Monday, April 24, 2006

Cain, Cain, Cain: Thoughts

First thought is this: why did I give up so much to get him in trade in my fantasy leagues? :^D

Second is, let's see what it looks like in FanGraphs, which is my favorite analysis tool now. Obviously, his overall stats STINK. The only good thing with the naked eye is his raised K-rate, which is more in line with his past history than his short stint in the majors last season. Otherwise, everything is up and, did I mention this: they STINK.

Getting Over the Hype

It sure looks like baseball karma is reversing him to the mean from his stellar start in the majors last season. But when you look at his peripherals, his key pitching indicators, it looks like he is improved in some key areas and just suffering extreme bad luck in other areas.

First off, there's his much improved K-rate. It is now near the top pitchers of the league right now, whereas last season it was much lower and nearer the poorer pitchers. But that is partially countered by a slight, but significant rise in his walk-rate, pushing it into poor category (refresher on terminology: FanGraphs delineates Good from Poor performance by placing a bracket around the performance of the Top 20% and Bottom 20% of players in that particular stat). However, his K/BB key indicator, while not in the good range, it has certainly been near or over the 2.0 that Ron Shandler teaches is the minimum you want out of your pitcher on a regular basis.

His HR/9 is off the charts right now. And his WHIP is off the charts as well, well into the poor section of the chart. But that is a result of his BABIP (Batting Average on Balls-In-Play) being off the charts as well, very much in the poor area. And Ron Shandler's book states that this stat will regress to the mean of .300 over time, so you can see this as payback for Cain's abnormally low BABIP in the majors last season. So his WHIP should go down as his BABIP falls back to normal levels.

Looking Forward

Cain should be doing much better later in the season, he appears to be just suffering karmic payback for his extreme good luck last season to start his career. With his improved K-rate and K/BB ratio, they indicate that he should be doing better than he is right now. However, his HR/9 and BABIP are abnormally high right now. I've already noted his BABIP should go down (currently .325) to .300 as the season progresses. In addition, his HR/9 should drop over time because his HR/FB (fly ball) rate is at 17.6%, which countered his 5.9% for last season, because 10% is the rate that Ron Shandler's book says pitchers should revert to the mean to.

In addition, his batted ball profile looks much improved this season. His GB/FB ratio is much improved this season, at 1.0 and nearly double his rate last season, and increased ground balls is good for a pitcher as ground balls typically lead to more outs and less bases than fly balls. And that is a result of a big increase in ground balls and a reduction in line drives, which he has been able to do this season. Unfortunately, this season it has resulted in a lot of extra hits instead of extra outs, but this should even out as the season progresses and his results will improve greatly.

His walk rate is still abyssmal, though, and must go down before he starts getting better results. However, his strikes to balls ratio has gone up with each game, which if he continues, he should be getting better with this as the season goes forward. It has gone from a strike per pitch rate of 57% to 61% to 64%. His best games last season were games where his strike per pitch rate was 63% and higher.

In addition, based on his game results so far, his PQS (Pure Quality Starts, from Ron Shandler) score for each game has been 3, 4, and 1. So he has pitched one slightly above average game, one dominating game, and one poor game, based on his key indicators. But the poor game was in Arizona, which is a known extreme hitters' park and he should not be pitching many games there during the season, as things will even out as he pitches in less hitter's havens and more in neutral and/or pitcher's parks.

So no need to throw in the towel on Cain yet. As bad as the results have been, it looks like it should get better as the year progresses because he is suffering from extreme bad luck this season after experiencing extreme good luck last season. In addition, he has been able to boost up his K-rate and strike-per-pitch significantly and, if he can continue that, he should experience more success than he has thus far. Not that he needed this lesson, but he should consider this a lesson in humility, which he already had a lot of anyway, for if he can just continue to pitch like he has, he should do fine this season.

4 comments:

  1. Cain should still serve you well! Miguel Cabrera looked good tonight.

    I think that Cain should be able to work the kinks out. Hell, he's still so young.

    Kent

    ReplyDelete
  2. I know, but I probably could have picked him up for little (or off the waiver wire) had I waited a little longer. Still, I didn't want to risk him shining immediately and not get him, so I have no regrets, I just wanted to joke about it.

    Yes, Miguel looks good, but Wright looks better. ;^)

    Well, Cain looked pretty good tonight, eh! Under the PQS scoring system, this rated as a 4 start, another dominating start, and with one more K, it would have been a 5. I should keep up a continuously updated blog post on the PQS for all the Giants pitchers, like Baseball Forecaster shows for the past season, for people to see how the pitchers are doing vis-a-vis their key base performance indicators, this system tries to look beyond the random bounces of balls in play and captures how the pitcher did on the factors most in his control.

    Yes, that was one of the points I wanted to make but didn't, thanks for pointing that out: He's only 21 years old. Any Giants fan who speak of trading him - I've seen a few - is no Giants fan, we need to see how he turns out and hopefully he's the face of the franchise until at least the ownership pays off the loan on the ballpark, if not his whole career.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Far away and moving soon. I only saw highlights. Did he have a no-hitter primarliy out of good fortune or was his stuff and pitching more responsible?

    In watching him pitch in the past, he seems to have a pretty naturally fluid motion AND I don't even think that he's gotten everything out of his legs that he'll get as he matures.

    Some people really want to trade him? Jeez, what we DON'T need. The likes of Cain, Sanders, Isikawa, and Frandsen ARE the future of the franchise. I for one want nothing more than for each of 'em (and others, e.g. Schierholtz [sp?], Niekro, et. al.) to succeed.

    Go Giants and Keep Walking Bonds!

    Kent

    ReplyDelete
  4. Wow, 5 no-hit innings to start the game, the only thing missing was his high strikeout totals.

    I wish I could take credit but he should have been doing better with the PQS scores he had been getting before. It was just a matter of time his luck would change.

    ReplyDelete

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