And the WINNER is...DEREK HOLLAND!
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: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.
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.
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!