Exactly how great was Cliff Lee’s performance last night? Well …
Years ago Bill James invented a metric called Game Score that assigned a numerical value to every start based on the following criteria:
– Start with 50 points.
– Add 1 point for each out recorded.
– Add 2 points for each inning completed after the fourth.
– Add 1 point for each strikeout.
– Subtract 2 points for each hit allowed.
– Subtract 4 points for each earned run allowed.
– Subtract 2 points for each unearned run allowed.
– Subtract 1 point for each walk.
If a pitcher tossed a nine-inning perfect game and struck out all 27 batters he faced, his Game Score would be 114. In terms of actual Game Scores, the highest ever recorded in a nine-inning start belongs to Kerry Wood, who racked up a 105 with his 20-strikeout, one-hit, no-walk shutout against the Astros in 1998.
So where does Lee’s outing last night rank among the all-time best World Series starts? Thanks to the magic of Baseball-Reference.com and according to Game Score, here are the 10 most dominant World Series outings since the mound was raised in 1969:
YEAR IP H R BB SO PIT GS
Randy Johnson 2001 9.0 3 0 1 11 110 91
Roger Clemens 2000 8.0 2 0 0 9 112 87
Orel Hershiser 1988 9.0 3 0 2 8 101 87
Tom Glavine 1995 8.0 1 0 3 8 109 85
Mike Boddicker 1983 9.0 3 1 0 6 107 85
Jack Morris 1991 10.0 7 0 2 8 126 84
Josh Beckett 2003 9.0 5 0 2 9 107 84
John Tudor 1985 9.0 5 0 1 8 108 84
CLIFF LEE 2009 9.0 6 1 0 10 122 83
Greg Maddux 1995 9.0 2 2 0 4 95 83
Many people would point to Jack Morris going 10 innings to complete his Game 7 shutout against the Braves in 1991 as the best World Series start of the past 40 years and as a Twins fan I’d be hard-pressed to disagree, but Game Score doesn’t account for the magnitude of a Game 7 and also docks him a bit (relatively speaking, of course) for giving up seven hits and two walks.
Instead of Morris’ gem, the metric shows Randy Johnson’s three-hit, 11-strikeout shutout in Game 2 against the Yankees in 2001 as the top World Series performance since 1969. Lee’s shaky ninth inning last night keeps him from ranking much higher on the list, but there’s no doubt that we witnessed one of the great World Series starts of all time.
Now the big question is whether or not the Phillies will let him try again on short rest in Game 4.
Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.
For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.
So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?
The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.
I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.
Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.
But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.
United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.
Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.
The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.