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Daily Box Score 7/7: Crooked Numbers, Zeroes, and Grit

It's strange enough this feature is called Daily Box Score (even though it isn't a box score) on a site called Beyond the Boxscore, thus making it explicitly outside the domain of this site's function. But now, today's Daily Box Score is going to be about box scores, and I'm just plain confused. I think you'll agree, though, some of these box score irregularities are yet stranger still.

They were historically bad. They were embarrassed. They got "slaughtered." Or so Dusty Baker said of his team's 22-1 defeat at the hands of the Phillies last night. The Phillies and Reds, two of the 19th century National League teams, have plenty of history. But the Phillies had never won by 20+ runs since the 1800s, and it was the worst loss in Reds history

Johnny Cueto, fourth in the NL in ERA going into last night, dropped out of the top 10 after departing in the first inning. Heck, the Reds even trotted infielder Paul Janish out there to pitch. Speaking of Paul Janish...

One of my favorite things about the Pitch F/X revolution is that it allows us to analyze the stuff of position players on the mound. Over at Driveline Mechanics, vivaelpujols took a look at Janish's stuff, and comes away somewhat impressed. There's even a poll: should Janish start his career over as a pitcher? Granted, he did touch 91, but given how hard Jayson Werth crushed that grand slam last night, I'm not so convinced. 

Paul Janish isn't the only position player who has pitched in his career (or even this season--both Nick Swisher and Cody Ross have done it). Sam Mellinger took a look at the success of non-pitchers who toed the rubber. The takeaway? 

They've pitched a total of 14 2/3 innings and given up 17 earned runs, which is pretty bad, obviously, but the 10 who are not named Paul Janish have given up six earned runs in 12 2/3 innings.

That's a 4.26 ERA, which is better than All-Star Tim Wakefield.

I hope you enjoyed your stay in the small sample size funhouse.

At the opposite end of the box score spectrum, Jarrod Washburn continued his incredible (in the rather more literal sense) season last night by recording a one-hitter. The single he surrendered to Nick Markakis was the only baserunner allowed by Washburn on the evening. Though he struck out only three batters, he relied on his defense and his home park to cruise to a complete game in 2:09.

When does the box score not tell the whole story? Nearly every time there is scoring controversy, as was the case in yesterday's contest between the Yankees and the Blue Jays. What went down as a simple CS of Derek Jeter was in fact something much more bizarre. Jeter was called out attempting to steal third in the first inning. Jeter (who rarely argues) was livid, and demanded an explanation from the ump. That's when things got weird.

Jeter insisted he hadn't been tagged. The ump agreed:

He didn't have to tag you. The ball beat you.

Ah, the old stolen base force play. Jeter was confused:

I was unaware of that rule change.

At River Ave. Blues, Ben Kabak uses win expectancy matrices to show that, although the call did represent the theoretical difference in the 7-6 final score, it was a dumb idea to try to steal third in the first place. Can we really blame Jeter for having grit? According to historian Wilfred M. McClay, grit is

...everywhere, one of the smallest and commonest things in the range of our everyday experience, and of little obvious value. 

Yet at the same time,

Grit doesn’t try to soar; it just keeps on keeping on, willing to trudge ahead patiently and unglamorously, self-propelled, seeking no external props, falling back in the end on the mysterious resources of the individual heart. 

There you go, Jeter and Yankee fans: seek no external props (and quit whining).

If you aggregate box scores, what do you get? Why, standings of course. And seeing as most teams have reached the midpoint of the season, it is a good time to take stock. Is this the year to go for it, or should the white flag be raised? In the Wall Street Journal, Jonah Keri looks at some historical trends and decides that "we could see a busier than usual trade season."

"This time it counts," we've been told of the All-Star game for a confusingly long time. But for one team, that may actually be the case. Sky Andrecheck crunches some numbers, and determines that the single most important remaining game of the season for the Dodgers is the All-Star game. The wonderful irony, of course, is that they don't even have a single starter on the team.