Baseball Standings Explained
Throughout the baseball season, the positions of the 30 MLB teams are tracked through the standings. Each team competes in the American or National League in one of three divisions -- East, West or Central. In addition to its win-loss record and winning percentage, the standings indicate how many regular-season games a team needs to win to secure one of the eight slots available for postseason play.
Wins and Losses
The "W" and "L" columns of the standings list the number of games each team has won and lost, respectively. The "PCT" column shows the teams' winning percentages, which is calculated by dividing the number of games won by the total number of games played and rounding up or down to three digits past the decimal. The "Home" and "Road" or "Away" columns show the win-loss records for each team for games played in its home stadium and as the visiting team in road games. The "L10" column depicts each team's win-loss record for the past 10 games, with the number of wins represented first. "STRK" stands for "streak," and shows each team's current win or loss streak, with "W" indicating wins and "L" indicating losses.
GB in baseball standings stands for "games back" or "games behind." The top team in a division will have a dash or a zero in this slot of the standings. For each other team, GB represents the average of the difference in both wins and losses between this team and the division leader. For example, if the division leader has 60 wins and 40 losses and the second-place team in the division has 55 wins and 45 losses, the second-place team is five games behind and will have "5.0" in its "GB" column. GB is an average, so each game played only counts as a half game in regard to this number. Thus, each game won by the division leader increases the GB by 0.5, and each game won by the second-place team decreases the GB by 0.5. The GB number will increase from the top to the bottom of the division standings.
The elimination number, depicted as "E" or "E#," represents the combined number of wins by the division leader and losses by another team in the division needed for the top team to clinch a spot in the postseason. This number is determined by adding a team's number of wins to the number of games it still has to play in the regular season and subtracting the division leader's number of wins from the total, then adding 1. Unlike the GB, this number will decrease from the top to the bottom of the division standings. Once this number, sometimes called the magic number, reaches "0" or "E" for the second-place team, it's no longer statistically possible for any team to beat the record of the division leader in the remaining regular-season games. An "x" or "y" may appear in the standings next to the names of the division-winning teams.
After the six division leaders have been identified, the team with the best record from each league is awarded a wild card spot to bring the total number of postseason teams to eight. The wild card race often has its own standings, but it's also recorded in the "WCGB" column of the regular standings. WCGB represents "wild card games back," and it's determined in the same way as GB, except it's calculated for all of the remaining teams in each of the AL and the NL. An elimination or magic number also applies to the wild card positions.
Andrea Reuter has a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from the New School. She has worked as a magazine writer and editor for such publications as "Diversion" magazine and "Original Logic Problems." Reuter currently writes articles about video games and consoles, board games and card games for various websites.