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IBAF scoring method Scorecard

by Matt Smith

keeping_score_200x225We ran a ‘Keeping Score Season’ last February and all of the articles can be found via the link in the main menu above.  Two of my main contributions were scorecards that you can download and use, an ‘Innings’ scorecard and a ‘Reference’ scorecard, alongside some completed examples.  The scorecards can be used when keeping score while following traditional ‘fan’ systems, as explained in my Baseball Basics for Brits guide.

One of the reasons why I enjoyed putting the ‘Season’ together so much was that it combined my ‘fan’ perspective with the ‘official scorer’ perspective from Joe.  Official scorers use the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) method of keeping score and it’s something that I didn’t know a great deal about until Joe enlightened me.  I’m always keen to learn about new scoring methods and, while learning the IBAF system, I’ve created my own version of an A4-sized scorecard that can be used with this method. 

The IBAF method

The Great Britain Baseball Scorers Association website contains a wealth of info about the IBAF method, including the whole official scoring manual, scorecards and some brilliant PowerPoint presentations that provide tutorials on how to keep score.

There are several fundamental differences between the IBAF system and those often used by fans.  First and foremost, the traditional diamond shape used to chart a player’s progress around the bases is replaced by a box of four broken squares.  The bottom right represents first base and you go around in an anti-clockwise direction to end up at home in the bottom left square.  It doesn’t look quite as decorative as the diamond shape, but it has a variety of advantages when it comes to noting down anything that happens (base advancement, use of pinch runners etc). 

Such notation is achieved using a variety of symbols and abbreviations, some of which carry over from ‘fan’ methods (HR for home run) and some that are quite different (e.g. the use of ‘O’ to stand for an ‘occupied ball’ in situations when fans would normally note down a ‘fielder’s choice’).  All outs are enshrined within a circle, with each out in a double or triple play being linked together with a line, while the different symbols for hits are followed by a number to denote the direction in which the ball travelled.

The idea of the IBAF system is to create a consistent approach among official scorers, using a standard method and scorecard (subject to some localised variations) that allows the scorer to record everything that happens accurately and in a standardized way.  In particular, it is an approach that is designed to aid the collection and compilation of statistics.  As such, the standard scorecard includes various spaces so that the exact timing of player substitutions can be recorded, as well as offering numerous columns for batting, pitching and fielding totals/stats.

The BaseballGB scorecard (click here - pdf opens in a separate window)

This new scorecard has been designed while drawing on the experience of using the IBAF scoring method for a few months.  I’ve taken the bits I like most about the IBAF scorecard and then worked in some of my own to produce a scorecard that perhaps doesn’t quite meet the full requirements of an official scorer, but should work well for any fan wanting to have a go at using the IBAF method.

The main IBAF elements included here are the plate appearance boxes (an essential part of the scoring method), the row header section (used to note the inning number and any fielding changes) and the lineup columns that allow you to note down substitutions and position changes.  I’ve not included a substantial number of the stat columns: eliminating the fielding boxes completely and substituting the batting and pitching sections for the ones I use on all my scorecards.  Fielding totals (e.g. number of put-outs a player makes) have never been of great interest to me as a fan and in the past I’ve often been a bit slapdash even when it comes to noting down fielding changes.  The former I can live with, but the latter has largely been due to the lack of an easy way to note down the changes on a standard scorecard.  It’s often annoyed me that an ‘F8’ notation late in the game on a scorecard might not relate to the right person and thankfully the IBAF scoring method provides a simple but effective way to record all substitutions and exactly when they take place. 

In terms of the batting and pitching stats, I’ve decided to rationalise them so that only the main categories are included.  I can understand why an official scorer would need to make a clear note of incidents such as the number of doubles a player hits, the number of times a player is hit by a pitch and the number of times a pitcher throws a wild pitch.  However, including a column for every incident seems to be a bit of a waste of valuable scorecard space because in a lot of cases the entry will be filled either with a ‘0’, ‘-‘ or simply ignored.  So instead, I’ve included a ‘Notes’ box for each batting spot and for the two pitching staffs.  This means you can make a clear note of any incidents that did happen (and/or any other things that catch your eye) beyond the standard categories, without also having to note down all of the things that didn’t. 

The scorecard should be fairly easy to find your way around.  As always, I’ve included two sides to the scorecard, rather than just one that is then printed twice, so that there are more dedicated areas to note down information about the game.  In particular, this is the first time that I’ve included a line score on one of my scorecards (I’m not sure why I haven’t done it before, to be honest!).  The categories should cover most of the things you would want to note down and any extras can be squeezed into the Notes box at the top of page two.  For some reason, the pdf version makes some of the lines look a little ungainly, but they look fine when printed out.

The best way to show off a new scorecard is to provide a completed example or two.  I’ve tested the scorecard while re-watching some of the notable games from the 2009 MLB season and will be posting the first of these examples next week.  In the meantime, why not delve into the IBAF scoring modules on the GBBSA website.

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Joe Gray January 8, 2010 - 4:11 pm

Awesome job all round.

As you know, I too have seen several advantages to the IBAF system, but finding the standard scoresheet not exactly to my liking did what you did in developing a customized one.

Also, thanks for the support of the GBBSA site.



Michael Orpen-Palmer January 11, 2010 - 6:41 am

I, too, designed my own customised scoresheet back in the 90s. I actually prefer the US system having been a Scorer over there as well.
However, best of all is to do it electronically on your PDA. All stats are then done automatically.

Joe Gray January 11, 2010 - 9:24 am

I think you were probably the first to embrace the new technology in Britain, Michael, down at Brighton. It’s now starting to get the popularity in this country that many people were anticipating it would a while back.

Still, I’m sticking with trusty pencil and paper for the time being.

Matt Smith January 11, 2010 - 7:19 pm

I can see the appeal of an electronic system for someone wanting/needing to create stats from the scorecards, as that must make things much easier. I don’t think I’ll be abandoning the age-old method soon though!


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