Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Scoring Self-Indulgence, pt. 4: Reaching Base

Before I begin demonstrating how plays that result in a batter reaching base are scored, I need to make clear exactly how I divide the scorebox. It’s nothing special; the box is divided into quadrants, one for each base, with first base beginning in the lower right, and the trip around the bases is recorded counter-clockwise from that point (just as in the game itself). The areas for balls and strikes (as well as two-strike fouls, which are not included in the diagram) are ignored if not needed, as are the base quadrants--there are no actual lines in the scorebox, it’s just a way to organize the way the boxes are filled in:

I’ll begin with the on base events that are very simple to score--those where the ball is not put into play. My favorite baseball event, and the reason for the silly name of this blog:

If it happens to be an intentional walk, then I circle the walk symbol (this matches how the ball symbol is circled for an intentional ball):

The close cousin of the walk is the hit batter, which I record so:

Their distant and often overlooked cousin is catcher’s interference. I simply score that play as “INT”:

This is as good of a time as any to discuss on of the minor tenets of my scoring philosophy. As you know, catcher’s interference is also scored as an error on the catcher, which I do not make note of on my sheet. I do not generally see the need to take up space repeating information that can be inferred from other markings. Interference is always an E2, and so interference suffices for me.

Now that stance can definitely be a pain in the butt if you want to go back through the scoresheet and count errors, and in doing so you might overlook the “INT”. But my concern is not in data compilation after the game. If it was, I would use a completely different system of scoring than this one.

I use one of the most common symbolic means of recording hits--the use of dashes in proportion to the number of bases the hit is worth. Thus, the base symbol for a single is a simple dash. I complicate matters a bit by including a hit location code and a symbol for trajectory after the hit; I won’t discuss those here just yet. Suffice it to say that the following is a flyball single to right field:

I use a slightly different symbol for an infield hit; it looks like a plus sign, but really it’s supposed to be the standard horizontal dash for a single with a vertical line of equal length running through it. I use this vertical line to modify the other hit symbols for special cases, as you’ll see below. This is an infield hit on a groundball in the vicinity of the second baseman:

Standard doubles feature two horizontal dashes. This one happens to be a flyball to right-center field:

A vertical dash through the standard double symbol indicates that it is a ground-rule double. This one came on a flyball to left field:

If the reason for the batter being awarded second base was fan interference, I draw a little flag at the top of the ground-rule double symbol, creating a “F” for fan interference; this example is on a fly ball down the left field line:

You can figure out the symbol for triple; this one is on a flyball to center-left:

For the very rare occasion on which an automatic triple occurs, I’d draw a vertical line through the three horizontal lines, but that’s not even worth rendering. Moving on to home runs, they feature four horizontal lines. Since a home run means there won’t be any stops at the bases, the symbol is written large enough to take up the whole box. I denote a run scored by boxing the event that allows the runner to score in his box, so the home run is boxed. I also denote a RBI with an empty circle, so we’ll assume this is a two-run homer on a flyball to right:

A vertical line added to the home run symbol indicates an inside-the-park home run. This example is a solo inside-the-parker on a flyball to right field:

The other main way to reach base is on errors. My basic symbol for an error is the letter “E”, preceded by one of four letter codes: “F” for fielding, “T” for throwing, “C” for catching and “R” for receiving. The quadrant in which the error is recorded is the one for the base on which the batter-runner ends up. A fielding error by the first baseman that results in the batter-runner stopping at first is marked as:

A throwing error by the third baseman which allows the batter to reach second base:

If there is no indication to the contrary, you can assume that the throw was intended for first base. However, sometimes, a batter will reach on a throwing error when the intent of the fielder was to make a play on some other runner. In such a case, I use an arrow and the number of the base (2, 3, or H for home) that the fielder was trying to throw to. In this case a third baseman tried for a force at second, but threw the ball away instead. The batter may have reached anyway, and technically he is considered to have reached on a fielder’s choice, but this is a perfect example of the scoring legalese that I endeavor to avoid:

A catching error by the center field which allows the batter-runner to advance to third base:

A receiving error occurs when a fielder mishandles a throw from another. When allowing a batter to reach base, this almost always means that the fielder who made the throw is given credit for an assist. I note this by recording his position number first, then the position number of the player who (literally) dropped the ball. In this case, the shortstop gets credit for an assist and the first baseman is charged with an error:

In the rare event of a four-base error, it would be written across the scorebox and boxed in a similar fashion as the home run.

I will now look at the miscellaneous means of reaching base. One is a strikeout plus a wild pitch or passed ball. While such strikeouts are almost always swinging, it is possible to have a passed ball on a called strike three, in which case the K is backwards:

If a batter reaches on a fielder’s choice, I use the obvious code “FC”. Some people make scoring legalese distinctions between fielder’s choices and forceouts, but as you can guess by now, I don’t consider that necessary. It’s helpful to record the initial fielder, since that indicates where the ball was hit. This example is a fielder’s choice initiated by the shortstop:

If appropriate, a hit trajectory modifier (like bunt or chop) can be added to the fielder’s choice code above the fielder’s number.

A similar case is the rare double play that allows a batter to reach base. The most common type of this play is an failed attempt to turn a triple play on a groundball to third. If the third baseman tags the bag, throws to second for the force, and the batter still reaches at first, you could have:

Sacrifice hits and sacrifice flies can also occur in tandem with a runner reaching base, sometimes without an error in the case of a sacrifice hit. Suppose the pitcher makes an unsuccessful attempt at retiring the runner at second on a bunt attempt, but no error is charged and the scorer credits a sacrifice:

There could be an error as well; suppose that the catcher attempts to make a play on the lead runner and throws the ball into center field, with an error charged for allowing the batter to reach second and the runner to reach third, but the SH credited as well:

Finally, a batter might get credit for a sacrifice fly and reach safely when an outfielder fails to make a catch. Suppose that happened with the right fielder:

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