My daily routine during baseball season typically involves taking some time to scan through the box scores of the previous night’s games. I enjoy scanning ESPN’s box scores for interesting stats and things like that, because A: I’m a nerd, and B: boredom.
One thing that doesn’t get all that much attention is the “Game Score” feature; when a game has gone final, the starting pitcher will get a grade from one to 100 based on a formula that I will post at the bottom of this column.
Basically, I enjoy laughing at pitchers who post Game Scores of 12. But I digress.
Regardless of how accurate these scores are, though, they’re fun to look at, so let’s take a look at the top scorers on the Red Sox and in the MLB.
Best Red Sox Batting Performance: Will Middlebrooks, 4-for-5, 4 R, 3 HR, 4 RBI, 1 2B
You might remember this one as the Outlier Will Middlebrooks game. Middlebrooks exploded for this stat line against the Blue Jays as we were still in “Well, maybe he’s just slumping” mode in regards to his performance.
Middlebrooks racked up an ESPN Rating (the batter version of Game Score) of 84.75, good for a tie with Pablo Sandoval for second in the MLB this year.
Worth mentioning: Shane Victorino also landed in the top five with an 83.50 score in his 3-for-3, 4 R, 2 HR, 7 RBI game on August 27. You could make the case that it was an even better performance than Middlebrooks’ in that he was facing a tougher opponent (Baltimore versus Toronto, although the Jays pitched R.A. Dickey) and he accounted for a ridiculous nine of Boston’s thirteen runs.
Best MLB Batting Performance: Miguel Cabrera, 4-for-4, 4 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI
ESPN calls this the best offensive performance of the season, and while I’m very “meh” on that, I don’t really have a better alternative. This game would have ranked fourth last season (Josh Hamilton was first with a 94.00 in his four-homer game).
Best Red Sox Pitching Performance: Jon Lester, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 5 K
This one’s a no-brainer. On May 10, Lester locked down the Blue Jays (love the irony there) to the tune of a 90 Game Score, good for a tie for 15th in the league (equal with Yu Darvish’s 15-K game, for reference).
This one’s really not close, as no other Red Sox makes an appearance in the top 34 viewable scores. Honorable mention goes to John Lackey for his two-hit, one run, eight-strikeout complete game to clinch a playoff berth.
Best MLB Pitching Performance: Shelby Miller, 9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 13 K
It’s hard to argue with either of the top two of the pitching leaders in Game Score. Miller leads the group with a ridiculous 98 out of 100 on May 10 (The same day as Lester’s game. Weird.), and right behind him was Matt Harvey’s 97-score game on May 7 (9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 12 K, what was up with that week in May?).
While both of those games are just about as good as a pitcher can be, I’m interested in the (relatively) low score given to Anibal Sanchez for his 17-K game on April 26. Sanchez’s game received an 88, which seems odd considering he only allowed 6 baserunners and struck out SEVENTEEN BATTERS.
Also notable, the season’s two no-hitters both (obviously) make appearances high on the list: Tim Lincecum’s 148-pitch, four-walk, 13-K start ranks third, and Homer Bailey’s 1-walk, 9-K start ranks fifth. Yusmerio Petit’s almost-perfect game comes in at eighth.
Last but not least, the listed formula for ESPN Ratings and Game Scores:
• ESPN* 59 + H + R + .25*BB + .25*HitByPitch + TB + .25*SB – .25*CaughtStealing + .25*SacFlies + .25*SacHits + RBI – .25*K – .25*Outs
• GSC 50 + 1*Outs + 2*IP after the 4th + 1*K – 2*H – 4*ER – 2*UnearnedRuns – 1*BB