Wednesday, October 10, 2007

2007 Giants: September PQS, Season Ending Stats

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September, 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 for continuity and historical comparison (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 end of the 2007 season)

Travis Blackley - (0% DOM, 50% DIS; 0:1/2): 3,0

Matt Cain - (56% DOM, 19% DIS; 18:6/32): 4, 3, 5, 3, 3, 0, 3, 5, 5, 4, 4, 2, 5, 4, 1, 5, 3, 1, 0, 0, 5, 5, 4, 5, 4, 3, 5, 0, 3, 5, 4, 4

Kevin Correia - (63% DOM, 13% DIS; 5:1/8): 0, 4, 4, 5, 2, 3, 5, 5

Tim Lincecum - (67% DOM, 21% DIS; 16:5/24): 0, 5, 5, 4, 5, 3, 0, 0, 0, 5, 5, 4, 4, 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 0, 3, 4

Noah Lowry - (31% DOM, 19% DIS; 8:5/26): 5, 3, 4, 2, 2, 5, 3, 3, 3, 0, 3, 2, 4, 0, 2, 5, 4, 1, 4, 4, 2, 0, 2, 2, 3, 0

Pat Misch - (25% DOM, 25% DIS; 1:1/4): 3, 3, 4, 0

Matt Morris - ( 29% DOM, 19% DIS; 6:4/21): 3, 1, 4, 3, 2, 2, 3, 2, 5, 3, 3, 5, 4, 0, 2, 2, 3, 0, 0, 4, 4 (traded)

Russ Ortiz - ( 13% DOM, 25% DIS; 1:2/8): 2, 4, 2, 2, 0, 2, 3, 0 (DL: Tommy John)

Jonathan Sanchez - (25% DOM, 50% DIS; 1:2/4): 3, 4, 0, 0

Barry Zito - ( 39% DOM, 24% DIS; 13:8/33): 2, 3, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 2, 0, 3, 5, 4, 0, 3, 0, 3, 3, 0, 5, 2, 0, 3, 0, 4, 5, 4, 5, 5, 4, 4, 0, 1, 4

Giants season overall - 42% DOM, 22% DIS out of 162 games pitched (69:35/162)
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)
Giants Month of June - 33% DOM, 30% DIS out of 28 games pitched (9:8/27)
Giants Month of July - 48% DOM, 32% DIS out of 25 games pitched (12:8/25)
Giants Month of August - 52% DOM, 16% DIS out of 25 games pitched (16:5/31)
Giants Month of September - 48% DOM, 30% DIS out of 27 games pitched (13:8/27)

After doing pretty well in April and May, then declining greatly in June and having a pretty mixed month of July, the Giants pitchers turned things around in August, on a collective level, then fell back to July's standards in September. Cain continued doing well with 3 DOM starts and Zito ended the month with 4 himself, but Lincecum was shut down after three starts, getting 1 DOM start. Correia was a full-time starter in September with 5 starts and 3 of them were DOM starts. Also, as a reminder, if he didn't get an automatic zero PQS for having under 5 IP in his first start - the Giants limited his innings since it was his first start in two years - he would have gotten a DOM for that start as well, it would have rated a 4 PQS had he gotten two more outs without damage.

Sanchez, Misch, and Blackly started as well during the month. Each had nicely pitched games, then the big disaster starts, bringing down the rotation's average for the month. For September, out of 8 DIS starts, the three of them were responsible for 4 of them (Zito was responsible for 2 of the others).

What's Good and What's Not

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. Thus what Correia has done so far in limited starts is startingly good, that's why he is now in the mix for the #5 starting position for the 2008 season, as Sabean had noted in one of his post-season talks, along with Sanchez, who previously was the favorite for that spot; now it's a competition.

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 have a much better chance of having 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.

September's Comments

The staff was led by Zito and Cain, who had 4 and 3 DOM starts, respectively, and one could have made the argument that Correia was the best pitcher in September as he had 3 DOM start and none DIS starts. Lincecum was shut down after three starts, so conceivably he could have had 1-2 more DOM starts. But that was OK, as it allowed Blackley, Misch, and Sanchez to get some starts in. Our starting rotation is suddenly overflowing, with Lincecum, Cain, Zito, Lowry, Sanchez, Misch, and Blackley looking like they can all start in the rotation for somebody (OK, Blackley not as much, but I think he did OK in two starts, which should be good enough to give him some value and projectibility for the majors).

Overflowing Pitching Rotation

Cain and Lincecum are clearly our future and Zito is starting to earn his huge contract: if they are all on in 2008, they could be the best 3-some in all of baseball, and could have a nice stretch together from 2008-2011. Lowry had pitched well enough to be in the top 20-29 in ERA in the NL from 2005-2007, which makes him #2 worthy in the NL, and he could be our #4 pitcher in 2008.

Correia had a great stretch of starts for us at the end of the season. He had been wanting to start and chomping at the bit for the past two years, because he wanted to start, not relieve. He clearly took his opportunity to start and ran with it. Counting the first start as a DOM, he would have had 6 DOM out of 8 starts with no DIS starts, which is a great stretch for anybody (75% DOM, 0% DIS). That is ace-type dominance if he could keep it up throughout a season and I think he pushed himself ahead of Sanchez for the #5 starting position for 2008, assuming no starters are traded away.

Focus on Pitching Starting to Pay Off

This is when the pitching focused strategy starts to pay off. Having so many will allow the Giants to consider trading off one or two out of Lowry, Sanchez, Misch, and Correia, to get young position players who could be part of our core from 2008 on. Sabean has said as much in his post-season conferences and interviews, that they will consider trading young pitching for .

Each year will bring more opportunities to trade off pitchers to get position players. It was rumored that the Mets was willing to trade Carlos Gomez, a young speedster for the Mets, straight up for Sanchez. The emergence of Misch and Correia as viable back of rotation starters, where teams don't really need even journeyman-like performance, makes Lowry and Sanchez expendable for the right price.

And that's what a lot of impatient Giants fans have not been getting, that we need to wait for the right package. We don't want to trade off Lowry or Sanchez just for any old position prospects, they are very good pitchers and we should get the right value for them. Just because the Giants probably won't compete next year doesn't mean that you go out and trade off pitching just for the heck of it. They have to wait for a team who really needs a starter, and then get top value for our pitchers we trade away. I don't see that happening before the 2008 season, but I think by June/July, teams will be clamoring for our starting pitchers in trade, that's when we will have leverage and can get top value for our pitching.

Other Teams Need Pitching

Look at the Brewers, don't you think that they are going to be dying for starting pitching for next season, particularly with Sheets frequently injured (and DLed) again this season. Maybe they'll be willing to trade off one of their good position player (or two) in order to get a great #2 starter like Lowry. Lowry is now an established starter with good to great performances all through his career. That should be worth at least two good position prospects - guys with potential - versus getting a known hitter.

The Mets need pitching too. So maybe the Mets would give up Gomez and Milledge for Lowry, just for a thought: one who had done well in his limited time up (Gomez) plus one who has great potential, but not capturing it in the majors (Milledge). That wouldn't be a bad haul for Lowry, though this is not probable because the Giants have so many OF prospects as it is.

And if no one bites, then we have a great rotation overall, plus the flowover will make the bullpen that much better, and better in 2008 than 2007, particularly with the loss of Benitez and additions of Wilson and Walker. Quality pitching will raise the bar for our pitching staff, and improve how they perform in 2008 versus 2007 collectively. And that will improve the team, even if the offense probably sucks again in 2008.

Rebuilding not only takes time, but it takes patience so that you don't throw away any advantage you have - as the Giants do in starting pitching right now - by just doing a knee jerk reaction just to do something, show something to the impatient fans. You don't build championship teams by always reacting to fan sentiment for action. You have to build as fast as the market allows you, and sometimes that's slow. Look at the Brewers, they have been building up to this over a 12 year period, in ernest around 8 years now.

Stupid trades can hurt more than not making a trade, which is something some fans forget. It is like trying to catch one of the huge fishes of the sea, you don't reel him in immediately when you feel the tug, you have to work it in order to catch the fish, else you risk losing it, you must exercise patience, knowing that it is just part of the process towards your ultimate goal. You can't just jump in and fix everything just like that.

15 comments:

  1. You still way overvalue Lowry. He is just not that good of a pitcher. He will be enticing on the trade market due to the fact that he is young, signed, & left handed, but he is not a #2 starter who will return the likes of a Milledge AND Gomez. One of them and a lesser prospect, maybe.

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  2. Well, we're sort of on the same page, perhaps I explained myself incorrectly.

    Yeah, I see that other teams might not value Lowry that highly, but at some point a team will be desperate for a good starter - you say he's not good, but he's a proven under 4 ERA starter, for three seasons now, tell me how many pitchers can say that - and will overpay for him. I don't think you realize how few starting pitchers have seasons with under 4.00 ERA.

    But I wouldn't want both either, particularly Milledge, I would want infield position players and the Mets don't have any that I can recall, at least any highly rated ones. I like Gomez though, so perhaps we can pick up a pitcher in the deal (Niese?).

    The Braves would seem to be a better bet for infield help, even after the Teixiera trade, as well as the Indians. And also the Angels, they have a huge surplus in MI and CI candidates, and could use a good starter.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  4. sigh.. it must be a good stat, Lowry tanked :-(

    Kenshin

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  5. Hey I know this is kind of unrelated but I could not find any other way to contact you. I have a Giants blog myself that needs to kind of get rolling so I would forever be in your debt if you put the link to my blog on yours. I did the same for you.

    the url is www.hardcoresfgiants.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. You are on my link list, Hardcore, welcome to the community.

    I screwed up on the post, forgot to update each pitcher's final DOM and DIS, sorry, they will be updated soon.

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  7. Oops, I screwed up on my comment! :^D I thought I didn't update them but I did. As Emily Lutella used to say, "Nevermind!"

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  8. Hahahahahah........LMAO!!! Milledge for Lowry? What? Seriously, what in the world are you smoking. Everyone knows that Lowry is a decent starter who has had tremendous luck on his BABIP. He is worth a Martin Prado and possibly a younger SP prospect from the Braves, but there is no chance that Lowry bring back anyone of these players. Yunel Escobar, Kelly Johnson, Lastings Milledge or Fernando Martinez. If I were the Braves I would offer Renteria for Lowry straight up and go from there.

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  9. twbravo, I will admit that it is a bit of a stretch, maybe even a big stretch, but my point, which I probably didn't make clear here, is that the Giants should be leveraging other teams weak points to get a big bounty in trade for Lowry.

    You say it tremendously luck, but he's been doing it for 3.5 seasons now, that's a pretty long lucky streak given your position. And at least he's doing it, unlike Pelfrey or Lawrence. If the Mets had Lowry pitching instead of those two, I estimate that they would have won 4 more games and been in the playoffs, instead of having the disappointment of blowing a huge lead and having the Phillies pass them up (assuming his ERA versus their ERA, the Mets runs scored average, and pythagorean W/L formula; I was about to write on this because people have problems seeing Lowry's value).

    Lowry could have been the final piece that decided which teams made the playoffs and which didn't this season. All those teams have to be conscious of that fact and will have to decide if they really want it or want to risk watching their rival do it and keep them out of the playoffs.

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  10. I like Lowry, and I would love to see the Braves get in the sweepstakes for him. However, I dont think he is as valuable as you think. I would love to trade Renteria for him and open up some money for a decent RF. There is not chance I would trade Escobar or Johnson for him. As for my "luck" assesment, please refer to this most recent article from another site.
    http://www.rotoauthority.com/

    Also, Lowry's K/BB keeps falling. That is not a good sign. He can be an Aaron Cook type pitcher, but he will have to keep the fly balls to a minimum. Get him outside of SF and he could run into big trouble with the HR. I think Chuck James is a pitcher on my own favorite team who compares favoribly to Lowry. James seems to do things with smoke and mirrors, and has a huge problem with the long ball. Not saying Lowry does have that problem right now, just saying I think he would have that problem outside of SF. My bottom line is that if I am looking for a SP from the Giants, I am going after their forgotten man Jonathan Sanchez. He seemed to be forgotten as a starter until late in the season, but his stuff looks electric. A little better control and he could be a better starter than Lowry.

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  11. Thanks TWBravo, for the link. OK, at least I know where you are coming from.

    OK, I will grant that Lowry was lucky in terms of HRs given up. His HR/FB was a good 2 percentage points lower than his career before: 6.9% vs. roughly 8.9%.

    But any luck he may have had in 2007, it is just balancing some of the bad luck he had previously in his career. In 2006, his CERA was 4.49 while his actual was 4.74. In 2005, he was even. And in 2004, his CERA was 3.73 vs. his actual 3.82.

    A minor quibble is that Rotoauthority used Bill James CERA from a few years ago. James publishes his book every year now, with his updated CERA formula, which he tweaks now and again. It's a great reference to have (though 2007 was a disaster because they published the wrong stats for the parks and managers I believe, in their rush to get it out) and very inexpensive.

    Per your comment about his getting outside SF, he improved greatly his ERA on the road in 2007, getting it close to his ERA at home, whereas he was pretty bad on the road before while doing well in SF. That suggests that he's improving and become more of a pitcher than a thrower.

    Part of his improvement overall resulted from him keeping the ball down more, raising his GB% from 36% to 45%, and drop his FB% from 45% to 36%, reversing the two. That became a double whammy with the reduced HR/FB, dropping his HR/9 almost in half, from 1.19 to 0.69.

    I think Lowry fits into the category that Tom Tippett called "crafty lefty", which are pitchers who define the DIPS/CERA tendencies, and can function well despite poor peripherals by excelling in other areas, like a much lower HR/9. Here is the link to his article: http://www.diamond-mind.com/articles/ipavg2.htm

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  12. Nice, I definetely do like that article, and I think you are on to something with the GB% going up. I think he fits very well into the "crafty lefty" mold. I am just not sure that he is the type of pitcher that it would take to bring back a player with the potential of Milledge. The Mets may have soured on Milledge, but anyone that saw him play can not deny the skills that he does have. I love the idea of trading from your strength to help your weakness though, and Lowry will be a hot commodity. I even have him on a keeper fantasy team. I just have a hard time believing in him being a number 2 starter for someone. I love the site though, I come here all the time even though I am a die hard Braves fan. I think you have some of the most in depth and thought provoking blogs of any I have seen. Keep up the good work and maybe we can disagree again sometime.

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  13. Thanks twbravo; I was wondering what your ID meant, wow, didn't realize I had non-Giants fans reading here as well. I have no problems disagreeing. Happy to have you reading, hope you will continuing enjoying my blog.

    And I suspect we are not that far apart in thought on Lowry. I can understand why you don't think Lowry is a #2 - he doesn't have the "cred" for a #2 starter. What I think the Giants have to do is sell results and Lowry has been very good since he became a regular starter.

    Since he has joined the rotation in 2004, only 80 pitchers have pitched 500 or more innings (he has a hair under 600 IP), and he had the 33rd best ERA over that time period. Assuming a 5 man rotation, the 80 pitchers would fill 16 teams. That would leave Lowry as the first #3 starter (and he's not that far from being 30th; he had a 4.06 ERA over that period, and the 30th pitcher had a 4.03 ERA, ironically Jason Schmidt). So that leaves him as a border line #2/#3 starter. I can accept that, I realize that he's not that great, but I don't think most fans realize how good he really has been since he became a starter.

    Plus, my main point, and I probably didn't emphasize that enough, is that my goal is to leverage a team desperate for that final piece to extract more from them than we would normally be able to get for Lowry. So maybe the Mets aren't that team - though if they had him instead of Lawrence and Pelfrey, they might still be playing right now. Maybe it's the Mariners who would have been battling to the end with Lowry instead of being 7 back with Jeff Weaver and other slop. Maybe it's the Brewers, who with Lowry would have won the division instead. Maybe the Yankees would have won the division and played the Angels instead of the Indians.

    Thanks again tw, glad you liked the article, I found it interesting too. If you are familar with saber-experts, TangoTiger recently discovered that pitchers are able to exhibit the ability to control BIP - after about 7 seasons worth of data... :^)

    Have a great weekend everyone!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I definitely see Lowry as a #3 type starter. It would be great if we could keep him and deal Sanchez but still get nearly the same value in a trade. If we were able to lock everyone down to long term deals we could run out a rotation of Zito, Cain, Lincecum, Lowry, Correia/Misch/whomever and have the best rotation in baseball for years to come.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Hey Martin,

    You know me, I just can't stay away from conversations on Lowry ;)

    What bothers me the most about Lowry is his injury concerns, which you can't deny there has been a trend over the last couple years with Lowry about health concerns. He added about 2 walks per 9 between 2006 and 2007, that to me is a huge red flag because as you know, loss of control is often one of the indicators of arm troubles.

    Lowry did indeed have forearm troubles at the end of this year, so it's a little discomforting to his future.

    I'm very skeptical in his new groundball tendencies. He had always been a straight up flyball pitcher and this year was the first that he posted a strong GO/AO ratio of over 1.0 (1.45). You can credit that to that he's throwing his curve more but it just seems flukey to me.

    I also worry about the decline in his K rates. In his very-good '05 he was striking out around 7.5 guys per 9 innings. In 2006-2007 he struck out around 5 guys. That's a big drop.

    So, you've got a guy who's striking out less hitters, walking more guys, and has some injury concerns. That's why I think the Giants should try and sell him now, before he turns into a pumpkin.

    Now is the time to move Lowry, the pitching market is bare and he could be overvalued because of his wins and ERA.

    ReplyDelete

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