Max Scherzer wasn’t perfect yesterday, but he did achieve a score of 100.
That lofty number in statistician Bill James’ Game Score metric is actually rarer than throwing a perfect game. Twenty-three men have thrown perfect games in baseball history, but only 11 had reached the century mark for Game Score before Scherzer’s 16-strikeout, one-hit, one-walk complete game shutout yesterday.
Digging deeper, just five pitchers - Sandy Koufax, Nolan Ryan, Matt Cain, Clayton Kershaw and Kerry Wood - have reached scores above 100. Wood’s 20 strikeout, one-hit, no-walk performance for the Cubs in 1998 is the greatest Game Score ever at 105.
Here’s the formula:
1. Start with 50 points.
2. Add one point for each out recorded.
3. Add two points for each completed inning after the fourth.
4. Add one point for each strikeout.
5. Subtract two points for each hit.
6. Subtract four points for each earned run.
7. Subtract two points for each unearned run.
8. Subtract one point for each walk
Had Carlos Gomez’s broken bat blooper not fallen for the only hit, and if Scherzer doesn’t surrender the meaningless free pass one frame later, his Game Score would have been the second-best Game Score performance in history.
After the game, Scherzer passed much of the credit for his record 16-strikeout performance onto catcher Jose Lobaton.
“Lobi was back there just calling a great game for me,” Scherzer told reporters. “He did a great job of knowing when to sequence it, knowing when to double up, triple up. A lot of times, I was just going with him and then it was just working. That’s really the reason I felt like I was able to have so much success today.”
Yesterday was only the 15th game that Lobaton has caught this season. But there always seems to be a higher level of battery chemistry when he is behind the dish.
“He’s a quality catcher,” Nationals manager Matt Williams told reporters. “He frames the ball well. He receives the ball well. He gives the umpire a really good look at it. And he understands our guys. He understands what makes them good and pitches to throw at certain times. He’s really good at that.”