Friday, December 16, 2011

10/6/91 New York Mets 7, Philadelphia Phillies 0

Veterans Stadium, Philadelphia, PA
Game 3 of 3
(Final game of the 1991 Regular Season)

David Cone famously strikes out 19 in his complete game shut-out of the Phillies.

The Kansas City native went the distance and ties the NL strikeout record (previously tied by Tom Seaver, also as a Met, in 1970) with 18 swinging and 1 called K. How did he do it? For the most part, he got the Phillies by making them "climb the ladder"...seeing the guy who made this tactic famous was amazing; I don't think I've ever seen it executed so many times and quite so masterfully. This would be his last full season with the Mets before being traded in August of 1992 to the Toronto Blue Jays for Jeff Kent and a PTBNL (Ryan Thompson).

Both the Mets and the Phillies were waayyy out of contention for a postseason appearance, one would be hard pressed to believe that history would be made during this otherwise dismal, rainy day in Philadelphia. The fans made the most of it, even Phillies fans in attendance seemed to enjoy and appreciate the events as they unfolded…

Clever baseball fans in the 90s used “coneheads” to track Cone’s strikeouts during a game…as you can see in this screenshot from the game, they are really stacking up in later innings, along with a sign that reads “Let’s Go Mets, Let’s Go Phillies, Let’s Go Baseball, Let’s Play 2”…there must have been some unusual ‘we’re not going to the World Series this year’ unity in the grandstand…

Of course, the Phillies swung at a lot of great pitches…the Mets, on the other hand, took care of starting pitcher Andy Ashby and relievers Bruce Ruffin and Wally Ritchie; each pitcher allowed at least 1 run (Ashby allowed 5 in 5IP and threw 2 wild pitches; Phillies catcher Doug Lindsey was charged with a passed ball).

The Phillies get on base 4 times (Mickey Morandini on a single, Wes Chamberlain and Dave Hollins with doubles, Mickey Morandini on a 1st inning walk), all are left on base.

Mets CF Daryl Boston went 2-for-5 with a HR and a triple, LF Kevin McReynolds went 2-for-3, 3B Gregg Jeffries went 2-for-4 with 2 RBI, 1B Chris Donnels (yes, the Mitchell Report guy with the great eyebrows) went 1-for-4 with an RBI, and switch-hitting Howard Johnson went 1-for-5 with an RBI. However, aside from David Cone…this game belonged to Keith Miller.

Most of you know my abject devotion to the fantastic blog The Greatest 21 Days, which focuses on the ‘members’ of the 1990 CMC baseball card set. If this blog is not part of your daily reading, you’re missing out on some of the best baseball blogging ever!! I’m happy to report that this game features a whopping 10 CMC set members! With late-season roster call-ups a proliferation of minor league talent normally flows into the expanded rosters of teams; when the season is over before it’s over, it stands to reason that in the last game of the season, you can expect them to get some playing time. Starting with Keith Miller, let’s look at each CMC set member who played in the game; if they have been featured on The Greatest 21 Days, you have links to those stories as well so you can read Steve78’s excellent, excellent, excellent work! Yes, friends…that is triple excellent!

247 Keith Miller - (not yet featured)
Again, forget for just a moment David Cone’s accomplishment, if you can. During that moment, pencil this in as “the Keith Miller game,” Keith went 4-for-5 with a solo HR, two doubles, and 2 RBI. Keith looks like a member of DEVO with his goggles on:

He is DEVO! Mark Mothersbaugh's long lost twin brother…without the goggles and helmet, he looks just like Ryan Theriot!!Keith's career with the Mets ended right here, with this game. He was traded in a transaction I shall describe towards the end of this post...

367 Jeff Gardner - ”Every Day”
Jeff struck out twice, flew out and grounded out. Gardner was traded to the Padres a few months later for Steve Rosenberg and saw no full-time MLB play until the 1993 season.
SCOREKEEPER’S NOTE: Jeff’s groundout to Ricky Jordan in the 4th was actually a line drive that landed straight into Jordan’s glove, but popped out as Jordan attempted to squeeze it single-handedly…this happens often, and when the ball is picked up by the fielder for a putout or an assist, it’s always scored as a ground ball; even if the line drive pops out of the glove and into the bare hand of the fielder…

803 Kim Batiste - (not yet featured)
Kim earns a “Golden Sombrero” in this game, striking out 4 times against Cone (all swinging). He was called “the Phillies shortstop of the future” by Ralph Kiner during the broadcast; he did have a great year with the Phillies in 1993 (.282/.298/.436., OPS .734 in 79 games) but wasn’t quite their “shortstop of the future” and was released by the Phils in 1995.

240 Mickey Morandini - ”Reckless Abandon”
Mickey was 1-for-3 with a walk, the only Phillie to reach base twice, and stole a base in the 1st inning. Mickey (“Dandy Little Glove Man”) was with the Phils until 1997, when he became a Chicago Cub for two years on a trade with the Phillies for Doug Glanville. As a Cub, Mickey would play in yet another extremely famous mega-strikeout game, when Kerry Wood fanned 20 to break David Cone’s NL record established in this game!

23 Wes Chamberlain - (not yet featured)
Wes struck out three times and doubled in the 9th with 2 outs. He was an OPS beast for the Phillies (.747 through 1994), not so much for the Boston Red Sox (.548 in 70 games during 1994 and 1995, traded to Boston for Billy Hatcher and Paul Quantrill), the end of the MLB road for Chamberlain. In August of 1995 he was traded to the Royals for Chris James, then released…his minor league career ended in 1999 and he spent the next 5 years playing Independent League Baseball.

245 Ron Jones - ”Sense of Competitiveness”
Jones entered the game as a pinch-hitter for Ricky Jordan in the 7th inning and flew out to Howard Johnson. 1991 was Jones’ last year of MLB action, this was his final plate appearance for the Phillies.

776 Doug Lindsey - ”No Joke”
This was Doug Lindsey’s MLB debut; he struck out 3 times and was charged with a passed ball. He didn’t see any MLB action in 1992 and was the PTBNL in the Donn Pall trade with the Chicago White Sox.

392 Jim Lindeman - (not yet featured)
Jim entered the game in the 6th inning in the double switch with pitcher Bruce Ruffin, hitting in Andy Ashby’s spot and taking over at 1B for Ricky Jordan. Jim struck out and flew out. A native of Evanston, IL, Jim was selected by the St Louis Cardinals in the 1st round of the 1983 draft (24th overall) and appeared on MLB rosters with the Cardinals and the Detroit Tigers before joining the Phillies organization as a free agent in January 1991. Lindeman would sign with the Mets as a free agent in late 1993, appearing in 52 games with an OPS of .800 in 1994, his final MLB season.

784 Andy Ashby - ”Wasn’t Worried”
Andy pitched 5 innings, allowing 7 hits, 5 runs (all earned), walking one, striking out 4, allowing one HR and was charged with 2 wild pitches (Frank Cashen called one of them a “Wild Wild Pitch”). Andy was drafted by the Colorado Rockies as the 25th pick in the 1992 expansion draft, leaving the Phillies with a 6.77 ERA and a 1.566 WHIP in 18 games from 1991 and 1992, but would return to the Phillies for part of the 2000 season.

232 Wally Ritchie - ”Tough Situations” (12/1/11), ”Another Chance” (2/21/10)
Ah, yes…last but certainly not the least, Wally Ritchie! One of my favorite CMC set members, Wally pitched 2 innings to finish this game, allowing 2 hits, 1 run (Daryl Boston’s HR in the 9th), and struck out Jeff Gardner looking. Wally was a reliever for the Phillies through 1992, when he was granted free agency, and is probably best remembered for his one-game suspension as a result of the “Otis Nixon Incident,” where Nixon charged the mound after being hit by a pitch, instigating a brawl on the field. Ritchie never pitched in the majors after 1992, and in October of 2011 was announced as the new pitching coach for his alma mater, Brigham Young University.

The game was originally broadcast on WOR-TV and called by legendary Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner; the WOR color analyst for the 1991 season was typically Tim McCarver (yes, the same stumblebum we endure on FOX today) but Tim was out, so Kiner’s “guest” was none other than Frank Cashen, the Mets GM who would ironically be Mets GM no more shortly after this game. Kiner lovingly calls Gregg Jeffries’ single in the 1st inning “an astro-turf base hit.” After about 10 minutes, it’s almost impossible to tell the voices of Kiner and Cashen apart.

Besides Cashen’s exit as GM, in December of 1991 two Mets appearing in this game (Kevin McReynolds and Gregg Jeffries) would be traded to the Royals for Bill Pecota and this guy:Keith Miller was also part of this trade; he was a Royal until 1995 (spending most of 1993-1995 in the minors), when he was released.

I scored this game on 12/7/11

Box Score and Play-by-play on Retrosheet

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
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Thursday, December 1, 2011

New PROTOTYPE Scoresheet

Every year I try to review my scoresheet templates and work in a few changes...a few weeks ago I posted my current 2011 templates for your perusal (and FREE download for use!)...

I decided a few months ago to begin working on revisions in December; well, I got a head start on that.

Quite some time ago, I added my "stick figure" field boundary lines to the diamond in order to more accurately record a 'visual' representation of where the batted ball went and how it got there. After searching for a clipart diamond that better suited my purpose, I found one quite by accident and added it to my current "master" template.

Not wanting to stop there, I needed to address a few other things:

As my eyes start their pre-senile decline and as my notation becomes more elaborate, I'm finding the need to make the play boxes a little bit larger. That being said, when the boxes get larger, something has to get, the "10th inning" column has been omitted, and the "10th batter" has been truncated to a few lines for extra pinch hitters, and a more open box for pitcher change recording (which I used to do at the top).

I'm still toying around with it, but I've begun "testing" and so far, so good. I'm pretty much at as near to a "final" version as I can get to in such a short amount of time, but I have a lot of work to do so this is still a prototype for all intents and purposes...

You can download the PROTOTYPE version here, in my Google Docs repository...feel free to download and print, and hey...any feedback is welcome, even if I might not use it, I'd still like to get some reactions to this latest design.

Here's a recently scored game with the new template; I have lots of post updates in the hopper that I'll be adding soon.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

11/19/11 Salt River Rafters 9, Surprise Saguaros 3

Scottsdale Stadium, Scottsdale, AZ
Arizona Fall League Championship Game

It’s a great day in Arizona every day during the Arizona Fall League season, but in the championship game this year, it was all Arizona…Arizona Diamondbacks, that is… This is Diamondbacks prospect David Nick, who went 4-for-4 with a HR for the Salt River Rafters in their Military Appreciation game victory over the Mesa Solar Sox on November 11 (scoresheet coming soon!).

The Rafters featured not one, but two Diamondbacks prospects in their pitching tonight; add Nick and fellow D-back Adam Eaton to their lineup and for this game at least, you’ve got a lock.

Brewer took the mound against Marlins prospect Alex Sanabia, whose only transgression was a 2-run 2nd inning and a solo HR for Nolan Arenado in the top of the 3rd. Brewer, on the other hand, yielded a 2-run tater with nobody out to my favorite Panamaian Christian Bethancourt. After 4 innings, Sanabia was lifted for hard-throwing Adam Liberatore and Brewer was replaced by Diamondbacks prospects Adam Woodall (2IP, 0H, 0R, 1K) and Kevin Munson (02.IP, 0H, 0R, 1K).

The Rafters had a barely comfortable 1-run lead to begin the top of the 7th, when the ball went to Jeremy Jeffress. I was happy to see him in the Rising Stars Game, but after all he’s been through…this wasn’t his best outing. He face 5 batters, only recorded one out, allowed 2H, 4R, 1BB and 1 wild pitch. In doing so, the Saguaros train was derailed and the Rafters earned nothing less than a modest victory.

The surprise for me (no AFL pun intended) was David Nick. The Military Appreciation game was the first I’ve heard of him, and now I’m very intrigued. He’s not an OPS beast per se, but he’s had a great run so far in 3 seasons of Minor League ball (.751 OPS in Missoula (Pioneer League), South Bend (Midwest League), and Visalia (California League)). With Visalia in 2011, in 132 games he struck out 80 times, hit for 253 total bases, and walked 30 times. By comparison, in South Bend the previous year he struck out 97 times, hit for 181 total bases, and walked 41 times. His performance has been fairly consistent, as in 2011 AFL his OPS was .756, with a modest 34 total bases in 22 games. He’s no Bryce Harper or Wil Meyers, but these numbers are comparable to the AFL stats of high-profile prospects such as Nick Franklin and Mike Trout (ahem!). David Nick is not stud prospect material (you probably won’t see him in any top 10 lists), but at 21 years old, he seems to have some spark and potential, and hey…he’s fun to watch on the field, which is an all-around win for fans like me.

SCOREKEEPER’S NOTE: Let’s talk about Fielder’s Choice plays with NO PUT OUTS!
From the rules, 2.00 “Terms and Definitions”:
FIELDER’S CHOICE is the act of a fielder who handles a fair grounder and,instead of throwing to first base to put out the batter-runner, throws to another base in an attempt to put out a preceding runner. The term is also used by scorers (a) to account for the advance of the batter-runner who takes one or more extra bases when the fielder who handles his safe hit attempts to put out a preceding runner; (b) to account for the advance of a runner (other than by stolen base or error) while a fielder is attempting to put out another runner; and (c) to account for the advance of a runner made solely because of the defensive team’s indifference (undefended steal).
A very common scorekeeping misconception for some is that a Fielder’s Choice play typically results in a put out…while this is true most of the time it certainly isn’t a “typical” situation. For me, the key element to consider in scoring a Fielder’s Choice play of any kind is that “fielder’s choice” is shorthand for “batter-runner reaches on a fielder’s choice,” anything else that occurs during the play or as a result of the play (a run scored, a PO, an error, etc) doesn’t determine the scoring of a Fielder’s Choice…the fact that the batter-runner reached a base and/or advanced is enough. For those who are new at scorekeeping, thinking in these terms makes the determination quick and easy as long as you consider that if a fielder exercises an option to make a play other than putting out the batter-runner, it’s a Fielder’s Choice, period.

In this game, we see two examples of a Fielder’s Choice play without a put-out; one of them is strictly textbook, the other not so much.

In the top of the 7th, with Adam Eaton on first, Jake Goebbert on third, and 1 out, Tim Wheeler hits a sharp grounder to Leury Garcia. Garcia fields the ball quickly and has 3 options:
• Field the ball to 1B, put out Wheeler, then Goebbert may score
• Field the ball to 2B, put out Eaton, then Goebbert may score
• Field the ball to C, put out Goebbert if he tries to score, or keep him at 3B to load the bases
The Rafters are only up by one, there’s only one out, and Jeffress hasn’t really started the meltdown on the mound that’s yet to come for him, so any of these options are viable as long as he can make the assist, which also assumes that the receiver can make the play. Garcia decides to prevent the run from scoring and fields the ball to Bethancourt. Unfortunately, Bethancourt doesn’t make the tag; Goebbert scores and nobody is out. This is a textbook “fielder’s choice, no PO” play. If you charge a batter for a groundout on a fielder’s choice when another baserunner is PO, you wouldn’t do it here since there is no out. The batter does get an RBI, and the run is earned by the pitcher.

An earlier Fielder’s Choice play with no PO in the top of the 2nd inning isn’t really a textbook example. Ben Paulsen is on second base, David Nick is on first; with 1 out Jason Castro hits a chopper to Leury Garcia. Garcia fields the ball a few steps away from the bag at 2nd and has a real opportunity to make the play unassisted at 2nd to force out Nick. He dives toward the bag, extends his arm painfully, but Nick reaches the bag as Garcia is unable to make the tag and Castro reaches first base on the play. I emphasize this to further illustrate the scoring thought process I elaborated on in the previous example. Novice scorekeepers may observe this play as, perhaps, a hit(*) for Castro; however, the way the ball is hit and the speed of the runners gives Garcia one option for a play with two outcomes, this is the “non-textbook” aspect of this play and how it’s scored. In the previous example there were more options and even more outcomes, so the Fielder’s Choice ruling is a bit clearer. Here, the fielder made a decision and the decision allows the batter-runner to reach base regardless of the outcome, as it were, without a PO. Think about it this way: if Garcia had made the tag successfully and Nick was out, it would still be a Fielder’s Choice…if Garcia had been more than a few steps away from the bag, probably deeper in the field, and didn’t have an unassisted play option, you would probably rule that a hit. If the ball wasn’t a chopper and was, for instance, a sharp ground ball that was fielded cleanly with enough time and space for Garcia to make the play and he couldn’t do so, then the situation is more arbitrary and based upon Garcia’s effort, you could rule a hit or even an error.

(*)Of course, as I’ve said before, this is your scoresheet, you can do whatever you want –especially if you are ruling on an error- but in this case, I strongly recommend that you consider the rules as they pertain to Fielder’s Choice. Ruling this a hit probably wouldn’t result in an appeal or something of that nature, but when an error isn’t a factor you want to make your best effort to be consistent in your interpretation of the rules in your ruling.

On my scoresheet, I made notes next to each player in the lineup as to what MLB parent organization they belonged to.

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
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Saturday, November 5, 2011

11/5/11 AFL East 2, AFL West 11

Surprise Stadium, Surprise, AZ
Arizona Fall League Rising Stars Game

The battle of the CENTURY!! Number ONE faces Number TWO!!

The “big deal” leading up to the 2011 AFL Rising Stars game (aside from Bryce Harper scheduled to participate this year, having missed the 2010 contest due to a ‘taxi squad’ technicality) was certainly the slated SP for each team. If you are living under a rock in Guatemala, #1 pick Gerrit Cole is starting for the East Division, and #2 pick Danny Hultzen is starting for the West Division.

For most of us, this would be our very first time seeing both of these guys in action, even if only for a few innings. For a majority of baseball fans and prospect watchers, it would be our very first time seeing lots of these guys in action for the first time.

Decidedly, the hype is all about Gerrit Cole. In this game, the hype went into a heap and was jumped on by Danny Hultzen and the West Division squad. It’s only a small sample size, and to be fair, Cole looked pretty good on the mound. However, Cole got into trouble early, was touched for 2 HR in the very first inning and was unable to retire a batter in 3 PA after 3 runs scored. Cole stayed in the game after only getting 2 outs and facing 7 batters; 4H 5R (all earned), a BB and a K. I agree with the consensus that this was an ‘exhibition’ game, and that his velocity and profile was great overall, just having a bad time with location.

On the other hand, tell that to Danny Hultzen. In 2 innings, he allowed no hits, no runs, walked one batter and struck out the side in the very first inning. If Cole “didn’t do too bad, showed some promise,” well, OK…that means Hultzen was triple-fantastic, then!! Seattle Mariners fans should have no trouble loving this guy, he looks and feels as major-league ready as he can on the mound.

The stud of the game offensively was, without a question, another Mariners prospect; SS Nick Franklin. Franklin had a stellar day in the batter’s box, 4-for-5 with a HR (courtesy of Gerrit Cole), 2 doubles and a single. Defensively, Franklin was charged with a hard-luck error that allowed Robbie Grossman to reach base in the 7th inning with 2 outs.

Honorable Mention goes to Marlins hotshot Kevin Mattison, but mostly for his fantastic facial hair and refreshing plate attitude.

I’m always happy to see Royals fireballer Jeremy Jeffress in action; he had some location issues this past season but struck out the side (3 batters faced, 3 batters down, 12 pitches total, all swinging strikeouts) in his 1 inning of work.Jeffress was one of the “oldest” players in draft age, having been drafted in the first round in 2006 by the Brewers. Royals pitcher Nate Adcock was selected in the 5th round of the 2006 draft by the Mariners.

First time seeing Cleveland Indians prospect Preston Guilmet, I love his outrageous delivery…he reminded me quite a bit of Josh Collmenter, but a little less effective. You can tell a great deal about his delivery by this photo…

It was also great to see a prospect I’ve been keeping my eyes on, the Atlanta Braves’ athletic Panamanian catcher Christian Bethancourt. I’ve only been able to follow him on paper until today.
Another Braves’ prospect I need to keep an eye on was Joe Terdoslavich, who was 3-for-3 with 3 RBI. Joe’s 1st inning HR was the second offered by Gerrit Cole.

Oh yeah…and Bryce Harper played today. He was 0-for-2 in 4 plate appearances; walked by Danny Hultzen, struck out swinging twice (once by Jeffress, once by Reds prospect Brad Boxberger), and credited with an RBI on a SAC fly.

On my scoresheet, I made notes next to each player in the lineup as to what MLB parent organization they belonged to. For posterity, here is a list of players that made appearances in the game, with their organization and their current draft information. 2011 draft picks are in boldface.

There were 5 MLB parent organizations for whom players did not participate in the game; not surprisingly those organizations were the Cardinals, the Yankees, the Red Sox, the Tigers, and the Mets. All players on the East Division roster appeared in the game; there were 5 players listed on the roster that did not appear in the game at all:

Cory Burns (Cleveland Indians)
J.J. Hoover (Atlanta Braves)
Taylor Whitenton (New York Mets)
Matt Adams (St Louis Cardinals)
Mikie Mahtook (Tampa Bay Rays)

This leaves the New York Yankees, the Boston Red Sox, and the Detroit Tigers as organizations who had no talent on the 25-man roster for either team in the Rising Stars game. The Colorado Rockies led the number of talent with 5 prospects, the Kansas City Royals saw 4 prospects on the roster, and 5 teams tied with 3 prospects from each club (Cubs, Marlins, Angels, Padres, and Nationals).

The actual roster released on November 1 seems to have had a few scratches in the West Division lineup; I was unable to confirm who replaced who and why, but Kevin Mattison and Jedd Gyorko did not appear on the official roster released by AFL, yet they showed up as starters in the AFL notes released the day of the contest.

The West division used 11 pitchers total; this is the first time I’ve used all 8 slots for pitchers on my scoresheet, so you’ll note that I ran the last three directly underneath the pitchers faced section.

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
(I am @yoshiki89), and also please leave a comment!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Scoresheets for YOU!

For your use and enjoyment, free of charge, here are 3 scoresheets you can print and use to score baseball games.

These are the same forms I am currently using today. There are many internet resources with scoresheets available for download that are no longer current. Some current resources want to charge money for a scoresheet template…I won’t have any of this. My mission is to share the joy of scorekeeping with everyone, sharing doesn’t mean “it’s yours at a price,” so why not distribute freely?

I designed these myself, utilizing many existing scoresheet designs and implementing some of my own criteria to build “my own” form…now, I’m sharing them with readers of this blog.

One of the reasons “why” will make itself known very soon…more on that later!

For now, feel free to download and print these templates, from my Google docs repository:

Version 1 – the MASTER
This one is my mainstay; with pitch-count boxes, outs and runs ovals, a free-floating diamond, and a supplemental ‘field boundary’ outline arc in case you want to track where balls in play land. There are enough slots for 10 batters (sure, there are only 9 in a typical baseball game, but YES you can use this for softball and also YES there are times when pinch-hitters will spill downward into this slot), and enough for 10 innings (more than 11? Use another scoresheet!). There are also columns to track pertinent in-game stats, slots for 8 pitchers, and room at the bottom to tally the game info noted, or add your own notes.

Version 2 – the MASTER LIGHT
This one is the same as the MASTER, only without pitch-count boxes and ‘field boundary’ outlines. This one is great for scoring games on the radio, as there aren't blanks for jersey numbers (lineup slots are pre-populated...they seldom call jersey numbers on the air) or any game where you don’t want to track pitches, jersey numbers, and/or don’t care where the ball lands.

Version 3 – the MASTER LIGHT PLUS
This one is the same as the MASTER LIGHT, no pitch-count boxes, lineup slots pre-populated, etc...but it does have ‘field boundary’ outlines.

So why share these now? For starters…I never really thought of it. However, there is some importance in timing. In an effort to focus more on scorekeeping as the special purpose of this blog, I’ve decided to make an offense-oriented stand in my mission to promote the Scorekeeping Revolution.

I’ve tinkered enough with deviation from my usual “game recap with scoresheet attached” (don’t worry, I’m still sticking with that) and have decided to supplement those posts with two kinds of scorekeeping education features:

A basic instructional series called “Scorekeeping 101” that will walk through the basics on scorekeeping, from how the scorecard works to how players get on base to how players make an out to how it all balances at the end of the game…and all points in between. I will present this series using my scoresheet templates and will lean more toward the way I score games…

A advanced, use-case series called ”For Those Keeping Score at Home” where on a case-by-case basis, I will present examples of actual plays, how they are scored, and why they are scored that way. Thanks to Benjamin Hill for the great title!

This way, I will be doing more in contributing to keeping the art of Scorekeeping vibrant and alive, and maybe someday be able to pass on my enthusiasm to other baseball fans worldwide. I welcome and encourage any ideas or topics you would like to see covered here, you can follow me on Twitter (I am @yoshiki89), or please leave a comment on any post!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

2011 World Series - Best Pitchers*

* according to Bill James' Game Score


Another entry into the DUH! Column during my Postseason Game Score review, but this quaint exercise wasn’t intended to overstate the underobvious…Holland’s performance in Game 4 was nearly “Carpenter-worthy,” by these numbers alone.

Before we start this round of jousting, let’s review Bill James' Game Score real quick.

In case you didn't know, "Game Score" is a neat and easy and FUN way to look at a starting pitcher's line in a Box Score and apply a basic formula on the stats to come up with a fundamental 'score' that "determines the strength of a pitcher in any particular baseball game.
To determine a starting pitcher's game score:

1.Start with 50 points.
2.Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
3.Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
4.Add 1 point for each strikeout.
5.Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
6.Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
7.Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
8.Subtract 1 point for each walk.
The maximum possible score in a 9-inning game with no baserunners allowed is 114, but of course this is possible only if the starting pitcher goes nine innings, strikes out every single batter he faces, and faces no more than 3 batters per inning. The exception to this gets a little hairy mathematically, but is never impossible...because this is baseball.

FYI, the highest game score for a 9-inning game in the history of baseball happened on May 6, 1998, when Kerry "Kid K" Wood famously struck out 20 Astros at Wrigley Field. Yowsah, that Game Score was 105.

So I thought it would be a "hoot" to compile Game Score for all SP during the postseason; I started this at the close of the League Division Series; you can review the LDS results at this post. I then continued with the League Championship Series; you can review the LCS results at this post. The fall classic is over…now begin the DARK TIMES!! Let’s look at Game Score for the 7 games of the WORLD SERIES then…the top 5 winners:

Derek Holland (82) 10/23/11 STL @ TEX WS G4
Jaime Garcia (77) 10/20/11 TEX @ STL WS G2
Colby Lewis (64) 10/20/11 TEX @ STL WS G2
Chris Carpenter (59) 10/24/11 STL @ TEX WS G5
Chris Carpenter (57) 10/19/11 TEX @ STL WS G1

Here we see more variation among the top 5 than in the LCS. Also, observing that the median (51.5) and mean (53.1) in all WS Game Scores is similar to the same values found in the LDS (median: 50, mean: 50.6), right around the 50-53 range. In the LCS, the median (41.5) and mean (41.4) were nearly ten points below this baseline. What we know now is that the LCS really didn’t feature as much stud pitching strength as the WS and LDS did.

In the World Series, 14 starting pitchers worked an average of 5.45 innings (in baseball math, a little closer to 5.1 innings), closer to the average innings of the LDS (5.2) than the LCS (4.2). I attributed the drop in innings (and, in some statistically weighted hindsight, the overall Game Score values) during the LCS to ‘clutch pitching change’ strategy. Did we see this in the World Series? Sure thing…but with less games as a sample, I suppose the difference didn’t impact the overall score.

What’s interesting to note is that if Holland had stayed in for just one more out, he would have usurped Chris Carpenter’s LDS-topping performance according to Game Score by only one point…that’s how damn good he was!

Other interesting notes I made, regarding the top 5:
Chris Carpenter occupied 2 of the top 5 slots (3 of the top 6), for his highest score he was not awarded a decision and the Cardinals lost the game.
The 2nd highest score in the top 5 also got a “No Decision” and the Cardinals lost the game (Garcia).
The top 2 pitchers earned their scores at home (Holland, Garcia).
3 of the top 5 earned “No Decisions” as SP (Garcia, Lewis, Carpenter).
2 of the top 5 scores occurred in the same game (Garcia, Lewis; WS G2).
The NL dominated the top 7 games scored out of 14, with 4 of the 7…which also happens to be the line on the NL Cardinals’ World Series win; 4 games to 3.

Apparently, bullpen strength prevailed where Garcia and Carpenter did not in Game 2 and Game 5 (but they still were strong as SP, according to Game Score).

In general (all 14 pitchers with starts in the WS):
Lowest score – Matt Harrison (35) 10/22/11 STL @ TEX WS G3
Lowest score, 4 innings minimum – Matt Harrison (39) TEX @ STL WS G7
Lowest score by a winning pitcher – Chris Carpenter (55) 10/28/11 TEX @ STL WS G7
Average Game Score by SP in the 2011 World Series: 53.1

You can review my work on the spreadsheet on Google Docs.

This was a fun exercise from me. I’m hoping I’ve encouraged some of you to try Game Score at home or at the ballpark on your own sometime.

If you enjoy my work, I encourage you to spread the word via Twitter
(I am @yoshiki89), and also please leave a comment!

Friday, October 28, 2011

10/28/11 Texas Rangers 2, St Louis Cardinals 6

Busch Stadium, St Louis, MO
2011 World Series Game 7

TLR in suspended shock as David Murphy’s fly ball to Left-Center field is about to land in Allen Craig’s glove…

The Cardinals finish the series in what would have been a relatively exciting game, but in comparison to game 5 and game 6 the yawn factor was induced for some viewers…but not for me. This game had a lot of thrilling and tactically interesting moments; it was less than a “cake walk” as suggested by some, and more of an example of how a team whose chances of winning go from slim to none to all the way in just a few games.

Chris Carpenter had a fantastic start, not anything akin to his 3-hit shutout of the Phillies on October 7th in the LDS, but hey…

The critical flaw for the Rangers tonight had to be the almost predictable short start of Matt Harrison, but only marginally so…the concept of tournament baseball notwithstanding, Harrison’s 3 ER in 4IP could have been met with another reliever other than Scott Feldman, who gave up 2ER (on 2BB and a HB, more on this in a moment) in 0.2 innings. Would bringing CJ Wilson down instead of Feldman in the 5th inning have changed anything? Probably not, but after some of the relief pitching miscues from the Ranger’s stall in the 2010 World Series, you might wonder…as I do.

A lead-off hit by Ian Kinsler, given the circumstances of Game 6, lethally ignites the Rangers and simultaneously threatens to stun the home crowd at Busch Stadium. Yadier Molina’s subsequent put-out of Kinsler attempting to steal 2nd base on an 0-0 count to Elvis Andrus slammed a rally door shut, symbolically, so early in the game. The Rangers still manage to eke out 2 runs during this frame after Andrus walks and Hamilton doubles him in, followed by a textbook Michael Young RBI double scoring Hamilton, but from where I was sitting the Kinsler CS was a bold statement by the Cardinals.

In response, to further underline this, Matt Harrison walks Pujols and Berkman with 2 outs. David Freese, in his first at-bat since his historic walk-off win in Game 6, drives a deep fly ball into the gap in left-center to tie the game.

Allen Craig delivers a 1-out HR courtesy of Harrison in the 3rd, putting the Cardinals in the lead. Harrison sweats a lot in the 4th inning, allowing 2 Cardinals to reach on back-to-back singles with 1 out. He breaks 2 of Skip Schumaker’s bats in the same AB; Schumaker grounds out to 1B, Carpenter flies out to RF to end the inning, stranding both baserunners, and Harrison is done for the evening.

Scott Feldman picks up the ball in the 5th…again, why not CJ Wilson? After retiring Theriot (and breaking his bat as well) Feldman walks Allen Craig and hits Albert Pujols, who both advance on a Lance Berkman groundout… that’s 2 on, 2 outs, and David Freese is intentionally walked so that Feldman can pitch to Yadier Molina. Freese is 1-for-2 so far; I have no strength as a baseball strategist, but I am a vocal dislike of the intentional walk, even in “obvious” situations. So to me, this is less than obvious as to why Freese gets the IBB; I would give Mike Napoli a free pass way before David Freese but nonetheless, Molina is UNintentionally walked, walking in a run and giving the Cardinals a 2-run lead.

Just so you know, Matt Harrison also broke Pujols’ bat in the 3rd…so that’s a total of 4 BLS (Broken Louisville Sluggers, from my scoresheet notation) in the game, 3 of them by Harrison…

CJ Wilson’s very first pitch in relief of Feldman hits Rafael Furcal (who was shockingly 2-for-2 in this game, after being so silent offensively for so long), which allows Pujols to score. Feldman is charged with the run, Wilson shuts down Schumaker to end the inning, and is dominant until he is replaced by Mike Adams to start the 7th.

The real story from this point on is the Cardinals’ bullpen, carrying Chris Carpenter’s torch and handcuffing the Rangers for the rest of the game. Well, they had some help from Allen Craig in the 7th, who majestically robbed Nelson Cruz of a sure-fire solo HR in the 6th, but the line speaks for itself, the bullpen allowed no hits and no runs for the rest of the game, exclamation point.

And thus endeth by far, the best World Series I think I’ve seen in many, many years.

Cardinals win 4-3

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10/27/11 Texas Rangers 9, St Louis Cardinals 10

Busch Stadium, St Louis, MO
World Series Game 6

I will update with a write-up soon...for now, there are no other words that could serve as a recap, other than...WE WILL SEE YOU TOMORROW NIGHT!!!

Series Tied 3-3

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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

McCarver the Cut-Up: Quote of the Game

World Series Game 5: October 24, 2011

Not to steal Tim’s thunder, but Joe Buck actually had the worst quote of the game, when Michael Young approached the plate and Buck declared “now he has to face one of the best hitters in baseball…” I’m not even going out of my way to discredit this, if you read Joe Posnanski’s blog yesterday (”Baseball on FOX”) you would have read a proper critique of Young’s praise over others on the team and the reality of statistical evidence of his “moderate” baseball prowess. Also, there were no less than 26 hitters drafted in my fantasy league this year who were, really, much better hitters than Michael Young…Nelson Cruz, Albert Pujols, and Lance Berkman being among that group. Hey, don’t get me wrong…I like Michael Young quite a bit. One of the best hitters in baseball? No, not at all.

Tim McCarver is a well-known and globally respected resource of baseball knowledge, be sure and pick up his critically acclaimed book Tim McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons at or pick it up at your favorite retailer.

Monday, October 24, 2011

10/24/11 St Louis Cardinals 2, Texas Rangers 4

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX
2011 World Series Game 5

His name is Mike Napoli…there should be no question as to the ‘now’ value of his signing to the Rangers this year. Jeff Mathis couldn’t do any of this.

The World Series and the Texas Rangers work things up to a feverish pitch (pun completely intended) as a game that certainly seemed within the arms (pun also intended) of the Cardinals got out of hand. In true glitzy postseason fashion, the out-of-handedness turns out to be the fault of two botched calls, but not at the hands of an umpire…

The Cardinals did their thing and scored early, putting 2 on the board in the 2nd inning thanks to a Yadier Molina single-plus-David Murphy error and a Skip Schumaker groundout. The opportunity to drive a few more nails into the coffin expired when Nick Punto flew out to LF, stranding Molina. At this time, the most memorable moment had to be when Punto appeared to attempt a Bo Jackson Bat Break in frustration, only to vacate this idea without shedding a single splinter. Punto had a reason to be slightly miffed, as he was robbed by a brilliant David Murphy catch, the kind of catch that screams of redemption after his fielding error.

Mitch Moreland broke his postseason silence with this decisively clubbed solo HR response in the 3rd. After I recovered from my awe, I felt as if now that Chris Carpenter had tasted blood, he would work even better than he had up to this point, in this game. Adrian Beltre, after nearly striking out “on his knee” earlier, dismissed the taste of blood with a solo shot of his own in the 6th inning, again “on his knee,” and tying the game at 2 apiece.

Napoli seals the deal in the 8th, with a 2-RBI double off Marc Rzepczynski. Napoli is an OPS beast, and he loves pitches up in the zone. With all the strategy behind intentional walks and Pujols (who was intentionally walked 3 times during this contest), you’d think that TLR would consider offering Napoli free passes…pitching to him just isn’t working out.

Botched calls seemed to prevent the Cardinals from responding to the Rangers offense. I’m not a fan of isolating one event in a game (or even two) as a ‘turning point,’ each failed opportunity expires to present another opportunity. However, the two celebrated botched calls extended a postseason focus on communication issues that didn’t doom the Cardinals in this game, but they certainly didn’t help a bunch.

The first of these was a failed hit-and-run that was put on by Albert Pujols in the 7th, with Allen Craig caught at 2nd base on the play. Craig was caught again in Pujols’ next at-bat.

Then there was the call for Motte in the 8th…the Bullpen phone story is high baseball comedy at its finest…I must admit, I knew nothing of this until the next morning, when some of my associates thought it would be comical to outfit my cube with cans attached to strings; before I had a chance to watch the post-game press conference.

At best, this incident alone has led to a resurgence of phone humor, something I explicitly adore. I mean, I work with phones all day long…as a baseball fan on top of this, my cup definitely runneth over.

This image was originally posted by Big League Stew blogger Rob Iracane, and represents the best of the barbs out there so far…

SCOREKEEPER’S NOTE: Lance Berkman’s game-ending dribble ball was scored as a “dropped third strike” K, PO 2-3.

Rangers lead the Series 3-2

He said WHAT?!? Click on this link to see Tim McCarver’s Quote of the Game

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McCarver the Cut-Up: Quote of the Game

World Series Game 4: October 23, 2011

I had a very hard time believing this, it’s a good thing Joe Posnanski called him out on this in this post today, otherwise I would still be scratching my head for years to come…

Tim McCarver is a well-known and globally respected resource of baseball knowledge, be sure and pick up his critically acclaimed book Tim McCarver’s Baseball for Brain Surgeons at or pick it up at your favorite retailer.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

10/23/11 St Louis Cardinals 0, Texas Rangers 4

Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, TX
2011 World Series Game 4


One could have expected just about anything out of Derek Holland tonight, but certainly an outing like this wasn’t on the radar!!

You just can’t say he had a great outing…that’s just too friggin’ easy. He had the outing of his career, I think. Just based on the lack of expectations alone, if your head was not spinning when he walked off of the mound, you aren’t human.

Postseason is the focus here, so here’s how Holland did in his last 3 postseason starts, compared to how he did tonight:

OUCH. I heard Ron Washington had a talk with him about keeping his cool and not getting so “amped up.” Good talk, Rusty.

You can see it in his eyes…he is VERY COOL right here.

So what did the Cardinals have? Offensively, not much…they were pretty much hand-cuffed. Defensively, John Jay steals a sure-thing HR from Nelson Cruz, and Yadier Molina runs one of his “Yadier Molina” class pickoffs of Ian Kinsler on a 2-3-6 play to end the 2nd inning.

This was payback for a Molina groundout to Kinsler to end the top of the 2nd; a play that would have made Brooks Robinson blush at 3rd base…

The tension was broken in the 6th inning by another Mike Napoli bomb, a 3-run HR to deep left field. I use the term “tension” because Derek Holland was on the mound and the Rangers only had 1 run on the board. There wasn’t much tension after that.

Holland’s pleas to Washington to leave him in the game were to no avail…I still think he could have closed the game. Still. Derek Holland has been one of my favorite pitchers for a couple of years now. I’m glad he was able to add a postseason gem such as this to his resume.

Series tied 2-2

He said WHAT?!? Click on this link to see Tim McCarver’s Quote of the Game

HEY, I want your feedback!
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(I am @yoshiki89), and also please leave a comment!
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