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Scorekeeper's Corner

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 12:08 pm
by sixofdiamonds
I've revived this topic from a few years ago. It was never brought over from the old message board so I brought it over now. Introduced and moderated by Joe DeSousa (league umpire, statistician, scorekeeper extraordinaire and all-around good guy), it contains some good stuff. If you have scorekeeping or stat questions, this is the place to ask them.

April 9th, 2014, 8:08 am #1

With so many games involving so many teams at multiple fields requiring multiple scorekeepers, discrepancies are inevitable. What one person sees as a hit, another might call an error. There's not much you can do about judgement. However, there are guidelines on when to give what to a batter. I'm going to try and cover them in this topic. My credentials - none. I've been a die hard baseball fanatic since 1969, having read literally thousands of box scores during that time. When I came across something that didn't make sense to me, I'd research it, learning quite a bit in the process. That doesn't mean I know everything. Please feel free to challenge anything you may read here, and I'll do my best to document my claims. Don't let the title fool you, ANYONE can post here. If you're involved in a ruling you didn't understand or agree with, post it here. We'll discuss it and we'll all be wiser for it. I ask that we don't mention specific names or fields, please stick to the situation in question. The concept here is to get things right. The first thing I want to get into is RBI's, a major bone of contention. More to follow.

April 9th, 2014, 8:49 am #2

Generally speaking, runs score in one of two ways. Either they're driven in by a batter or they score as a result of an error. The first case is an RBI, the second is not. That does NOT mean you can't get an RBI on an error. You can. Example: Bill's on third, one out, Pete hits a grounder to short and is thrown out at first. Bill scores on the play, RBI for Pete and there are now two outs. What is it if, instead of Pete being thrown out at first, the throw is low, not handled by the first baseman, Pete reaches on the error. Does he get credit for an RBI? He does, because the run would've scored either way. The scorekeeper needs to ask themselves this question on every scoring play involving an error; would the run have scored anyway? For every "yes" answer, an RBI is given. In the above scenario, if it's runners on 2nd and 3rd and they both score on the play, you can say the guy would come in from 3rd either way, but the guy would not have scored from 2nd had there not been an error. Result should be two runs scored, One RBI for the batter. One important note on this particular example; if this situation plays out while there are two outs in the inning instead of one ( or none) NO RBI's are awarded. Why , you ask? It goes back to "the question." Would the run have scored had the error not been committed? No, because it would've resulted in the 3rd out, inning over.Something I see far too often on scoreshheets, multiple RBI's for a batter involving an error. I can't think of a situation where an E-4 can result in two or three RBI's. For that matter, the same for an E-7. A single with an E-7, ok, runs would score from 2nd and 3rd even if the left fielder played the hop cleanly. We had a play this past Sunday, runner at third, less than two out, high fly to fairly deep left. Left fielder got to it fairly easily, runner tagging the whole time, left fielder has the ball go off his glove to the ground. Run scores, batter reaches. How do you score that? RBI for the batter (the question), Sac fly E-7. The logic there is you don't reward or punish a batter based on the failure of a fielder to make a play (no offense, left). You don't give the batter a double, falsely padding his stats, and you don't take the sac away which would lower his average.

April 9th, 2014, 8:49 am #3

Great topic, Joe.

Judgment really is a large part of scorekeeping and I really wish ball players would ask the scorekeeper if they could look over the score sheet once the game is over. If you have a question about a scoring play, you can ask the scorekeeper right then and there. Expecting anyone to remember what happened in one of your at-bats days after the game is played is ridiculous.

Statisticians are prohibited from making any statistical changes with respect to scorekeeper judgment without expressed scorekeeper permission. Scorekeepers are reminded not to change their mind on a scored play just because a player complains. If the player questioning your decision makes a valid case, then and only then should you make any change. If you feel your judgment on the play was sound, stick to your original call.

This does not mean it's open season on scorekeepers. Ball players that are disrespectful to scorekeepers in any way, shape, or form will be asked to play their softball elsewhere. Scorekeepers that are disrespectful to ball players will be dealt with in much the same manner.

April 9th, 2014, 10:28 am #5

The art of scorekeeping is all about judgement. In the sac fly - error example, the scorekeeper needs to decide whether the ball was hit deep enough for the runner to tag up and score had it been caught. Our unwritten rule has always been to give the benefit of the doubt to the offense, but it's all about the scorekeepers perception. Regarding players complaints well after the fact; many players don't come running to see how a play was scored, only to find out the following week when stats are updated that they didn't get the credit for those two rBI's he feels he had. Proper notation by the scorekeepers goes a long way towards re-creating a play and being able to explain a resulting stat a reward or lack thereof. Statisticians and writers should be able to look at a scoresheet and follow the flow of the game with little effort. Improper notation brings that process to a grinding halt. Common mistakes - We have more than one keeper who record fielder's choice incorrectly. Example: runner on 1st, batter grounds to short who flips to 2nd for the force out on the lead runner. In the box for the batter, an FC should be noted. The 6-4 put out is written in the box of the runner being put out, not in the batter's box along with the FC. It's not impossible to follow, but when done correctly it's much clearer. One of my personal favorites is this one, seen more than once: written out in a box are the words "tug out at home." Where to begin? English 101; "tug" is not the past tense of "tag" It's "tagged." Also, that's not what a scorekeeper does. Example: runner on 2nd, batter hits one hopper to left-center fielder who picks it clean and throws a strike to the plate nailing the runner trying to score from second for the out. That goes as a single in the box for the batter. In the box for the runner who was gunned down, the notation should read 8-2 with the out number circled, a 1,2 or 3. If it was the pitcher covering the plate (more common in coed), then it's 8-1.

April 9th, 2014, 10:31 am #6

I'm glad you brought up the SAC FLY/Error scenario. To re-iterate the batter is given a sac fly, with a RBI AND an error on the play.
You cannot penalize the batter for doing everything right just because the field missed the ball.

As Joe said, you really have to ask yourself "If the play was made, would the run have scored anyway?"

April 9th, 2014, 10:48 am #7

One of my favorite stories that I've told a few times; there was a guy two years ago, new to the league. He played in Spring, put up some good numbers. Now it's Summer and I'm keeping score. The guy hit two grounders right at infielders that were bobbled and he beat them out. I scored them as errors. The following week, the guy approached my very politely and informed me that he believed i scored his at bats wrong. He felt he should've been 3-3 and I had him 1-3. "You don't understand," he explained. "In Spring, I was never thrown out on a ground ball. I beat out every one of them for an infield single." My response was "I honestly don't recall the specific plays from last week, but I tend to by on the lenient side. Sorry if you disagree, and I'll pay special attention from here on." And I did pay attention, was riveted to his first at bat. Guess what happened?? Grounder to second, put out 4-3. The guy never spoke to me again.

April 9th, 2014, 10:53 am #8

I agree – great topic, Joe, and thanks for creating a forum for this type of discussion! I only hope that enough people will read this thread to benefit from the collected wisdom.

I have a scenario, based on a true story, in which I was the batter. Let me be clear that I am not seeking to retroactively overturn a scoring decision from a past week with this question – I just want to gather opinion on how this could be handled in the future. I was at bat with less than 2 outs and runners on 2nd and 3rd. I hit a hard ground ball to the left of SS, on which said SS made a great backhanded play to keep it from going into the outfield. Not to brag, but I have decent speed, got a good jump on the play, and almost surely would have made it safely to 1st base if there had been a throw. The runner on 3rd scored on the play, but the runner on 2nd essentially ran into the tag at SS. With 1st base open, the runner on 2nd was not compelled by a force play to advance – he admitted that he should have stayed on 2nd, but probably wasn’t expecting the SS to come up with the stop. This was scored as a FC (0-for-1). I was (rightly) credited with an RBI, but should I have been also credited with a single on the play? Can a player’s inherent abilities (e.g., speed) be allowed to factor into a scoring decision? If, in the scorekeeper’s judgement, I would have been thrown out on the play if not for the opportunity to gain a different out (fielder’s choice), then I have no problem with the call, but I think that based on the location and angle where the SS fielded the ball, I would have certainly been safe at 1st. All of that said, I understand that the scorekeeper’s opinion trumps my own.

As a player, I am always hesitant to question the officials in charge of the game. This includes the umpires (and referees back to my soccer days), and in the case of SBA, the scorekeepers. It’s a personal philosophy of mine never to complain about calls. In most cases, those who argue do so not to gain advantage on the current call, but on the next one (makeup call), which I see as gamesmanship, but might be part of the game. My approach has always been to build good will, which has its own benefits (also, I’m just not comfortable complaining). Les, I appreciate the invitation to ask the scorekeepers about scoring decisions, however deeply engrained in me it is to abide by the official decision. The invitation to simply inquire I think improves the fairness and, in turn, quality of this league.

April 9th, 2014, 11:12 am #9

Bill, my first instinct would be to call your scenario a fielder's choice also, but after thinking about it...what if you had a seeing eye hit that made it to the outfield and the runner advancing from 2nd to 3rd was still thrown out? Does it make a difference which fielder has the assist/put out (whether it's the SS in your scenario or LF the in this one)?

After thinking about it I'd be inclined to say both should be hits.

April 9th, 2014, 11:33 am #10


I'd be inclined to call both hits because I feel like they are base-running mistakes on the part of the runner originating from 2nd base. But it's clear that there is a degree of subjectivity to all of this, which makes it difficult. Players who view the stats need to understand this. Also, in the long run things tend to even out. Do people complain when a clear error is mistakenly scored as a hit for them? I would guess not.

The actual scenario occurred against your team (props to your SS) on that very cold night, but it's not like I'm stressing about this one call. Bottom line, I hit a ball hard that was fielded in the infield. Most of the time, I should not expect to get a hit out of this.


April 9th, 2014, 11:35 am #11

You bring up a host of issues here in such a short post, well done. NEVER harm in questioning an official decision, requesting an explanation. As per the nature of the game, sometimes those questions are asked in a somewhat agitated state of mind. It's only a problem when players start insulting officials, hurling expletives and generally carrying on. A league official should have the knowledge to explain each and every decision made. That's really my goal in starting this thread. Ok, your scenario; had the bases been loaded, no discussion, FC. That runner on 2nd not being forced to go makes it gray. So does your statement, "... and almost surely would have made it safely to 1st base if there had been a throw." The words "almost surely" leaves some doubt. It's impossible to give a definitive answer from my couch without having seen the play. If the short stop had no play on you and your guy ran into the out, you should get a hit. If short simply "chose" the easier of two options, fielder's choice. It boils down to whether or not the scorekeeper was aware of the fact it wasn't automatically an FC, and needed to use judgement. Had your grounder been more routine, and had the runner at 2nd faked a break to 3rd distracting the SS, I'd call it an FC whether they got him out or not.

April 9th, 2014, 11:54 am #12

back to RBIs for a second.... RBIs can NEVER be award to a batter who bats into a continuous double play.

I.E. #1- bases loaded batter hits a grounder to SS, SS to 2B for the first out, 2B to 1B for the second out, but the run scores. 6-4-3 double play. Sorry batter no RBI awarded.

I.E. #2 - bases loaded batter hits a deep fly ball to LF and the ball is caught for the first out, runner from 3rd crosses the plate. Runner from second leaves early and appeal play goes to 2B and the runner is out for the second out. 7-4 double play. Sorry batter no SAC FLY or RBI awarded. I stand corrected

Situations where a batter hits into a NON-continuous double plays (run downs, or other shenanigans) CAN be awarded RBIs.

April 9th, 2014, 12:42 pm #13

Again, I can't stress enough that I'm not an expert. I'm coming up with something different. Very true, no RBI when you ground into a 6-4-3 (force double play), or anything resembling it. Also no RBI for what is called a reverse force double play - Ground ball to first, fielder steps on bag, throws to second and the tag is applied to the runner going from 1st to second. BUT I'm getting different info on the fly ball scenario. From what I find, it is a ribby and sac even if a trail runner is out advancing, either tagged or called out on appeal for leaving early.

April 9th, 2014, 12:56 pm #14

MLB rule 10.08 Sacrifices, paragraph d:
Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled
by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that
(1) is caught, and a runner scores after the catch, or
(2) is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer’s judgment the runner could
have scored after the catch had the fly been caught.

Rule 10.08(d) Comment: The official scorer shall score a sacrifice fly in accordance with Rule
10.08(d)(2) even though another runner is forced out by reason of the batter becoming a runner.

April 9th, 2014, 1:38 pm #15

Oh yeah? Well listen up, stat boy... wait, my bad. I think we're agreeing here.

April 9th, 2014, 1:49 pm #16

Yes Joe I agree.

MLB rule book is a bit confusing to sift thru.

April 9th, 2014, 2:22 pm #17

That's what makes it so much fun! Something I should've touched on at the beginning, why is any of this important. RBI or not, hit or FC, who cares? The score will be the same no matter what. The answer is this; all these stats are fed into a formula that's used to determine who makes the all star list(s). SOMEWHERE, there's a line where, if you're just above it you're an allstar and if you're just below it you're not. Players have been thrown off teams because of their all star status. A player not given proper credit for all his RBI's could conceivably come in just under, while a guy with an inflated average due to scorekeepers giving him singles instead of FC's could be falsely named an all star. It's all about accuracy and consistency. There will always be those borderline plays that can go either way. I tell players yeah, sometimes you get robbed, either a lousy umpire call, great play by a fielder, unfavorable scorekeeper judgement. You'll also get a fair share of balls barely hit off the end of the bat that manages to elude four different fielders and you find yourself standing on 1st with a grin on your face. It has a funny way of evening out.

April 9th, 2014, 2:36 pm #19

A few years ago, I received a message on the game line from an overtly aggravated league member who felt wronged by a scorekeeper that gave him an error on an at-bat he clearly felt should have been a hit. In his message he stated, "If you are going to keep stats, they should be kept accurately or not be kept at all!". With that, I picked up the phone and called the league member. I asked him the following question, "Have you ever received a hit on an at-bat when you knew in your heart it should have been an error?". He answered, "Yes". I then asked, "If you are so concerned about stats being kept accurately, why have I never heard you ask me to change that hit to an error?".

To expound on what wdshipe alluded to - in all my years running Softball America, I have never, ever, not once, not even close to once been asked to change a hit to an error. Moral of the story - it all evens out in the end.

April 9th, 2014, 3:59 pm #20

It's my day off and I have time to kill before my 10:15 tonight. I've been totaling all Sunday Coed sheets the last few years to help speed up the stat updates. The trend I've noticed is, I'd say between 80 - 85% of the runs scored are driven in, the rest scored on errors. Some individual scorekeepers tend to run higher than that, some lower, but I think that's a fair guesstimate. If you as a scorekeeper find your games consistently having 15 runs scored with only 7 - 9 RBI's credited (or less), you're probably missing some. Let's fix it.

Re: Scorekeeper's Corner

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 2:22 pm
by wdshipe
Thank you for bringing this topic back, Les! The sacrifice fly/error scenario happened again just on Monday this week in a game I was involved in.

Hopefully we can get more contributions to this thread. Lots of great information here.

Re: Scorekeeper's Corner

Posted: Thu Aug 09, 2018 8:55 pm
by Joestheman
A little late to the party. My take on the sac fly error is it's counter intuitive to a lot of our scorekeepers. I've explained the logic on how to score it one on one with quite a few of our staff over the years. When I see E-9 with an RBI, I'm not sure what the scorer is telling me. Writing in "SAC" makes it crystal clear.

Fly ball at or near fence knocked over the fence by outfielder

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 11:48 am
by wdshipe
In one of my Monday Coed games at the Hatfield field this fall, an interesting scoring situation arose:

A fly ball was hit to the fence. In attempting to make a play, the outfielder unintentionally knocked the ball over the fence. In some cases, this could be deemed an error, but in this particular scenario, enough difficulty was involved for the outfielder (running/backpedaling and approaching the fence) that I was comfortable with it being scored as a home run.

As there is a Hatfield-specific rule governing over-the-fence home runs, it was deemed that this should not count against the home run limit for the batting team. Again, this makes sense to me, as a strategic advantage could be gained by a fielding team if it did count against the limit; especially in several cases:
- No runners on base – batting team consumes one home run toward the limit while gaining only one run
- Batting team is one home run away from the limit – hitters are now “handcuffed”
- Batting team has already reached the home run limit – the play is scored as an out

My discussion items are as follows:

1. As a scorekeeper in this situation, you are required to make a judgment call as to whether or not the play is scored an error or a home run. The same considerations should apply here as for any other ball in play. Some might be tempted to score it as an error to avoid the situation of having a home run on the scoresheet that does not count against the home run limit, but with the proper explanation and annotation, this was not an issue in our game.

2. Should there be any bearing on the scoring of the play as to whether or not the fly ball would have gone over the fence if untouched? In other words:
- If the ball would not have gone over the fence, could it be scored either an error or a home run (not counting against the limit)? In my mind, this should never be scored as a home run counting against the limit, since that could provide a strategic advantage to the fielding team and potentially open up avenues for abuse.
- If the ball would have gone over the fence, could it be scored either an error, a home run (counting against the limit), or a home run (not counting against the limit)?

It seems as though quite a bit of judgment is required here, and this can all be hard for a scorekeeper to do where they are positioned, and in the absence of video review! ;)

Re: Scorekeeper's Corner

Posted: Thu Nov 01, 2018 12:38 pm
by Joestheman
There are two parts to this. The difficulty of the play should determine whether the batter gets credit for a home run or an error. I believe that's separate from counting it against the home run limit. Home run or 4 base award is an umpire's call. Home run gets counted, 4 base award doesn't. I was keeping score last night and this happened, high fly ball hit the top of the fence and went over. The outfielder was close to it. From my chair, it was tough to tell if the fielder got a piece of it, so I asked blue. This situation has come up a few times in the past and that's how I've always handled it. If it's wrong, someone tell me.