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Brian Walton's news and commentary on the St. Louis Cardinals (TM) and their minor league system

Scoring the Cardinals’ “Scrabble”

St. Louis Cardinals left-handed reliever Marc Rzepczynski is known to many – especially who cannot pronounce his last name (Zep-CHIN-ski) – as “Scrabble,” borrowed from the world-renowned word tile game.

Since its invention in 1938, the game of Scrabble has included 100 tiles, 98 lettered, with quantity and point values tied to their frequency of use in the English language. For example, there is only one “Q” and one “Z” tile in a set, with each worth the highest value, 10 points.

In considering the Scrabble point value of “Rzepczynski,” one encounters several challenges. First of all, with only seven tiles in each player’s rack at a time, it would be impossible to spell the pitcher’s 11-letter surname, even if built upon an already-played three-letter “ski.”

Then, there is the issue of proper names not being allowed. Finally, in this case, having just one “Z” in the Scrabble set would be an insurmountable problem were it not for the two blank tiles, each worth zero points.

Not to worry. A very official-looking site called has a Word Score Calculator that is most accommodating. It allows the entry of any word, whether legal or not, and returns its point value (exclusive of any bonus scoring, which is position-dependent on the game board).

The last name of the Cardinals’ reliever informally known as “Scrabble” is worth 30 points. (The blank-tiled second “z” is scored zero.)

Not satisfied in stopping there, I ran the current Cardinals roster through the calculator. No one will be surprised to learn that Rzepczynski was unchallenged at the top, though the second place finisher might be unexpected. It was for me.

Top Scrabble points, 2011 St. Louis Cardinals

Points Major Leaguers
30 Rzepczynski
21 Sanchez
20 Wainwright Schumaker
18 Westbrook

As my mind expanded to include the entire Cardinals minor league system of over 250 additional players, I was again surprised. I had expected Batavia reliever Adam Bileckyj to lead the way. He only came in second to Palm Beach’s Niko Vasquez. Both point totals fell short of the major league “Scrabble,” however.

Top Scrabble points, 2011 St. Louis Cardinals minor league system

Points Minor Leaguer
28 Vasquez
26 Bileckyj
22 Rauschenberger Hernandez
21 Blazek Jeffries Velazco
20 Kozma De La Cruz Rodriguez
19 Martinez Espinoza Mendoza Montanez Peoples-Walls
18 Broderick Kiekhefer Billbrough Jenkins Revesz
17 Cazana Chambers Albitz Daugherty Sherriff
Pritchard Washington Gomez Gonzalez
16 Nazario Mijares Lopez Perez Villanueva
Planchart Salazar

Cory Rauschenberger may take the cake with 14 letters, but is only tied for third in scoring among the farmhands at 22. Pete Kozma wins the economy award by making a strong 20-point showing despite having just five letters in his last name.

The anti-Scrabble in the system has to be Bileckyj’s teammate, Danny Stienstra. Each of the letters in the first baseman’s last name has a single point value. Nine letters, but just nine points.

I’ll be back to this topic very soon using an even wider aperture.

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Brian Walton

Brian Walton runs The Cardinal Nation and The Cardinal Nation Blog, covering the St. Louis Cardinals and minor league system.
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23 Responses to “Scoring the Cardinals’ “Scrabble””

  1. crdswmn says:

    I know how it feels to have nothing to say about the Cardinals’ playing. I had to write about shaved heads and jersey colors.

  2. crdswmn says:

    I found a major leaguer who has Rzepczynski beat. Kouzmanoff is worth 31 points.

  3. Brian Walton says:

    Monday lineup:

    1. Furcal SS
    2. Theriot 2B
    3. Pujols 1B
    4. Holliday LF
    5. Freese 3B
    6. Molina C
    7. Craig RF
    8. Robinson CF
    9. Westbrook P

  4. JumboShrimp says:

    The Cards have a better record on the road than W-L record at home. I bet this does not happen too often.
    The Brewers are +31 at home, while the Cards are just +3. Therein lies the difference.

  5. Bw52 says:

    Jumbo-plus the fact the the Brewers have been a unconscious 40 wins and 19 losses since July 1st.

    • JumboShrimp says:

      Bw: Each team has to take care of its own business. The Cards have not taken care of business at home. Its unusual to be a better road team than home team. If you can win on the road, its usually a strong sign of a good team overall. A mediocre home record is not. A lot of those losses at home came vs. weak teams and its important to beat up the guys who you should beat up.

      • Bw52 says:

        Jumbo- no kidding.I was just pointing out how damned lucky and good the Brewscum have been.Todays game was typical.decent starting pitching and the bats forgot to show up.It has been a year of inconsistent hitting anf pitching.Just once it would be nice to get thru a season without injuries affecting the team.I realize injuries happen and the negatoids will say everybody has them,losing Wainwright was a huge loss along with losing Freese for 50 games.Alberts substandard year,Franklins complete meltdown,The lefties failing in the pen.Berkmans outstanding play so far hasn`t been enoughto make up for Hollidays injury and Allen Craig plays well and get hurt.Theriot forgets how to play defense,Rasmus falls off the planet.Too much bad crap to overcome.Not to mention Carps poor start,Westbrooks poor start.Lohse pitched well for 2 months and then pretty much went south.

  6. friendmouse says:

    The way the Cardinals have played pretty much since the AS break, even if we WERE to make the playoffs (had we not blown so many saves, etc., which would have us in the hunt), there would be no reason to think we’d last long into October. We, as a team, in the whole, just simply are not very good this year. I just do not see any other way to slice it. I wish we were, but we are not. As ??? some warrior once stated….”We have met the enemy, and it is US!” Fitting of the ‘birds this year, in so many ways.

    Brian, I have an idea you might consider for a poll…or you, c-wmn…I wonder who folks would vote for as our “best” player this year, in terms of playing up to or beyond their potential (or expectations), or total value, or “intangibles” or ??? It seems most of our players have had their struggles…some not their fault (injuries, etc.), but we just never have gotten in that elusive “groove” this year. A similar poll might ask…”Who’s most at fault for the Cardinal’s disappointing season?” Include all players, Mangers/coaches, FO, etc. I’ve got my opinions, but I wonder what others think.

    • Brian Walton says:

      My best guess answer to #1 is Berkman in a landslide.

      For #2, there was already a poll on that recently. The winner was “managing, coaching, front office.” It barely beat out “relief pitching.”

      I don’t think it is practical to list 50 names, but my gut says the manager or maybe the GM could be the one individual who would take the most heat.

      • friendmouse says:

        You’re right, Brian…I remember the poll, and I even voted…lack of timely hitting, admitting that was a cop-out vote, though. I guess I had in mind “Who’s” most at fault? In other words, can you name one individual who, more than any other one individual, “blew it” this year? Granted, I know that is not fair, and in a team sport, you cannot “fairly” single out one person, but I still thought it might be interesting, if worthless. It would be hard for me to come up with an answer, but it would be a close race between TLR, Theriot, and Moz. And funny thing is, I like all three of them, and am not asking or suggesting that any of them be “removed” from next year’s club (although if Theriot is retained as our primary SS, then ALL THREE OF THEM NEED TO GO!!). Albert is an obvious target because he plays such an important part in the success or lack thereof for our team, but I’d suggest he’s still the team MVP…so how could he REALLY be faulted? Again, it’s a question without answer, but something to talk about when your looking for something to talk about!! 🙂

        • Nutlaw says:

          Actually, both Berkman and Holliday have higher OPSs than Pujols this season and play more challenging positions (even if they don’t play them well). At very best, I’d say that Pujols is the team’s third most valuable player.

          • friendmouse says:

            Now see here, Mr. Nut…some might accuse you of “picking and choosing” one stat upon which to base an argument, or point of view. I, too, might suggest that that (OPS) is a pretty “narrow” perspective upon which to make your claim that Pujols this year is the team’s 3rd most valuable player.

            What if one were to look at a “broader” measure?…Albert ranks FIRST on the team in the following (fairly significant) statistics: AB’s, Hits, Runs, RBI’s, and Home Runs. Any of these five might, by some, be argued to be of more importance than the OPS. Furthermore, I would not be in the least surprised to see Albert become the team leader even in that statistic before the season ends.

            But….you could be right.

            • Nutlaw says:

              Well geez, I dunno. OPS is supposed to be an all encompassing offensive stat. I’m not so sure that runs and RBI count for anything but the situation one finds oneself in, but Pujols does indeed have more ABs than the other two. Still, there are a lot of strong hitting first basemen out there.

            • CariocaCardinal says:

              The problem is those are all “counting stats” that have as much to do with how much you play rather than necessarily how well you play.

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