My response to James Kannengieser's post was so long, I had to create a FanPost for this. But believe me, you may find it worth the read.
In my critical and honest evaluation process, I will be using a 10-point system (10 = best, 0 = worst). The total combined score will be out of a possible 50 points. I'm taking into consideration, the perceived points of view amongst casual fans and saber fans, in order to evaluate in a fair and unbiased manner.
This is the easiest and most honest way I can run this evaluation process.
There are 5 categories:
1) Presentation - What is my first impression of the box score?
2) Info - Are the important stats present?
3) Layout - How well are the different box score elements arranged?
4) Ease of use - Are the elements of the box score user-friendly?
5) Intangibles - What makes the box score unique, for better or for worse?
Note - Some categories may overlap in a few areas, due to synergistic factors, but I can assure you that each category is very different from another.
Presentation: While the enormity of material present is certainly respectable, the readability of the box score is an issue. Also, it suffers from a lack of flash and pizazz. If I were a casual sports fan, I might be feeling a bit lost.
Info: The BR box score is chock full of information, and contains all the stats sabermagicians love. The win probability chart and play-by-play are definitely a plus. However, I must give a 1-point deduction for the non-mention of the reversed HR call. But overall, the BR box score provides more info than I could generously ask for.
Layout: I must nitpick here at the fact that instead of separating info by team at the top of the box score, info is separated between hitters and pitchers, so there's a lack of cohesiveness there. Also, the arrangement of the box score elements as a whole certainly has room for improvement - the info is practically stacked one on top of the other the entire way. But on the positive side, the play-by-play is nicely done, and the win probability chart is neatly packed with tons of LI info.
Ease of use: The biggest plus here is the ability to sort stats by category - for what the BR box score was designed for, it is certainly well-done. Also, hovering over the stat abbreviations and acronyms causes a little info box to appear, explaining the stat and its purpose. The only caveat here is that as suggested above, the presentation and layout of the box score, and the lack of flexibility in catering to both casual fans and saber fans (lack of expandable/retractable tables) at the same time, could be an issue.
Intangibles: The BR box score is certainly very unique, in that all (or most) of the important info is present, the win probability chart as-is is quite impressive, and the play-by-play info is very handy for just about all purposes. The info boxes are definitely a plus. The only problem in this category is that the layout of the elements are not quite the most appealing. Nevertheless, this is a very likable box score in my book.
EVALUATION: I really do like the BR box score format personally and have great admiration for whoever put it together, but on behalf of the casual fan, I can not be biased in my evaluation - it may seem stacked and maybe confusing to some. However, what really really helps are the info boxes that show up when hovering over stat categories. In sum, a potentially fantastic box score hampered by a few flaws in its design and sub-aesthetic nature
Presentation: The box score is exceptionally neat and compact, and it is very presentable. I can tell that the use of site space for the box score is very efficient.
Info: Much of the important info is there, including the triple-slash, though the lack of saber stats is a drawback. But what impressed me the most is that ESPN kept a tally of the number of pitches each batter faced, and the game scores for each pitcher is displayed. The inclusion of info on the reversed HR call and the percentage of total capacity in attendance is also a welcome sight.
Layout: The layout is very easy on the eyes, though I do wish the pitchers' stats were displayed side-by-side. But, I can't really complain about that too much. Besides that, the design elements are respectable, although a columnar format would definitely help in the bottom sections of the box score.
Ease of use: For what the box score is designed for, it is very practical for the casual fan, with links to extraneous info for fans curious to check out the recap or play-by-play. The box score does run dry for saber-oriented people in this regard, however, with the lack of advanced stats and sortable info, but for the most part, the box score is user-friendly.
Intangibles: In this category, ESPN's box score takes a hit. While the inclusion of stats on pitches faced by batters, triple-slash, pitcher game scores, game event info and other tidbits are nice, the box score does come about somewhat as being a little too simple at times. Although it is a decent box score, especially for casual fans, nothing in particular stands out significantly, feature-wise.
EVALUATION: ESPN's box scores are quite concise and presentable, and provides some very important in-game info other box scores may leave out. What helped the box score the most was the design and layout. If you're the fan in the mold of the bagel and cream cheese-type (and are on a schedule), the box score is ideal. But if you're looking for saber-specific stats, there is quite a bit left to be desired.
Presentation: Um, where the heck is the damn scoreboard!? Seriously. This box score seems very alien to me, and in trying to be ultra-contrarian, it suffers from a lack of practicality. It's as if though the box score was strip-searched twice! I am very disappointed. At least there are tabs available to access other pieces of game info - otherwise, I would have to give this box score a 2/10.
Info: Despite the presence of basic info and a slew of saber-stats, this box score tells me nothing about what happened in the actual game! At least, not at first glance. (By deductive reasoning, I could see the Mets won 1-0, looking at the runs column.) Casual fans and saber fans alike will be generally displeased by this box score in terms of the presentation of info, but especially casual fans. There's no glossary of advanced abbreviated terms readily accessible! As mentioned before, at least those tabs are present - thank goodness...
Layout: The layout is pretty lacking, although the info is listed by team, at least. I could suggest the layout utilize a side-by-side column with corresponding stats next to each other, but all those damned stats are in the way! If you look closely, don't you notice that there are WAY too many zeroes occupying the stat columns!? Why not denote many of the stats in those categories as notes where necessary, instead of columns!? It's an aberrant waste of space. Clearly, this box score doesn't need to be renovated - it needs to be redone. From scratch.
Ease of use: I'm sure by now that you can pretty much predict that this category will score a low mark. You are correct. As mentioned, reading these stats becomes an absolute eye-sore, especially with all those damned zeroes! It's quite painful. Also, as mentioned, a glossary or info box with details of the abbreviations and acronyms for saber stats are not available, leaving casual fans in the dark. At least the columns are sortable, so there's that. In a nutshell, this box score will turn off just about any casual fan, and will create headaches for some of the more saber-oriented people. This box score is just not that practical.
Intangibles: There's really not that much to say here. The box score provides saber stats, so that's cool. But as one can see, the addition of all those stats actually hurts the box score's cause, with all that clutter and poor readability. Any benefits the box score reaps because of the additional stats are quickly nullified by an alien format that's agonizing to encounter. Whoever created this box score template has poor or no taste. Return to sender, please.
EVALUATION: This box score is absolutely horrible in its execution. If you're a saber fan, you'll enjoy those advanced stat metrics. And if you're a casual fan, the box score is next to useless. Ok, so player A hit a double. And player B struck out twice. See what I mean? It only delivers a grasp of individual and team stats, and you could figure out who won after 10-15 seconds of figuring it out, but it says little about the nature of that game itself. This box score is best served being used on excel spreadsheets, exclusively. But the BR box scores can just as easily be used for that same purpose, right? This box score should be obsolete. Epic fail.
Presentation: The presentation is nice and simple, and all the presented info is available at a glance. However, I feel somehow that the box score may be somewhat lacking...
Info: Immediately, I notice the lack of saber stats, so there's an automatic deduction. But, at least all the basic info is there, along with game conditions, attendance and other miscellaneous info. Also, however, the reversal of the HR call is absent. Another deduction. In sum, the info presented makes this box score cookie-cutter in nature. At least other pieces of game info are accessible via the provided links.
Layout: The layout of the box score is superb, yet simple! The teams' stats are separated by columns, and the batting/pitching stats are across from each other. My only criticism here is that the box score itself seems stretched out and too wide - I would appreciate a little more compactness.
Ease of use: The casual fan will find this box score very easy to use, for what it was designed, and links to other info is accessible, like gameday for an in-game breakdown and play-by-play, and wrap for a detailed summary of the game. However, for saber fans, the box score only goes so far, so as to barely scratch the surface. But, the interface is pretty user-friendly, nonetheless, although the links are not cohesive with the box score itself, like on ESPN.
Intangibles: This is probably where MLB's box score suffers the most. The box score is quite plain and simple, relative to other box scores, and does not wow or amaze people. The most I can say is that the box score is well-organized, and the layout is great, given the provided sample, but nothing sets this box score apart from others that makes it "exemplary" in any way.
EVALUATION: MLB's box score is purely basic in nature and provides all the basic stats in a readable and presentable format, but in terms of info and depth, it doesn't go much further than also providing a few additional hints of game info (weather, attendance, time of game, umpires, etc.). It's a good box score for the casual fan, but saber fans can do much better with BR's box score than with this one.
Presentation: The 80s are calling! They want their 128k Macintosh-generated box scores back! Seriously. Its limitations are a glass ceiling for any significant improvements. But, at least the box score provides some basic pieces of info, with a bit more to offer than average cookie-cutter box scores. I just wish the box score stats on top were separated by team. The only real help here is that inspired throwback theme. (Are flat-tops back in style?)
Info: This box score provides some basic info, with a few tidbits, like time of game, attendance, and starting lineups. The play-by-play game summary on the bottom half is a welcome sight - it even mentions the reversed HR call, which is a plus. However, the absence of saber stats are a red flag. But, considering the box score was in style 25 years ago, we can cut it a bit of slack, no?
Layout: The consensus gripe here associated with some box scores applies here - no columnar format, and separation of info by hitting/pitching instead of by teams. I don't think a columnar format is even possible, in this case. But, at least it almost does as best as it could with what it could work with. The limitations in its template hurts. Also, is this box score BR box score's father? I notice a resemblance. I feel really bad for having to say this, but I can't grade the layout higher than 5/10.
Ease of use: This is a simple box score with a simple interface, so mixed reviews can be expected of casual fans. However, saber fans will immediately note that this is a bare-bones box score. It is somewhat user-friendly, but given the lack of game links to other info and stuff, it is not exactly the most practical box score out there. On the plus side, it makes for a rather printer-friendly box score. But, how many people print out box scores to begin with? Very few.
5/10 (very close to 6/10, though)
Intangibles: This is a unique box score, indeed. Retrosheet speaks for itself. Although the box score has that going for itself, and it provides a play-by-play summary below, this box score doesn't really offer much more in the way of anything special. All things considered, you have to give credit for the printer-friendly format and minimal use of RAM.
EVALUATION: Retrosheet is that one box score you don't want to go too hard on when evaluating it, due to its chronological and template limitations. But, I must be honest in this evaluation and say that although Retrosheet gets a passing grade, it would be hard-pressed to live up to more than a B- on the grading scale, which is consistent with a numerical grade representative of its origin.
Presentation: It seems like a typical box score by all accounts, but damn it looks dull and boring! It almost seems like this format of a box score was created on a rainy day. It just appears too mundane and pedestrian for my taste. It already has the aesthetic attributes to shoo away saber fans.
Info: Most of the info is just basic game box score info with a little extra thrown on top of it. It meets just above the bare minimal requirements for an adequate box score. (Oh look, each pitcher threw 105 pitches!) The game notes are also very vague, listing only the duration of the game and the umpiring staff. Do I even have to mention the absence of saber stats? Yawn.
Layout: At least the box score info is sorted by team, but a column format would've helped its cause considerably. Other than that, I have little more to say about its layout. In this category, the layout is average. The score I provide here is somewhat generous.
Ease of use: Ease of use? Really? In a world of box scores, this box score is about as simple as they come. Nothing fancy here. This box score doesn't come attached with all them bells and whistles. Man, are we spoiled! Casual fans will find only the most basic info here, with a few sprinkles on top. All those links provided about the game itself is mostly useless in delivering info. In fact, the user interface is so elementary, it feels as if though it was purposely dumbed-down. That is a demerit itself.
Intangibles: Oh, gimme a break. What intangibles can be found here, I ask you? The only positive here is that there are no intangibles here that make the box score worse, like in FanGraphs, with the exception of its rainy-day format.
EVALUATION: SBNation's box scores are lackluster in almost every conceivable way that is important. It is just above bare minimum in quality, and as far as mediocrity is concerned, SBNation's box scores make for an ideal benchmark. The only reason the box score passes at all is because at least it's easy to read. Just make sure you've had your cup of joe prior to doing that, though.
Presentation: It looks OK, I guess. At least this box score appears to have its head on its shoulders. However, it may be nearly impossible to read without zooming in if you're farsighted. Also, there's clearly too much space in between stat categories. Come on, SNY. You can do better.
Info: It offers just a tad bit more than just the basic info, with the presence of the triple-slash, and includes pitches thrown and batting average against, and umpires, time of game and attendance. But that's really about it. No saber stats. Hey, it could be worse - at least the links provided disseminate useful info. Unlike SBNation.
Layout: Both consensus layout gripes persist - batter/pitcher grouping of stats, and no columnar format. Also, what the heck is it with that really small type and all that space!? This box score was meant to be formatted into a column! SNY fails to take advantage here, and makes the layout somewhat of an inconvenience. I am not a fan.
Ease of use: As mentioned, the box score is a challenge for even the borderline visually-impaired, so that doesn't help. Casual fans will think nothing special about this box score, however useful it may be, and saber fans could certainly ask for more. At least all that basic info is there, along with links to other useful info about the game. It's not all bad. But it's not all good, either. I couldn't decide between a 5 or a 6 on this one. Ultimately, though, the link for head-to-head info, comparing stats between the teams and the link for play-by-play info (At the Park) gives it a 6 by a narrow margin.
Intangibles: Intangibly speaking, SNY's box scores do not impress. The one thing that does stand out is the wealth of info provided by the links, but that doesn't raise its intangibles score considerably. Its intangibles are better than that of SBNation's for sure, and it isn't a total bore either. But it's not the most exciting or easy to read box score you'll ever find, either. Areas of improvement are obvious. SNY needs to take advantage of these.
EVALUATION: Once you come across this box score, you'll notice right away where the obvious areas of improvement are. The readability is terrible, the interface is not well planned-out, and it is basic in almost every other way. The one plus, however, is that its links do provide useful info about the game. It beats SBNation by so much, only if visibility wasn't such an issue. In short, unless you want reporting on the game or a few cool features that tells you about the game in the links provided, there isn't really much to see here in the way of innovation. And for some of you, there may be little or nothing to see, pun intended.
1) 38/50 - ESPN
2) 36/50 - Baseball-Reference
3) 34/50 - MLB
4) 28/50 - Retosheet
5) 27/50 - SNY
6) 25/50 - SBNation
7) 17/50 - FanGraphs (Make it presentable and practical!)
Congratulations to ESPN, whose box score was determined to be the best one; James Kannengieser thought ESPN's box score was the best one, as well. However, I still prefer Baseball-Reference for myself over the others. (2nd place is nothing to be ashamed about!)
What disappointed me the most was FanGraphs' box score. Although it is chock-full of saber info, it is alien to me in its format, with no scoreboard or other game info not stat-related, and it is not practical for the casual fan. Its saving grace is the fact that it is useful at all, for sabermetric stats. If not for that, it would've got a score at or around the single digits.
Feel free to post questions or comments; criticisms are welcome, too.
Note: If you haven't noticed, all the box scores, representing the same game, occurred on Friday the 13th - the day R.A. Dickey pitched a 1-hitter.