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August 11, 2000

The Daily Prospectus

Game Scores

by Joe Sheehan

Wednesday's column on the Pedro Martinez/Ramon Ortiz duel speculated on the game's possible place on a list of 2000's top combined Game Scores, since the two pitchers had combined to post a 160. Game Scores are a simple measure of the quality of a start, first published in the 1988 Baseball Abstract and calculated as follows:

Start at 50
Add 1 point for each batter retired
Add 2 points for each complete inning from the fifth on
Add 1 point for each strikeout
Subtract 1 point for each walk allowed
Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed
Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed
Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed

A nine-inning outing provides a base score of 87 plus strikeouts, which makes calculations off those games easy. You can also add hits, runs and earned runs and multiply by two to combine the last few steps.

The scale of starts run roughly from 1 to 100, with a 100 every couple of years and negative scores a possibility--Jamie Moyer put up a -9 on Wednesday night.

It's a fun thing to play with, and once you do a couple, you can do them almost unconsciously. (I'm sure the formula is old to many of you. Thanks for not skipping straight to Transaction Analysis.)

A number of people wrote in to nominate games as possible contenders for best combined Game Score. First, let's take a look at the top starts of 2000 (all data courtesy BP's wizard, Keith Woolner):

Date   Pitcher         W/L     IP  H  R ER  BB  SO   GS

5/12 Pedro Martinez W 9.0 2 0 0 0 15 98 8/1 Mike Mussina W 9.0 1 0 0 2 15 98 7/23 Pedro Martinez W 9.0 6 0 0 0 15 90 4/9 Randy Johnson W 9.0 5 0 0 0 13 90 5/7 Ryan Dempster W 9.0 1 0 0 4 8 89 6/8 Pedro Martinez W 8.0 1 0 0 1 10 89 5/6 Steve Trachsel W 9.0 3 0 0 3 11 89 6/15 Kevin Brown W 9.0 4 0 0 0 10 89 5/9 James Baldwin W 9.0 3 0 0 1 8 88 4/25 Tom Glavine W 9.0 3 0 0 1 7 87 5/28 Pedro Martinez W 9.0 4 0 0 1 9 87 5/6 Pedro Martinez L 9.0 6 1 1 1 17 87

No one has cracked the magical 100 barrier yet this season, with the season's best outings by the American League's best pitchers topping the list by far. Note that two of the starts on the list, Steve Trachsel's and the last Martinez start, were in the same game, that memorable Saturday afternoon duel at Fenway Park. Three of the others came in the next few days.

Pedro's Tuesday start, in which he lost despite a Game Score of 77, got me wondering what the top Game Scores in a loss have been. Enter Keith Woolner:

Date   Pitcher         W/L     IP  H  R ER  BB  SO   GS

5/6 Pedro Martinez L 9.0 6 1 1 1 17 87 5/29 Jon Lieber L 8.0 2 1 1 1 12 85 5/28 Roger Clemens L 9.0 5 2 2 0 13 82 5/16 Randy Johnson L 8.0 5 2 1 0 12 78 5/21 Frank Castillo L 7.0 1 2 0 1 6 76 7/6 Chris Holt L 8.0 4 2 1 1 7 74 6/5 Kevin Brown L 8.0 5 2 2 0 9 73 6/19 Chuck Smith L 7.2 4 2 2 1 11 73 5/11 O. Hernandez L 9.0 7 1 1 2 6 73 4/23 Jason Dickson L 7.0 4 1 0 1 6 72 5/5 Masato Yoshii L 7.0 2 1 1 0 3 72 7/7 Curt Schilling L 9.0 7 2 2 1 8 72 7/23 Mike Sirotka L 8.0 5 1 0 2 4 72

Just three pitchers have lost with a Game Score of 80 or above, and two of those, Martinez and Roger Clemens, lost to a performance on the first list. Jon Lieber lost 1-0 to Greg Maddux, who put up a complete-game 81 on Memorial Day.

Those three games figure prominently on our final list, the top combined Game Scores:

Date   Pitcher           GS       Pitcher           GS     Total

5/6 Pedro Martinez 87 Steve Trachsel 89 176 5/28 Pedro Martinez 87 Roger Clemens 82 169 4/16 Chuck Finley 84 Esteban Loaiza 82 166 5/29 Greg Maddux 81 Jon Lieber 85 166 7/23 Mike Sirotka 72 Pedro Martinez 90 162 8/8 Ramon Ortiz 83 Pedro Martinez 77 160 7/20 Darryl Kile 81 Randy Johnson 77 158 4/9 Jason Schmidt 66 Randy Johnson 90 156 5/7 Glendon Rusch 66 Ryan Dempster 89 155 6/3 Jamey Wright 76 Pedro Astacio 79 155 5/16 Javier Vazquez 77 Randy Johnson 78 155 5/13 Chan Ho Park 81 Rick Ankiel 74 155

Pedro Martinez has been involved in four of the top six games, two of those on the losing end. It takes a great night to beat the best, so both Trachsel and Ortiz deserve all the credit in the world for their performances.

Thanks to Sam Hutcheson, Kyung Ro and Mark Allen for pointing out the first two games on the list.

Joe Sheehan can be reached at jsheehan@baseballprospectus.com.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

Related Content:  Pedro Martinez,  Game 1

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