Monday, September 12, 2011

Scoring Self-Indulgence, pt. 5: Baserunner Advances

Last time I covered my scoring codes to recognize a batter reaching base; this time I’ll discuss what I record once he gets there. I’ll start with advances made by the runner independent of the actions of a subsequent batter on his team--things like stolen bases and advancing on wild pitches. Most of the codes that follow are pretty straightforward. In each case, I’ll show the advance as a runner going from first to second, but the same concepts apply to advancing to third and scoring. In each case, I’ll assume that the batter reached first by being hit by a pitch.

For every advancement that occurs during the course of a plate appearance, I record both the lineup slot of the batter at the plate and the pitch on which the event occurs (or which pitches it is between if applicable). The pitch is indicated by the same letter used in the batter’s box, except in lower case--the first pitch of a PA is “a”, the second pitch is “b”, etc.

There are several exceptions. If the last pitch (which is never given a letter in the batter’s scorebox) is labeled “lp”. If an event happens before the first pitch of a plate appearance, I use “bfp”. Finally, if an event occurs between pitches, it is labeled “a!”, where ! is replaced by the pitch letter for the last pitch before the event. Suppose the event occurs between pitches two and three of the plate appearance; in this case, the pitch code for the event is “ab”, because the second pitch (b) was the last one thrown. “ab” can be read as “after b”.

The code for a stolen base is the obvious “SB”. If it occurred on the third pitch of a plate appearance taken by the #6 batter in the lineup, the scoring would be:

As you can see from the example, the pitch information is written above the advancement symbol, in smaller type.

Wild pitches and passed balls are separated by a distinction I’d wipe out of the rule book if given the chance, but I do record them differently: “WP” and “PB” are the obvious codes. In the examples, the wild pitch occurs on the last pitch to the #6 batter, and the passed ball occurs on the first pitch to the #2 hitter:

The code for a balk is “BK”; this one comes between the third and fourth pitches to the cleanup hitter:

I don’t like the scoring distinction between a stolen base and defensive indifference, but I do make note of it on my scoresheets because SB is such a common category, and it’s easier to keep track of the ones that are really scored as steals and add in fielder’s indifference if one chooses than it is to try to divine after the fact what the scoring was. I refer to it as Fielder’s Indifference (FI), because it is a subset of fielder’s choice by definition, and the symbol seems more consistent. This one occurs on the sixth pitch to the #5 hitter:

A runner could advance on an error between pitches, which almost always would be a throwing error. If the pitcher throws the ball away on a pickoff attempt before the first pitch to the #2 hitter, the scoring looks like this:

Sometimes, the extra bases are gained before the batter-runner becomes a runner; that is, on the same play on which he reaches base. Suppose a batter dribbles a hit to the pitcher, but in his haste to make the play, the pitcher hurls the ball down the right field line, allowing the batter to move up to second. The scoring looks like this:

If there is no additional information included with the notation, it is assumed that the advance occurred on the same play as the on-base event. The other common way a batter-runner moves up is when he is able to advance on a throw to another base made in an attempt to retire another runner. In this example, the batter singles to right, then advances to second on a throw home. The code “ATx” means advanced on throw, with x standing in for the base to which the throw is made (2 for second, 3 for third, and H for home):

I have yet to touch on the means by which most bases are gained: advances on plays initiated by subsequent batters. I mark these by writing and circling the batting order position of the batter responsible in the quadrant of the runner’s scorebox corresponding to the base he wound up at. Suppose the runner from first advances to third on a play initiated by the #7 hitter. I would score it:

If the runner scores, then I use a box instead of a circle, so that it’s easy to distinguish how many runs a team has scored. In this case, the runner who moved to third a player initiated by the #7 hitter ends up scoring on a play initiated by the #9 hitter:

A runner can also score due to an event not initiated by another batter. The most common is scoring on a wild pitch. In this example, the runner from third scores on a wild pitch, with the wild pitch coming on the second pitch to the #9 hitter:

As you can see, I allow the box that indicates a run scored to vary in shape and size as appropriate to allow the necessary space for recording the event.

Sometimes, the event that advances the baserunner occurs while the ball is in play, but referring to the relevant batter’s scorebox will not note how the advancement occurred. Suppose that there is a runner on first, and the batter singles to right, advancing the runner to second. Then the right fielder boots the ball, allowing both to move up one base (the batter-runner to second and the runner to third). In this case, I would simply record the appropriate batter number circled in the runner’s third base quadrant. The batter’s scorebox will include the error by the right fielder, imply that it occurred during his plate appearances, and thus imply that the single plus the error enabled the runner to advance from first to third.

However, there are also cases in which the runner advances but the batter stays put. Suppose that the same play occurs as described above, except the batter-runner (who happens to be the #4 hitter) stops at first base. Now I would score the runner’s advancement as:

In this case, the use of a small circled 4 above the error indicates that the error occurred during the PA of the cleanup hitter.

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