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 ScrabbleTools.com 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
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
|20||Kozma||De La Cruz||Rodriguez|
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.