• June 27th @ The Mets

    Posted by on June 28th, 2009 · Comments (13)

    I missed this game. We took the kids to FirstEnergy Park this evening to see the Lakewood BlueClaws and Delmarva Shorebirds play some baseball. I did get to hear the end of the recap on WCBS 880 on the way home. Sounds like A.J. Burnett stuffed the Mets in this one.

    Then again, it’s not like facing the Mets, right now, is the same as having to deal with the 1978 Brewers, 1993 Tigers, or the 2003 Cardinals. In fact, in the post-game coverage that I heard, Mets manager Jerry Manuel even called his team “depleted” and then said something like needing to catch a team on a bad day in order to get a win. (Manuel also said that Burnett had better stuff when the Mets last faced the Yanks. Is that an attempted slap on his team, Burnett, or both?)

    When I got home, I checked the stats and saw that A.J. Burnett had a “Game Score” of 82 this evening. That’s pretty impressive. That’s the best Game Score posted by Burnett since he was a Blue Jay and faced the O’s on May 16, 2007. In fact, A.J. – with this game included – only has ten career starts with a Game Score of 82+ (on his resume). And, seven of those ten came when he was pitching for the Marlins.

    In any event, this is a nice win for the Yankees – as now, in the series finale, they get to play with house money.

    While at the BlueClaws game this evening, I had a chance to meet Jayson Stark and his wife Lisa. Jayson was at the ballpark to meet fans, sign autographs and promote his new book “Worth the Wait: Tales of the 2008 Phillies.” It was wonderful to meet Jayson and his wife in person – as they’re both very pleasant and down-to-earth people. Here’s a photo of my kids, me, and Jayson (along with a copy of his book):


    Thumbing through Jayson Stark’s new book this evening, it looks like a great and entertaining chronicle of the 2008 Phillies championship run that ended a quarter-century “title” wait in Philadelphia. And, having also read and enjoyed Jayson’s first book, I’m looking forward to reading this one – and will share a review on it here once done.

    Comments on June 27th @ The Mets

    1. BOHAN
      June 28th, 2009 | 12:51 am

      what the hell is game score?????

    2. Evan3457
      June 28th, 2009 | 1:43 am

      From Bill James via Wikipedia article:

      Game Score is a metric devised by Bill James to determine the strength of a pitcher in any particular baseball game. To determine a starting pitcher’s game score:

      Start with 50 points.
      Add 1 point for each out recorded, so 3 points for every complete inning pitched.
      Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th.
      Add 1 point for each strikeout.
      Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
      Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
      Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
      Subtract 1 point for each walk.

      The highest game score for a nine inning game in the history of baseball was Kerry Wood’s one-hit, no walk, 20-strikeout shutout performance for the Chicago Cubs against the Houston Astros on May 6, 1998. His game score was 105 (50 + 27 + 10 + 20 – 2).

      Higher scores have been accomplished in extra-inning games. Harvey Haddix scored a 107 for the game in which he took a perfect game into the 13th inning. Juan Marichal and Warren Spahn scored 112 and 97, respectively, during a complete game 16-inning match up. In their famous 26-inning duel from 1920, Joe Oeschger scored 149 and Leon Cadore scored 141.

      The lowest game score in baseball history was Allan Travers’ 26-hit, 24-run start for the Detroit Tigers on May 18, 1912. His game score was a negative: -52. This performance only came about because the regular Tiger players staged a strike in protest of Ty Cobb’s suspension. To avoid a forfeit, local college players (including Travers) were enlisted as impromptu fill-ins. The lowest game score since 1957 was Oakland pitcher Mike Oquist’s, who allowed 16 hits and 14 earned runs in 5 innings on August 3, 1998, for a negative -21.

      Nolan Ryan holds the career record for the greatest number of Game Scores of 90 or better, with 31. Also in the top 10: Randy Johnson, Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry, Roger Clemens, Pedro Martinez, Steve Carlton and Bert Blyleven. Mike Mussina retired in 11th place with 10 such games.

      Ryan also holds the record for most Game Scores of 100 or better, with 4.

    3. Evan3457
      June 28th, 2009 | 1:51 am

      I did my own search at Baseball Reference, and the top ten seasons for Average Game Score by any starting pitcher who who pitched at least 162 innings, and started 90% of the games he appeared in:

      1. Bob Gibson, 76 in 1968
      2. Pedro Martinez, 73 in 2000
      t3. Luis Tiant, 72 in 1968
      t3. Sandy Koufax, 72 in 1965
      t5. Pedro Martinez, 71 in 1997
      t5. Tom Seaver, 71 in 1971
      t7. Dwight Gooden, 70 in 1985
      t7. Vida Blue, 70 in 1971
      t7. Sandy Koufax, 70 in both 1964 and 1963.

      Ron Guidry’s 1978 season is in a 7-way tie for 11th at 69, along Denny McClain’s 1968, two Greg Maddux seasons, Steve Carlton’s 1972 season, and one more season each by Sandy Koufax and Pedro Martinez.

    4. June 28th, 2009 | 8:39 am

      Nice work Evan.

      Um, polite way to ask a question BOHAN.

      FWIW, IMHO, the 1960’s – or any time that was a “Pitcher’s Era” – were a great time for high game scores. That’s one issue with this stat, again, IMO. It doesn’t take into account that some times, albeit due to the ball, mound height, park, strike zone enforcement, whatever – that it’s easier for pitchers to go deeper into games, allows less hits, strikeout more batters, etc.

      That’s not fact, again, for the record – just my opinion.

    5. Evan3457
      June 28th, 2009 | 12:07 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      …FWIW, IMHO, the 1960’s – or any time that was a “Pitcher’s Era” – were a great time for high game scores. That’s one issue with this stat, again, IMO. It doesn’t take into account that some times, albeit due to the ball, mound height, park, strike zone enforcement, whatever – that it’s easier for pitchers to go deeper into games, allows less hits, strikeout more batters, etc.
      That’s not fact, again, for the record – just my opinion.

      That’s almost right, Steve.

      The first great pitcher’s era is the “dead ball” era, 1903-1920. In that era pitchers completed 80% of their starts, and batting averages were very low, so fewer hits were allowed. The dead ball, combined with deep outfield fences, made hitting home runs nearly impossible, so pitchers pounded the strike zone low and made hitters put the ball in play, secure in the knowledge that very few could be hit a long way. So walk totals were extremely low by modern standards as well. However, the “make ’em hit it” philosophy kept strikeout totals extremely low by modern standards.

      For example, in 1910, Walter Johnson led the AL with 313 K’s, the only season over 300 in the entire era. In spite of this, the Senators were only 3rd in the league in K’s per 9 innings at 4.4. The entire league had only 4.2 K/9, and this was fairly typical for the era. (1911 AL 4.2; 1911 NL, 3.9, 1912 NL 3.8).

      Without high K totals, very high game scores are impossible; a complete-game 5-hit shutout with 4 K’s and 1 BB is a game score of 80. That sort of start was a lot more common back then, but not very common.

      The 60’s, however, were the culmination of several factors and trends. Bigger ballparks, more home runs, bigger pitchers throwing harder, on average. There was a mini-explosion in offense in 1961-2, probably due to expansion.

      (Biggest expansion effect in history, because the league pitching pools expanded by 25% from 1960 to 1962. Nobody ever talks about the effect of expansion in producing the 61 HR by Roger Maris, or the 240 HR hit by “the greatest team of all time” the 1961 Yankees, who really aren’t among the top 40 or 50 teams of all time, if you analyze it, but that’s another long story…)

      So the owners panicked, and put changes into effect that made power pitching a lot easier. They changed the strike zone, to go from the top of the shoulders to the knees (It has been from the hitters armpits to the top of his knees). This allowed pitchers to throw their best fastballs up in the zone, and get called strikes if the hitters couldn’t hit them, and most couldn’t hit high fastballs at 95+ at all. There had been a long-standing limit on the height of the pitcher’s mound at 15 inches, but many teams violated it in the 60’s. Especially notorious for this was the mound at Dodger Stadium, rumored to be anywhere from 18 to 20 inches high in the Koufax/Drysdale era. This increased the “leverage advantage in throwing those high fastballs”.

      With the changes in the mound, strike zone, ballpark, and pitchers, K’s increased throughout the post-World War II era, and exploded in the 60’s. In addition, HR’s and BAVG decreased sharply. With those two threats limited, pitchers were encouraged to challenge the hitters with fastballs at all times, dropping the BB rate as well. All these things combined to make very high Game Scores much easier to achieve.

      Whew; that was a long way to go to explain why Game Scores were much higher in the 60’s than in any other era. Hope it was worth it to someone. Anyone.

    6. Evan3457
      June 28th, 2009 | 12:08 pm

      Historical footnote #1: before the creation of the pitcher’s plate (rubber) and mound, pitchers in the 19th century worked from a pitcher’s box, just as the hitters and catchers had their own boxes. This was a 6′ by 4′ rectangle, and the pitcher could deliver from any point in it, provided both feet were inside. So if you’ve ever wondered why a grounder back to the pitcher is “back to the box”, a hard hit up the middle is “back through the box”, and why a pitcher clubbed out of the game is “knocked out (of the box)”, well, now you know.

      Historical footnote #2: After the offensives explosion on 1987, the strike zone was redefined in an attempt to re-establish the high strike. The top of the strike zone is now defined as “…that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants…”. The bottom of the strike zone was set at the top of the knees, but after the steroid explosion took hold the strike zone was expanded again in 1996, moving to the bottom of the knees.

      Amaze your friends with this new knowledge!

    7. thenewguy
      June 28th, 2009 | 12:26 pm

      I’m enlightened!

      But seriously, great stuff Evan.

    8. butchie22
      June 28th, 2009 | 1:18 pm

      I wonder what Bill James’ metric for inconsistency? He should call that the Burnett curve! All that aside , Burnit has pitched well lately BUT is this the norm or the aberration? All i can say is that AJ has top three stuff in all of baseball ..but not his makeup. I have never been a fan of his but he deserves his due, even though he pitched against a AAAA version of the Mets.

      @ Evan: I’ve noticed that some of the calling this year has been atrocious despite the fact that questech is used etc so on. I haven’t seen umpiring this bad in my entire life. A historical footnote should be made in reference to this middling job by the umpire corps in 2009.

      Sabermetrics aside, the pitcher’s mound explains a loss of the pitcher’s dominance. Then the advent of a DH and building of new stadiums in a certain way. Koufax was mentioned? I would have loved to have seen him pitch in a relative band box like Fenway Park, with an shortened mound, and a DH! Pedro did it in his heyday and that was why he was so remarkable. I bring this up because of Steve meeting Jason Stark. Stark makes an argument in one of his books that Koufax was overrated. I happen to agree with his assessment BTW……

    9. Tresh Fan
      June 28th, 2009 | 2:07 pm

      Koufax was one of the greatest pitchers of his era; but if he were to take the mound today he would be in for a rather rude shock:

      The Opposite Field Home Run.

      That critter weren’t ’round these parts forty year ago.

      Koufax loved to work hitters outside (“I lived on the outside corner,” he stated firmly in a recent interview, decrying how pitchers are instructed to go inside). And consequentially opposite field outfielders played much shallower than today—just in the case a batter smaked one of those outside pitchers—so they could nab the little pop fly before it hit the ground in front of him.

    10. ken
      June 28th, 2009 | 6:35 pm

      @ Evan3457:
      Evan: thanks for the great posts.

    11. BOHAN
      June 29th, 2009 | 2:54 am

      so kerry woods game is better then david wells or david cone’s perfect game????? i think not… this is why i disagree with the whole sabermetric thing. throwing a perfect game is the ultimate accomplishment for a pitcher not striking out 20 and giving up a hit. i don’t care if you strike out 27 in a game, the perfect game is the best “game score” you can have. period

    12. BOHAN
      June 29th, 2009 | 3:01 am

      and to you guys who say someone pitched against a “AAAA” team. there’s a reason these hitters are at major league level. no matter if they’re up cause of injury or not. if they wouldn’t make the the team for one club they would most likely make the team for another club. pitching at the major league is the same no matter who you face. you still have to hit your spots and make your pitch otherwise you’re going to get rocked.

    13. July 24th, 2009 | 10:56 am

      […] shared last month, I recently had a chance to check out Jayson Stark’s new book “Worth the Wait: Tales of the […]

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