Change-UpJuly 08, 2008
Game Scores
By Patrick Sullivan

So this is pretty fun.

In light of Hiroki Kuroda's masterpiece last night, I thought it might be fun to look at the best Game Score performances in each league thus far in 2008. Lucky for us, ESPN tracks such things. Note that Kuroda shows up twice in the National League, while James Shields does the same in the American League.

           Date   Opp   Game Score
J. Lester  5/19   KCR       94
J. Shields 5/9    LAA       93
M. Garza   6/26   FLA       90
C. Lee     4/24   KCR       90
J. Shields 4/27   BOS       89 (tie)
K. Slowey  6/29   MIL       89 (tie)
           Date   Opp   Game Score
T. Hudson  5/2    CIN       91
H. Kuroda  7/7    ATL       91
H. Kuroda  6/6    CHC       90
J. Peavy   4/5    LAD       86
B. Sheets  4/6    SFG       85 (tie)
B. Looper  6/11   CIN       85 (tie)

Here is the rundown on Game Score, courtesy of Wiki.

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.


Not that Game Score is used as anything besides a "hey look at that" number, but isn't it kind of egregiously flawed? A pitcher has control over strikeouts, walks, and hrs for each hitter. A good performance means facing more hitters and allowing fewer homeruns, walks, and balls in play. Hits are just balls in play plus luck. Earned runs are just walks plus home runs plus balls in play plus luck. Unearned runs...same. I guess what I'm asking is does anyone have a Game-Score-type metric with more of a DIPS-enlightened structure?

Hey, it's not meant to take so seriously. The game score is a piece of information that is easy to figure out based on readily-available stats from a ballgame. What it is, really, is a quick way to assess how a pitcher did in his start. For that purpose, it's a nice thing to have. There are other, deeper, more labor-intensive methods of really grinding out whether a start was good or not, something that is closer to the be-all of the result.

Game scores are for those who don't want to dissect every pitch or do too much figuring-- and that's alright. It works well enough for what it is intended for.

Wow. It really jumps out at me that Shields not only shows up twice, but his performances were against excellent teams with excellent offensive capabilities.

The Angels have "excellent offensive capabilities?"

Random thought from a Dodger fan. Kuroda and Penny went on the DL at roughly the same time with similar shoulder problems that supposedly needed rest. Both players had tried to keep on pitching despite not feeling right. Kuroda did what his doctors recommended, got a cortisone shot, came back, and came back strong. Penny didn't get the cortisone shot and remains on the DL with no clear timetable for his return.

Same thoughts about Rafael Furcal. Last year he *needed* three months off (which *could* have started in spring training) to fully heal his bad ankle so he'd be a valuable performer. They had Betemit and Nomar (and a host of others) to fill in for Furcal. Furcal rushed back, played hurt the whole season, and went from a near All Star level of performance in 2006 to slightly above average both offensively and defensively with his bad ankle. Then *this* year he needed a microdiscectomy, tried to avoid surgery (with a two month recuperation period) for the better part of two months, and finally gave up. So instead of being out for two months and then coming back, he's out for four months; maybe he'll be useful in September, maybe he won't. Nomar and Kent has to be one of the ugliest defensive combos in baseball.

And finally, Andruw Jones. When it was clear that he was going to be benched in favor of Juan Pierre (quite lousy play necessary to make that decision make sense) he finally admitted his knee hurt. Scoped it out, and he *seems* to be swinging and running better.

So what is it with these *IDIOTS* who refuse to get themselves healthy? Were I Ned Colleti, the next time a trainer tells me that Furcal needs 15+ days if he evolves into Pujols but 45+ days if he's a mere mortal, I'd just put Furcal on the 60 day DL and give him no excuse not to get healthy. Heck, baseball needs a 30 day DL to force Brad Penny to get his damned cortisone shot. Even if we ignore Jason Schmidt (who was kind of unforeseen) the Dodgers arguably missed the playoffs last year because Furcal rushed back when he wasn't ready (compare his 2006 and 2007 if you don't think he mattered that much) and now you have two extra months of Furcal down, at least one extra month of Penny down, and instead of starting the season with Jones on the DL and then healthy while the other three outfielders were all healthy, the Dodgers wound up with Jones AND Pierre on the DL at the same time, and now Jones rehabbing at the big league level.

Anyway, I applaud Kuroda for doing what the doctors said was best. And maybe Penny did as well, and a cortisone shot wouldn't have helped. But it's awfully scary seeing my favorite team's leadoff hitter and cleanup hitter, also the double play combo, both out with back pain. The Dodgers *may* be able to survive without Kent for a while (Young and LaRoche may provide adequate offense and not much worse defense).

Heck, as long as I'm posting, one more question for you, Rich. According to the active roster, Blake DeWitt is 175 pounds, Andy LaRoche 225 pounds. That's a *lot* of difference, and probably a lot of speed and quickness, at least from what limited time I've been able to watch the team this year. And I believe DeWitt had more second base experience in the minors. I know Nomar skews things (as with the Yankees, more range and third base helps the lack of range at shortstop) but it just seems to me to make sense to use DeWitt at second (he seems a fair bit faster) and LaRoche at third, rather than the other way around. Or for that matter, has anybody considered DeWitt at short with Furcal out? He's 20 pounds lighter than Furcal, after all.

I see a pattern, hopefully the Dodgers start Kuroda August 8th.