Conventional baseball wisdom suggests that all teams win 60 games and lose 60 games in
an average campaign. That leaves 42 games that will make or break your season in a 162
game schedule. I came up with my own pivotal game criteria. Games are pivotal when:
- The outcome is determined in extra innings.
- The outcome of a nine inning game is decided by one run.
- The outcome of a nine inning game is decided by a lead change in the last three innings.
- A pivotal game is always pivotal for both teams involved. A pivotal win for one club generates a pivotal loss for the opponent.
- effects on the division standings
- effects on external fluctuations like breaking a losing/winning streak or dealing a
loss to a previously undefeated pitcher.
- effects caused by a break in game continuity. The original criteria apply even if
there's rain delay, suspension of play, ejection, or protest.
Kansas City's opening day victory 5-4 in eleven innings over Detroit was pivotal. Today's 4-0 win was not. That doesn't mean it wasn't important or historic, but not pivotal by my definition. If baseball wisdom is correct then the number of pivotal games (pivotal wins + pivotal losses) for all teams should average 42 a season.