How Many Games Over .500?

A week ago, Brandon McCarthy posted a tweet that sent Twitter into a frenzy.

Many people believed that McCarthy was incorrect. After all, they reasoned, all the media outlets report games over .500 this way. How could all of them possibly be wrong?

Let’s do some math. For the sake of simplicity, we will say that the Dodgers have played one more game than their record indicates so that we have a nice even number. They are currently 80-59. We will add that extra game to the win column, thereby making their hypothetical record 81-59. With that record, how many games have they played in the season? To figure that out, we add the number of wins they have to their losses.

Wins + Losses = Games played so far
81 + 59 = 140

Now, we want to find what the .500 mark is at this point in the season. The way we do that is to divide the number of games played so far by 2. Why by 2? Because that is how you calculate half of a number.

Games played so far / 2 = .500 mark
140/2 = 70

So if a team’s record is .500 at 140 games played, then they have an equal number of wins and losses. Thus, a .500 team has a record of 70-70 at 140 games played.

Now if we have a team that is 81-59, that team is NOT 22 games over .500. Many people are claiming that in order to reach a .500 record, a team at 81-59 has to lose 22 games but what happens when we do that? If we add 22 losses to our 81-59 Dodgers, their new record becomes 81-81. How many games played is that? Going back to our formula, it is 162 games played. But we are not concerned with 162 games played. We are concerned with only the 140 that have been played thus far. So what do we do? Well, we look at the current record of 81-59 and the .500 mark of 70-70. We subtract the number of wins at the .500 mark from the number of wins a team has and that will give us how many games over or under .500 a given team is. For example, our 81-59 Dodgers are 11 games over .500 because

81 – 70 = 11

Now the confusion lies in this comment.

A team with a .500 record is the midway point. And any record over or under .500 is also how many games ahead or back other teams are. In other words, a team that is 11 games over .500 is also 11 games ahead of a .500 team. OR, a .500 team that is eleven games back in the standings also means that the first place team is eleven games over .500.

Math is not an easy subject. I get that. But for the love of god, just because everyone else is spewing incorrect information does not mean that it is right. And really, there is nothing wrong with being wrong. Math is math and the most basic of math is practically indisputable.

Your regularly scheduled Piazza Parlor content will continue tomorrow. The Dodgers take on the Arizona Diamondbacks. Alex Wood will face Robbie Ray. Game time is at 6:40 PM.