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Going Beyond The Box Score: The Art Of Keeping Score

via <a href=""></a>, The Duck Pond in Madison, WI, home of the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League.
via, The Duck Pond in Madison, WI, home of the Madison Mallards of the Northwoods League.

For every baseball game, from little league through the majors, somebody has to keep score.  Personally, I've always enjoyed keeping score at any game I've attended or played in since I was young.  This last Saturday, I was in Madison, WI and attended a Northwoods League game between the Madison Mallards and St. Cloud River Bats.  As I've done for the last two years, I brought my own personal scorebook to the game.   I've seen a few people on this space show interest in how people keep score, and so I thought I would share my personal style.

Here are my goals when I keep score, aside from the basics:

  • Keep track of order of balls and strikes
  • Keep track of swinging/fouls/called strikes
  • Record how each base advancement occurred
  • Record batted ball types (GB, FB, LD)
  • Record basic hitting and pitching stats (H, AB, XBH, BB, K, etc.)

The game between Madison and St. Cloud ended with the score 6-4.  Both teams took no-hitters into the 4th inning, but both pitchers began to falter.  Madison scored 3 in the 4th behind a walk, single, and double.  Scoring exploded in the 6th, when St. Cloud mustered 3 hits to score 3 runs and tie the game.  In the bottom half of the inning, back-to-back HRs by Mallards 1B Harold Riggins (college: NC State) and LF Jerrud Sabourin (college: Indiana) regained the 3 run lead for Madison, 6-3.  St. Cloud started a rally in the 9th and scored a run, but closer Kyle Heim (college: Iowa) managed to shut the door, ending the game at 6-4 in favor of the Mallards. 

Here is the entire book for the game (very large image) (note, I mistakenly calculated the River Bats hit as 7 instead of 8, whoops.  Also, there was no jumbotron, so I had to guess with names of replacements as they were announced, which as you can see didn't really go too well):


via (click here for full size)

A few notes on my bookkeeping style:

  • I mark base advancements with the lineup number of the hitter.  So if somebody advanced from 2nd to 3rd on a single by the 4 hitter, you'll see 1B (4) above the line from 2nd to 3rd.  Similarly, outs on the bases will show something like 6-4 (6) if the 6th batter either grounds into a 6-4 fielder's choice OR a 6-4-3 DP.
  • For strikes, a little "S" next to the box means swinging, an "F" means foul, and any little dots after the second strike denote a foul ball with 2 strikes.
  • Exclamation points denote excellent fielding plays.

Here's what we can do with our finished scorebook.  First, we can take note of some interesting things.  Here are my notes from this game.

  • D Betteridge, 2B for St. Cloud, earned the golden sombrero for the night with his 4 strikeouts.
  • Madison's outfielders did not record a single putout.  The only flyball or line drive out from the River Bats was a pop out to shortstop
  • Despite winning the game, Madison sent 6 fewer batters to the plate than St. Cloud
  • 3 of Madison's 6 hits went for extra bases, for a game ISO of .250.  Only 1 of St. Cloud's 8 hits went for extra bases, for a game ISO of only .031.
  • 6 of Madison's 8 baserunners scored.

And now instead of going Beyond the Boxscore, let's just go to the box score

And also, we can make play by play from the book.

I'm always a little bit disappointed when a baseball fan (or worse, a baseball player) doesn't understand how to keep score. It may be a lost art with the existence of computers to keep score, but it's something I'll always enjoy at a game.