For more than a century, statistics have defined baseball—perhaps more than any other sport. Numbers such as Ted Williams’s .406 batting average in 1941, Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak (also 1941), Roger Maris’s 61 homers (we’ll let you decide if 73 is the better mark of a slugger …) and Cy Young’s 511 career wins are ingrained in the collective baseball consciousness. Easily recognizable benchmarks such as a .300 batting average, 100 RBIs, a sub-3.00 ERA, or a 20-win season emerged decades ago and still mean something today.
However, over the last 30 years or so, baseball statistics jumped into another universe. The Internet of course led to this revolution, but other digital advancements helped as well—stats that might have required a supercomputer to figure out in 1980 can now be achieved on a tablet. These numbers can be charted and viewed for all levels of the game, from the majors and minors all the way down to a youth rec league.
Going digital has never been easier for rec baseball teams than it is today. Baseball scoring apps, including those paired with league management software, are easy to use, are incredibly portable, and operate in real time. Here are some features that can benefit your team:
Scorekeeping … and Statkeeping
A baseball scoring app allows a coach or parent to keep score of a live game with minimal effort beyond watching the game and entering each play. The problem with many older programs—as well as manual scorekeeping—is that once a game it complete, it exists on its own: Compiling season stats requires a calculator, a spreadsheet, and time. And though some people enjoy this, often, the season stats are never compiled. With a modern baseball scoring app, stats are automatically computed with no additional effort from the user. Numbers for every team can be compiled this way, thus producing standings and leaders that can be viewed on the league’s website.
Today’s baseball scoring apps take full advantage of our connected world. Scorekeepers don’t have to worry about manually sending game data to the league admin because the app can automatically send that information during the game if the user’s device has an Internet connection (or do so at home on when the device connects to the Wi-Fi). With this feature, people not attending the game can follow along in real time. These virtual updates are great for far-flung relatives and friends who can’t easily make a game, as well as coaches and fans who want to see how other teams in the league are doing.
A Path to Improvement
Let’s set this straight: For youth rec baseball players, stats should be used by coaches to highlight individual accomplishments, not call out individual weaknesses. Averages and other stats may be available online, but good coaches shouldn’t declare at practice, “Billy has struck out every at-bat this season; it says so on our team website.” That said, the numbers gleaned from a baseball scoring app can give coaches a valuable tool to plan practices and help their players improve. If Billy, for example, is striking out too often according to the stats, he might need specialized hitting practice to help him better make contact. Or, if a team is collectively committing too many errors, coaches can emphasize fielding at the next practice.
A Great Teaching Tool
Many baseball fans lament about how scorekeeping is becoming a lost art. Indeed, the typical young player doesn’t know the numbers that correspond to each position (pitcher is 1, catcher is 2, and so on), that “K” means strikeout, or what an RBI is. Part of the apprehension to learn this is that a written scorebook feels too much like homework. A baseball scoring app takes the process digital, onto devices that kids already know and embrace. In this way, the app becomes a teaching tool. Encourage players to go online to see completed box scores, or set up temporary game files and let the kids score scrimmages and games themselves. The more they learn about scorekeeping, the more they learn about the game—and the more likely they will love the game and want to keep playing for your league.
Has your team gone digital?