The Wins vs. Entertainment Hypothetical

That’s probably a terrible title. It’s a work in progress. I promise the rest of this post will be better than the title. At least, I hope that it is, but as the author of both I’m probably in no position to decide. So, I will leave it in the hands of you, the reader, to determine which is worse, the title or this post. But that’s not really what’s important, nor does this paragraph have anything to do with the next 5 paragraphs that you’ll read.

The following was inspired by this year’s Rangers team, who are very good at winning and also very good at producing a high entertainment value. The team has a .727 winning percentage, having won 16 of 22 games. On the flip side, of the team’s 6 losses, three of them have been by one run, and another two saw the Rangers send the game-tying or game-winning run to the plate in the 8th or 9th inning (or, as I wrote elsewhere, this team is bad at losing). That leaves only one loss, really one game, all season that has been only mildly entertaining. This may be the greatest team to be a fan of ever. However, if you had to choose between the wins, or the entertainment, which would you choose?

On Sunday night, I posed this hypothetical question on Twitter, which I would like to expand further here. I’m going to lay out two scenarios, and then I want you to decide which option you would prefer. Let’s say you’re a Texas Rangers fan (which most of you probably are), and you are getting settled for a brand new season of baseball. What kind of Rangers team would you rather root for, team type A or team type B? Team type A is a team that wins 90 games, and loses 72, but in all 72 losses the Rangers fall behind by 6 in the 1st inning and lose by the same margin. Team type B is a team that wins 86 games, loses 76, but every game is decided by 2 runs or less. Both team type A and team type B make the playoffs, despite the difference in wins, so this is truly a hypothetical decision that impacts the regular season alone.

Team type A wins more games, and more wins is good. Even better, when they lose, you are able to emotionally detach from the game by the 2nd or 3rd inning because it has become pretty clear that it’s just not their night. While that may seem like a more pleasing outcome on the surface, that also means that 44% of the team’s games have little to no entertainment value for you, the fan, essentially robbing you of almost half a season of the sweet nectar of good baseball. But they win 90 games, and 90 wins is going to be better than most teams.

Team type B doesn’t really win very many games. 86 wins is only just over mediocre, as that is just a .530 winning percentage. In this hypothetical, they make the playoffs, but only just barely because honestly, it takes a really bad division for an 86-win team to make the playoffs. But this team is scrappy, they fight and are in every game. Even when they lose, you feel like they have a shot at winning. When they win, you’re on the edge of your seat the whole game because they never put the other team away. There is probably a lot of blown saves and come-from-behind wins for this team. The entertainment value is high, even if the team isn’t truly very good.

So, which would you choose?

Peter Ellwood is a Senior Staff Writer for Shutdown Inning. You can email him at or reach him on Twitter @Peter_Ellwood
Peter Ellwood

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