Thursday, June 14, 2007

2007 Giants: May PQS

Note: my apologies for this being late (particularly to the content timeliness gestapo :^), but I got busy with the amateur draft and everything (like work) so I had written it up on June 2nd but never found time to move from written paper to blog. Though this is late, I wanted to post it up for reference since I've been doing them monthly. I'm skipping the prospects update, though, that boat has sailed as some commenters noted last time, whereas this is reference historical information.

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May, 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 (there is the "PQS" label that you can click to see the old posts on this).

This is the Quality Start with a sabermetric DIPS 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. A dominating start is scored a 4 or 5 and a disaster start is scored a 0 or 1. DOM% is the percentage of starts that are dominating, DIS% is the percentage of starts that are disasters (any start under 5.0 IP is automatically a 0, or disaster).

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.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2007 Season (as of May 31, 2007)

Matt Cain - (55% DOM, 9% DIS; 6:1/11): 4, 3, 5, 3, 3, 0, 3, 5, 5, 4, 4
Tim Lincecum - (80% DOM, 20% DIS; 4:1/5): 0, 5, 5, 4, 5
Noah Lowry - (30% DOM, 10% DIS; 3:1/10): 5, 3, 4, 2, 2, 5, 3, 3, 3, 0
Matt Morris - ( 20% DOM, 10% DIS; 2:1/10): 3, 1, 4, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 5, 3
Russ Ortiz - ( 20% DOM, 20% DIS; 1:1/5): 2, 4, 2, 2, 0
Barry Zito - ( 27% DOM, 9% DIS; 3:1/11): 2, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 2, 0, 3, 5

Giants season overall - 37% DOM, 12% DIS out of 52 games pitched (19:6/52)
Giants Month of April - 29% DOM, 4% DIS out of 24 games pitched (7:1/24)
Giants Month of May - 43% DOM, 18% DIS out of 28 games pitched (12:5/28)

So the Giants starters have been doing pretty well in their games pitched overall for DOM starts, particularly in May once Ortiz was replaced by Lincecum. A DOM at or above the 40% mark is indicative of good pitching; above 50% is great; above 70% is elite. 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.

If you had to chose a high DOM% or a low DIS%, pitchers tend to have a lower ERA when you have a low DIS% vs. a high DOM% (obviously if you combine both, you probably get an elite pitcher). That's how Lowry was able to pitch well last year, keeping his ERA low while still recovering from his strained oblique and being unable to strike out hitters as much as before, he had very few disaster starts until he had his arm problems and got bombed in September, he had a good ERA, in the high 3's until those starts.

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Generally, the Giants pitched well in a PQS perspective in May but not great. And there were a number of bumps in the road, as they had 5 disaster starts in May, versus 1 in April. The DOM is about the same as last year, but more importantly, the DIS is still much lower this year. A team can survive OK and be a winning team with average offense if the starters can keep their disaster starts low.

The staff was led by Lincecum and Cain, who had 80%DOM/20%DIS and 67%DOM/17% DIS, respectively. Both had 4 DOM starts. Lincecum had 3 5 PQS starts by himself, which equaled the total of the other three starters - Lowry, Morris, and Zito - for May. Cain got his DOM% up to 55%, which is very good, with his four DOM starts. Lincecum at 80% DOM, well obviously we know today that he's had a recent bad stretch and he's down lower now.

Lowry, Morris, and Zito's stats show how much more important it is to avoid the disaster starts than it is to have DOM starts. They all have low ERA's, Lowry and Morris especially, because of the lack of disaster starts.

PQS vs. QS

I thought it would be interesting to compare PQS against QS. QS, or quality starts, is a stat that ESPN tracks in my fantasy league where I get to control the Giants team, so that makes it easy to collect:

Pitcher - PQS/QS

Cain - 6/8
Lincecum - 4/4
Lowry - 3/7
Morris - 2/8
Ortiz - 1/1
Zito - 3/7

Clearly PQS is a tougher standard and thus a higher hurdle, as many of the pitchers have qualified for many QS but have less than half in PQS. This would suggest under normal DIPS analysis that Lowry, Morris, and Zito are pitching over their heads, in terms of ERA, since their PQS is so low. However, as I've noted in other posts, I think these Giants pitchers - Lowry and Zito in particular - are exceptions to the DIPS general tenets and principles that guide the interpretation of the performances of most pitchers.

But it is still interesting, I think, to see how the Giants pitchers are doing with regards to this stat, as this will be how the outside saber world will be viewing them. Clearly, Cain and Lincecum were doing well in terms of PQS at the end of May, but the other three did poorly or just OK, with their DOM% very low. But with the low DIS%, they were able to keep their ERA low as well.

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