The Center for Game Score Research's motto, "All I know is what
I see on the screen" takes a double meaning when I write about the teams
from the Windy City. As in the past seasons, the teams I watched the
most on the tube were the White Sox and Cubs.
At first you'd think it would give me an advantage, a grain of
insight into their respective staffs, but instead the additional knowledge
acts like a spitball, clouding perspective with a wet and slimy bias.
I could easily write up both of these teams without ever looking at the
stats (Then, "whatam I doin' game scores for?" I sez to myself).
With this in mind, I decided to focus on catchers, those dirty ungla-
mourous beasts of burden. If game score stats were players, they'd make fine
catchers ---- slow, dumpy and craving recognition.
THE CHICAGO WHITE SOX
Another reason I have chosen to concentrate on catchers instead of
pitchers is that in the case of the White Sox starters, by the time
I got the kids bathed, stories read, and into bed and the game
turned on, it was already the 5th or 6th inning and the White Sox starters
had already been tucked in too.
I soon became a connoisseur of Chicago's middle relief which
consisted of several defrocked starters, Bill Long (8 starts, 42.5 g.s. avg. )
Shawn Hillegas (came in the DeLeon trade sorta) and The POPE....mid-reliever
Don Paul. Still, it was worth watching. I might even catch an opposing
starter still on the hill. Let's face it, you don't get a chance
very often to see Billy Swift on the Game of the Week.
But of course, in the second half of the season the best thing
on the mound was Carlton Fisk.
(League averages --- 5.99 Innings Pitched per start;
4.58 runs of support per 9 innings pitched; 49.96 game score avg.)
****** defintions of game scores at end of posting *******
Pitcher-Team Game Score # of # of Min. Max. IP/start RS/9
Average Starts Bombs G.S. G.S.
------------ ------ --- --- --- --- ----- -----
King CHI 52.40 25 1 19 86 6.28 4.91
Hibbard CHI 50.61 23 0 31 77 5.78 4.40
Dotson CHI 48.06 22 2 22 77 5.71 4.06
Perez CHI 47.48 31 4 20 89 5.72 4.82
Rosenberg CHI 43.48 21 5 15 68 4.93 3.52
Hillegas CHI 41.69 13 2 14 71 4.92 4.77
OOPs, I almost forgot...
Reuss CHI 44.89 15 5 15 82 5.44 6.06
Yes, it was Fisk I enjoyed the most about the '89 Sox broadcasts,
standing on the mound with this irritated look (pissed, cuz he cared)
waiting for another nameless pitcher (at this point in Fisk's career,
you wonder if young pitchers are just a blur for him) to belch forth
from the bullpen bowels of Comiskey Park. (Sportschannel has this
camera shot of the bullpen that makes the place look like a dungeon.)
Oddly enough, one usually doesn't hear Fisk described as a catcher "who
handles pitchers well", probably because normally it's a euphenism reserved for
receivers who can't hit and as you know, Pudge can hit. Still,
it's doubtful many pitchers don't heed Fisk's advice, especially
in the days when he chewed tobacco. The size of his plug
that extended from ear to lower jaw was big enough to fill the mitt
of the most headstrong pitcher.
With Fisk, as well as most other catchers, I suspect "calling"
the game takes a back seat to the location where the pitcher ends up throwing
the ball. Ex-Cub Jody Davis summarized these sentiments about HIS "pitch
selection" when he said: "Heck, I don't call for the ball down the
the middle of the plate."
THE CHICAGO CUBS
Don't delude yourself about the Cub starting pitching. They're
not great, (no starter was in the TOP TWENTY in game scores) but
if you score 702 runs, they're good enough. As you readers of the ol' Bill
James scriptures know...the Cubs have to lead the league in runs scored to
have a shot at the pennant. Well, they did lead the league and they did win.
They also distributed the runs evenly amongst their starters with only
Kilgus not making the league average (wouldn't have helped anyway).
(League Avg - 6.10 Innings pitched per start
4.21 -- Run support per 9 innings; 52.55 -- game score avg.)
Pitcher-Team Game Score # of # of Min. Max. IP/start Run
Average Starts Bombs G.S. G.S. Sup/9
----------- ------ --- --- --- --- ----- -----
Bielecki CHI 55.12 33 3 20 87 6.25 4.76
Maddux CHI 55.03 35 3 15 81 6.68 4.87
Sutcliffe CHI 54.85 34 3 21 80 6.58 4.59
Sanderson CHI 49.65 23 1 21 71 5.12 5.48
Kilgus CHI 44.00 22 2 16 76 5.07 4.14
But what they lacked in large, fat, game scores they made up in other things:
The starting staff was bombed only 13 times, and the big 3 started over 30 gamesapiece, with an average start lasting well into the 7th inning.
During the August four-man rotation thing, from August 7th to Sept 8th,
the Cubs averaged gamescore wise a 47.03 compared to their normal avg. of
53.21. It worked for awhile though, as the first 3 turns in the rotation
for Maddux, Bielecki and Sutcliffe were successful. However, in the next 4 1/2
turns the Cubs only had 4 game scores above 50 in 18 starts. Bielecki
and Maddux threw their worst games of the year on Sept. 3 and Sept. 6
respectively. At least Cub management had the sense to "cut bait"
once their starters began to get fileted. Of course, was it
really the four-man rotation or was the problem that the starters
had trouble re-adjusting to the loss of Berryhill's game
In his 1988 Abstract, Bill James computed the game score as follows:
1. Each starting pitcher begins with a score of 50 points.
2. Add 1 point for each batter retired.
3. Add 2 points for each each inning the pitcher completes after the 4th.
(i.e. 2 points for completion of the 5th inning, 4 pts. for the 6th etc.)
4. Add 1 point for each strikeout.
5. Subtract 1 point for each base-on-balls.
6. Subtract 2 points for each hit.
7. Subtract 4 points for each earned run.
8. Subtract 2 points for each unearned run.
In the simplest of terms, a game score of 50+ usually means that
the pitcher pitched well enough for a win. Anything below a 50 and the
starter deserves a loss. Less than 1 % of the games pitched ever reach
the 90 level and a game score of less than 30 (known as a bomb) indicates
that the starter's team has less than a 10 % chance of winning the game.
A CHEAP WIN is anytime a pitcher gets a "W" when his game score is
under 50. When a pitcher gets a "L" for a game score of 50 or over it is
considered a TOUGH LOSS.