What is a Win in Baseball (Explained, Stats/Records)


What is a Win in Baseball?

Wins are assigned to the pitcher of record for the winning team. In most circumstances, the pitcher of record is the pitcher at the time when their team takes the lead in the game, and maintains that lead for the remainder of the game.

Two situations can lead to the pitcher of record not receiving the win. In both situations, the official game scorer determines which pitcher receives the win:

  • The starting pitcher does not pitch five innings, and as such, the official scorer assigns the win to the relief pitcher who pitched most effectively.
  • In the eyes of the official scorer, the pitcher of record did not pitch effectively; and because of that ineffectiveness, the scorer instead assigns the win to the most effective relief pitcher.

Interestingly enough, a starting pitcher can be ineffective but still receive the win since the official scorer only has discretion to assign the win if, and only if, the starting pitcher does not reach five-inning minimum.

Note: the above applies to MLB games only. Short summary of differences below:

College: Same rules apply for games with a minimum of eight innings. For games with less than eight innings, the starting pitcher must pitch at least four innings.

High School: Same rules apply or games with a minimum of six innings. For games where the defense plays less than six innings, then the starting pitcher must pitch at least four innings.

What is a Relief Win?

As described above, relief pitchers are able to receive a win when the starting pitcher does not reach the minimum required innings pitched. In those cases (generally, when the starting pitcher tosses fewer than five innings), the most effective relief pitcher after the winning team assumes the lead is credited with the win by the official scorer.

Most Wins in MLB History

Player Name Number of Wins
Cy Young 511
Walter Johnson 417
Pete Alexander 373
Christy Mathewson 373
Pud Galvin 364
Warren Spahn 363
Kid Nichols 361
Greg Maddux 355
Roger Clemens 354
Tim Keefe 342
Steve Carlton 329
John Clarkson 328
Eddie Plank 326
Nolan Ryan 324
Don Sutton 324
Phil Niekro 318
Gaylord Perry 314
Tom Seaver 311
Charley Radbourn 309
Mickey Welch 307

Other Common Questions

Does a pitcher need to record an out in order to be credited with a win?: Yes, only pitchers who have recorded an out will be considered the pitcher of record.

Does the minimum number of innings for a starting pitcher to earn a win change with 7-inning double headers?: No, starting pitchers are still required to pitch five innings to qualify for a winOpens in a new tab..

Is it possible for a pitcher to earn a win and a save in the same game?: No, a pitcher cannot receive both the win and save in a game (nor can they earn a hold and win in the same game).

Wesley Lyles

Wesley is a jack of all trades hobbyist. Though much of his spare time is spent playing board games (especially solo card games like Legendary), Hearthstone, Rocket League, and MLB The Show.e He also enjoys most sports, but pays way too much attention to baseball and football.

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