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Rulebook Corner: Who gets the win?

Posted by John Autin on August 7, 2011

In Cincinnati's 8-7 win over the Cubs, reliever Nick Masset was credited as the winning pitcher, according to both MLB and ESPN online. Was that decision correct?

Masset came on in the bottom of the 7th with a 1-run lead, 2 outs and 2 on. The first batter doubled, tying the game. Masset intentionally walked the next man, then let in the tiebreaker on a wild pitch, before recording his only out. The Reds went ahead in their next at-bat. Aroldis Chapman struck out all 3 in the 8th, and Francisco Cordero pitched the 9th for the save.

Rule 10.17(c) states:

The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the official scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the official scorer.

Rule 10.17(c) Comment: The official scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 10.17(b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.

Doesn't Masset's performance clearly meet the standard of "ineffective in a brief appearance"? He got just 1 out, put 2 runners on, and his wild pitch scored the go-ahead run. It fits the Rule 10.17(c) Comment perfectly.

In my opinion, the win must go to Chapman. The integrity of the meaningless relief-win statistics must be upheld!

What do you say?

144 Responses to “Rulebook Corner: Who gets the win?”

  1. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Charles, that may true, but that's making a judgement call as to whether to apply 10.17(c). The posts by Chuck and the PCL scorer (#87) imply that 10.17(c) would *never* apply here, because Masset is the pitcher of record, period. So under what circumstances do they think it applies?

  2. Chuck Says:

    "It's clear from Chuck's comments that he is far too busy to actually read the rule, so ... why continue that line of discussion?"

    I read the rule, and also understand it, John.

    You should try it.

  3. Johnny Twisto Says:

    We are trying. Why won't you explain it? You're dancing around. The two relievers before Massett confuse things? They have nothing to do with it!

    If 10.17(c) never applies to this situation, when does it apply?

  4. Chuck Says:

    Johnny, I was VERY clear in my explanation, and I can't dance at all.

    "The two relievers before Massett confuse things? They have nothing to do with it!"

    They don't confuse me at all.

    I'm trying to look at it from the author's side of it and can't figure out where the confusion comes from.

    It's a cut and dry situation, and for the life of me can't see the point of all this.

  5. topper009 Says:

    Chuck, you are embarrassing yourself. It appears you do not have the ability or have taken the time to use a logic based if/then appraoch to disecting rule 10.17. For example, you are failing to understand the obvious fact the the "maintain the lead" clause you are citing in post 96 is referring to the succeeding pitcher (this case, Chapman), not the pitcher of "traditional" record (this case, Massett).

    10.17(a) W to Massett unless:
    1) starting pitcher AND 10.17(b) applies --> FALSE
    2) rule 10.17(c) applies
    10.17(c) W not to Massett if:
    1) at least 1 relief pitcher is effective in maintaining the lead--> TRUE (although up to interpretation that Chapman's line of 1.0 IP, 3K = "effective")
    2) Massett was "brief and inneffective":
    1) ...if such relief pitcher pitches less than 1 inning--> TRUE
    2) Allows 2 or more earned runs to score (even if they are earned to another pitcher) -->TRUE

    Therefore rule 10.17(c) applies thus negating rule 10.17(a)

  6. Shping Says:

    I'm skipping over most of the posts to simply say, great discussion question John! I think you found a great example of an instance when the "ineffective" rule should be applied. Unfortunately, until some scorer actually applies it and draws attention to it, it will probably continue to get overlooked.

    Here's a different (off-topic) question i'd love an answer to. Regarding the current riots in England, there was a news article that said some rioters were wielding not only gasoline-filled bottles, but also baseball bats. Baseball bats?!? Why would people in England even own baseball (not cricket) bats? Anyone have a good theory?

  7. Johnny Twisto Says:

    They don't confuse me at all.

    UGH. My point is, they didn't confuse anyone. They had nothing to do with it. I don't know why you brought them up, except to deflect the conversation.

    I think the points of confusion have been very clearly stated. You have not directly addressed them. You are continuing to do exactly what I said in #83. You don't answer the question, and then act as if it's been answered and everyone now understands it.

  8. Chuck Says:

    "If 10.17(c) never applies to this situation, when does it apply?"

    "(c) The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead."

    This means the "ineffective" relief pitcher, in this case Masset, ALSO protected the lead.

    He did not, therefore, the rule doesn't apply.

  9. Charles Says:

    @101 You are correct. It is a judgement call for the scorer. One could view the less than 1 inning, 2 runs scored as saying Masset should not get the win, but as I said the scorer did not use that guideline in automatically eliminating Masset. It could be we're dealing with unwritten guidelines the scorers use.

    Case 1: I would say, if it is used at all, it is used in eliminating pitchers to receive the reassigned win not the default pitcher.
    Case 2: The starter had the lead but didn't go five and all pitchers maintained it.

    One view of the scorer might be that Masset did not lose the lead because the inherited runs tied the game and, in that case, he inherited a tie and the win is not eligible for reassigning. Or maybe this scorer never reassigns wins.

    It's not universal because sometimes a blown win reliever gets a win. Qualls for TB vs NYY 9/15/2010 gave up the tying and winning run, but still got credit for the win.

  10. topper009 Says:

    @108, OK last time I bite Chuck, the part about maintaining or protecting the lead


    If you read the rule it states the succeeding pitcher must be the one who maintains or protects the lead in order to get the W from the traditional pitcher of record who was both brief and ineffective.

    If you are unaware of the definition of the word succeeding,

    suc·ceed·ing [suhk-see-ding] adjective
    being that which follows; subsequent; ensuing: laws to benefit succeeding generations.

  11. DD Says:

    I think we are looking at it a little TOO closely now. I believe Chuck is looking at the entire 10.17, not the components individually, which is what everyone else is doing. There is a lot of cross-referencing in this rule between A, B, and C, and that can't be overlooked. What Chuck is saying is the general rule is a starter gets the win if he goes at least 5 innings and his bullpen maintains the lead. If the starter goes less than 5, that's where B and C to come into play. I don't think that's the way everyone is interpreting it at this point, and maybe we all need to step away and come at it with fresh eyes. Comment to section A says that when there is a tie (as there was when Massett allowed his first inherited run), the W/L rule resets, and whoever is the pitcher of record when the lead is gained by either side is the winning pitcher, provided his teammates maintain the lead. This makes Massett the winner here. There isn't meant to be a scorer's judgement in the case where the starter goes at least 5 innings, only where all hell breaks loose early in the game and relievers have to clean up. At that point, the best at cleaning up the mess and keeping the lead benefits.

  12. Chuck Says:

    Topper...apparently, the official scorer doesn't believe Rule 10.17 (c) applies.

    Which is his right.

    Your opinion is just as meaningless and irrelevant as mine.

  13. topper009 Says:

    There is nothing, at all, except for the definition of "effective pitcher" and "brief and inneffective pitcher", that is up to interpretation in rule 10.17. It is as cut and dry as 4 balls = a walk.

    The actual discussion here is whether this should be a situation when the rulebook should be applied to the letter of the law when in historical practice it has not been. Based on the comment in 10.17(c) Massett was brief and ineffective, but this rule is rarely applied, so should it be here? I say no because of the long history of it being ignored, and therefore we know how to interpret relief pticher W-L records, which is basically to ignore them. I dont care if some pitcher gets a few cheap wins because I would never judge him based on the number of Ws he has.

  14. topper009 Says:

    @112, obvioulsy, based on him awarding the W to Massett. The question is whether or not people think this should continue to be one of those times when a rule is ignored because it has always been ignored, even though it very specifically states that the way it has always been done is incorrect.

    Another example is rule 3.09:
    "3.09 Players in uniform shall not address or mingle with spectators, nor sit in the stands
    before, during, or after a game. No manager, coach or player shall address any spectator
    before or during a game. Players of opposing teams shall not fraternize at any time while in

    which prohibits players from signing autographs during batting practice but is ignored and permitted. So Chuck, do you think the official scorer was correct in ignoring this rule even though it specifically says he is wrong in doing so.

  15. Chuck Says:

    Official scorers go through extensive training and must be knowledgeable on not only the rules but any possible interpretations.

    We see decisions every day which leave us scratching our head; hits, errors, earned runs, etc which are obvious, so to have something like this pop up shouldn't rreally be a surprise.

    Maybe he doesn't understand the rule. Maybe he doesn't think it applies.

    The circumstances would certainly play a part; was the double a rocket over the CF's head or a bloop in no-man's land?

    I would have given Masset the win as well, the circumstances to me don't warrant going away from "pitcher of record".

  16. Richard Chester Says:

    On 6/23/34 at St. Louis the Dodgers took a 3-0 lead into the top of the sixth. Bill Hallahan came in to relieve and gave up a run on two hits and a walk. The Cards scored 5 runs in their half of the inning to take a 5-4 lead. Dizzy Dean then came in to pitch and pitched 3 innings giving up no runs and two hits. The scorer gave the win to Hallahan but was unsure of his decision so he referred the matter to NL president John Heydler. Heydler ruled that since Dean pitched great ball to protect the one run lead and because Hallahan pitched poorly the win should, and did, go to Dean. Dean won 30 games that year. You can read about this on B-R's Today in Baseball History column.

  17. Charles Says:

    @116 On 6/27/34 Dizzy Dean piched 8 2/3 innings against the Giants. Jim Mooney pitched 1/3 of an inning and retired the only batter he faced. In the bottom of the 9th, the Cardinals won and Dizzy Dean got the victory instead of Mooney. That same day, Heydler announced that Dean would get the win foir the 6/23 game. A similiar ruling gave Zachary of the Senators the win over the Giants rather than Marberry in game 2 of the 1924 WS.

  18. Neil L. Says:

    Whew! Was watching the Yankees-Red Sox game on the tube last night and missed all the action in here.

    This blog has legs, obviously. Amazing, who would have thought?

    Nothing terribly enlightening to add, except that I think the official scorer is always generous to the pitcher in his decisions, whether it is as simple as awarding an error/hit or deciding who wins the game.

    The problem is the word ineffective which is open to so much interpretation that it puts the scorer in the dreaded position of actually having to apply it.

  19. MrNegative10 Says:

    A few years ago a reliever for Baltimore was not credited with a win in a very similar situation. Wonder if any Orioles fans out there remember the game 2007-2009 time frame.

  20. Richard Chester Says:


    Dean did not have a stellar performance in that game, 12 hits and 7 runs(5 ER). The reliever Jim Mooney was credited with a save even though he came in with the score tied (according to the B-R box score).

  21. Johnny Twisto Says:

    So Chuck, are you now conceding that 10.17(c) *does* apply to this situation, and that JA and I were *not* confused about the meaning of the rule, but that it was the scorer's judgement which let Massett keep the win?

    That is what I infer from your #115. But if you would like to obfuscate some more, feel free.

  22. Charles Says:

    Here's how 1 paper reported Dean's victory

    Jerome Hermane was out of the game when young Bill DeLancey; St. Louis catcher, smote a home run in the last half of the ninth inning, but as Jim Mooney had pitched only to one batter in the ninth, when the Giants tied the score. Dean gets the credit for the victory.
    It made two wins in one day for the more famous half of the pitching Deans for he received notice just before the game that he had been awarded credit for Saturday's victory over the Brooklyn Dodgers, originally listed as a victory for Bill Hallahan.

  23. Dusty Baker Says:

    The best thing about this thread is no one has openly wondered why I am still a manager in the Major Leagues.

    The second best thing about this thread is no one bothered to ask why in the world I let Fred Lewis bat lead off.

    The third best thing about this thread is that when you're me you can still get away with starting Homer Bailey and posting on message boards mid-game and not get fired.

    The fourth best thing about this thread is even if I do get fired, there's a good chance the Cubs will truck me out again in '12.

    Love, Peace & Harmony,


  24. Daniel Says:

    Masset gets the win

  25. Gonzo Says:

    "The official scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher* who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher **pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead."

    * Massett

    It seems Chuck believes the two uses of the term 'relief pitcher' both apply to Massett.

    Massett is the 'ineffective in a brief appearance' pitcher.
    Chapman is the 'succeeding relief pitcher who pitches effectively'.

    He keeps repeating that Massett doesnt apply to the 'effective' relief pitcher. He's right. But he must acknowledge that Chapman DID pitch effectively and that's who should be considered for a win.

  26. John Bowen Says:

    I think there may be some question of precedent.

    If official scorers have been awarding the win to the last pitcher before the lead was permanently taken over, regardless of effectiveness, for 100+ years, then the interpretation isn't going to change now.

    Really, it's irrelevant. Wins for relievers are even more useless statistically than wins for starters.

    Tonight, Alfredo Aceves got the win and became the first pitcher to ever win 22 of his first 24 career decisions.

    No one in the world cares who Alfredo Aceves is.

  27. Gonzo Says:

    Why doesn't anyone care, John?

  28. John Bowen Says:

    Because he's a middle reliever?

  29. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I care. The guy is a good pitcher. I might go so far as to call him a Legendary Yankee.

  30. Game 114 « The Writer's Journey Says:

    [...] Masset was ruled the winning pitcher in Sunday’s victory over the Cubs…but maybe he shouldn’t have been. Oh, and Todd Frazier hit his third big league [...]

  31. NoChanceforPettitte Says:

    Someday middle relievers will get their due. Maybe that day is coming now given the fact that this discussion has been so lively.

    If you're running A.J. Burnett running out there every 5th day with all of the trappings of his inconsistency you kind of want (make that need) a guy like Aceves in your pen.

  32. birtelcom Says:

    It's interesting to me that in this whole thread, the only comment that I found to mention Win Probability Added was #41. WPA is a splendid contemporary tool for evaluating relief pitcher performance in context, and might helpfully inform discussions such as these. As comment #41 points out, Masset's WPA in this game was horrible. Using b-ref's box score, during Masset's appearance the Reds' likelihood of winning the game declined from around 65% as of the moment he entered the game to around 25% when his appearance ended. The double dropped the Reds' win expectancy from about 65% to about 40%, and the wild pitch dropped it from about 38% to about 20%. It's fair to say that a rule that awards a "Win" to a pitcher whose performance reduced that dramatically his team's chances of actually achieving a win is either being interpreted badly or, if not, is a flawed rule.

  33. Chuck Hildebrandt Says:

    Here's an idea: abolish the statistics of "wins" and "losses" for pitchers. Individuals do not win -- teams win.

    Nah, it'll never happen ...

  34. J.L. Vangilder Says:

    Let me pose a question? are any of you official scorers in any league?
    Just try and give the win the someone other than the pitcher of record.
    The one who was in the game when the go ahead run scored regardless
    of what he did in the previous inning or innings. MLB will shoot you down
    and so will the winning team pitching coach. I have tried. there computer selected the winning pitcher unless is falls under the starter
    not completing 5 innings with the lead never changing.

  35. Johnny Twisto Says:

    That's not responsive to post 88.

    It also seems hard to believe a AAA pitching coach would worry that much about his middle reliever who blew a lead not getting a win, when one of his other pitchers did get the win.

  36. J.L. Vangilder Says:

    You would not believe what the coaches ask me to do at the AAA level.

    Again let me explain that MLB stats would not let me give the win
    to any pitcher other than the pitcher of record. I am also sure that
    same would apply in the big leagues. why don't you go on the Ellias
    sports bureau site and pose that question??

  37. J.L. Vangilder Says:

    Sorry I did not answer your question from post 88. The rule would only
    apply to instances when the starting pitcher did not qualify for the win
    because he left the game too soon,

    Look at rule 10.17 (a) 2 I know this is hard to believe but the truth
    about it and that is way it has called for the last 50 years.

    How many people would understand that the rule book has 36 pages
    that just apply to the Official Scorer.

  38. Johnny Twisto Says:

    J.L., but it looks like 10.17(b) deals with selecting the winner when the SP does not go 5. 10.17(c) seems to address games like the subject of this thread. Would you say that 10.17(c) *could* apply to this game, but in practice that rule is just never enforced?

    Also, how do you explain the game linked in post 19, where Tekulve gets the win, though it looks like Bedrosian is the pitcher of record and Tekulve would ordinarily get the save?
    Is that just a complete rarity?

    Thanks for the responses. Getting the opinion of an official scorer is useful.

  39. Johnny Twisto Says:

    J.L, can you also look at this topic about the Brendan Ryan play last week.

    It looks like it was officially scored a fielder's choice. As I wrote at post 25, it doesn't seem to fit the definitions of a fielder's choice. How would you score it, and can you identify the rule(s) which apply?

  40. Neil L. Says:

    J. L. Vangilder, are you permitted to say what team you officially score for?

  41. J.L. Vangilder Says:

    Ok let;s look at the infield single or triple. I am sure the final was made
    by the Ellias sports bureau. So things happen that just don't fit the rules.
    i would have gave him a triple.

    I am the OS for the New Orleans Zephyrs. AAA of the Flordia Marlins.
    Next year will be my 20 year with AAA.

    I want to check the box on that game with Pirates. will let you know

  42. Charles Says:

    @ 134 and 136

    It happened on in the majors on Sept. 9, 2010 @ posting 36. The starting pitcher left with the score 4-3 in his favor after 5 and 1/3 innings and nobody on. Simon enters the game in the eighth with his team ahead 8-7 and the score never changes, but he gets the win.

    I will not doubt you when you say that in your league you cannot do this.

  43. John Autin Says:

    J.L. Vangilder -- I hope you don't mind my posting this ABC news feature on you:

    By the way, my late daddy lived a couple miles from Zephyr Field, on Tullulah between Airline and Jefferson Hwy. in River Ridge ... Looks like it's plenty hot in Metairie today -- I hope that press box is air-conditioned!

  44. Neil L. Says:

    JA, thanks for the link.

    Mr. Vangilder, please continue to post in BR. Your perspective would be a great addition to our discussions.