Well, here we are. The final part of the Fun Index Rockpile series is here, and this time, we’re going to be doing a summary of everything we’ve discussed so far. Last week, we saw what the scores looked like for the months of August and September/October... and it didn’t go well. Both months ranked poorly, with August averaging a not nice 4.20/10, and September/October a horrible 3.91/10. They don’t compare well to the previous months, of course, and today we’ll see it all put together.
Now, if you’ve been following the series, you already know how the Fun Index works, but in case you do not, here’s a brief explanation for you. For those who’re well aware, you can just skip it and get right to the charts!
What Is The Fun Index?
The Fun Index is a tool that attempts to measure how fun a baseball game was to watch as a spectator. Keep in mind, of course, that it’s meant to be a neutral tool. You could assign a bonus for a team win or a deduction for a team loss, but that’s not in the spirit of the Index, in my opinion, so I won’t do it. Anyway, here’s how it works: every game starts out with a default score of 50/100, 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. Certain games can get scores in the negatives, certain scores can go well above a 10/10. This is halfway intentional, as the idea is to communicate enjoyment, and the Fun Index is not scientific at all. Here are the things that add points....
- 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 here are the things that take points away:
- 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
Now, I should also mention that the Index gives a +40 bonus for any game with a no-hitter through six innings (unless it’s a combined no-hitter; my index, my rules), and I won’t be rating the gimmicky seven-inning doubleheaders from last season, as they kind of mess with the scoring system. Hopefully the explanation was clear enough, now onto the scores!
The Final Scatter Plot
There it is, the combination of all the main charts we’ve seen up to this point. You can clearly see the cluster of high scores in late June and early July, as well as the downturn in the latter months. You can see the outliers and the general trends, right? And before you say anything, by the way: the ratings are the same, they’re just scored as if the default starting score was 0/100 rather than 50/100. The reason? Having a 0 in the middle looks aesthetically pleasing to me. The scale is the exact same, so moving on. How about seeing the exact score per month?
Ah, the beauty of matching charts and graphics. I love it! A loss of two full points on average from July to August is absolutely massive, and it very much matches up with how I recall the season playing out, despite the win-loss record being pretty much .500 after a rough April and May. And speaking of wins and losses:
This is as far as the Rockies are concerned, of course. The Rox went 72-79 in all the games I rated (7-inning doubleheaders didn’t apply for this study), and the average score was basically identical. Can you guess what the average score was overall? Of course you can: it was 5.16/10, a nice, above-average number despite the horrific stretch we endured from August onwards. If you’d like to have a Rockies version of the Index, a solution might be to add, I don’t know, a +2 or +3 to the final score of wins, and subtract that from the losses, but since the whole idea was for it to be neutral, let’s stick to it.
One thing I noticed as I was scoring games was that games against the Giants tended to be pretty dull, and I got curious as to what the average score was depending on the opponent. If you wondered that too, fear not, because I have the chart just for you and me:
My hunch about the Giants was proven true. Out of all the divisional opponents, the Giants score by far the lowest average with a miserable 4.03/10, meaning that on average, games against them were subpar as far as entertainment value goes (which is not shocking at all, considering that the Giants outscored the Rockies 125-60 in 2021, by far the worst run differential out of any opponent, relative to the amount of games or not). The Dodgers also get a poor grade, although not as bad, and the Diamondbacks and Padres both go above the 5/10 mark. Games against non-divisional opponents feature smaller sample sizes, of course, and are thus more prone to wild swings, but I’m sure you notice that the scores tend to be better. There’s a lot of positive scores for both AL and NL opponents, and the data backs it up:
That’s not an insignificant difference, especially over a very similar sample size (72 and 79 games, respectively). The Giants drag this down quite a bit, as the score is 4.97/10 for divisional opponents otherwise, but still, the quality of games is considered inferior by the Fun Index. Going back to the previous chart, games against the NL Central score quite highly, with the Reds the only opponent that goes below a 6/10, and the other four teams (Cubs, Pirates, Brewers, Cardinals) getting fantastic scores, the Cardinals in particular rating a terrific 8.57/10 in seven games.
So, what else is there to say? Maybe the best and worst 10-game stretch? Unless I’m mistaken, the best stretch is the one going from June 26th to July 6th, which rates a terrific 8.25/10 and features three different games that go above a 10/10, including Germán’s near no-hitter and the best game of the season, on July 1st against the Cardinals at Coors Field. The worst one goes from September 22nd to October 2nd, with only two games going above 5/10 and an abysmal average score of 2.8/10.
If there’s anything else you want to know about the data that you can’t find in my spreadsheet, feel free to ask in the comments below. The Fun Index is a concept I really enjoy messing with, and worry not, because it’s going to keep improving as I get a better handle on how to use proper algebra. My vision is to create something similar to Jon Bois’ Surrender Index from his masterful “The Search For The Saddest Punt In The World” video, so we’ll see how that goes.
Before I end the piece, one final poll on the whole idea:
Did you like the Fun Index as a concept, and would you like to see it return in the future?
This poll is closed
Liked the concept, would like to see it return
Liked the concept, would not like to see it return
Disliked the concept, would not like to see it return
Just to give me a feel for what the consensus is. I had a lot of fun with this miniseries, so hopefully you found it at least interesting!
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The whole idea that “small-market teams can’t compete, it’s unfair” is certainly very present in baseball fans and media. But is it true, or is it just an excuse for the owners of said teams to be allowed to not spend as much and employ brutal systems of player usage?
“Washington Stars sounds more like a hockey name than a baseball name to me. And those uniforms are... not all that fly.
This is an older article, but a gem. Szymborski’s best work, in my opinion, are these Time Warp pieces, where he takes a player whose career was cut short by some outside force (injury, tragedy, etc) and projects the rest of their career using ZiPS, a projection system. It’s a fantastic collection of write-ups that serve as a look back towards the past. Highly recommended.
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