A New Method for Scoring Baseball Games
If you enjoy watching baseball games, then using a scoresheet can add an extra dimension to the game. Scoresheets enable you to look back at what happened in previous innings, and they allow you to keep various statistics if you desire, and so on.
If you don't care much for baseball, then using a scoresheet can make the game more interesting and enjoyable. It gives you something to do to pass the time, and you might find that suddenly you're the "expert" when people start checking with you to see what happened earlier in the game!
Many people have created some nice scoresheets (see
but most of them are variations on a standard method of scoring baseball. Visual Baseball is a different concept, and it provides more information "at a glance" than most other scoresheets (which is why it's called
The scoresheet is not copyrighted, so please feel free to enhance it in any way that suits you.
The Standard Numbering System
Visual Baseball follows the standard method of numbering the infield and outfield players:
- First Baseman
- Second Baseman
- Third Baseman
- Left Fielder
- Center Fielder
- Right Fielder
Most of these abbreviations are useful with any baseball scoresheet that you use:
(Single) - When a batter hits the ball and safely makes it to first base then he has hit a Single. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball.
(Double) - When a batter hits the ball and safely makes it to second base then he has hit a Double. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball.
(Triple) - When a batter hits the ball and safely makes it to third base then he has hit a Triple. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball.
(At-Bats) - This abbreviation is only used for keeping statistics. An At-Bat refers to an official appearance of a batter at the plate. If a batter is hit by the ball, or if a batter Walks, or if a batter Sacrifices, or if a batter is interfered with, then this doesn't count as an At-Bat.
(Base on Balls) - If a pitcher throws four "Balls" to the batter (i.e. four pitches which are outside of the batter's strike zone, and which the batter doesn't swing at), then the batter automatically goes to first base. This is also called a Walk, and it can be done intentionally or unintentionally by the pitcher. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball because the scoresheet provides a W for indicating a Walk.
(Balk) - If the pitcher or the catcher make an illegal motion then all runners automatically advance by one base. This can happen if the pitcher doesn't come to a complete stop before throwing the ball, or if the pitcher steps toward home plate but then throws the ball to a base, or if the catcher moves out of his box while the pitch is being thrown.
(Caught Stealing) - When a runner attempts to steal a base (see "Stolen Base") but he is touched by an infielder or an outfielder who is holding the ball then he is out.
(Double Play) - When two runners are out on the same play, it's called a Double Play. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball.
(Error) - An Error is recorded when an infielder or outfielder makes certain kinds of mistakes, such as dropping the ball. Visual Baseball provides this abbreviation for you.
(Fly Ball) - When the batter hits the ball high into the air then it's called a Pop Fly or a Fly Ball. If an infielder or outfielder catches the ball before it touches the ground then the batter is out. Visual Baseball provides this abbreviation for you.
(Fielder's Choice) - When there are at least two runners then an infielder or outfielder has a choice of where to throw the ball in order to get one of those runners out. The out is recorded as a Fielder's Choice. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball.
(Grounder) - A Grounder (or Ground Ball) occurs when the batter hits the ball, and the ball travels along the ground before it reaches an infielder or outfielder. Visual Baseball provides this abbreviation for you.
(Ground Rule Double) - When the batter hits the ball and it bounces over the outfield wall, or if a fair ball (i.e. not a foul ball) is touched by a spectator, then the batter and the runners automatically advance two bases. This is recorded as a Ground Rule Double.
(Hits) - This abbreviation is only used for keeping statistics. If a batter hits the ball into fair territory (i.e. it's not a foul ball) and the batter makes it to a base without getting out and without any errors being made by the infielders or outfielders then it's recorded as a Hit.
(Hit By Pitcher) - If the pitcher throws the ball and it hits the batter then the batter automatically goes to first base.
(Home Run) - A Home Run occurs when the batter hits the ball and is able to touch all of the bases and make it safely all the way back to home plate. This abbreviation is not needed with Visual Baseball.
(Infield Fly Rule) - If there are runners on first base and second base, or on first base, second base, and third base, and the batter hits a Fly Ball (not a Line Drive or a Bunt), and the umpire considers it to be an easy catch for a fielder, then the umpire can call it an Infield Fly. The batter is automatically out, and the infielder doesn't need to catch the ball.
(Strike Out) - When the batter gets three Strikes against him then he has Struck Out. This can happen if there are two Strikes against the batter, and then he swings and misses another pitch. This is a "Swinging Strike Out," and some people record this as "K(s)" on their scoresheets. A Strike Out can also happen if there are two Strikes against the batter, and the pitcher throws the ball into the batter's strike zone, but the batter doesn't swing. This is a "Called Strike Out" (meaning that the umpire called it as a Strike, even though the batter didn't swing at the ball), and some people record this as "K(c)" on their scoresheets (other people record it with a backwards K). Note that if the batter has no Strikes, or if he has only one Strike, and he hits a foul ball, then this counts as a Strike. However, if the batter has two Strikes and then he hits a foul ball, this is not counted as a Strike. Visual Baseball provides this abbreviation for you.
(Line Drive) - If the batter hits the ball, and it carries for some distance with a low altitude (i.e. it's not a Fly Ball or a Grounder) then it's called a Line Drive. If an infielder or outfielder catches the ball before it touches the ground then the batter is out. Visual Baseball provides this abbreviation for you.
(Left On Base) - This abbreviation is only used for keeping statistics. It refers to the number of runners who are still on base after the third out. These runners are sometimes referred to as being "stranded."
(Passed Ball) - When the pitcher throws the ball, and the batter doesn't hit the ball, and the catcher doesn't catch the ball, then it might be recorded as a Passed Ball. This is similar to a Wild Pitch, and it's up to the official scorer of the game to make the call (listen to the announcer or watch the scoreboard for the official verdict).
(Pick Off) - When there's a runner on base, but the runner is not actually touching the base, then the pitcher might throw the ball to the infielder who is standing on the runner's base (instead of throwing the ball to the batter). If the infielder catches the ball before the runner touches the base then the runner is out.
(Runs Batted In) - This abbreviation is only used for keeping statistics. If a batter gets a Hit or a Walk which enables other runners to make it to home plate, then the batter is credited with those Runs Batted In.
(Sacrifice) - When the batter hits the ball and one or more runners make it to the next base, but the batter is out, then the batter's play is called a Sacrifice.
(Stolen Base) - If a runner makes it safely to the next base even though the batter did not hit the ball, this is called a Steal or a Stolen Base.
(Walk) - If a pitcher throws four "Balls" to the batter (i.e. four pitches which are outside of the batter's strike zone, and which the batter doesn't swing at), then the batter automatically goes to first base. This is also called a Base On Balls, and it can be done intentionally or unintentionally by the pitcher. Visual Baseball provides this abbreviation for you.
(Wild Pitch) - When the pitcher throws the ball to the catcher, but it's outside of the catcher's normal range, and the batter doesn't hit it, and the catcher doesn't catch it, then it might be recorded as a Wild Pitch. This is similar to a Passed Ball, and it's up to the official scorer of the game to make the call (listen to the announcer or watch the scoreboard for the official verdict).
These useful abbreviations can be printed out from the Excel file which contains the Visual Baseball scoresheet (below).
A Comparison of the Standard Scoring Method and the Visual Baseball Method
Now let's compare a standard scoresheet with the Visual Baseball scoresheet, and see what happened during the first inning of a fictional baseball game. The player's number in these scoring methods is the number on the player's shirt, and each batter is labeled as A, B, C, etc. (as indicated by the letter at the bottom left corner of each box in the Visual Baseball method):
|What Happened During Each Batter's Appearance at the Plate
||Standard Scoring Method
||Visual Baseball Method
- Player A (#7) hit a Single to left field.
- Player B (#24) struck out, and Player A remained on first base.
- Player C (#17) hit a Double past third base, and Player A made it to third base.
- Player D (#30) hit a Fly Ball which was caught by the left fielder for out #2, and Players A and C remained on their bases.
- Player E (#22) hit a Home Run. Players A, C, and E scored.
- Player F (#11) made it to first base on an Error.
- Player G (#3) hit a Grounder toward third base, and Player F was out at second base on a 5-4 Fielder's Choice for out #3.
In the above comparison, notice that both scoring methods capture the essential information about what happened on each play, but there are some major differences between these two methods.
One change with the Visual Baseball method is that not only are the infielders and outfielders numbered from 1 to 9 in order to track their actions (as in the standard scoring method), but the batters are
tracked by using the letters from A to I. The first batter in the original line-up is always Player A, the second batter is always Player B, and so on (as indicated by the letter at the bottom left corner of each box).
Another change with the Visual Baseball method is that
of the action during a batter's appearance at the plate is shown in the same box. For example, if Player C hits a Double and Player A makes it to third base, then
of those actions are recorded in the same box (see the box for #17 in the Visual Baseball example above). You don't need to go back up to Player A's box in order to record his actions on that play, as you would with a standard scoresheet. This method of scoring makes it easy to visually see at a glance everything that happened when each player was at bat.
In the sample Visual Baseball scoresheet above, notice that small arrows are used to indicate each player's motion, and an "x" indicates that the runner is out. This shows you at a glance whether the player made it to the base on that play, or whether he simply remained on the same base, or whether he was out on that play. It's even easier and saves time if you simply draw just the "arrow heads" (the "v" part) rather than the full arrows, or perhaps you might choose not to use any arrows at all.
When an infielder or outfielder catches the ball to get the batter out (or if he throws the ball attempting to get a runner out), you can circle the appropriate number. For example, in the box for player #30 in the Visual Baseball example (above), the left fielder caught the ball so the 7 is circled in the box. In the box for player #3, the third baseman fielded the ball and threw it to second base, so the 5 is circled and there's an arrow from third base to second base.
Notice that it's not necessary to write "1B," "2B," "3B," or "HR" to indicate that the batter hit a Single, Double, Triple, or Home Run, because you can see this information at a glance. It's also not necessary to write "FC" for Fielder's Choice, or "DP" for Double Play, etc., because the diagram shows you those things at a glance (see the 5-4 Fielder's Choice in the last box in the Visual Baseball example above).
Some of the most common abbreviations (W, Fly, K, LD, Err, Gr) are provided so that you can simply circle the appropriate action. Some people prefer to indicate whether a Strike Out was a "Called Strike Out" or a "Swinging Strike Out," and you can show this by writing a small "c" or "s" next to the K before you circle the K. For other abbreviations such as HBP, GRD, etc., there's room for you to write those in.
Some people like to keep track of the Balls and Strikes for each batter, and there's room for marking those. Use the space in front of the W for writing a hash mark for each Ball (because 4 Balls is a Walk), and use the space in front of the K for writing a hash mark for each Strike (because 3 Strikes is a Strike Out). The Excel file (below) contains some examples of marking Balls and Strikes in this way.
Some people also like to show where the ball was hit, and using a dotted line works nicely on the Visual Baseball scoresheet.
Download the Visual Baseball Scoresheet
The Visual Baseball scoresheet is in Microsoft Excel format, and it consists of three worksheets:
- The first worksheet (labeled
contains the scoresheet, and it will print the first six innings on page 1, and six more innings on page 2 (this gives you space for pinch hitters and substitutions and extra innings). After you print these two pages, try putting the second page (with innings 7 to 12) face-up on top of the first page, then place them face-up in the paper tray of your printer. Now print both pages again, and you should end up with two scoresheets (one for each team) with the first 6 innings on one side of a page, and the last 6 innings on the other side of the page.
- The second worksheet (labeled
allows you to print out the useful abbreviations which are described above.
- The third worksheet (labeled
allows you to print out some examples of how to score various plays.
To download the Excel file in either the .XLS or .XLSX format, right-click one of the following links and click "Save Target As":
None of the information in the Excel file is copyrighted, so please feel free to modify the spreadsheets in any way that makes them more useful to you. Let me know what changes you made, and maybe I'll incorporate them into the spreadsheets.
Here's the .PNG file which is used in each box of the scoresheet. You can download this picture and then modify it by using the Paint program which comes with Microsoft Windows (click on Start/Programs/Accessories/Paint), for example. To download the picture, right-click on the following link and click "Save Target As":
The picture is 117 pixels wide, and 78 pixels high. All of the numbers and letters are in the Ariel font, 7 points, with a dark gray color (I slightly trimmed the word "Err" to make it easier to read). If you change the picture then you'll need to manually delete all of the pictures in the scoresheet, then paste the new picture into every box and line them up properly (if you find an easier way then please let me know!). It helps if you use the arrow keys to line up the picture in each box, rather than using the mouse. After you finish page 1 then you can simply delete page 2, then copy and paste page 1 to make a new page 2, then change the inning numbers on page 2.
"Visual Baseball - A New Method for Scoring Baseball Games"