Todd's Takes: So You Want to be an Official Scorer?

Todd's Takes: So You Want to be an Official Scorer?

This article is part of our Todd's Takes series.

Apologies for being a day late, but that means Tuesday's slate will be covered in Box Score Blitz and there are several intriguing tidbits.

I Got It … You Take It

I'm not saying I have a list of general topics I want to cover when I view the perfect play to discuss them, but I'm not saying I don't. Admittedly, I didn't see the play last weekend, but since Jeff Erickson and I talked about on SiriusXM, it's fair game. Here is Jeff's tweet:

To see the play, go to Michael A. Taylor's RBI single after clicking HERE

Like Jeff, I have long advocated for a TEAM ERROR on plays of this nature. Granted, the shortstop is supposed to have precedence, so ultimately it's his fault for not taking charge, so I'd be fine with charging the error to the shortstop. On every play like this, someone has priority, so there is a logical means of assigning an error without needed team error. I'm OK either way, but there is no way that should have been a hit, let alone account for an RBI.

Speaking of which, if the player is not

Apologies for being a day late, but that means Tuesday's slate will be covered in Box Score Blitz and there are several intriguing tidbits.

I Got It … You Take It

I'm not saying I have a list of general topics I want to cover when I view the perfect play to discuss them, but I'm not saying I don't. Admittedly, I didn't see the play last weekend, but since Jeff Erickson and I talked about on SiriusXM, it's fair game. Here is Jeff's tweet:

To see the play, go to Michael A. Taylor's RBI single after clicking HERE

Like Jeff, I have long advocated for a TEAM ERROR on plays of this nature. Granted, the shortstop is supposed to have precedence, so ultimately it's his fault for not taking charge, so I'd be fine with charging the error to the shortstop. On every play like this, someone has priority, so there is a logical means of assigning an error without needed team error. I'm OK either way, but there is no way that should have been a hit, let alone account for an RBI.

Speaking of which, if the player is not awarded an RBI on an error, or when grounding into a double play, why does he get credited for a run when he scores after reaching base in that manner? (I'm only half kidding)

Anyway, this has long been one of my biggest pet peeves. It has to be 15-20 years ago, but I used to help the late Steve Moyer collect game video when he was at Baseball Info Solutions. Steve used to write for RotoWire before he became one of the game's innovators with respect to gathering, assimilating and incorporating statistics into baseball analysis. He had a crew watching every game on VHS. BIS was among the first, if not the first, to archive line drive, fly ball and groundball data. They were also at the forefront of defensive metrics.

One of Steve's projects entailed scoring games based on what "should have happened." In this instance, an error would have been charged. If a runner is safe because the fielder dropped the ball when applying the tag, an error is charged (one is rarely done so). Get this, if the play at second base was clean, and a good throw would have completed the twin killing, BIS assumed a double play!

I'm not sure how wind-blown balls and balls lost in the sun (or lights) were scored. Of course, now they are hits. An argument could be rendered the pitcher did his job by inducing a pop up or fly ball that should have been caught, except the elements interfered. As such, this could fall under team error. However, I view these much like a swinging bunt, Baltimore chop or Texas leaguer. The pitcher did his job, but Lady Luck interfered. In the first examples, Lady Luck and Mother Nature tag teamed for the fortunate hit.

No Backsies

On Monday, several Clay Holmes fantasy managers were disappointed he blew a save, but were happy he still collected the win.

Except, he didn't.

The official deployed  a rarely used rule:

(c)  The Official Scorer shall not credit as the winning pitcher a relief pitcher who is ineffective in a brief appearance, when at least one succeeding relief pitcher pitches effectively in helping his team maintain its lead. In such a case, the Official Scorer shall credit as the winning pitcher the succeeding relief pitcher who was most effective, in the judgment of the Official Scorer.

Rule 9.17(c) Comment: The Official Scorer generally should, but is not required to, consider the appearance of a relief pitcher Rule 9.17(c) to 9.19(a) 137 to be ineffective and brief if such relief pitcher pitches less than one inning and allows two or more earned runs to score (even if such runs are charged to a previous pitcher). Rule 9.17(b) Comment provides guidance on choosing the winning pitcher from among several succeeding relief pitchers.

Holmes' outing fits the comment as he worked two-thirds of an inning, allowing one inherited run to score plus one for which he was credited. By the letter of the law, the official scorer was within his right to award the win to Wandy Peralta.

However, he did not have to; it was still a judgment call. Jeff and I discussed this as well. Holmes induced a pair of weakly hit grounders. Does that qualify as being ineffective? 

A strong argument can be rendered contending Holmes was just unlucky, so he should have been awarded the win with Peralta collecting a save. That said, I am not going to chide the official scorer for his decision. In fact, I compliment him on enacting the rule, while most take the easy way out and credit the win to the "pitcher of record," regardless of effectiveness.

I'm torn on the question of effectiveness. Well, no, Holmes was not ineffective. However, on the statistical hierarchy, wins are probably more highly regarded than saves, so I can see wanting to reward Peralta with a win, since he was more effective than Holmes.

This all could have been avoided, at least in terms of fantasy, if the wins category is replaced by innings. I have championed this cause for several years and am happy Tout Wars voted to make the switch in one of its seven leagues.

One down, six to go.

Which Mitch Will Pitch?

Mitch Keller took the hill last Sunday against the Giants. He's been on a roll lately, so I wanted to get some eyeballs on him. Admittedly, what I can ascertain watching a few innings on television is limited, but I have picked up enough over the years to embellish number scouting. That said, let's start with a look at the numbers.

DateGSIPERAWHIPK%BB%HR%BABIP
4/9 - 5/13732.26.611.5317.60%8.10%3.40% .317
5/31 - 6/19422.12.421.2119.10%11.70%1.10% .242

Two relief appearances in May were omitted. Without seeing anything else, it looks like Keller's luck turned around, yielding fewer hits and homers. Sure, he fanned a few more batters, but his walk rate increased even more.

As usual, that's not the whole story. Keller made some significant changes to his pitch mix, beginning with his second relief appearance on May 25:

Date4S%2S%Slider%Curve%Change%
4/9 - 5/1357.30%0.00%20.90%10.60%11.20%
5/31 - 6/1918.80%37.70%22.50%17.00%3.90%

Keller reduced his four-seam usage while dusting off his two-seamer (sinker). He also threw his changeup less frequently. The shuffle likely explains the difference in velocity and spin rates over this stretch.

DateVelMxVel  SpinMxSpin
4/9 - 5/1392.199.72354.3 3494
5/31 - 6/1990.1982409.8 2813

My untutored eyes didn't add much. I like to gauge how comfortable a pitcher looks by his actions. Is he taking time between pitches? How often does he shake off the sign? Is he fidgety, given some are naturally fidgety? How does he react to a close call going the other way or a defensive miscue? I really didn't see much in either direction.

Putting it together, while Keller's BABIP and HR/FB appear lucky, some of it can be attributed to a new pitch mix, especially the reduction in homers. While I don't like the increase in walks, it's fixable, especially since it could be a matter of gaining better control and command of his two-seamer.

Granted, reserve roster spots are valuable, Keller is a hold for me because there is a plausible path to difference-making upside if he can make the new pitch mix work. I'll use him in favorable matchups, which is helped by his home venue being PNC Park, one of the best pitching venues in the league. He's slated to face the Rays on the road later this week and the Nationals at home next week, both of which are favorable, at least in my estimation.

Bury-os is Back

It occurred while I was on the air with Jeff on Monday, so I could only catch glimpses, but Jose Berrios was hit hard by the White Sox, surrendering three homers among the nine hits he yielded, resulting in six earned runs in just four frames. He started out slow sporting a 5.62 ERA and 1.51 WHIP through May, then he posted a 2.45 ERA and 0.64 WHIP in his first three June outings.

As opposed to Keller, there isn't a drastic change in arsenal:

Date4S2SCurve%Change%
4/7 - 5/3136.50%22.40%29.50%11.60%
6/1 - 6/15 30.90%22.30%37.40%9.40%

A few more curves in lieu of some four-seamers isn't enough to account for the improved performance:

DateK%BB%HR%BABIP
4/7 - 5/3116.2%6.3%4.1%0.323
6/1 - 6/15 32.5%3.8%3.8%0.174

Clearly, Berrios enjoyed some batted ball luck, but that's not going to double his strikeout clip. While he was out over his skis a bit to start June, it appeared Berrios returned to form. 

Personally, I'm still on Berrios, with one change. I've always had him in the very good, not great bucket, but reliable. He's now entered the risky realm. I'm likely still obstinate and he'll be in my lineup regularly. For example, the three-game hot streak aside, facing the White Sox and their injury-riddled lineup is a favorable start, so if he were slated to face the Pale Hose following a similarly poor outing, I would still have him in my lineup.

Three Tickets to Paredes

With apologies to the late Eddie Money, Isaac Paredes saw his two tickets to paradise and raised him one, smashing three balls out of the yard at Tropicana Field. With Wander Franco, Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot all out, the Rays need the likes of Parades, Taylor Walls, Vidal Brujan and Josh Lowe to step up.

That said, Harold Ramirez and Francisco Mejia are both now mixed-league worthy and provide more pop than the lighter hitting, but speedier group just listed.

Box Score Blitz

  • As expected, a game started by Ryan Feltner and Daniel Castano was a slugfest, with the Marlins prevailing 9-8 at home. Tanner Scott picked up the save, giving him five this month. He's clearly emerged as the option in South Beach. Oh yeah, Jon Berti recorded his 19th steal.
  • The Reds let Tony Gonsolin off the hook a couple times, but the Dodgers right-hander battled his way to his ninth win against no losses. Tyler Mahle gave up a homer early, but was victimized more by bad luck on batted balls. Four punch outs with one walk in six stanzas against the Dodgers will usually garner better results.
  • The Pirates have found a foil in the Cubs. Bligh Madris made his debut on Monday with a 3-for-4 effort, then swatted his first home run Tuesday. Oneil Cruz is still the one to get, but Madris is in play for NL only leagues.
  • It was in a losing effort as the Nationals blanked the Orioles 3-0, but Keegan Akin once again excelled in a multi-inning relief role. His strikeouts are low, but he's fanned six in his last two outings, spanning 4.2 innings. If he keeps up the pace, Akin merits some fantasy attention in deeper leagues.
  • After pitching in three of the last four games (finally working on consecutive days Monday), Tanner Houck was unavailable Tuesday. With the Red Sox leading the Tigers 5-3, Matt Strahm started the ninth, but gave up a homer to Jonathan Schoop, then retired Willi Castro and Robbie Grossman, both switch hitters. Alex Cora then summoned John Schreiber to face righty Javier Baez who singled. Schreiber got Miguel Cabrera to ground out to shortstop, securing his second save. Had Strahm not allowed the leadoff homer, he would have garnered the save. It's clear Cora didn't want him facing a right-handed batter with a one-run lead, but he was OK with Strahm pitching to Schoop and two switch hitters with the extra cushion.
  • Spencer Strider received a bit of a comeuppance while Anthony DeSclafani was hit hard in his turn as the Giants outslugged the Braves 13-11 in Truist Park. As poor as Strider pitched, the usually reliable Braves bullpen did him no favors.
  • Terry Francona shook up his lineup, moving Steven Kwan into the leadoff spot while pushing Myles Straw to the nine-hole. Obviously, it's better if Straw is at the top, but at least on paper, since steals are his primary asset, his fantasy contribution is less hindered than someone with a higher level of HR and RBI. That said, Straw needs to get on in order to run. The Guardians beat the Twins 6-5 in 10 innings, in an entertaining contest. Jose Ramirez was questionable, but started and played third, so he's apparently OK.
  • Martin Perez rebounded from his recent shellacking with a solid six inning effort, whiffing six with three walks. I've softened my stance on being the luckiest pitcher on the planet, but he will incur more speed bumps along the way.
  • Jose Urquidy entered Tuesday's start with a 5.51 ERA and 1.68 WHIP over his previous six efforts, so it was encouraging to see him hurl six frames, allowing one run, fanning five Mets with only one free pass. Yordan Alvarez returned after missing a couple games and looked fine during his 19th home run trot.
  • I'll explain Martin Perez to you if you can explain why Chi Chi Gonzalez still cashes a major league paycheck to me, deal? Jack Flaherty vowed to dial it back in his second start, but still walked five in three frames. I loathe this approach, but he's on my bench until he exhibits better control. Nolan Gorman is glad Gonzalez still has a job, taking him deep for the first of his two homers as the Cardinals defeated the Brewers 6-2. 
  • You wouldn't know it by the final score, but Tuesday's top pitching matchup didn't disappoint as Kevin Gausman and Dylan Cease each twirled six solid frames, with Cease fanning 11 without allowing a run. However, the Blue Jays took advantage of the White Sox depleted bullpen, taking the lead before Jordan Romano blew his third save of the campaign. The teams went back and forth in extras before the White Sox outlasted the Blue Jays 7-6.
  • A lot of people scored lots of runs in the Royals 12-11 win over the Angels, but the win was marred by Salvador Perez aggravating his thumb injury. It's unclear if he's headed to the IL, but if he does, look for MJ Melendez to take over as the primary backstop.
  • Ketel Marte returned for the Diamondbacks, but Manny Machado remained sidelined in the Padres' 3-2 win. In another good pitching matchup, Sean Manaea and Zac Gallen both allowed just two runs in six innings, though Gallen fanned 11.
  • Oakland's struggles continues as Ty France, Julio Rodriguez and Jesse Winker went a combined 8-for-13, powering Seattle to a 8-2 win. Ken Giles made his Mariners debut, hurling a clean fame with one punch out.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Todd Zola
Todd has been writing about fantasy baseball since 1997. He won NL Tout Wars and Mixed LABR in 2016 as well as a multi-time league winner in the National Fantasy Baseball Championship. Todd is now setting his sights even higher: The Rotowire Staff League. Lord Zola, as he's known in the industry, won the 2013 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Article of the Year award and was named the 2017 FSWA Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year. Todd is a five-time FSWA awards finalist.
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