Baseball Scoring 101

Baseball Scoring is a Skill and Fun

All sports media professionals need to know the game they want to communicate about. If you scan the Fenway Park press areas, you’ll find people keeping score. If you work in baseball media or are looking to and don’t know how to score a baseball game, this post is for you.

Fans too can learn and enjoy baseball scoring. While fans haven’t been in attendance, many still watched the shortened 2020 season and the exciting postseason so far. Scoring the games can still be done from home by media and fans alike. It is a great way to enjoy the game even more from your home.

This how-to is written for those who know the basics of baseball. Watch this video if aren’t familiar with the game or you need a refresher.

Every player in the game is assigned a number and simply remembering which number goes to each position is the most important part of scoring a game.

We also use letters and symbols in baseball scoring. A more detailed explanation and list of the numbers and letters in this system can be found on MLB.com’s basics page.

Grab a Baseball Scoring Card

It will list the starting lineup in the batting order and player at each position in the field. The batting order will also include the designated hitter, who will not take the field—if there is one. It is followed by a starting pitcher at the bottom of the sheet. The rest of the scorecard is empty boxes for your written account of the game.

Fan Scoring a Baseball Game
Photo by Quinn Dombrowski from flickr.com

Know Number & Letter Usage

Anytime a ball is batted into play and touched by a fielder, that touch needs to be noted on the scorecard with the fielder’s corresponding number. Say a ball is hit to the second baseman, who fields and throws it to the first baseman. That is recorded as 4-3. A ball hit in the air and caught by the center fielder is recorded as 8. We only record touches after the catch if runners are moving on the basepath.

Baseball fans at Fenway holding up strike out K cards
Photo by Joy from flickr.com

I am sure you have seen highlights of fans holding up the letter K. That is because a K recorded in your scorecard means the batter struck out. For those batters who reach base safely, you can also use letters to let people know where he hit the ball and S, D, T, and HR to represent a single, double, triple and home run respectively. A slash line notes the end of an inning and a straight line lets us know when a player came out of the game. Also, a run scored can be marked by an open circle and an RBI (Run Batted In) with a dot per RBI.

Letter and number notification can be combined to provide more detail on what happened in the fielding of the ball. A ball dropped by the third baseman, who is given an error, will be noted as E5. An out to center could be written as L8 if it was hit on a line drive. What if a run scored on that flyout? It would be SF8 for a sacrifice fly to center.

Score a Play

How do you score a ground ball to third and thrown to the shortstop to record one out and then to first for a second out?

Baseball Double Play
Correct! Wrong!

Score that a 5-6-3 GDP. You might have gotten at the 5-6-3 part from our previous examples. You can then add on GDP (ground into double play) to make it a 5-6-3 GDP

Photo by Pete Miller from flickr.com

Have a Scoring Style of Your Own

The MLB website uses circles for a run scored. I like to make diamonds and I draw them one line at a time as the player moves along the basepaths. It gives me a little more information about players who didn’t score and fits in with the diamond shape of a field.

There is no right or wrong. You can use any notation you want as long as you can understand how you wrote the story and can easily explain it to another fan once the game is over.

baseball scoring rules book on fire
Photo by Brian Rabuffetti

Keep in mind the things you want to know after the game and write them down legibly in your scorer’s report. Of course, you want to track the basic runs, hits, and errors. Additionally, at an individual batter, pitcher, and team level, you should track hits, RBI, errors, walks, strikeouts and innings pitched.

Whether you want to score at home or at the park, go for it. Put down your phone and enjoy the detail and nuance of a baseball game.

Website created by Fenway Trilogy Media and powered by WordPress