Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Scoring Self-Indulgence, pt. 3: Outs in Play

The scoring of outs in play is of course heavily dependent on the traditional numbering system for the fielders. Since the use of those familiar position numbers is a part of just about every scoring system I’ve seen (LL Bean’s pictorial system as the exception), the way I score outs in play is very similar to the way everyone else scores outs in play. The only real difference is the particular field location modifiers I use, but those are easier to discuss in their own separate post near the end of this series.

The two principles that I attempt to adhere to when scoring an out in play (these are batters retired without reaching safely, or hitting into fielder’s choices that force their teammates out, not baserunning outs) that are a little different than the systems that some people use are:

1. No dashes to indicate throws. All of the position codes are one number (a convenient result of having only nine fielders). If two of them end up next to each other, I can deduce that there was a throw 99% of the time.

Instead, I use a dash on those occasions in which the ball goes between two fielders involved in recording an out for their team without a throw. The most common is a deflection by the pitcher, but you can have crazy scenarios where balls are deflected between outfielders and caught and the like.

2. If there’s a throw involved, it’s an infield groundout, unless otherwise noted. If it’s an unassisted out, it’s in the air, unless otherwise noted (I make an exception for first baseman. Three with no elaboration is always a groundout on my scoresheet, which admittedly violates this rule). If it’s in the air, it’s a flyball/popup rather than a line drive unless otherwise noted.

Based on these rules, here are some sample scoreboxes for certain outs. For all of the examples, I’ve excluded any pitch scoring, because it would just distract from the main focus of the post. Just pretend all these outs are first pitch swinging:

Here is a simple groundout to short, scored the way everyone does except for those who insist on using dashes.

Here’s where the dash comes in--a deflected ball. The dash comes after the player doing the deflecting, in this case the pitcher. The second baseman recovers it and throws to first for the out.

In this case, the T indicates tag; the first baseman recorded the out not by stepping on the base but by physically tagging the batter-runner. On certain baserunning plays, the tag is implied (caught stealings are an obvious example), but I’ll deal with that in the appropriate section. You could also have “T3”, which would be a groundout fielded by the first baseman, who tags the runner himself. Sometimes you’ll see “T1” as well.

The “SH” indicates that this will be scored as a sacrifice hit, catcher to first base. I do not include the bunt symbol because the SH designation communicates that.

If it’s a bunt, but not a sacrifice hit, then I use the squiggly line modifier that indicates bunt. In this case, the third baseman threw out the batter at first on the bunt attempt.

I use a “DP” modifier to indicate double plays either on groundballs, line drives, or flyballs (we’ll see those later)--basically, double plays in which there was a force out (I realize my usage of that term is not necessarily in full compliance with the rule book definition). I do not note a double play on a strikeout/caught stealing or on a runner thrown out attempting to tag, even if these technically are double plays as well. The scoring is done in such a manner that someone reading the sheet can ascertain the double play, but there is no “DP” code employed.

My symbol for a groundout is a straight line underneath the fielder’s number, but the only situation in which I actually end up using this is an unassisted play in which the pitcher tags first base for the out. Other groundballs are implied by the use of throws to record the outs; even an unusual event in which an outfielder fields a groundball and throws the batter-runner out at first or records a fielder’s choice is clearly suggested to be a groundball by the indicated throw. If for some reason a second baseman or someone else ended up running to first and tagging the base unassisted, they’d get the underline modifier as well.

Fielder’s choices involve the batter reaching base safely, so I’ll cover them in the section on scoring plays where the batter reaches. However, a special case is the two out fielder’s choice. While the batter is not himself retired, he also never actually takes his place as a runner, and so I don’t make it look as if he does in the scoresheet. In that case, I write it the scoring of the play large across the box as I would for any other out. This one was third to second, obviously. You’ll not that the dot for the out is omitted, because the batter was not retired.

I don’t use this one much, but the carrot below the groundball indicates a chopper. I only use it for serious ones that John McGraw would approve of. Here, the third baseman was able to make the play anyway.

On to flyouts. This is your garden variety fly ball to center field.

If a fly is caught in foul territory, “`” is the symbol I use to indicate it. This is a foul to left field.

I use a curved line segment over the position number to indicate a fly ball. I waive this for all positions except first base, where “3” alone indicate a groundout. For any other position, an unassisted putout is always assumed to be a popup for an infielder and a flyball for an outfielder (in any event, I don’t distinguish between pops and flies).

Since flies get a curved line above the fielder’s number, a line drive gets a straight line in the same location. This one was caught by the shortstop.

Here is a regular flyout to right that is scored a sacrifice fly, indicated by a “SF” prefix. Any of the out modifiers could be combined when sensible--one could have a line drive sacrifice fly in foul territory, I suppose.

Some balls are somewhere in between popups and line drives. When I used letters rather than symbols to indicate ball trajectory, I called these “loopers (LP)”. Now I use the flyball curve plus the line drive line to indicate them. I never score outfield loopers, and I never score base hits as loopers. Only infield outs; obviously this one was snagged by the second baseman.

The “IF” prefix here indicates “infield fly”; that is the infield fly rule has been invoked and the catch was not completely cleanly. This makes it a pretty rare code, but I have had to use it a couple of times, and you’d encounter it a lot more at lower levels of the game. Obviously the first baseman was credited with the putout on this one.

Here is a popped up bunt snagged by the catcher in foul territory (none of the examples here are sacrifices or else the bunt would be indicated by “SH” and not by the bunt symbol). You can tell it’s not a grounder because that would involve a throw or a tag (and in this case because it’s marked as a foul). The exception is a first baseman. If I record this:

It indicates a groundball bunt with the play made unassisted at the bag by the first baseman. If it was a popup to the first baseman, the fly arch would be above the number.

This is an example of a line drive double play where the shortstop catches a liner and flips to second for the out, ending the inning. There is no solid out dot because the batter was not retired.

In this case, the batter flies to right, and subsequently a runner is doubled off his base. That portion of the play is recorded in the runner’s box; the DP here just lets us know that there was a double play somewhere. Again, I do not record a DP symbol when the out is recorded by a runner attempting to advance on a non-force play. If a runner is thrown out after tagging at third and attempting to score, there is no record of this made in the batter’s scorebox--you'll just see a regular flyout symbol.

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