TOP 2012: Crunching the numbers

DeFazio's Buffalo chicken pizza

The highest scoring pizza of this -- or any other -- Tournament of Pizza.


Now that we're almost finished with our fourth Tournament of Pizza, sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union, of the modern era (using the 100 point scale), we have a lot of numbers we can crunch.

So, here are a bunch of stats this year's tournament -- and tournaments past -- highs, averages, breakdowns. And, for the first time ever, stats for judges...

sunmark pizza banner

Overall stats

The shop averages have been updated to correct an error. Thank you to Jon for catching it.

2012 judge stats

These are the average scores each judge has given in each category during this year's TOP. As you can see, Renee is a tough judge of pizza. (This year's scoring used an adjusted scale to account a fifth judge.)

All scores

TOP 2012 score distribution graph

All scores from the modern 100-point scale era are listed below. Scores from 2012 are highlighted. The graph above is a distribution of all the scores, in 5 point increments.


We'll have the result from this year's final -- DeFazio's vs. Marisa's Place -- Thursday.

The 2012 Tournament of Pizza is sponsored by Sunmark Federal Credit Union

Earlier in Tournament of Pizza 2012
+ Results from Round 1 in Saratoga
+ Results from Round 1 in Schenectady
+ Results from Round 1 in Troy
+ Results from Round 1 in Albany
+ Results from Round 2 in Saratoga
+ Results from Round 2 in Schenectady
+ Results from Round 2 in Troy
+ Results from Round 2 in Albany
+ Results from the Semi-finals


Whoa. So Albany Jane has judged 118 pizzas. That's crazy. Maybe she'll get her wish and see Buffalo Chicken move up into the second round next year?

Dare to dream.

First, let me confess to being a nerd. Second, let me admit my bias. While I certainly wasn't there, I am not sure how DeFazio's has always been a bridesmaid but never the bride. I'm hoping the get the recognition they deserve tomorrow.

The DeFazio's all time average looked low to me. I took the table of all the scores, copied it into excel and then sorted alphabetically to get a listing by shop. Stop making fun of me, I already said I was a nerd.

I count 11 DeFazio's scores from the table of 100 point era scores. They are: 82,79,78,77,75,74,72,71,70,68 and 62. The average of these numbers is 73.45. The all time score table lists the average as 64.73. I pulled a few other numbers from the all scores table to look at a few other lifetime averages and our numbers didn't agree. There's a mistake somewhere. I am willing to concede it could be on on my end. If our methods are different or my copy and paste got messed up then my numbers are off.

Then something else looked wrong. DeFazio's is listed as having the highest average at 64.73. Marissa's, Nico's and Mario's have higher average all time scores listed (65.25, 68.75 and 66.50 respectively). My numbers come out as 67.5, 61 and 60.75 for these pizzerias.

Why do we differ so much?

@Jon in Albany: We differ so much because I made a mistake. I used the same method you did, but somewhere toward the end it looks I inadvertently shifted the column with all the pizza scores. (Which makes sense because DeFazio's average score looked low to me, too, when I saw it -- that should have been a sign to re-check my work.)

The updated scores have been added above. And here's a copy of the sheet I used to calculate them (xls).

Thank you for catching that. I appreciate it.

Truly Blind?

At this point in the game, is the judging truly blind? If the same judges eat, more or less, the same pizzas every year (there are a lot of repeats), can’t they tell by now by taste which shop the pizza came from? Places like DeFazio’s and The Fountain have a distinct style. Maybe that could be another game: Guess the shop?

@Daniel B: Albany Jane has tasted even more than 118 pizzas in the TOP -- that total is only from the 100-point era. There are also the 30 from the first year.

@jules: The judges have excellent memory for pizza, and you're right -- some of the pizza shops do make distinctive pizzas. But we do what we can to shield the judges from knowing which is which (covering the boxes, marking the pizzas by letter). We haven't asked the judges to wear blindfolds... yet.

pizza+quantifying data=one of my favorite posts ever.

also, in the interest of fair play, let me be the first to offer my non-biased palate as a judge for next year's TOP. It's the least I can do.

I have really enjoyed the TOP since it began. I appreciate the process but find myself wondering if some hidden gems may be lurking in the capital district. I haven't quantified how many different shops you've judged since you began TOP but it is clear that some show up year after year after year (16 apparently at least three times). This year's addition of the chain pizzas was interesting and the results not too surprising, Maybe next year you may consider a random selection of neighborhood pie shops...there seem to be such shops all over the place and they stay in business year after they must have a clientele of some sort.

BTW, I judge on the big pics you show at top and so far my selections based on the pictures has been spot on with your judges' evaluation! There is something to be said for "appearance."

In my 20+ years living in the Capital District, Pasquale's is one of the few dining establishments that I continue to lament the loss of. Damn good pie.

Thanks for the update....I hate to make more work for you but I think I found an error in the data. 5th and 50s chicken parmesan pizza is listed as a 2011 finalist with a score of 70. The DeFazios sausage Mozz Basil 2011 final is listed at 74. Looking back the 70 should be a 79.I think you've got a typo or something in the spreadsheet got shifted or there is a typo...unless... Ive caught you playing shenanigans with the Top! How dare you slander my beloved DeFazios! :)

But seriously, DeFazios had dominated. If you sort by score there are 28 pizzas with a score of 70 or higher. 9 out of the 11 pizzas submitted by DeFazios fall in that range. That's an .818 batting average. No other shop comes close. 5th and 50 went 3 for 5 (.600) but keep in mind they were outscored by pizza hut this year. Mama Mia and Paesans bat .500 (2/4 and 1/2). That's 6 pies between them, 3 less than DeFazios has above 70. Everyone else is .333 or below.

Anyhow, I guess it's clear where I'd go for pizza...

Bring Marino's from Schenectady back

@Jon in Albany: Oof. You're correct. I hit the 0 instead of the 9. I just went back and re-checked all the numbers from last year and this year -- that was the only error. Thank you again.

@BobF: We were just talking last night about hidden gem shops. We've kicked around the idea of maybe doing an all new-to-the-TOP field, and then matching the winners up against past winners. Maybe next year.

"We've kicked around the idea of maybe doing an all new-to-the-TOP field, and then matching the winners up against past winners. Maybe next year."

I like that idea.

You know, in all these years, you guys have still never tested a pizza from the Lark Street area. SoHo Pizza is solid and would probably be able to advance.

And considering how much pizza is consumed in Pine Hills, that neighborhood is probably quite underrepresented. Paesan's has proven to be only average... are any of the others any better? Maybe Mild Wally's or Madison Pizza?

It'd be fun to see new restaurants Sciortino's and Dave's Pizza & Burgers in the TOP to see how they'd stack up.

That would round out an Albany bracket right there.

Pizza judging for life!

The overall data gets more and more interesting the longer this goes on. The top shops definitely show themselves regardless of wins. in re Bob's comment, if the judges have the gustatory fortitude, maybe a preliminary round could be added including as many shops in an areas as possible with the top four moving on to round 1. Or add a zeroth round and make each area more fine-grained by dividing them into neighborhoods.

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