Friday, May 04, 2007

2007 Giants: April PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of April, as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here. I wrote on this last season and compiled their stats on a regular basis and I'm continuing it this season (sorry about the bad links to the side, I'll remove them soon, as there is now the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this).

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric twist, and it gets really easy to calculate once you get used to it. I don't think it's the end all or be all, but then nothing really is that. It is, as I like to say, another piece of the puzzle. Basically, you want to see a pitcher's DOM to be over 40% and ideally over 50%, and you want their DIS to be under 20% and ideally under 10%. For example, Johan Santana has a 76% DOM and 3% DIS in 2006 (2.77 ERA), whereas Orlando Hernandez had a 52% DOM and 28% DIS (4.66 ERA), and Adam Eaton had a 31% DOM and 31% DIS (5.12 ERA). See my explanation down below on methodology plus read the link, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM and low DIS, and particularly how low DIS is so important.

Without further ado, the Giants PQS:

Giants Starters' PQS for 2007 Season (as of April 30, 2007)

Matt Cain - (40% DOM, 0% DIS): 4, 3, 5, 3, 3 (2:0/5)
Noah Lowry - (40% DOM, 0% DIS): 5, 3, 4, 2, 2 (2:0/5)
Matt Morris - ( 20% DOM, 20% DIS): 3, 1, 4, 3, 2 (1:1/5)
Russ Ortiz - ( 20% DOM, 20% DIS): 2, 4, 2, 2 (1:0/4)
Barry Zito - ( 20% DOM, 0% DIS): 2, 3, 4, 3, 3 (1:0/5)

Giants overall - 25% DOM, 4% DIS out of 24 games pitched

So the Giants starters have been doing OK to good in their games pitched overall. A DOM near or around the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great. A low DIS is also indicative of good pitching, just look at the table in the link above showing DOM% and DIS% on the axes.

Latest Comments

Generally, the Giants pitching did OK this April but not great. The DOM is much lower this year than last, but more importantly, the DIS is much, much lower this year, which means the low DOM does not hurt them - it just doesn't help them. A team can survive OK and be a winning team with average offense if the starters can keep their disaster starts to a minimum, as they have thus far in the 2007 season.

As I noted in my post on Ortiz being Lincecumed, after his disaster start on May 1st, he needed to lift things up a notch if he was to keep Lincecum from taking his spot, particularly since his ERA is now way over 6. However, with his being placed on the disabled list, that's all moot now, Lincecum is coming up to take his spot in the rotation and if Tim pitches as well as expected, Ortiz will return to the bullpen when he is healthy again.

According to news accounts today, Ortiz is not worried about losing his job to Lincecum, he knew how well Lincecum was pitching in the minors and he has "a lot of comfort and security in that" now, and is willing to do anything to help the team win.

And that makes sense, at least for a regular person, not an athlete with a big ego. The last two years were unimaginably bad for Ortiz, he couldn't throw the way he knew he could throw, and now he knows what he was doing wrong and, now, right. He appreciates that this will give him a chance to pitch many more years, and views this year as rehabilitating his reputation. Good for him!

Methodology Explanation

Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster, my favorite baseball stat book the past three years, scores each start in their attempt to modernize the traditional Quality Start designation by incorporating current baseball statistical findings. They do this via the Pure Quality Start (PQS) rating system, which rates each game pitched for good pitching indicators, not just how many runs are given up, since that is dependent on how well the relievers do after you sometimes or how unlucky you are.

PQS is a 5 point system that ranges from a score of 0 to 5. A pitcher automatically gets a 0 score if he doesn't last at least 5 IP. He gets 1 point if he pitches 6 IP or more. That is the minimum today for a quality game. He gets another point if his hits given up are equal or less than the number of IP. This approximates keeping the hits at or under 1 per inning pitched. He gets another point if he doesn't give up more than 1 HR. This approximates one of the key peripherals for pitchers, giving up less than 1 HR per 9 IP. He gets another point if his strikeout total is no less than the number of IP less 2 (for example, if he goes 6 IP, he has to get at least 4 K's). This approximates the minimum of 6.0 K/9IP. Lastly, he gets a point if the number of strikeouts is at least twice his number of walks (thus, continuing the example, if he had 2 or less walks, he gets a point, but 3 or more walks he gets no point). This approximates getting your K/BB ration at or over 2.0. Add them all up and that is the starter's PQS score for that game.

They then break down each pitchers' game performance into three categories, the two main important ones being DOM (for dominating) and DIS (for disaster). To count as a DOM, the starter has to get a score of 4 or 5 in a game. To count as a DIS, the starter has to get a score of 0 or 1 in a game. Then you just take the percentage of total games the starter has these two categories. As I linked above, they have published their methodology on-line, but thought I should at least run through it here, in case you don't feel like clicking the link.

Who's Good: A View of the Distribution by PQS DOM Percentages

Scanning the pitchers records (no average or distribution was provided unfortunately) for the past three seasons, the worse to average pitchers have DOM under 40%. Good pitchers have DOM between 40-50%. Better have 50-70%. Best have 70%+.

The list of pitchers in the categories I roughly created looks pretty good, in terms of breaking down the starters. Here are the pitchers who were in the 2007 edition of Baseball Forecaster, in the category they were in (or over) at least twice in the past three seasons, with a "+" if he did much better than his category in 2006, and a "-" if he did much worse (plus a few with one year results, like Cain, Olsen, and King Felix):

Good (40%-49%): Burhrle-, Capuano+, Colon-, Contreras, Eaton-, Garland, Feliz Hernandez, Byung-Hyun Kim, Brian Lawrence, Cliff Lee, Lidle, Lowry-, Maddux, Milton, Morris, Mussina+, Padilla, Radke, John Thomson-, Claudio Vargas, Wakefield, Washburn, David Wells, Willis, Kerry Wood-, Chris Young+, Zito

Better (50%-59%): Beckett, Bedard, Bonderman, Burnett, Bush, Cain, Clement-, Doug Davis-, Escobar, Garcia, Halladay, Harang, Harden-, Haren, Orlando Hernandez, Kazmir, Lackey, Lieber-, Millwood, Olsen, Penny-, Pettitte-, Prior-, Sabathia+, Schmidt, Vazquez

Elite (60%-69%): Bronson, Carpenter, Myers, Oswalt, Peavy, Smoltz, Jeff Weaver-, Webb

Best (70%+) : Clemens, Randy Johnson-, Pedro Martinez, Santana, Schilling, Sheets, Carlos Zambrano

Obviously, those in the 60% DOM and over range, because they are so high already and it is a zero sum, their DIS is naturally low and under 20% for the most part. It is in the 50% range that you see starters with DIS over 20% and where it affects their ERA greatly.

Notes on Giants:

  • Schmidt had been in the 70+ for the three seasons before a horrible 2005, and has been in a downslide since. That's partly why I came to the conclusion that we shouldn't resign him, even though I thought that we needed another good pitcher for the rotation to make it a great strength of the team. His age and injury history were also major factors.
  • Lowry, Morris, and Zito were in the good category (40-49%), but I would note that Lowry had a 58%DOM/12%DIS in 2005, Morris was steady with 41%/48%/45% DOM, and 16%/16%/18% DIS, and Zito had a 66%DOM/11%DIS in 2005.
  • Cain had 57%DOM/0%DIS in 7 starts in 2005, 52% DOM/23% DIS in 2006.
  • Ortiz was ugly going from 44% DOM/29% DIS in 2004 to 9% DOM/55% DIS in 2005 and bottoming (hopefully) with a 0% DOM/82% DIS in a shortened 2006. So going 20%/20% is actually quite an accomplishment for him, relative to his past two seasons. He will be a good addition to the bullpen, assuming Lincecum pitches as well as expected and Ortiz recovers from his first arm injury (odd that it happens AFTER fixing his mechanics, and not while he was having his problems the past two seasons).

5 comments:

  1. Huh. I really would have expected Cain's DOM to be higher. In my memory at least, he's been untouchable most of the month.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I was a little surprised but not too much. He's been walking too many guys and not striking out that many, so that's what's been hurting him in terms of PQS.

    Keeping hits down usually means you made the HR quota too, plus 6 IP and there's a 3 right there. But then to get one more for a DOM, you either need to strike out double your walks, but if you walk too many there goes that. Then you need to get IP-2 K's and he hasn't been doing that.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Too few innings and strikeouts coupled with too many walks.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Martin, as you know I'm a big fan of Sanchez, but I am wondering, with the inconsistency he's shown this year and last, and with Giese, Misch, Sadler, Rincon, Kim all at Fresno, if he is the most likely trade chip. Grooming him as a starter is not exactly urgent, as our rotation is pretty well set for this year and next, assuming both Linececum and Ortiz do well, and within that time at least one other guy will emerge as a starter (Blackely) either from Fresno or Augusta.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hello Martin =
    I poked around the minor league stats to see what we might have as trading chips or rotation pieces, should we trade a couple of starters.
    As far as starters, we have 1) Zito, 2) Cain, 3) Morris, 4) Lowry, 5) Lincecum, 6) Ortiz. RPs who could/have started: Sanchez, Misch.
    Current minor league starters who're doing well: Palmer (AAA), age 28, 2.83 ERA, 1.23 WHIP; Kinney (AAA), age 30, 3.13 ERA, 1.04 WHIP; Blackley (AAA), age 24, 3.82 ERA; Begg(started season at AA, just replaced Lincecum in AAA), age 27, 2.10 ERA; Sack (AA), age 25, 3.32 ERA; Pereira (AA), age 24, $.26 ERA.
    It seems to me that Misch is the most valuable to us and Sanchez has the highest trade value, Palmer, who is only 28, could have some limited trade value, as could Pereira, who is only 24. I wonder if, at age 30, Kinney might interest some team as a possible long relief guy.
    All in all, I think these guys are more valuable to us than they are to trade partners, except for Sanchez and Palmer. Misch is too valuable to us as a RP and I think that is what the team will keep him as, soon in SF.
    Potentially, we have 3 guys who might deserve a shot at starting in the majors (Palmer, Kinney, maybe Begg, maybe Blackley). Sack and Pereira are too young to merit a shot this year. To bad we can't package all three of the(Palmer, Kinney, Begg), that might bring something interesting. Seems like an unlikely trade tho, 3 SPs. More likely, they would go one to team A, one to team B, one to team C, thereby diluting their trade value.
    So, it seems to me, the most valuable trade package we have (and the easiest to replace) is Sanchez + Lowry (replaced by Lincecum/Misch). There are any number of posiiton prospects at both the MLB level and in the minors; but I don't think, generally speaking, and especially during the season, you see much in the way of 3 for 1 trades. Anyway, I'd be interested if you care to comment on this rather rambling composition. [Can't wait until tomorrow evening, say, about 5)

    ReplyDelete

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