A win-by-points method of baseball scoring.
Version of Monday 23 September 2019.
Dave Barber's other pages.

Section 1 — Introduction. Under the traditional rules of the game of baseball, a team scores a run whenever one of its batters becomes a baserunner, and then safely reaches first base, second base, third base, and home plate, in that order. In this long-established win-by-runs system, whichever team accumulates more runs wins the game.

If a batter reaches any of the first three bases, but he fails to reach home plate because the inning ends, or because he is put out, he scores nothing for his team.

This report introduces a more finely granulated method of scoring, so that that any time a baserunner advances to a base safely, he earns at least one point for his team. In this novel win-by-points system, whichever team accumulates more points is the winner. Here is a brief summary:

The pattern is simple: first 1, second 2, third 3, home 4.

For example, if the bases are empty and the batter hits a home run, he earns 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = 10 points for his team. A team's total score for a nine-inning game will often be more than 100 points.

As usual, a player who is on a base at the end of his team's half-inning of offense does not reclaim that base at the beginning of his team's next half-inning of offense. In other words, a team always begins its offensive half-inning with empty bases.

Strictly speaking, only teams score points (or runs), but as a well-established shorthand the phrase "a player scored points" means "through a player's actions, a team scored points".

Section 2 — Official scorer and umpires. Baseball games played at a highly competitive level will have an official scorer situated off the field, who collects statistics and who sometimes exercises judgement on how to classify certain plays.

In win-by-runs baseball, the official scorer never decides whether a player has scored a run; that matter is left solely to the umpires. Similarly, in win-by-points baseball, the umpires and not the official scorer decide whether a player has scored points, and how many. Either way, the official scorer still maintains a description of how scores are made, or not made.

Section 3 — Essentials. When a player safely advances to a base, he scores at least one point. It does not matter how he got there, as long as the umpire calls him "safe".

A batter can reach first base in many ways, including:

With any of these, the player safe on first earns a point. The following situation is a possibly surprising effect of this rule:

With no outs, Andy is on second base and Bill on first, with Carl batting. Carl hits a fair grounder to the third baseman who picks up the ball and steps on the bag to force Andy out. The third baseman then tosses the ball to the second baseman to force out Bill. Meanwhile, Carl pulls into first safely. Carl earns a point even though he hit into a double play.

There is a parallel situation in win-by-runs baseball. No outs; Adam on third, Bob on first, with Chuck batting. Chuck hits a grounder to second. The second baseman gets the ball, sees that Adam is a fast runner leaving no chance for a play at the plate, so the second baseman tags his bag to force Bob out, and then tosses to first to force Chuck out. Even though Chuck hit into a double play, the run still counts.

A batter might reach first base and second base on the same play, earning 3 points. Examples:

Naturally, the same idea applies to a batter who reaches third base or home plate on his plate appearance.

There are many ways that a baserunner who reaches a base on one play can safely advance to another base on a later play. Among them:

The baserunner scores the appropriate number of points without regard to the circumstances.

In the extreme case, one plate appearance can result in as many as 30 points:

Amos on third, Ben on second, Chris on first. Batter Dave hits a home run. Amos scores 4 points, Ben 3 + 4, Chris 2 + 3 + 4, and Amos 1 + 2 + 3 + 4. That adds up to 30 points.

Section 4 — Irregularities.

A player cannot earn points for advancing to a particular base more than once within a trip around the basepaths. Sometimes on complicated plays baserunners, particularly amateurs, make mistakes. Also, when one player makes a mistake, other players are likely to make consequential mistakes, and general commotion can develop. Example:

Arnie, on second base, safely advances to third and scores 3 points. Because a fielder threw to the wrong base on this play, Arnie becomes sincerely confused, believes that he is not entitled to third, and returns to second getting there safely. He does not score 2 points for returning to second, because he previously scored 2 points for reaching it. If later he safely advances to third again, he will not score another 3 points.

On the other hand, a player who runs the basepaths backwards with ill intent should be ejected.

Points, once legitimately earned, are never retracted. The word "legitimate" means that immediately after a play, the umpires can (as always) make adjustments for any player who gained an advantage or suffered a disadvantage because some player violated the rules, or because there was a gross irregularity such as a fan running onto the field. Such corrections might negate any apparent points scored. Otherwise, points are never erased.

Examples of non-retraction:

Andy is on third (having scored 6 points), and Bill is at bat. Andy takes a long lead, the pitcher sees this, and throws to the third baseman. Andy doesn't get back to the bag in time, and is tagged out. However, Andy's 6 points are not cancelled.

Again, Andy on third with Bill at bat. Andy, attempting to steal, runs toward home plate, but is tagged out by the catcher. As before, Andy's 6 points remain on the scoreboard.

Example of correcting an irregularity:

With the bases empty, Adam hits a fair fly ball over the outfield fence, resulting in an apparent home run, worth 10 points. However, the third baseman, on an appeal play, says that Adam never touched third base, and the umpire agrees. As a result, Adam scores only 3 points for reaching first and second bases safely.

Two runners on one base:

Situation: no outs, Aaron on second with Bob on first. Batter Chuck hits a fair grounder that gets past the infielders. Aaron will be forced to third unless Bob or Chuck is put out, but that never happens. Aaron misjudges the play and remains at second. Meanwhile, Chuck goes to first, and Bob advances to second by force. Now Aaron and Bob are both on second base.

Interpretation: Bob is there correctly, because he was forced, and Aaron is wrong because he should have gone to third base by force, even if he believed that he would be put out there. Aaron is called out, but his 3 points for reaching second remain. Bob, safe at second, has scored 3 points, and Chuck, safe at first, has scored 1.

Situation: no outs, Aaron on third, Bob on second, nobody on first, Chuck at bat. With first base empty, neither Aaron nor Bob can be forced. Chuck hits an infield grounder and is forced out at first. Aaron stays at third, believing that he will be tagged out if he advances to home plate. However, Bob thinks that it is safe to proceed and advances to third. Now Aaron and Bob are both on third base.

Interpretation: Aaron is there correctly, because an unforced runner is never required to advance. Bob is wrong. Aaron's 6 points (thus far) remain. Bob is called out, but the 3 points he scored earlier for reaching second base remain.

Section 5 — Statistics.

For batters there would be a statistic for points batted in rather than runs batted in. Also, sacrifices can be measured by points gained.

For pitchers there would be an earned point average rather than an earned run average.

An open question is the extent to which a relief pitcher should be held responsible for any bases advanced by inherited runners during the reliver's tenure. Here is one possible rule: If any inherited runner advances one base, it is charged to the previous pitcher. Any further bases advanced by the inherited runner are charged to the reliever.

Under the win-by-runs system, errors are often described by the number of bases that baserunners advance as a result of the error. In the win-by-points system, errors would be more precisely measured by the number of points allowed. For instance, here are two contrasting two-base errors:

Passed balls, wild pitches, and balks can also be described this way.

Section 6 — Miscellaneous.

Win-by-points baseball will likely retain the rule that no player can score on a play where the third out of an inning is made by force.

Pitchers will probably be less likely to intentionally issue walks, or hit batters with pitches.

Very few games will be tied after nine innings.

When a shutout occurs, it will also be a perfect game.