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The Rockies’ Fun Index, Part 2: June-July ‘21

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Colorado Rockies news and links for Wednesday, December 8st, 2021

Welcome back to the Fun Index, folks. This is part two of the quest to find the entertainment level of every game the Rockies played in 2021. Last week, we went over the games contained in April and May, and found some interesting stuff, such as multiple games getting a negative score, a game going over 10/10, and an average score of 5.4/10, which is pretty good. We’ll be going over June and July in this edition, two months during which the Rockies played roughly .500 ball (26-25 combined), and you’ll see what the scores look like soon. But first, for people who aren’t aware of the Fun Index and what it is, here’s a small introduction. If you’re already familiar with it, you can skip to after the explanation and get right to the charts.

A Quick Explanation

The Fun Index is, essentially, a made-up mechanism that attempts to determine how fun a baseball game was to watch. 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. 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....

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 here are the things that take points away:

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

(I should also mention that any game that features a no-hitter being taken into the 7th inning gets an automatic +40 for intrigue)

All these things are obviously subjective, and remember that the Fun Index is meant to be neutral. You might find games with tons of strikeouts fun, but I don’t, so it is what it is. Anyway, let’s move on and get to June and July. I’ll be providing examples of how this works as we move along!

The Fun Index Scores

This is a pretty good chart, folks. You can see that very few of the games end up below 3/10 and the majority are at or above the 5/10, which means most Rockies games were at least solid to watch (according to the Fun Index). This is reflected by the average score, as June scores as a 6.04/10 and July ranks an even better 6.21/10, compared to 5.40/10 and 5.45/10 for April and May respectively. In particular, look at that stretch between June 29th (Germán’s near no-no and eventual one-hit Maddux) and July 6th, a seven-game span where the average score is a remarkable 9.43/10, with three different games going over 10/10 and the “low point” being a solid 6/10. This run is right in the middle of a 27-game stretch that sees no game go below a 4/10 and an average score of 7.01/10, a terrific score.

Let’s look at the best and the worst, starting with the bad. There are four games that reach a 0/10 or below in June and July, and here they are:

The Bad Apples

This game doesn’t have much to it. Jon Gray didn’t get out of the third inning and Frankie Montas barely got through five innings to get the win. It was a long game, featured no lead changes, and had no action on the bases. The abundance of balls in play (this game featured just six combined K’s) saves this one from going far into the red.

This one is about as bad as a one-run game can get. 11 pitchers used, 20 combined strikeouts, almost four hours, no lead changes. Only the close score keeps this one afloat, but it’s still bad.

When Chi Chi González starts against the Dodgers at Coors Field, you expect fireworks, and we got fireworks here, as well as a boring game. Pretty much a blowout from the start, a big run difference, nothing done on the bases. There are games that have more negative things, but this one just doesn’t have anything positive going for it.

Most 12-3 ballgames aren’t very engaging, and this one is no exception. The Rox blew out the Angels from the very first inning onwards. Almost four hours, no lead changes, no nothing. Had Austin Gomber not gotten through six innings, this would’ve been truly awful.

Those weren’t pretty, huh? Let’s take a look at the best scores now. There were six games who got a 10/10 or higher between June and July, and here they are in chronological order:

The Best of the Bunch

Ah yes, this game. The Rangers swung at so many early-count pitches from Senza that he pitched 7.2 innings and faced 31 batters in just 89 pitches, less than three pitches per PA. This game gets a big bonus from there being just six pitchers used and multiple lead changes, and there are no point deductions, as it features some stolen base attempts, few strikeouts, and almost only positive stuff.

A one-run game with an extra-innings walk-off that doesn’t last over three and a half hours is going to get a big score boost from the Index, and this ballgame is no exception. There are six total lead changes, both Corbin Burnes and Senza pitched at least into the sixth inning, and there’s movement on the bases, too. Not even the 12 pitchers used can drag this game below a 10/10.

Let’s see, a 2-1 ballgame with only seven pitchers used where both starters pitch at least six innings, a few lead changes, each team attempting one stolen base... checks out. Had this game been 10 minutes shorter than the 2:39 it took, it would’ve ended up in rarified air, but it’s still a fun, fast-paced duel between Kyle Freeland and Chris Flexen.

Now, listen: if this were up to me, this game would get whatever maximum score the Index can spit out. This is Germán’s almost no-no, and the most nerve-wracking ballgame I’ve ever watched. Had this not been a no-hitter so deep into the late innings, it would’ve been a 7.5/10 because it was a lopsided 8-0 ballgame that was decided right away, but the quest for immortality puts it in the borderline classic territory. I may or may not still kind of wish for Ka’ai Tom to step on a Lego every morning for the next 20 years for breaking it up.

This is the highest-rated game of the Rockies season so far, as it enters firmly into “instant classic” territory with a massive Fun Index score of 13/10. How does it get the huge score? Well, it has all the things that make a ballgame fun. First of all, it’s a proper pitcher’s duel, with Adam Wainwright and Antonio Senzatela battling for most of the game. The Cardinals ace went 8 innings, Senza went 7. It’s a game that features just 12 combined strikeouts and five total pitchers used. There are multiple lead changes, too, and it ends with a walk-off. If you want to know how good this one was, picture that it was a 14/10 before taking a -1 for having no action on the bases. It’s a masterpiece.

This a pretty good game in terms of story. Jon Gray gets hit for three runs in the second, but pulls it together and gets through six innings as the Rockies slowly but surely get back into it and tie it up in the 7th. It stays tied into the bottom of the ninth, before the Diamondbacks walk it off against Daniel Bard. A 4-3 ballgame that features just 12 strikeouts, two lead changes and a walk-off is going to score well, and this one does.

And those were the best of the best. June and July were both good months for the Rockies’ Fun Index, folks. I noticed very few games with 20 or more strikeouts, lots of closely contested ballgames, and starters usually getting through at least five or six innings. Before I forget, here is the master spreadsheet if you want to check it out. We’ll go over August/September/October next week on the Wednesday Rockpile, before doing a summary the week after that. Stay tuned!

★ ★ ★

Is Wagner a Hall of Famer? | MLB.com

That’s gonna be a no from me. Relievers in the Hall of Fame is not something I support in general, but Wagner’s particularly low innings total (903 for his career) and terrible postseason record (an ERA over 10 in 14 appearances) also hurt his case.

JAWS and the 2022 Hall of Fame Ballot: Scott Rolen | FanGraphs

It’s a crime that Rolen isn’t in the Hall of Fame already. One of the all-time great defensive third basemen, a solid baserunner and great hitter for a long time. Crossing the 50% threshold is a good sign, and hopefully he’ll keep climbing the ladder towards Cooperstown.

★ ★ ★

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