes and failures are equal is 15-15, five games away from their wins and losses. It is the same logic which is applied to finding how many games behind a team is in the standings.

Also, you cannot treat wins as if they exist in a vacuum. The loss is the complement to the win. You cannot increase the one without decreasing the other when it comes to talking about being over .500.

So to say Glavine is 100 wins above .500 is to ignore the fact if you took 100 wins away with his total, this would mean the wins were now losses and you would then have to transfer them into the loss column. This would do nothing but reverse his win-loss record. .500 is not a baseline where you can add one to it like a win total. It is a rate statistic, not a counting one.

I look at the incorrect math the same way I look at misspelled words. Yes, I can tell which word the person was trying to spell, but that does not keep it from being a mistake.

To be honest, I expected such idiocy from ESPN. By virture of who they hire, idiocy is basically the only result one will ever get from ESPN when all is considered. However, the latest person to commit a faux pas when it comes to determining how many games above .500 a team is trouble is someone I never thought would make such a second grade mistake: a sabermetrician. SABR is an organization I hold in high esteem because they have revolutionized the statistical approach taken towards baseball and so it is with great pain that I bring you this.

On the SABR-L mailing list, it was noted that Tom Glavine now has 100 more wins than losses. Bill Deane responded: "One hundred wins over .500 is indeed a notable milestone. Since the current pitching distance was implemented in 1893, only 20 pitchers have won 100 more games than they lost. Fourteen are in the Hall of Fame, and the other six are still active:"

185 Christy Mathewson (373-188)

168 Roger Clemens (341-173)

165 Grover Alexander (373-208)

164 Cy Young (439-275; also 72-41 before 1893)

159 Lefty Grove (300-141)

137 Walter Johnson (416-279)

134 Eddie Plank (327-193)

130 Whitey Ford (236-106)

129 Greg Maddux (325-196)

129 Randy Johnson (271-142)

118 Warren Spahn (363-245)

117 Pedro Martinez (204-87)

116 Jim Palmer (268-152)

113 Kid Nichols (269-156; also 92-52 before 1893)

106 Tom Seaver (311-205)

104 Bob Feller (266-162)

103 Joe McGinnity (247-144)

103 Mike Mussina (233-130)

101 Juan Marichal (243-142)

100 Tom Glavine (286-186)

To his credit, Bill Deane is correct. A pitcher being 100 wins above .500 is a notable milestone. It is such a notable milestone that no pitcher who has ever stepped onto a major league mound 60 feet, 6 inches from home plate has accomplished the feat. The one who comes closest is Christy Mathewson, but even he falls 15 games short of being 100 games above .500.

Glavine certainly is nowhere near what Deane wants to give him credit for because he is only 50 games above .500. You'll probably asking yourself how I plucked that number out of the air so I will tell you. To figure out how many games above .500 something or someone is, you subtract the losses from the wins and then divide by 2. You do not (I repeat: Do Not) subtract the losses from the wins only and call yourself done. Doing so will result in you being called a moron by me.

Bill Deane, you are a moron.

(UPDATE: I replied in the comments section to a commenter, but I decided to post my answer in the actual post as well to make it easier for you.)

I will have to disagree with you as well. .500 is the mark at which successes are equal to failure. In this case a win is a success and a loss is a failure.

Therefore, it cannot be defended if a team is 20-10 and someone says that they are ten games above .500. This is mathematically impossible since the point at which their successes and failures are equal is 15-15, five games away from their wins and losses. It is the same logic which is applied to finding how many games behind a team is in the standings.

Also, you cannot treat wins as if they exist in a vacuum. The loss is the complement to the win. You cannot increase the one without decreasing the other when it comes to talking about being over .500.

So to say Glavine is 100 wins above .500 is to ignore the fact if you took 100 wins away with his total, this would mean the wins were now losses and you would then have to transfer them into the loss column. This would do nothing but reverse his win-loss record. .500 is not a baseline where you can add one to it like a win total. It is a rate statistic, not a counting one.

I look at the incorrect math the same way I look at misspelled words. Yes, I can tell which word the person was trying to spell, but that does not keep it from being a mistake.

## 2 Comments:

You are being pretty petty, imho. If a team has won 20 games and lost 10, and someone says they are 10 games over .500 that can be defended. if they were 10-10 that would be .500. They are 10 games above that record. .500 is 10-10 and they are 10 games above that. You can play with the semantics if you'd like, but this isn't an ESPN specific problem. In fact it's pretty much you vs the rest of the world. I definitely see the math you are using, but it's really more opinion than bad math. You of course can be free to call ESPN morons (they are) but this is more semantics than bad math. When someone talks about 5 games over .500, every baseball fan on Earth immediately knows what they mean. Maybe it's just easier than 5 wins over the .500 mark they would have had if they had subtracted those 5 wins. But most people know that that's what they mean.

By Anonymous, at 2:08 AM

I will have to disagree with you as well. .500 is the mark at which successes are equal to failure. In this case a win is a success and a loss is a failure.

Therefore, it cannot be defended if a team is 20-10 and someone says that they are ten games above .500. This is mathematically impossible since the point at which their successes and failures are equal is 15-15, five games away from their wins and losses. It is the same logic which is applied to finding how many games behind a team is in the standings.

Also, you cannot treat wins as if they exist in a vacuum. The loss is the complement to the win. You cannot increase the one without decreasing the other when it comes to talking about being over .500.

So to say Glavine is 100 wins above .500 is to ignore the fact if you took 100 wins away with his total, this would mean the wins were now losses and you would then have to transfer them into the loss column. This would do nothing but reverse his win-loss record. .500 is not a baseline where you can add one to it like a win total. It is a rate statistic, not a counting one.

I look at the incorrect math the same way I look at misspelled words. Yes, I can tell which word a person was trying to spell, but that does not keep it from being a mistake.

By David, at 9:05 AM

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