July 28, 2009

These Sentences Confuse Me

From ESPN:
Jamie Moyer allowed seven baserunners before recording an out in the third inning. Somehow, none of them scored.
I read this bit and did a double-take. This makes it sound like Moyer did the following:
  • Allowed seven baserunners in the third inning
  • Did not record an out until the eighth batter of the inning
  • Did not give up a run during this time
If you follow baseball, you might remember there are four bases. You can allow a maximum of three baserunners before the next one drives in a run. So to allow seven runners in one inning before recording an out and not allowing a run seems pretty impossible to do.

Moyer's good, but he's not that good.

(Baseball Terminology 101: We say "allowed baserunners" instead of "allowed hits" here because not all of the runners reached base on hits. The article mentions that Moyer allowed six hits in the night, so if he allowed seven baserunniners, one runner reached base on an error or a walk, neither of which count as a "hit". But you still get on base. Baseball sure does split hairs a lot.)

Continuing to read the article you'll find out that Moyer allowed two baserunners in the first inning, three in the second, and two in the third -- total of seven allowed, now -- and none of them scored. Oh, that's what the article meant -- not seven baserunners in the third inning, as implied, but seven baserunners through two and a third innings. And none of them scored.

(Baseball Terminology 101, #2: Recording one out counts as "a third" of an inning, since there are three outs per inning. So "two and a third innings" means Moyer pitched two innings and recorded one out in the third inning. And when we say "inning" here, we really mean "half an inning", since technically an inning consists of a top and bottom half, and the pitcher only pitches one of those halves. Still with me?)

So Moyer really did the following:
  • Allowed seven baserunners through two and a third innings
  • Got the requisite six outs over the first two innings (this is implied by the first bullet above, but I thought it better to state explicitly here)
  • Did not give up a run during this time
Were I editing this article, I would suggest that the statements above read something like:
Jamie Moyer allowed seven baserunners through his first two and a third innings. Somehow, none of them scored.
Much clearer, I think.

8 comments:

  1. Further, I find it confusing that Jamie Moyer did not allow a run in his start at all! He is 46 and has an ERA over 5. He is either part cyborg, or it must be nice having the Phillies offense supporting you. Also the Dbacks are not that good.

    But thanks to you I also learned that "baserunning" is indeed a compound word.

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  2. 2+ innings would have also been accurate, and a bit stronger, since the base-runners in the 3rd inning reached before the first out was recorded. If he were lifted at that point, he would have allowed 7 base runners, and only be credited with 2 innings.

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