In sports, a winning percentage is the fraction of games or matches a team or individual has won. It is defined as wins divided by the total number of matches played (i.e. wins plus losses). A draw counts as a ½ loss and a ½ win. Winning percentage is one way to compare the record of two teams; however, another standard method most frequently used in baseball and professional basketball standings is games behind.
For example, if a team's season record is 30 wins and 20 losses, the winning percentage would be .600. If a team's season record is 30–15–5 (i.e. it has won thirty games, lost fifteen and tied five times), the five tie games are counted as 2½ wins and 2½ losses, and so the team has an adjusted record of 32½ wins and 17½ losses, resulting in a .650 winning percentage. In leagues in which points are awarded for overtime losses, it is possible for a team to have a winning percentage above .500 (50%) despite losing more than half of the games it has played.
In North America, winning percentages are expressed to three digits and read as whole numbers (e.g. 1.000, "a thousand" or .500, "five hundred"). In this case, the name "winning percentage" is actually a misnomer, since it is not expressed as a percentage. A winning percentage such as .536 ("five thirty-six") expressed as a percentage would be 53.6%.
Some leagues and competitions may instead use a points percentage system, changing the nature of this statistic. In this type of method, used in many group tournament ranking systems, the competitors are awarded a certain number of points per win, fewer points per tie, and none for a loss. The teams are then ranked by the total number of these accumulated points. One such method, commonly used in soccer, is the "three points for a win", where three points are awarded for winning a game, one point is awarded for a draw, and no points are awarded for a loss. Until close to the end of the 20th century, most soccer competitions only awarded two points for win. Therefore, today if a manager's abilities are measured by win percentage the formula is wins divided by total number of matches; draws cannot be considered as "half-wins", and the quotient is always in percentage form.
The National Hockey League (which now uses an overtime period and shootouts to break all ties) awards two points for a win in regulation or overtime/shootout, one point for an overtime loss, and none for a regulation loss.Until 1999, teams that were still tied after the five minute overtime period in a regular season game received one point each making the league's points percentage a true winning percentage. The NHL first awarded points for overtime losses in 1999, but did not introduce the shootout until after the 2004-05 NHL lockout. The post-2005 format, in addition to the league's decision in the 1990's to expand the league from 21 to 30 clubs while keeping number of playoff berths fixed at 16, had had the effect of making it virtually impossible to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs without a points percentage that is significantly above the .500 threshold. By comparison, in the 1980's and early 1990's it was not uncommon for NHL teams to qualify for the playoffs with records considerably below .500.
Major League Baseball and the National Football League award only ten and twelve postseason berths among 30 and 32 teams respectively, making it uncommon but not impossible for a team with a sub-.500 record to qualify for the postseason. The usual case when such a team does qualify is when it wins an exceptionally weak division. By comparison, the National Basketball Association awards 16 playoff berths among its 30 teams. However, because these berths are awarded based solely on a team's standing in its division and conference, it is not uncommon for NBA teams with sub-.500 records in the weaker conference to reach the postseason while teams with records above .500 in the stronger conference miss out on a playoff berth.
Major League Baseball
|.798||67||17||1880||Chicago White Stockings||best pre-modern season|
|.763||116||36||1906||Chicago Orphans||best National League 154-game season|
|.721||111||43||1954||Cleveland Indians||best American League 154-game season|
|.716||116||46||2001||Seattle Mariners||best 162-game season|
|.250||40||120||1962||New York Mets||worst 162-game season (2 games rained out)|
|.265||43||119||2003||Detroit Tigers||worst 162-game season (no rainouts)|
|.248||38||115||1935||Boston Braves||worst modern National League season|
|.235||36||117||1916||Philadelphia Athletics||worst American League season|
|.130||20||134||1899||Cleveland Spiders||worst pre-modern season|
National Basketball Association
|.878||72||10||1995–96||Chicago Bulls||best 82-game season|
|.110||9||73||1972–73||Philadelphia 76ers||worst 82-game season|
|.106||7||59||2011–12||Charlotte Bobcats||worst season statistically|
National Hockey League
In the National Hockey League, teams are awarded two points for a win, and one point for either a tie (a discontinued statistic) or an overtime loss. It can be calculated as follows:
|.825||60||8||12||132||1976–77||Montreal Canadiens||best points % in post-expansion NHL|
|.131||8||67||5||21||1974–75||Washington Capitals||worst points % in post-expansion NHL|
- "Career Leaders and Records for Points Percentage (Goalie)". Hockey-Reference.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
- "2008–2009 – REGULAR SEASON – SUMMARY – POINT PERCENTAGE". NHL.com. Retrieved 24 May 2009.
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