How to Read a Box Score:
We’ve all been there – half in the bag at Wrigley, doing a double-take at the archaic score board, wondering “who’s winning and what the hell inning is it?” Wrigley’s manual scoreboard is an exception to the norm and requires spectators to read box scores in order to follow the game. Here’s a quick lesson on how to read box scores. In the box score above from last season, going into the game, the Cubs had a paltry 57-76 record (57 wins/76 losses) against a much better Milwaukee Brewers team (80-54).
The numbered boxes represent innings – with the Cubs being the visiting team (on top) and the Brewers at home (on bottom), and therefore, having the last at bat. The Brewers had a big opening inning with 3 runs in the bottom of the first inning. In the bottom of the 9th inning there is an “X” – this indicates that the Brewers didn’t bat that inning, because they didn’t need to. They had already won the game and were ahead 6-4 when the Cubs last chance at bat ended, therefore, the game ended at the bottom of the 9th inning. The Cubs had more HITS (H) than the Brewers 10-9, and ironically, fewer errors (E) 0-2, but the Cubs still managed to lose, indicating that many of their hits grounded out of were pop flys.
How to Read Player Statistics:
Player statistics play a huge role in the game of baseball and are the benchmark for how teams and players stack up. If you’ve seen the movie Moneyball, then you’re familiar with how important stats can be in the success of a team. Billy Beane (Brad Pitt) built a no-name team by using a combination of player stats. He banked his career and reputation on it working, and it did. You don’t have to go as hardcore as Pitt and sidekick Jonah Hill did with sabermetrics, but you should know how to follow your team and read into the key stats to truly appreciate the game of baseball.
As an example, we’ll use Cubs’ Left Fielder, Alfonso Soriano’s, stats below.
- Soriano has played 1606 games in his total baseball career, 137 of them in 2011 (keep in mind there are 182 regular season games)
- Sorianos’ batting average (AVG) was .244 in 2011 which simply means that Soriano hit 24% of the pitches thrown to him. Batting average is figured out by dividing the number of ‘at bats’ (AB) by the number of ‘hits’ (H) and is the most important stat for batters. Anything above .300 is considered excellent, proving just how hard it is to hit in the major leagues.
- He had 50 runs (R), 116 hits (H) and had 88 runs batted in (RBIs) – RBIs are when your hit allows other players to score at home plate, regardless if you grounded out, was walked, etc.
How to Read Baseball Standings:
The most important detail when following your team is to know where they are in the standings within their division.
In the example above, we have 2011 final standings for the White Sox’s division, the Central Division of the American League. The Detroit Tigers won the Division with the best record of 95 wins and 67 losses, giving them a winning percentage (PCT) of .586, meaning they won 58% of the games they played. The Sox came in third, and 15 games back (GB) behind the division leading Detroit Tigers. You can also see their winning record at HOME (36-45) versus their winning streak on the road at away games (43-38) indicating that the Sox play better on their opponents’ field than their own. The Sox finished at .488, below 500 – which serves as a benchmark to the success of a season. If the team was ‘below 500′ – it sucks.