Posted by Andy on June 30, 2010
Here we examine a graphical look at Game Scores.
We've talked a lot lately about Game Scores. I decided to look at them graphically. This isn't necessarily a great idea--I just got curious to see what it would look like.
First, if you need a refresher on how Game Scores are calculated, click here. It's the second paragraph on the page.
I picked a couple of games at random, both from Sunday. First is the A's/Pirates matchup featuring Gio Gonzalez and Ross Ohlendorf on the mound. The other one is the Red Sox/Giants game with Tim Lincecum vs. Jon Lester.
I went through each line in the play-by-play accounts and assigned each pitcher a score for the outcome of the at-bat. For example a flyball out would be +1, a single would be -1, and a strikeout would be +2 (that's +1 for the out and +1 for the strikeout.) A solo homer is -6, the sum of -2 for the hit and -4 for the earned run.
This graph shows Game Score vs Inning. Data points between 0 and 1 occur during the first inning, and the value at 1 inning was the Game Score at the conclusion of the first inning. (I don't think I did this exactly correctly in all cases--bear with me since this was a quick attempt to see if this graphing method id worth anything.) When the Game Score stops changing, the pitcher was out of the game. (Only Lester completed his game while Lincecum got knocked out after the 3rd inning.) I have also added credit of +2 for any inning completed after the 4th inning, as per the standard Game Score calculation.
The Lester and Lincecum graphs don't tell us too much we don't already know. Lincecum got bombed and Lester was excellent. The Gonzalez and Ohlendorf lines are more interesting. Ohlendorf started stronger, allowing fewer baserunners early. He hit a rough patch during the 5th inning (shown on this graph between innings 4 and 5) but he stayed in. He finished with a strong 6th inning and was then lifted from the game. Gonzalez meanwhile started more slowly than Ohlendorf but passed him in the 5th. His lead was short-lived, however, when he allowed a solo homer leading off the 6th, dropping his score by -6 and ending his day. (The graph doesn't reflect this exactly--it shows the -6 drop coming happening right at inning 6 instead of just after 6.)
I believe Graphical Game Scores might be quite useful for analyzing when pitchers were left in too long in games. I would think that a lot of graphs end like Gonzalez's, with one or more earned runs right at the end causing a sharp downturn. This is an indication (a 20-20 hindsight one, of course) that the pitcher should have been removed from the game earlier.
Looking at the lines for Ohlendorf and Lester, they both overcame bumps in the rO.D. Gonzalez did not. We could count these bumps (easy to do with a simple derivative calculation for each line) and assign points to pitchers for 'bumps overcome' or to managers for leaving pitchers in too long...
Anyway, don't read too much into this post. Just a little brainstorming out loud!