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Estimate the Runs Scored

Posted by John Autin on May 31, 2011

In a 9-inning game, a baseball team had:

  • 14 hits;
  • 1 HR;
  • 4 walks;
  • 2 stolen bases, with no caught stealing; and
  • a hit with a runner in scoring position.

How many runs did they score?

(Hint: How closely did you read yesterday's box scores?)

Answer: One run.

The Rockies made the least of their opportunities yesterday, scoring only on Ty Wigginton's HR. Their other 17 baserunners went for naught; 3 were wiped out on GDPs, 1 was thrown out at the plate, and 13 were left on base. They put the leadoff man on base in every inning from the 2nd through the 8th, but not once did that runner score.

It was just the 2nd 9-inning game since 1919 in which a team scored 1 run with 14+ hits and a HR:

1 2011-05-30 COL LAD L 1-7 41 37 1 14 0 0 1 1 4 0 9 0 0 0 0 3 2 0 -0.189 -2.887 .731 13 14
2 1984-04-13 CAL OAK L 1-2 39 38 1 14 2 0 1 1 1 0 8 0 0 0 0 1 0 1 -0.348 -3.137 1.669 11 12
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2011.

It was the 3rd time since 1919 that a team scored 1 run with a HR and 18+ baserunners:

1 2011-05-30 COL LAD L 1-7 41 37 1 14 0 0 1 1 4 0 9 0 0 0 0 3 2 0 -0.189 -2.887 .731 13 14
2 1958-05-07 (1) WSH DET L 1-5 42 37 1 13 1 0 1 1 5 0 8 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 -0.184 -3.127 .606 14 13
3 1926-08-02 (2) DET PHA L 1-10 46 36 1 10 2 0 1 1 10 0 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0.000 0.000   18 15
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 5/31/2011.

27 Responses to “Estimate the Runs Scored”

  1. Neil L. Says:

    What a statistically rare game.

    But then Colorado has been an "all or nothing" team offensively lately. 3-10 in their last 13 games but 34 RS in those three wins. As recently as Saturday they crushed SL with 15 runs. Isn't hitting supposed to be contagious? 🙂

    Nice statistical eye for the game, JA, and the two searches confirm the oddity.

    (Just recovered from the Jo Jo Reyes champagne celebration. Man, it was good bubbly.....!)

  2. Doug Says:

    On the flip side, I found only sixteen games where a team scored 10+ runs on 6 hits or fewer.

    The fewest hits was this game where the Browns managed 11 runs on 4 hits and 8 walks, in an errorless game.

    This game with White Sox scoring 10 times on 6 hits and 6 walks tied the Browns above with 12 combined hits and walks, and was the only game where the team did not have more walks than hits.

    Here's the full list (sorry, don't know the HTML tricks to turn this into something useful)

    Date Tm Opp Rslt R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB
    1925-05-17 SLB BOS W 11-6 11 4 2 0 0 8 8
    1925-07-11 SLB WSH W 10-5 10 6 1 1 2 9 9
    1936-08-01 PHI STL W 11-3 11 5 1 0 1 11 9
    1939-09-24 CIN PIT W 11-2 11 6 3 0 0 11 11
    1949-06-23 STL NYG W 10-6 10 6 1 0 2 10 8
    1949-09-30 BOS WSH W 11-9 11 5 0 0 0 8 14
    1951-06-16 BOS SLB W 10-5 10 6 1 0 3 10 7
    1955-07-22 BOS CHW W 10-7 10 6 3 0 0 8 6
    1962-06-29 NYM LAD W 10-4 10 4 1 0 1 10 16
    1964-10-02 BAL DET W 10-4 10 6 2 0 1 9 8
    1996-04-09 DET SEA W 10-9 10 4 1 0 3 10 9
    2000-04-29 HOU MIL W 10-3 10 5 1 1 0 10 14
    2000-07-30 SEA TOR W 10-6 10 5 0 0 2 9 11
    2002-06-16 CHW CHC W 10-7 10 6 1 0 2 9 8
    2008-09-05 MIN DET W 10-2 10 6 2 0 2 10 8

  3. John Autin Says:

    @2, Doug -- I was hoping to tidy up your table (as others did for me), but I still haven't quite figured out how to get HTML into comments. It may be that I simply lack that power.

  4. Doug Says:

    Thanks John,

    Should ask Ralphy how to do it (see

  5. Shazbot Says:

    That A's game is really impressive. Getting the homer on a pinch-hit in the ninth to tie it up, and the A's walk it off with a run on a wild pitch. That must have hurt.

  6. John Autin Says:

    @5, Shazbot -- Thank you for bringing that 1984 A's-Angels game to my attention. When I looked at the box score, I was struck by the matching lines of 5-0-4-0 for the Angels' Rod Carew and Fred Lynn.

    That seemed unusual to me -- 2 players in the same lineup getting at least 4 hits but with no Runs or RBI -- so I looked it up. It's unusual, all right: It's the only such game since 1919.

    It's obviously not a meaningful event; just one of a million random occurrences in MLB history. But I'm still really surprised that this game is unique (as far as we can tell); after all, I didn't even restrict the search to games of 9 innings or less. So I'm surprised -- and tickled!

    Oh, and one more thing about that game: It happened on Friday, April 13, 1984.

  7. eorns Says:

    Woo-hooo! I get to mention two of my favorite games of all time!

    OK, so how many runs did this team score?

    13 hits
    5 walks
    1 reach on error
    1 wild pitch
    1 hit with runners in scoring position

    How about ZERO? Yes, on 19 baserunners! These same Rocks did this on 8/13/05. Add to the mix 3 GDP, 1 CS, 1 Pickoff, 1-for-15 with RISP, and 15 LOB (including 6 on third and 5 on second) in a 9-inning game. Reeeally hard to do!

    Second, on 4/12/94, the A's came away with an easy 8-4 win despite being out-hit...9-2. Ya, 8 runs on 2 hits! They got their two hits in the first inning and actually scored 5 more runs without any more hits! This was accomplished through lots of walks, errors (including, in separate innings, Rickey being picked off and caught stealing but being safe). Again, reeeally hard to do!

  8. DoubleDiamond Says:

    Batting average or hits with runners in scoring position is one stat that I feel can be misleading.

    Here are ways in which a runner in scoring position doesn't score on a hit (there may be more, but these are the ones I can think of right now):

    1. Runner who had been on 2nd only makes it to 3rd. (Probably the most common.)

    2. Runner who had been on 2nd is thrown out at the plate. (Note that if a runner who had been on 3rd is thrown out at the plate, it isn't even a hit. The same is true if a runner who had been on 2nd is thrown out at 3rd.)

    3. Any runners who had been on 2nd and/or 3rd do not advance at all. This may happen, for instance, on an infield hit.

    The one situation that I can think of in which a runner in scoring position can score on a play in which the batter is out and charged with a time at bat is a runner scoring from third on a ground ball out. (An error or fielder's choice in which the batter is given an RBI may be considered to be a variation on this.)

    And of course, this doesn't even take into consideration all of the RBI's that result from hits when the bases are empty (solo homer; triple and error doesn't produce an RBI here) or the only baserunner is on 1st base.

  9. Johnny Twisto Says:

    that 1984 A's-Angels game [...] Fred Lynn.

    Without checking, let me guess....Lynn hit 23 homers that season?

    Batting average or hits with runners in scoring position is one stat that I feel can be misleading.

    Indeed. I made a post on here a while back about Ichiro's 2001 season -- I guess there was some discussion about his deserving the MVP award. Anyway, his raw numbers were impressive, and he hit something ridiculous with RISP -- well over .400. But his RBI per hit with RISP were pathetically low. Most of his hits were singles, and many of those infield singles.

  10. Johnny Twisto Says:

    The odd thing about Lynn's run from '82 through '88 is that his PA ranged from 432 to 600, his AB from 391 to 517. Didn't matter how much he played, he was gonna hit his preordained share of HR. 21, 22, 23, 23, 23, 23, 25.

  11. Johnny Twisto Says:

    I mean, everyone went nuts in '87. Wade Boggs hit 24 HR (only one other season in double figures). Dale Sveum hit 25 (ditto). Lynn's job was to hit 23, so he did, regardless the juiciness of the ball or the size of the strike zone.

  12. Bip Says:

    You say "14 hits, a HR and only one run" and I immediately think "freaking Dodgers," so the weirdest thing about this to me is that the team this happened to was playing against the Dodgers.

  13. John Autin Says:

    @8, DoubleDiamond -- Are you sure of the scoring rule re: runner from 2nd thrown out at 3rd on a "base hit" makes it not a hit? I know that's true if it's a force play, but if it's a tag play, I though it was up to the discretion of the official scorer.

    Say there's a runner on 2nd only and the batter hits a blooper over 2nd base. The runner holds up to make sure it falls safely, then makes a dash for 3rd, but is thrown out. To me, that has to be a hit. The runner's advance was not forced, so the play on him should not affect the scoring.

    But I haven't checked the official scoring rule.

  14. John Autin Says:

    @9-11, J-Twisto -- Fred Lynn may have deduced his job description via this reasoning:

    1. In 1975, he hit 21 HRs, led the AL in SLG and OPS, won a Gold Glove -- and won the MVP in a landslide, with 22 of the 28 1st-place votes.

    2. In 1979, he hit 39 HRs, led the AL in SLG and OPS, won a Gold Glove, and also led in BA and OBP (completing the sabermetric triple crown), led in OPS+ and offensive WAR -- and ran a distant 4th in the MVP voting, getting no 1st-place votes.

    3. Ergo, his job was to hit 21 HRs, not 39.

  15. wboenig Says:

    Colorado's inefficent offensive tendencies have been aroiund since at least the 2007 World Series. Consider these numbers that their offense produced in the four-game sweep at the hands of the Red Sox:

    19 singles
    6 doubles
    1 triple
    3 home runs
    10 bases on balls
    2 HBP
    1 stolen base

    Net result: (only) 10 runs. (I would have expected something more like 16 or 17 runs from those raw numbers.)

  16. Johnny Twisto Says:

    You know, JA, I'm sure I've looked at Lynn's '75 stats dozens of times in my life, but I had no idea he only hit 21 HR that season. I definitely would have guessed higher. I'd have to agree -- he wanted another MVP and felt the best way to do it was with a HR total in the low 20s. Yet the poor guy didn't appear on a single ballot in all those years, even as he tested the waters by slowly pushing his total up to the rare heights of 25. It would have been nice if the voters told him what they were looking for, but I guess it's tricky when the electorate changes from year to year. Maybe the real key to his MVP was the 6 sac bunts. He never gave up himself up for his team in '79.

  17. John Autin Says:

    @16, JT -- The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that Lynn's '79 MVP campaign failed due to voter backlash against his transparent attempt to curry favor with them by hitting .384 and slugging .776 with men on base.

    The voters want to divine subtle evidence of clutch performance -- not be slugged over the head with it.

  18. Cheese Says:

    Table test

  19. Cheese Says:

    Table Test

  20. Cheese Says:

    Ok, comments do not allow <table> tags, so it looks like you have to be an admin to add tables to comments.

  21. Cheese Says:


  22. Cheese Says:

    no inline CSS either

  23. Cheese Says:

    <div class="sr_share_wrap">
    <table id="ajax_result_table" class="sortable stats_table">

    You could emulate the styled tables if this were allowed

  24. Cheese Says:

    er, guess you wouldn't need the ID, it doesn't do anything stylistically 🙂

  25. Artie Z Says:

    My best guess for an estimate is 7.6 runs - based on a PI search of 14 hits, 1 HR, 4 BBs, and 2 SBs, the average team to put up those numbers scored 7.5857 runs.

    There have been 70 teams since 1919 to put up exactly those 4 numbers. Of course, if you add in that there were 13 singles, there were only 3 other games since 1919. But the other 3 teams still scored an average of 5 runs.

  26. Johnny Twisto Says:

    My best guess for an estimate is 7.6 runs - based on a PI search of 14 hits, 1 HR, 4 BBs, and 2 SBs, the average team to put up those numbers scored 7.5857 runs.

    Wow, very interesting. I fed the numbers into a spreadsheet and the estimated number of wOBA runs created is....7.594. wOBA is based on linear weights, which are based on the average run values of every type of batting event. Proof that linear weights work! How many games came up on your search?

  27. Johnny Twisto Says:

    Oh my bad...70 games, so that seems like a pretty fair sample. Still, I'm shocked that the estimates are so close. Especially since I was using weights for 2010, and your set of games came over a 90-year period (e.g., depending on the scoring levels, sometimes a walk is closer in value to a HR, etc).