Keeping Score Part 2 – Ball Locations, Baserunners, and Pitches

In part two of our series on keeping score, we’ll take a closer look at ways to enhance your actual scoring system.

As mentioned in the first post, the suggested methods throughout this series were designed to fit my own personal system, and will be introduced as such for ease of explanation.  By no means, however, am I trying to force you to adopt my scoring system.  Our hope is that you find value in one or two (or more) of the “hacks,” and manage to incorporate them into the system you’re already using.

Below is a filled in scorecard and pitcher’s card from August 21st, 2016 in which the Winnipeg Goldeyes beat the Sioux City Explorers 6-1 on the road.


(Note: to get the most out of this post, I recommend opening the photo in a separate tab or window so that you can flip back and forth as each section is discussed)

Direct Link to the above photo:

We’re mostly going to focus on the scorecard portion on the right side of the photo (please disregard the four plays that are highlighted in yellow.  The highlighting earmarks the audio clips played back during our postgame show, and is not part of my actual scoring system).

The top of the lineup column indicates this is Winnipeg’s side of the scorecard (you would find Sioux City’s scorecard if you flipped the page over).  The players’ jersey numbers are listed on the left-hand side, while the players’ defensive positions are listed on the right-hand side.  I highly recommend writing both the position AND the jersey number of each player (it doesn’t matter where, but write both).  It will help you spot a pinch hitter (in the on-deck circle, or even in the batter’s box if it really sneaks up on you) or defensive replacement more quickly, especially for an opposing team that you’re not as familiar with.

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Keeping Score Part 1 – Your Scorebook

Our next few posts will cover several techniques you can use to enhance your scorekeeping.  Keeping a basic scorebook should be a given for every baseball broadcaster, but the more details you can capture on a regular basis, the greater the quality of information you will pass on to the listener.

There is no right way to keep score.  As long as you can retrieve a previous game and easily recreate what happened, then use whatever method you are most comfortable with.  With that being said, specific emphasis is placed on “easily” and “recreate.”  If it takes more than a couple of seconds to decipher what you wrote down (I’m referring to penmanship and not the mechanics of your scoring system), then you should probably make a concerted effort to improve your handwriting.  You may not have more than a few seconds to locate and interpret a piece of information from a previous scoresheet, which runs the risk of time-sensitive information expiring.

Additionally, I used the phrase “recreate what happened” as opposed to “understand what happened,” because utilizing a scoring system that captures as many details as possible will pay major dividends on future broadcasts.  If you’re reading this, then you probably have a fairly sophisticated system already in place, but can you pluck any game from last year’s scorebook and know exactly how many times a runner went from first to third?  Are you able to compare the total number of line drives versus the total number of popups?  If not, these next few posts can help.

Our scorekeeping “hacks” were designed to fit my own personal system, so they will be introduced as such for ease of explanation.  By no means, however, am I trying to force you to adopt my scoring system.  Our hope is that you find value in one or two (or more) of the hacks, and manage to incorporate them into the system you’re already using.

Let’s start with the most basic element of keeping score–your scoresheet or scorebook.

Like your scoring system, the type of sheet or book you use is entirely up to you.  Pick whatever you are most comfortable with.  I do recommend customizing and printing your own scoresheets instead of purchasing a pre-made book.  Designing your own template allows you to tailor the scoresheet to your own specific system.  Pre-printed books might be convenient, but force you–at least to some degree–to conform your scoring style to the layout of the book.

I promise this isn’t meant to be a crusade against pre-made scorebooks, but another limitation of a ready made book is the finite number of individual sheets.  I’ve witnessed broadcasters run out of sheets due to rainouts, making a mistake when filling out a lineup, or simply buying a book that didn’t have enough pages for the entire season.  They were forced to purchase a second book to finish the summer.  Since it’s highly advisable to have every game from that season handy, it meant they had to lug around two full-sized scorebooks over the final couple of weeks.  Sure, you could purchase a pre-made book with enough pages to afford you some mistakes (say 125 sheets for a 100-game season), but then you’re leaving (and paying for) blank pages that eventually go to waste.  And if you’re thinking, “well, I’ll just use the remaining blank pages to start the following season,” you will undoubtedly run into the same dilemma of having to carry around two books (and for a much longer period of time than described in the original scenario).

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Grow Your Tool Box: Split Stats

Baseball announcers incorporate statistics into their broadcasts to provide the listener with additional insight.  Listeners can use this information to form their own predictions of what to expect as a game unfolds.  There is no guarantee a .330 hitter will collect two hits, but the listener can deduce the player is performing at a high level just by hearing his batting average.

Split stats, commonly referred to as “splits,” divide a team or player’s total numbers into two or more related categories.  Splits help identify performance trends that the overall totals can’t reveal on their own..

Imagine the following situation: The tying run is on second with two outs late in the game.  First base is open, and the current batter is hitting .330.  The on-deck batter is hitting .250, but the defensive team elects to pitch to the current batter.

At first, fans of the defensive team might be wondering why the current batter wasn’t intentionally walked at such a critical juncture.  However, the broadcaster reveals that while the current batter is hitting .330 overall, he is hitting just .190 against left-handed pitching, and the defensive team happens to have a lefty on the mound.

I’ll leave the hypothetical outcome to this hypothetical scenario up to your imagination as a means of emphasizing that the process and methodology behind this type of decision is always more important than the actual result (expect a future post on this subject).  What’s important is that the batter’s splits (in this case, his left/right split) influenced the manager’s strategy.
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