# Over .500--Baseball

Right now, the Chicago Cubs have a record of 67 wins and 63 losses. This is considered to be 4 games over .500. The way I understand it, the “.500” refers to the team’s winning percentage (which currently stands at .515).

Here is the question:

If the Chicago Cubs finish the season with a record of 84 wins and 78 losses, would they be 3 games over .500 or 6 games over .500?

I had a contentious argument about this issue yesterday, so I will set forth both arguments (without telling which argument I made) and let the Teeming Millions show me the right path:

1. Currently, the Cubs’ record has the team with 4 more wins than losses, and they are 4 games over .500. Applying the same logic, if their wins outnumber their losses by 6 at the end of the season, they will be 6 games over .500.

2. While the wins currently outnumbering the losses by 4 games necessarily means that they are 4 games over .500, at the end of the season there will be no additional games to play and the total number of games is 162. As a result, winning 81 games would be a record of .500, and winning 84 games would be 3 games over .500.

Any help that the TM can provide is appreciated. Links to show that I am not the only person in the world who thinks the way I do would be great.

Have a great day.

db

They will be 6 games over .500, as they will have won 6 more games than they lost, which is the definition of the term “over .500” (.500 being the breakeven point of having an exactly even number of wins/losses).

Currently, the Cubs’ record has the team with 4 more wins than losses, and they are 4 games over .500. Applying the same logic, if their wins outnumber their losses by 6 at the end of the season, they will be 6 games over .500.
Yes.

While the wins currently outnumbering the losses by 4 games necessarily means that they are 4 games over .500, at the end of the season there will be no additional games to play and the total number of games is 162. As a result, winning 81 games would be a record of .500, and winning 84 games would be 3 games over .500.
No, because it’s a zero-sum total: the number of games they will play in a season is fixed (162), and for “games above .500” states within the season, the number of games they’ve already played in the season is fixed. For every game they win over 81 (or whatever the “halfway mark” of the number of games they’ve already played is), the number of games they’ve lost is reduced by one as well.

You can see this easily if you just work out a table like this:

79-83: 4 games under .500
80-82: 2 games under .500
81-81: .500 record
82-80: 2 games over .500
83-79: 4 games over .500

You can never have an odd number of “games above .500” at the end of a season or after playing an even number of games. (Excepting the rare cases where a rained out game is not made up due to not mattering for the final season standings, in which case you may have a team playing 161 or even 159 games for the season.)

Thanks for your response Robardin. It is much appreciated. I have two follow-up questions:

1. Do you know of any links that back-up your answer?

2. The way I understand what you are saying (and I am not saying that I disagree with you), the “.500” in the phrase “over .500” or “under .500” is synonymous with “games lost.” For example, “6 games over .500” is the same as saying “won 6 games more than were lost,” and “6 games under .500” is the same as saying “won 6 games fewer than were lost.” Am I understanding you correctly?

Take a look here.

The end-of-season LA Clippers home games were 27-14 or 13 above 0.500.

The expression “X games over .500” is just an idiom … it’s not an official thing that would be codified anywhere. And as an idiom, it certainly need not be subject to any kind of mathematical or logical rigor.

The best you’ll do is to come up with a preponderance of usages in written/online media, to establish the issue one way or another. Samclem is usually pretty good with that kind of thing.

Having said all that … Robardin is very much on the money.

EDIT: I see Puzzler found one usage already that backs up Robardin.

The easiest way to “back up my answer” is just to look up the win-loss record of any team at the time any reference to their being over/under .500. You will find that it always equals wins minus losses. It is interesting though, I cannot turn up a formal definition of this term anywhere – people just sort of take it for granted that it is already understood or obvious.

I agree that it is not the most intuitive measure of a team’s success during a season, since it doesn’t correlate to winning percentage in an obvious way. Being 20 games over .500 at the end of the season translates into 92 wins (92-72) for a .568 winning percentage, about the minimum threshold for being “a good team”, while being 20 games over .500 at about the halfway mark (50-30) represents a kick-ass .625 winning percentage.

Perversely, that’s exactly why the measurement is used, especially in baseball which has a very long season: if a team is “X games over .500” at any point in the season, if they go the rest of the season winning and losing the same number of games, they will finish at X games over .500 as well. So if at the end of the season you’d like to be 20 games over .500 (to finish with 92 wins, the usual target for a playoff baseball team’s record), and you’re presently at 20 games over .500, you “only” have to play .500 ball the rest of the way (i.e., well below the pace you’ve been winning so far) to do so.

In games with shorter seasons you generally find fans talking strictly about the number of wins (i.e., in the NFL). It’s only when you’re trying to get a feel for how much “slack” your team has in terms of reaching a season-long win/loss goal that “games over .500” becomes useful.

(And of course, in September, the real numbers to watch are games ahead/behind first place/wild-card berth.)

Another site to go with Puzzler’s: Mets (62-47) move 15 games over .500 for first time since June

Another way: if you finish the season 84-78, your baseline is really 78, not 81.

That is. . .let’s say you were 78-78 at one point. You’re at .500.

You win one game. You’re one game over .500 (79-78)

You win 6 games. You’re 6 games over .500. (84-78)

Sometimes, a team won’t make up a rain game. They can finish the season 81-80. Only a crazy person would call that half a game over .500.

Suppose the Angels finish the season 81-81, and the Rangers 83-79 (numbers completely made up):

It sounds like we have:[ul][]The Angels are at .500[]The Rangers are 4 games above .500The Rangers are 2 games ahead of the Angels.[/ul]Right? If so, I can see why some would have issues with the terminology.

What confuses people about this nomenclature is that if, say, the Red Sox finish the season 82-80 and the Yankees finish 81-81, it’s said that the Sox are 2 games above .500. But it’s also said that the Sox are 1 game ahead of the Yankees, who are a .500 club! In other words, the meaning of ‘games above’ and ‘games below’ is different depending on whether you’re referring to the .500 mark or another team. Specifically, if you are x games above or below .500, you are x/2 games ahead or behind a hypothetical .500 team.

edit: damn you, brad_d, posting while the SDMB is being non-responsive to me.

Semantic Debate Warning:

The Red Sox are currently 80-52 (28 over), the Yankees 73-59 (14 over), but that is not a 14 game lead, but rather a 7 game lead. Thus for the Red Sox they are actually 28 half-games over .500. That is in terms of divisional (wild-card) leads, but it is also true that they’ve won 28 games more than they’ve lost. Thus the use of the terms “half-game” & “full game” are very much dependent on the context.