Friday, December 01, 2006

PQS for Top 7 SP in ERA

In response to allfrank's request, I dug into the PQS of some top starting pitchers. Really a brain heating exercise, I had to stop after 7 guys, which I also thought would be a good cutoff point, as Arroyo had a 3.29 ERA then Carlos Zambrano "jumps" to 3.42; I was going to cover the pitchers down to Jason Schmidt originally. Below, I provide first half (pre-All Star break), second half (post-All Star break), and season DOM% and DIS% stats plus some other stats and commentary.
  1. Johan Santana: Man! He was totally dominating! Don't need PQS to tell that. Whoever scouts pitchers for the Twins know their stuff, first they pick up Santana off the Rule 5 heap, then sucker the Giants into giving 3 good/great pitchers in trade for A.J. First half: 74%DOM/0%DIS; second half: 80%DOM/7%DIS; season: 76%DOM/3%DIS. He had 20 (!) 5-PQS games and 6 4-PQS. His only DIS was a 1-PQS. He ran off consecutive starts streaks of 5-PQS games of 6 games, 4 games, 4 games, and 4 games during the season, he was totally dominating, I was in awe compiling his PQS. And he has been like this since he became a major leaguer, past 3 seasons: 72%/6%; 88%/9%; 79%/3%. As good as the season was, you could say that it was his worst in 3 seasons. And only 2 DIS starts in two seasons, 6 in his entire career, where many pitchers consider having only 6 DIS starts in a season to be an accomplishment. I'm going to have to value him higher in my fantasy league next year; I knew he was good but not this good.
  2. Roy Oswalt: A drop in quality but still very good: first half: 38%/6%; second half: 73%/0%; season: 55%/3%. He started off well with a 5, but obviously something bothered him for the next two months or so (I think he missed a start there, so he was probably not 100%), with only 2 DOM starts in his first 10 starts - he finished with 15 DOM in the next 21 starts or 71%DOM. He had 11 5-PQS games and 6 4-PQS games with one 0-PQS when he was struggling early season. His previous three seasons, he had DOM in the 60%'s and DIS around 10%, so this was a down year, but still much better than most pitchers.
  3. Chris Carpenter: I never really pictured Carpenter as an elite pitcher before but he had a great 2006. First half: 65%/0%; second half: 67%/7%; season: 66%/3%. He had 12 5-PQS and 9 4-PQS games, with one 0-PQS soon after the All-Star break. He was very consistent all season long. This builds on his breakout year in 2005, where he was 76%/6% - he was "only" 50%/14% in 2004.
  4. Brandon Webb: I thought that Webb was the question mark out of the trio of rookie starters - Jerome Williams, Dontrelle Willis and himself - the year they all came into the league, because he never did this well even in the minors. Somehow he improved when he reached the majors, as he had nice stats in the minors but not as good as Williams or Willis - I read somewhere that because he's an extreme sinkerballer, the improved defense in the majors helped him. First half: 74%/0%; second half: 50%/7%; season: 64%/3%. He had 10 5-PQS games and 11 4-PQS games; he had his only DIS start in his last start of the season, a 0-PQS game. Whoa, big drop between the two halves, perhaps he was tiring. He was consistent the previous season though, 61%/0% and 67%/7% for 64%/3% season, so it is probably just fluctuations. Only 2 DIS starts over the past two seasons: most pitchers would be looking at 2 over the past one or two months.
  5. Ray Halladay: He had some injury problems in two starts, cutting them short. The Baseball Forecaster methodology would include them but that didn't seem fair, he was not pitching a O-PQS game when he left the game, though he wasn't dominating either. At worse I could count them as games but not as DOM or DIS, but I excluded them as I thought that would show his talent level better. First half: 55%/0%; second half: 67%/0%; season: 60%/0%. He had 3 5-PQS games and 15 4-PQS games, so he is the first to be not as dominating as the Top 4, who all had at least 10 starts with a 5-PQS score (that's 30%DOM right there, where 30% is what I would consider the minimum for a useful starter). He started off slowly, with 5 non-DOM/non-DIS games (i.e. 2 and 3 PQS games), before reelling off a bunch of DOM games.
  6. CC Sabathia: He started off the season getting injured in his first game, if I recall correctly, and didn't come back until early May, but it was worth the wait. First half: 69%/15%; second half: 71%/7%; season: 70%/11%. He had 10 5-PQS games and 9 4-PQS games. He had 2 0-PQS games and 1 1-PQS game, mainly in the middle of the season. Pretty consistent halves, I was kicking myself for dropping him off my fantasy team when he had a bad couple of starts out of three.
  7. Bronson Arroyo: Boy, Boston has got to be kicking themselves over trading him away, I guess he got the last laugh, he signed with Boston in the off-season, giving them a hometown discount and they thanked his loyalty by trading him to Cincinnati. First half: 79%/11%; second half: 44%/13%; season: 63%/11%. He had 10 5-PQS and 12 4-PQS starts, with 2 each of O-PQS and 1-PQS games. He looks like a good case for sell high - he had a steep drop between the two halves, so perhaps he benefited from facing batters and teams unfamiliar with him and then they caught up with him. However, this view is mitigated by the fact that he 4 5-PQS starts in his last 6 starts, so perhaps he was adjusting back against the league by then.

Table of DOM%/DIS% for 2006

Here I put the data into a table format (Blogger don't do tables!), showing first season, then 1st half and 2nd half. I added the Giants main starters as well, for contrast.

Pitcher - DOM%/DIS%: season; 1st; 2nd

Santana - 76%/3%; 74%/0%; 80%/7%

Oswalt - 55%/3%; 38%/6%; 73%/0%

Carpenter - 66%/3%; 65%/0%; 67%/7%

Webb - 64%/3%; 74%/0%; 50%/7%

Halladay - 60%/0%; 55%/0%; 67%/0%

Sabathia - 70%/11%; 69%/15%; 71%/7%

Arroyo - 63%/11%; 79%/11%; 44%/13%

Cain - 52%/23%; 38%/38%; 67%/7%

Lowry - 31%/27%; 17%/17%; 43%/36%

Morris - 47%/12%; 47%/20%; 47%/16%

Schmidt - 56%/6%; 67%/0%; 43%/14%

Analysis and Implications for Giants

It looks like the best pitchers are able to keep their DOM starts over 60% and their DIS starts under 10%. That is why I have been saying that Cain looks like he might be able to take Schmidt's place in the rotation without skipping a beat. Cain's second half of 67%/7% would fit right in with the Top 7 starters and easily beats what Schmidt did for the season, so Cain can regress a little from the second half and still match Schmidt. If he can pitch like this all of 2007, his ERA should end up very close to a 3 ERA - as it was, he had a 3.26 ERA in the second half.

And that is why I am still high on Lowry. He had a 58%/12% season in 2005, which put him on the cusp of the Top pitchers - Arroyo was 63%/11%. Hence my comment that if he returns to his form in 2005, we could have a 2 Ace starting staff. I think this is likely because clearly his injury affected him all season long and in 2005, he was very consistent and even improved in the second half: 50%/22% first half; 67%/0% second half, and his qERA for the season was 3.97 (actual 3.79). Obviously he pitched like one of the top pitchers in the second half of 2005 and was still good in the first half as well. Matching Cain's 4.15 should be very doable for him.

Morris had a 47%/12% in 2006 which is virtually the same as his 2005 48%/16%, which again supports my point in my previous post that he had a bad luck year in 2006. His qERA for 2005 was 4.40 vs. his actual of 4.12; my calculated qERA for 2006 was 4.41 vs. his actual 4.98. So it seems that he got lucky in 2005 and pendulum swung back in 2006. A 4.40 ERA would be good for the rotation in 2007, as we don't need him to pitch gangbusters to have a good staff and would easily beat Lowry's 2006 4.74 ERA.

Furthermore, there is potential for even better results. Here are his 2005 splits by halves: first half, 69%/12%; second half, 27%/20%; season, 48%/16%. How does a pitcher go from such domination in one half - as shown above, elite status - to such troubles in the second? If there was an injury, there were none that shelved him during the second half, he made all his starts; he missed the first few starts at the start of the season because he was still recovering from his shoulder surgery 5 months before but otherwise made all his starts.

Then he had his slow start in 2006, which Krukow (and I, in a post) attributed it to jitters/adrenaline pitching for a new team, wanting to justify the contract - he was over throwing, a common thing to get over for some pitchers (ironically he was hired because he was suppose to be a vet who wouldn't not have this type of problem). For two months he was lost, then he ran off a 9 start streak where he had 7 DOM starts. Then he was lost for 3 games, then ran off 5 DOM in 7 starts, before he somehow broke his ribs. That is 12 DOM in 19 games, or 63%. This is why I think that, while remote, there is still a chance that Morris could be a third ace in the rotation.

Thus, as I showed in my other post, Cain would be our new Schmidt, Lowry should be able to duplicate Cain's 2006 performance, Morris should at least match Lowry, and Sanchez should be able to do as well/badly as Jamey Wright did for us. And I think that is pretty conservative and pretty likely to happen, with Cain probably not doing as well as Schmidt, but Morris counterbalancing that by doing better than Lowry, whose ERA was 4.74 in 2006; again, Morris qERA for the past two seasons was basically 4.40. Thus we only need a pitcher to take Morris's spot in the rotation and just equal his 4.98 ERA in order to have a staff equal to last year's. Hennessey can probably do that, though it would be less riskier to sign someone.

But then there are the upside wild cards. Cain was only 21 in 2006 and will be 22 in 2007. Who knows how good he can become? He only got better as the season progressed, he was learning faster than the league was. Lowry returning to his 2005 form would easily outdo the 2006 Cain. Morris, as I showed, can be dominating in extended stretches but not over a season: I believe fatigue set in for the second half of 2005 and injury finished him off in late 2006, so if he can have a strong workout this off-season and injury-free 2007, he might be able to turn it up a notch, in terms of consistency. Sanchez will have a full off-season to prepare as a starter on a major league staff and could become consistent and do much better than Wright did; in his 4 starts, he was 50%/50%, whereas Wright was 29%/19% with 5.19 ERA.

Lastly, there is the last starter. Hennessey probably would at best be slightly better but only marginally so, and if he was the starter, there isn't much chance of upside - he just can't strike out anybody despite his good slider. But if the Giants can sign a good pitcher - perhaps Greg Maddux or maybe even Jason Schmidt - suddenly the rotation could be a 4 ace rotation if everything went our way, and at minimum, it would be likely that at least 2 of them will be ace-like in their pitching. With pitching like that, we don't need much of any offense to win games and be competitive for the NL West title. There is also the off-chance that Lincecum is ready to come up by mid-season and proceed to do a number on the NL, like he did in the minors.

This is why I'm so positive about the rotation for 2007 and think that there is the potential to get really good, really fast. I think I'm being conservative in saying that the rotation is about the same, in terms of production, for 2007. On top of that, I see a variety of number of ways that the rotation could turn out to be even better, and some of them seem very possible. All in all, the rotation, as is, is shaping out really well, relative to last year, and could get better. Of course, last year was not that great, but when the team is in transition, I will take positives where I can get them.

FYI: Durham Probably Signed by Giants

Merc recently reported - saw here in USA Today - that Durham signed with the Giants, terms unknown. Apparently he wanted two years but all the other interested teams passed on that chance, so he decided to return to the Giants. Sounds good, though I would not have minded the draft picks.

In any case, this is a perfect situation for the Giants, we can trade Durham mid-year for a bushel of prospects if 1) Frandsen plays and hits very well in the chances he gets, making Durham unnecessary, 2) the Giants are out of it by too much, or 3) some team desperately needs a hitter like Durham and the Giants are overwhelmed by the deal. Win, win, win.

Some have speculated that this means Feliz is out of the picture, but don't forget, he can play 1B. His agent was talking recently in the Merc about returning to the Giants for $4M, so, given that low amount, that means that the rest of the league saw what we Giants fans saw and said "pass", so he could still be around in January and sign with the Giants for $1-2M, something on the cheap. I'll bet his agent looked at Adrian Beltre's stats and figured if he is worth 5 years, $65M or $13M per season, then Feliz is worth at least 3 years at $8-10M per season. Because, if you look at their stats, they are not that far apart, except for Beltre's "fluke" season in 2004 as he was becoming a free agent.


  1. Excellent, and very interesting, Martin. I do think we could be a seim pitching and defense team. W/ Feliz, Omar, Durham (the weak link), Aurelia (good hands, limited range) and Bonds, Roberts, Winn/Linden we have pretty good, but not outstanding defense.
    Offensively, we do have some speed (Roberts, Winn, Durham even). WE don't have a # 3 hitter and too many 7 and 8 hitters. I suppose it looks like this:
    Altho I can' really see Feliz in the 8 hole. How about:
    The idea that Feliz ends a lot of innings, and if Omar gets on it sets up the pitcher's bunting.
    Anyway, I do think this team can score the same as or a few more runs than the 06 team. I don't see this team, despite the loss of Alou, as significantly weaker. Roberts+Aurelia+Molina+Linden = more offense than Alou+Finley+Alfonzo+Niekro/Hilly/Sweeney.
    My preference is to start Lincecum in AA and, if he's doing well, move him to AAA at the break (July).
    I guess, since we haven't spent all that much money, we will bring in a fairly expensive FA starter (Schmidt, Maddux). This is due partly to the fact we need Hennessey/Correia both in the pen and for insurance for Sanchez. WE also need two fairly expensive late relievers, altho I am not completely against getting just one (Kline, say) and using our own prosepects for '07 to see how/if any develop.
    Finally, if neither the Dodgers or Padres get Ramirez, this team could well compete for the West.
    BTW, I am curious, it always takes two tries to get my comment accepted by your site. Know why?

  2. Yeah, that bothers me too. From what I am guessing, the password only lasts for a short period, but if you write up a long comment, then the time for it passed and it forces you to enter in another password, whereupon it then works.

    I wouldn't use it except it drives me crazy whenever those stupid bots places spam posts in my blog. Even since I added this word verification system, spam has dropped to zero here.

  3. Kind of disappointing to lose Aurelia, altho I have heard both ways, he'll accept arb and he's taking his Giants physical. It would make sense for him to go to arb - he had Durham like numbers. If Feliz gets 5-6 million and Durham gets 7, Aurelia has to get 6-8 million in arb - twice his contract with the Giants.

  4. Where did you hear about Aurilia? I have checked news sources all over, including the Reds official MLB website and I see nothing about Aurilia accepting the Reds arb offer. Most state that the Giants are close to a 2-year deal for $8M for Aurilia.

    Money might not totally motivate Richie anyway, he would be the main starter at 1B with us whereas the Reds would only use him part-time, plus if they use him as utility, I think the arbitrator might go with a lower figure because of that and give him a deal similar to DeRosa's, who wasn't a starter either. Why risk that and skip a guaranteed 2 year? Plus he clearly wants to return, perhaps his wife really likes the area or something.

    FYI: Giants don't offer Bonds arbitration and Bonds's agent cries about how "Barry obviously is not a priority to them." Boo-fricking-hoo, his feelings are hurt because the team don't want to get stuck paying his client a guaranteed $14M, which happens to be what they want in the first place.

    If 30 teams want him, as Borris claims, be my guest, but he's just shooting smoke into people's faces with his public announcements, now I see why Bonds dumped him for Scott Boras for his last contract before quietly returning to Borris afterward (I suspect he paid Boras a fee to represent him - Boras get name client, Bonds appear to play hardball for new contract - then "re-hire" Borris when that retainer ended). If this is the best he can do to drive up the price for his client, he should give Bonds back his money.

    As I've been posting at MCC, there's no way other teams are interested in Bonds beyond a contract similar to what Frank Thomas got in 2006, Bonds has the grand jury hanging over his head (what if his training changes his mind and testifies?), he has the IRS chasing after him (for income tax evasion, prison time for sure), he has father time chasing him and one day he will catch him, as he always does, and he has the injury bug chasing him, he could, I don't know, bump his leg against a table, say, and hurt his knee so badly that it needs to be operated on, then an infection could set in - I know, far-fetched, but it could happen. :^D Plus you never know if crazed fans might organize a huge protest against Bonds at every home game, both outside and inside the stadium, these zealots - who you see all over the web - will crawl out of the woodwork and harass the team until they release Bonds. Plus all the negative publicity signing Bonds would create for the team (other than the Giants), that's going to make any team think twice about giving Bonds any more than $5M guaranteed, he would have to accept incentives if he wants more, as there is too much risk the team would eat his salary.

    Meanwhile, the Giants could afford to beat that figure easily but still keep it under $10M unless he accepts incentives. I don't see how he's not coming back unless that Japanese team which got $51M for Matsuzaka decides to use that money for Bonds (assuming Red Sox sign him; looks like Grand Canyon between the bid of $7M per year and ask of $15M per year.

  5. OK, finally saw the diary in MCC on that. I think the fact that the rumored deal for Aurila has jumped from the $6-7M range to $8M is a sign that the Giants bumped up the contract to keep Aurilia. (I see wilriv beat me to that thought...).

    That would make sense, the article says that Aurilia hopes to get $3.5M, just make the point moot for him by upping the contract a little.

  6. Hello Martin -
    I don't know where I saw the story that indicated that Richie MIGHT accept arb. I think I was more speculating that he might, since the money would be so much better.
    I am really glad he signed with us. That is a very cheap price for the type of player he is.
    I did a little reaearch on him compared to other NL 1b hitters and he ranks 10th out of 24, based on BA. I also list the OBP, but don't rank them by that stat. The top 24 1b men does not, interestingly, include any giants 1b - Sweeney, Hilly, Niekro are all far down the list. Additionally, while he doesn't have great range, he does have good hands and, I expect, will save a lot of errors by handling bad throws.
    I do really disagree with you on bonds, and his signability. Look at TO, Iverson, J Giambi, Sheffield. If a guy produces, some team will want him, especially if he is the missing link. I do think an arrest/indictment is a serious concern. I think a team can protect itself thru their contract, but that doesn't protect them from the mid season distraction as well as the loss of a key player, if it should happen.
    I think he has to get at least Sheffield money, and I think he'll get $12-15 mil. I actually think he would be smart to take an incentive contract. Not like Thomas, but a base of say $8 mil, with incentives that could bump it up to $18 mil. I am assuming, despite the restrictions on perfromance contracts, that a contract such as this is possible.
    Now that, other than LF, the position playing team is pretty well constructed, I would be very surprised to see Sabean trade Lowerey, say, for a bat. This, after all, is one of the primary positives in signing Bonds - don't have to trade prospects nor give up draft picks.

  7. BTW, your comments on my batting orders?

  8. The batting order will be:


    Another year of rebuilding lost and another year of 3rd or 4th place with no better than a .500 record. Tragic. It's time for Sabean to go after another failure.

  9. Yes, Boof, that is the most traditional, and I think bochy is probably a pretty traditional guy. I actually think we should consider Roberts leading off and Bonds hitting 2nd, followed by Durham, Winn, Aurelia (I'd rather hit Aurelia ahead of Winn, but put him behind Winn because Winn is fast and Richie is, uh, not fast), Molina, Feliz (assuming Molina's OBP is significantly higher than Pedro's), Omar. This is sort of the Bill James theory, get Bonds more at bats, AND more at bats w/ a runner on base, particularly a runner like Roberts who is a distraction - as well as a threat to steal not only 1st, if the pitcher ignores him but 3rd as well, especially w/ the Barry shift on. And the Barry shift makes it much easier for Roberts to be knocked in by an out.
    And, as far as your Batting order vs my first one, the only dispute is whther Molina hits 8th or more in line with his production. He could hit 6th or 7th if they were to play Alfonzo twice a week instead of just once.

  10. I also don't think it is a foregone conclusion this team finishes 3d or 4th and below 500.
    As I posted on McCovey Chrons, Aurelia is a significant upgrade over Sweeney NiekroBrand. I think with the speed and baserunning smarts we have 1-3 in the lineup (+ OBP) we will score more runs next year (in '06 we were, for all practical purposes, tied for 9th in runs scored and 10th for earned runs given up). I think we are moderately improved in run scoring ability and defense (Aurelia better than Sweeney, Hillenbrand, not quite as good as Niekro), Roberts/Linden better than Alou Finley.
    The big question now is pitching - replacing Schmidt, Stanton. At least we are rid of Walker and Munter. Worrell, I assume, is coming back (tho I've heard nothing) and we're basically forced to bring back Kline.
    Martin makes a good case that Cain can replace Schmidt, everyone moves up and we're a little better with our starters just using our home grown guys (including Morris). The biggest hole I see now is replacing Stanton (and Eyre before him).

  11. You ae deluding yourself into thinking this team will compete or be better than they were last year. They will have the worst defensive outfield in baseball, bar none. Everyone will be one year older and a little more brittle which means that the "lineup" will be a patchwork of substitutes for a lot of the season. I would be very surprised if the starting lineup actually makes more than 90 starts intact. Bonds will need many days off, Roberts has never played 130 games in a season, Durham is a human DL machine, etc. etc., etc. The Aurilia signing would have been good if he was slated to be a super utility guy, not a starter. His numbers were inflated by playing in a bandbox of a park last year. He will struggle to come even close to those numbers here, even playing full time. The Feliz signing........well, that's just speaks for itself.

    There is no way that you lose Schmidt and replace him with a journeyman and the starting rotation improves. Lastly, I have seen no improvement in the bullpen at all which was a black hole last year.

    Given all or most of this and the fact that they finished towards the bottom of the pack last year, what could possibly lead you to the conclusion that they will be better than last year? It's nice to hope but let's be a little more realistic.



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