02 April 2011

Best Pitching Performance of the Year? Jeremy Guthrie

Opening day is out of the way for every team.  As it stands, Jeremy Guthrie has arguably had the great performance of any of them, which is impressive because teams begin the season with the pitcher they perceive as the best.  So how am I suggesting that Guthrie has had the best performance so far?  Game Score.

Game score is a fairly simple statistic that tries to determine the value of a pitching performance.  It uses innings pitched, strikeouts, walks, hits, earned runs, unearned runs (because unearned runs are poorly credited as pitchers really should not be completely absolved of responsibility for them), and extra credit for each innings completed after the fourth.  The formula is as follows:
Game Score = 50 + 3*IP + K + IP (completed after 4 innings) - 2*hits - 4*ER - 2*ER - BB
Jeremy Guthrie's line last night was 8 IP, 3 hits, 6 k, and 1 BB with no runs scored.  Plugging that into the equation we get:
81 = 50 + 3*8 + 6 + 4 - 2*3 - 4*0 - 2*0 - 1
A Game Score of 81 is the best mark of the season.  The top 5 so far are:

Jeremy Guthrie, 81
Clayton Kershaw, 77
Felix Hernandez, 74
Jered Weaver, 73
Chris Carpenter, 67
Derek Lowe, 67
Tim Lincecum, 67

It should be noted that a score of 81 would not have been in last year's top 40 with the lowest score among those being 86.  Last year, Brandon Morrow had the highest Game Score at 100 with his 9 IP one hitter where he marked up 17 strikeouts and walked 2.  The highest Game Score ever for a 9 inning game was Kerry Wood's masterpiece in 1998 where he struck out 20 while only giving up a hit (the highest possible score is 114).

After the jump, Guthrie Game Score graphically as he progressed from batter to batter last night and how his final Game Score compared to his performances last year.

Below is what he Game Score looked like last night (click on image to see it larger):

Note the difference between the Game Score line (solid) and the Game Score line without the additional credit for innings pitched after the fourth (dotted).  The solid line shows a continuation of the performance rate from the first batter to the last, not indicating any loss of ability.  Whereas, the dotted line shows a leveling offer after the 18th batter (Reid Brignac - 1st out of the sixth inning).  I have not seen any work on whether a leveling of unadjusted Game Score correlates with runs scored, but it might.  This question is so simple, I imagine someone must have done a study looking at the stat's predictive ability.  I cannot find it though.

Finally, what does this mean for Guthrie?
Last year, he pitched only one game with a higher game score than his effort last night.  On October 1, 2010, he threw an 82 against the Tigers.  His next three highest were 70, 78, and 79.  In 2009, his two highest game scores were 70 and 72.  In 2008, he notched two games in the 70s (76 and 79).  In 2007, he notched six games in the 70s (74, 74, 75, 75, 76, 78).  According to Game Score, we watched Jeremy Guthrie's second best start ever.

Let that sink in.

According to Game Score, last night was Guthrie's second best start ever.  That should be pretty exciting and somewhat tempering our expectations.


Anonymous said...

Why does this temper our expectations? Shouldn't it raise our expectations?

Jon Shepherd said...

Well, if a pitcher has pitched for four seasons, is 31, and this is his second best game ever . . . it kind of indicates this is probably the highlight of his season. I'm not sure we can casually ignore his career.