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Why W-L Records Are Ridiculous

CHICAGO - JULY 26: Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners delivers the ball against the Chicago White Sox at U.S. Cellular Field on July 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The White Sox defeated the Mariners 6-1. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Jess K. ColemanContributor IDecember 19, 2016

Tyler Kepner of the New York Times reminded us of something very important this morning. Here is what he said via Twitter:

"Felix Hernandez has 10 starts this yr in which he’s thrown 7 inn and allowed no more than 3 ER without getting a W. His 7-8 is so deceptive."

It got me thinking once again how ridiculous W-L records are. So I thought of expanding the sampling beyond Felix Hernandez, to find what the chances are of winning the game if you pitch seven or more innings and give up three earned runs or less.

(We should first note that pitching seven innings and giving up three runs is a great start, and losing a game after pitching like that is simply a misrepresentation of your ability).

Here is what I found: Historically speaking, if you pitch seven innings or more and give up three runs or less, you have a one in five chance of losing the game.

So there it is. W-L records are a complete misrepresentation of how you pitch, and it is almost solely based on luck.

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