Sunday Morning Sabermetrics: The Bill James Game Score for Pitchers

Image Credit:

The Bill James Game Score for starting pitchers is a game-by-game statistic that rates starting pitchers on their performances one start at a time. Game scores can be tracked over the course of a season to determine which starting pitcher in the rotation was the most consistently effective. Bill James, special advisor on baseball operations to the Boston Red Sox and father of sabermetrics, developed the statistic.

The Game Score is easy to calculate:

·      Start with 50 points

·      Add 1 point for each out recorded

·      Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th

·      Add 1 point for each strikeout

·      Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed

·      Subtract 4 for each ER allowed

·      Subtract 2 for each unearned R allowed

·      Subtract 1 for BB


One of the greatest aspects of the game score is that it is used on an individual game basis rather than entire seasons or parts of entire seasons. We can use the game score to evaluate our own starting pitchers on their performances right here at Big Train. At the end of this document is the complete spreadsheet of all 2016 Big Train pitchers’ starts, complete with scores, stat lines, pitcher game scores, and team season totals.

Before we cover some of the Big Train pitchers most dominant outings this season, it is important to note a few disclaimers regarding the game score. First and foremost, the game score is for the starting pitcher of the game. It does not apply to pitchers when they make appearances out of the bullpen. Also, the game score draws on previous sabermetrics articles from earlier in the summer. It penalizes the pitcher for allowing unearned runs, because the only numbers that really matter are those in the “R” column on the scoreboard at the end of nine innings, and that “R” column does not care if the runs were earned or not.

The game score gives bonuses for completing innings, beginning once that pitcher completes the fifth inning and qualifies for the win. Getting two outs in the seventh inning is not nearly as valuable as completing the seventh inning, with a clean slate for the bullpen to work with six outs remaining to get, for example. It also rewards pitchers for strikeouts. Strikeouts are more valuable than outs on balls in play, as strikeouts do not rely on the defensive skills of the fielders behind the pitcher. Furthermore, there is a penalty for walking hitters.


Note that all Big Train stats below are up to date as of the morning of Sunday, July 17th.

The best start of the year thus far for the Big Train, going by Bill James’ game score, as outlined in the spreadsheet, was southpaw Johnny York (St. Mary’s Calif.) on June 19th against Vienna, a superb 76. York in that game went 7 innings and gave up 3 hits, one unearned run, no earned runs, no walks, and struck out seven. York’s game score of 76 is calculated as follows:

Start with 50 points

Add 1 point for each out recorded (7IP*3 outs per inning = 21 outs)

Add 2 points for each inning completed after the 4th (3*2 = 6 bonus points)

Add 1 point for each strikeout (7K)

Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed (3 hits*2 = penalty of 6)

Subtract 2 points for each unearned run (1 unearned run = penalty of 2)

50 + 21 + 6 + 7 – 6 – 2 = 76.

Johnny York has the highest average game score of all Big Train starters, averaging a score of 66 across four starts (76 on June 19th, 68 on June 25th, 63 on June 30th, 57 on July 8th). Behind York are right-handers Sean Barry (San Diego), Logan Gilbert (Stetson), and Drew Strotman (St. Mary’s Calif.). All four of these pitchers made the Cal Ripken League South Division All-Star team this season, deservedly so noting the consistency they each display with every start. Each night one of these four laudable pitchers takes the mound, the Big Train has a chance to win.

Sean Barry: 62.2 average over five starts (61 on June 7th, 61 on June 12th, 60 on June 18th, 61 on June 26th, 68 on July 14th).

Logan Gilbert: 61.75 average over four starts (65 on June 17th, 58 on June 23rd, 63 on July 1st, 61 on July 7th).

Drew Strotman: 54.67 average over six starts (59 on June 13th, 55 on June 20th, 68 on June 27th, 60 on July 3rd, 19 on July 9th, 67 on July 15th).


Below is the link to the complete list of 2016 Big Train game scores, as well as game results, team seasonal statistics, and MLB case studies (also available at the end of the article):



Washington Nationals fans undoubtedly remember the outstanding performance Max Scherzer (WSH) turned in at Citi Field on October 3rd of last year, when he fired his second no-hitter of the season. That game was a no-hit, no-run, no-walk, nine complete innings, 17 strikeout effort, good for a game score of 104. To put that 104 in perspective, Don Larsen’s (NYY) perfect game against the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1956 World Series was 10 points inferior at 94. Dallas Braden’s (OAK) perfect game on Mother’s Day 2010 was a 93. Roy Halladay’s (PHI) perfect game twenty days later that season was a 98. Many baseball analysts consider Scherzer’s second no-no of 2015 the most dominant pitching performance ever, and his game score that night puts the outing in elite company.


Previous Sunday Morning Sabermetrics Articles:

June 5th: Pythagorean W-L:

June 12th: Wins Above Replacement:

June 19th: OBP/SLG/OPS/OPS+:

June 26th: BABIP, ISO, and wOBA:

July 1st: SecA, RC, and wRC+:

July 10th: ERA+, RA9, and FIP:


Up Next: July 24th – oStr and zBall – we turn to sabermetrics for catchers, two basic stats that involve the catcher’s ability to present pitches for the umpire and buy his pitcher strikes that may have gone for balls if not for the catcher’s ability to receive the pitch and sell it to the umpire. For this article, we will revert back to Major League Baseball games and evaluate big league catchers, since the Cal Ripken League is too small a sample size to be able to accurately evaluate catchers on their performance and conclude which ones in our league are superior defensively.


Below is the link to the complete list of 2016 Big Train game scores, as well as game results, team seasonal statistics, and MLB case studies:


Search Archive »

Browse by Month »

September 2023
August 2023
July 2023
June 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
December 2022
November 2022
September 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
March 2020
February 2020
October 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
November 2016
September 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
September 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
November 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
December 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
December 2011
You Tube
Number 11
Number 21
Number 40
Number 42
Number 5
Number 7