ESPN debuted a new feature during its MLB Opening Day broadcasts Monday, and like every subtle change to every broadcast ever, a lot of fans instinctively disliked it.

The feature in question was a little graphic in the bottom-right corner of the screen explaining each team’s win probability in the current game.

Reviews for showing win probability on screen were pretty unanimously negative, with fans complaining that the concept is un-fun, annoying or misleading.

In an unfortunate twist for ESPN’s win probability, the Cubs scored three runs against the Cardinals in the ninth inning Sunday night to flip what had been something like a 97-3 St. Louis edge into a toss-up.

Though the Cardinals ended up winning in the bottom of the inning, for people who don’t fully understand how statistics work the Cubs’ comeback was proof that win probability was worthless.

Win probability can be a cool stat to look at after a back-and-forth game or dramatic comeback to show how dramatically the odds swung, but it does feel a little meaningless in real time. What exactly are we gaining from knowing the Astros have a 56 percent chance of winning the game when it’s 3-1 in the fourth? And if the win probability is 98-2 in the late innings, what are you suggesting? That we turn off the game?

For teams, win probability could be be extremely useful, indicating the leverage of a given moment (although, leverage index does that better) and therefore helping managers decide which pitcher to insert or whether to pinch run. For fans, it’s knowledge for the sake of knowledge. At worst, it diminishes the game’s excitement. At best, it doesn’t do much of anything.

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.