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The Rockies’ Fun Index, Part 1: April-May ‘21

Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, December 1st, 2021

Remember when I graded the MLB Postseason on a previous Rockpile using a made-up scoring system I called the “Fun Counter”? We’re about to go back to the Fun Counter, folks, although I have to say I’ve changed its name to “Fun Index”, as it sounds a bit better to me. This time, we’re going to grade the entirety of the Rockies’ 2021 season, game-by-game, and we’ll have multiple of these charts I love to make.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Fun Index, here’s how it works: every game starts out with a default score of 50/100 (another aesthetic change I made from before), and certain things that happen during a game can add or deduct points to the score. The final score is put on a scale of x/10 for ease of use, and the system is designed so a game can gain as many points as it can lose, to balance out the scale. I’ve made the scores a bit more detailed than before, so I’d recommend even the people who are familiar with the Index to look over the events. Here are the positive things that make a game gain points...

Positive Events

  • SP goes 9+/8+/7+/6+ IP: +30/+20/+15/+10
  • 6 or less combined pitchers used: +20
  • 7-8 combined pitchers used: +10
  • Game lasts under 2 hours/under 2.5 hours: +20/+10
  • Extra-innings: +10
  • Final score difference is 1 run/2 runs/3 runs: +15/+10/+5
  • 4 or more lead losses or changes: +20
  • 2-3 lead losses or changes: +10
  • Walk-off: +15
  • Go-ahead run scores in 8th or later/7th or later: +10/+5
  • 4 or more stolen base attempts: +15
  • 12 or less combined strikeouts: +10
  • Both SP get a decision: +5

...and now, here are the negative things that reduce score:

Negative Events

  • Opener: -30
  • SP goes 2 IP or less/3 IP or less/4 IP or less: -20/-15/-10
  • 14+ combined pitchers used: -20
  • 10-13 combined pitchers used: -10
  • Game lasts over 4 hours/over 3.5 hours: -15/-10
  • Final score difference is 8+ runs/7-6 runs/5-4 runs: -15/-10/-5
  • No lead loss or change: -10
  • Go-ahead run scores in 2nd or earlier/3rd/4th: -15/-10/-5
  • 25+ combined strikeouts: -20
  • 20-24 combined strikeouts: -15
  • No stolen base attempts: -10
  • Neither SP gets a decision: -5

As you might have noticed, this system rewards contact, aggressive baserunning, and starting pitchers being the central figures of a baseball game. The reason for that is simple: the starting pitcher, to me, is the most interesting and important player in any baseball game from a narrative/entertainment point of view, as I’ve written about before, and well, aggressive baserunning and defense are simply more fun to watch than endless strikeouts and station-to-station baseball. You’re free to disagree if you want, of course, but it’s my Fun Index, so it is what it is. Anyway, enough rambling, let’s get on with the grading of the Rockies’ season.

MAJOR DISCLAIMER: I’m not rating seven-inning doubleheaders, because they kind of break the system a bit, with their artificial game times and pitcher outings. I consider them a cheap gimmick, and I’d like to think the Fun Index is above that (ha). Moving on!

The Fun Index Scores

For this week’s Rockpile, I’ll grade the months of April and May. Next week I’ll do June/July, and the following week I’ll conclude the mini-series with August/September/October. For April and May, the Fun Index scores look like... (there should be a drum roll going off somewhere right now) ...this!

Okay, so let’s take a look at this in detail. First and foremost, you can see that the average score is actually pretty solid, and pretty consistent too. Most games are at or above the 5/10 rating, which is a good sign. In fact, the average Fun Index score for the month of April was 5.4/10, and the average score for May was 5.45/10, pretty consistently above average. But average is not fun, so let’s look at some of the outliers, shall we?

The Worst of the Worst

Here we have three games that clearly separate themselves from the pack, all happening within a two-week span during the month of April. Let’s go over them in chronological order:

This game gets a 0/10, and it could’ve been much worse had it not featured a certain exiled right-hander going 6.1 innings in his Dodger debut. The ballgame saw 20 combined strikeouts, no action on the basepaths, and it was decided right away, as the Dodgers jumped on Antonio Senzatela in the top of the 1st. No lead changes, no intrigue, and had the Rockies not scored six runs in the 7th to make the final score a bit less lopsided, this would’ve ended up in below zero territory.

Yet another Trevor Bauer vs Antonio Senzatela matchup, and this was a similar story to their first matchup: LAD jumped on Senza right away, there was no action on the bases, zero intrigue, zero anything. This ballgame is saved from a 0/10 by both starters getting a decision, but still... yikes.

Yes, folks. That is a negative score. I thought about capping the scores to 0/10 and 10/10, but then I thought “ah, what the heck, it’s meant to be fun!” and just left it there. This game had all the bad stuff: 20 combined K’s, neither starter getting through five innings, no movement on the bases, no lead changes, the winning run scoring immediately.. Imagine how bad it was, that even being a two-run game (4-2 LAD) couldn’t even bring it close to 0/10. Yuck. That’s going to be hard to beat the rest of the way, but I’d bet some other game does it.

The Best of the Best

April and May featured seven different ballgames with Fun Index scores of 9/10 or higher. Again, in chronological order:

This game was a brilliant pitcher’s duel between Austin Gomber and Johnny Cueto through six innings before the Giants finally got to Gomber in the 7th, knocking him out after 6.1 IP. Cueto ended up going 118 pitches and 8.2 IP deep, coming extremely close to a complete game in a 3-1 Giants win that would’ve made this game a 10/10. It only loses points for there not being a lead change.

Two starters getting through six innings, not a lot of K’s, and a close, back-and-forth game with multiple lead changes that ended up a 7-5 LA win. No action on the bases is what keeps it from being a 10/10.

A pitcher’s duel at Coors Field? Yes, please. Senza went 6 IP, Marcus Stroman went 8 IP and there were only six total pitchers used in a game that lasted 2 hours and 38 minutes. Some of you might remember this game because it ended in Trevor Story getting thrown out at second base trying to get in scoring position for Charlie Blackmon in a 2-1 game. It was a fast-paced stormer of a ballgame between two groundballers, and it gets a deserved 9/10.

This surprised me too, but it’s a game that scores very well on the Fun Index. It features three different lead changes, Aaron Nola pitching seven innings, action on the bases, only 11 combined strikeouts, just seven pitchers used, and a tightly-contested finish that saw the go-ahead run score late and the tying run come to the plate in the 9th. Fun, back-and-forth ballgame. It’s the highest-rated game I’ve rated so far.

This one is close to a carbon copy of the Gomber-Cueto duel from before. Germán and Old Man Wainwright faced off in this one, with Germán going 6 IP and taking the loss while Wainwright pitched into the 9th. It was a two-run game (2-0 STL) that saw just 12 combined K’s and 5 total pitchers used, and that’ll get you a good score.

A 7-6 Rockies win that saw them get ahead, lose the lead, regain it, the almost lose it again. There was action on the bases, only 12 combined K’s, and Madison Bumgarner taking a loss after 6 IP at Coors Field, which is always delightful (I think this was when he complained about Coors being “the moon”). Entertaining ballgame.

This game I remember like it was yesterday. Once again, it’s a pitcher’s duel with one of the two going into the 9th, but this time the Rockies were the team to win it. Austin Gomber went 8 scoreless before going back out for the 9th (to my rousing approval) and immediately allowing a walk and a homer (much to my dismay). Carlos Estévez came in and got a cardiac save in what ended up being a 3-2 Rockies win. Five combined pitchers used, both starters getting a decision, action on the bases, etc. This game had it all (aside from a lead change).

So there you have it. Those are the Fun Index scores for the months of April and May. Next week I’ll go over June and July, so stay tuned for that. If you want to take a peek at my master spreadsheet, here is the link.

★ ★ ★

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★ ★ ★

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