The baseball season is a long one. One hundred sixty-two games to be exact (although some teams can play fewer games if the scenario is correct). That’s a lot of time for things to happen. Time for teams to get blazing hot and suffer through icy cold slumps. Time for players to get injured, traded, or released.
But once we get into the baseball season and start looking at the standings for each team, you may notice one of the columns says “GB”. What does GB stand for in baseball?
GB stands for “Games Back” or “Games Behind”. GB shows how many games away from first place a team is in their division. GB is calculated by looking at the record for the first-place team and comparing it to the record of another team in the same division.
Below is a walkthrough of the GB statistic in baseball, including how to calculate it and its interpretations. Additionally, you will find an explanation as to why your team’s GB column may have a “half” in it.
How To Calculate GB in Baseball
|New York Mets||89||55||.618||–|
Above is an example of how baseball reports standings for each division. You will notice that the Atlanta Braves, Florida Marlins, and Washington Nationals all have a .5 in their GB column.
In this example, the Atlanta Braves are half a game back from the New York Mets, who are in first place in the National League East Division.
(More on “half games” below).
Now that you know what baseball standings look like let’s take a look at the two ways of calculating GB in baseball.
How to Calculate Games Behind (GB) – Formula #1
The first formula for Games Behind (GB) is as follows:
Games Behind = [(Leader’s Wins – Leader’s Losses) – (Team B Wins – Team B Losses)] / 2
What is any self-respecting math problem without a proper example?
Because it’s such a close race, let’s apply this formula step-by-step to the Braves and Mets from the standings above:
- [(89 – 55) – (88 – 55)] / 2
- [(34) – (33)] / 2
- 1 / 2 = 0.5
As we said above, the Braves are half a game back from 1st place, currently occupied by the Mets.
How to Calculate Games Behind (GB) – Formula #2
The fun doesn’t stop at just one formula! Here’s a second way to calculate games behind in baseball. For this example, we’ll use the same table above to calculate how far behind the Braves are from the Mets.
Games Behind = [(Leader’s Wins – Team B Wins) – (Leader’s Losses – Team B Losses)] / 2
- [(89 – 88) – (55 – 55)] / 2
- [(1) – (0)] / 2
- 1 / 2 = 0.5
There you have it: multiple math formulas to calculate the same statistic. Exciting stuff!
How is GB Used?
The games behind baseball metric is primarily used to gauge a team’s chances of winning their division or making the playoffs. GB can also help predict how many games a team is likely to win.
Games Back can loosely compare the relative strength of two teams, but you shouldn’t draw any hard conclusions from it. Why? Because it does not take into account the quality of a team’s opponents or the number of games remaining in the season.
GB also does not consider that some teams may be more likely to win close games than others.
Though primarily used inside baseball organizations, this statistic can be a valuable tool for baseball fans and analysts to understand the relative strength of baseball teams.
What Does a .5 GB Mean in Baseball?
A .5 GB in baseball represents half a game.
Wait, a “half” of a game…how can there be a half of a baseball game?
Half of a game behind in baseball results from one team playing more games than the other. Half a game behind represents either a win from the team that’s behind in the standings or a loss from the team who is ahead in the standings.
Using our example from above, the Mets have played 144 games (89 + 55), compared to the Braves 143 (88 + 54). Therefore, the Braves are 0.5 GB because they’ve played 1 less game.
Half games are a common occurrence in baseball, given the long season. However, these typically even out with the final standings.
Some common reasons for half games include:
- Bad weather leading to a game being postponed
- Conflicting schedules
- Game cancellations
What is Wild Card Games Behind (WCGB) in Baseball?
Baseball has a second GB statistic, called “Wild Card Games Behind”, or WCGB. What is WCGB in baseball?
In baseball, WCGB stands for “Wild Card Games Back” or “Wild Card Games Behind”. WCGB shows how many games behind a team is from making the Wild Card round of the playoffs.
The Wild Card Series is considered the “gatekeeper” to the regular playoffs in baseball. This wild card round is the first round of the MLB playoffs and is held after the regular season ends.
GB is a baseball metric representing the number of games a team needs to tie with the division leader, but WCGB is the baseball stat representing the number of games a team needs to tie with the Wild Card leader.
For more on the playoffs, I recommend reading this beginner’s guide to how the MLB playoffs work.
What Happens if Two Teams Have the Same GB Number at the End of a Season?
If two teams end the season with the same GB number, they have ended the season in a tie and they must refer to the current tie-breakers rules to determine which team has the better record.
Prior to 2022, a tie to win the division was decided via a tiebreaker game, affectionately known as “Game 163”. In 2022, MLB decided to expand the number of playoff teams from 10 to 12. Along with that change, the MLB removed the Game 163 play-in game for division ties.
- Head-to-head record
- Intradivision record
- Interdivision record
- Last half of intraleague games
- Last half of intraleague games + 1