Friday, September 26, 2008

2008 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 2008, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here. I wrote on this first in 2006 and have compiled their stats on a regular basis, so 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 2008 Season (as of August 31st, 2008)

Matt Cain - (60% DOM, 7% DIS; 18:2/30): 3, 0, 4, 0, 5, 2, 4, 4, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5, 3, 4, 5, 5, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 4, 4, 4, 3, 5, 3, 4, 2

Kevin Correia - (37% DOM, 26% DIS; 7:5/19): 4, 4, 4, 1, 3, 1, 4, 2, 0, 0, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 0, 4, 2 (did not count start where injured)

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (79% DOM, 0% DIS; 22:0/28): 4, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5, 4, 5, 4, 5, 3, 3, 5, 5, 2, 3, 5, 4, 3, 5, 4, 5, 5, 5, 4*, 5, 5, 5 (didn't count relief outing as start; * start where he was injured by batted ball, just 2 outs away from DOM 4 game so I gave it to him.)

Pat Misch - (38% DOM, 38% DIS; 3:3/8): 4, 0, 4, 4, 2, 0, 2, 0 (counted relief after Zito since 6 IP)

Matt Palmer - (0% DOM, 67% DIS; 0:2/3): 0, 3, 0

Jonathan Sanchez - (46% DOM, 25% DIS; 11:6/24): 0, 5, 2, 3, 5, 3, 0, 0, 5, 3, 5, 5, 4, 2, 5, 5, 5, 4, 0, 3, 0, 0, 3, 4

Barry Zito - ( 19% DOM, 37% DIS; 5:10/27): 1, 1, 3, 3, 0, 0 (Skip), 4, 3, 2, 4, 4, 0, 1, 1, 0, 4, 2, 5, 2, 3, 2, 3, 1, 3, 3, 3, 0


Giants season overall - 47% DOM, 21% DIS out of 140 games counted (66:29/140)

Giants Month of April - 43% DOM, 30% DIS out of 30 games counted (13:9/30)

Giants Month of May - 61% DOM, 14% DIS out of 28 games counted (17:4/28)

Giants Month of June - 48% DOM, 22% DIS out of 27 games counted (13:6/27)

Giants Month of July - 38% DOM, 19% DIS out of 26 games counted (10:5/26)

Giants Month of August- 45% DOM, 17% DIS out of 29 games counted (13:5/29)

First, some procedural notes. I didn't count Lincecum's relief session as a start, nor did I count it as a start for Valdez, in the D-gers game. I also didn't count Correia's injury start where he only pitched a third of an inning. However, I did count Misch's first outing, in relief of Zito, as a start because he went 6 innings and I felt he deserved it. And I counted Lincecum's start when he was injured by a batted ball, as he was dominating up to that point and only needed two more outs to reach 5 IP and get a DOM 4.

I normally write something about how they did here, but basically it was all Lincecum, all the time, again. Cain had some good starts as did Correia, while the rest of the starters stumbled along or worse; collectively the rest had 1 DOM start, 4 DIS starts out of 11 starts.

Overall, our rotation is top-notch. Lincecum's DOM is still up among the elites of the majors, if not the best in the majors, Cain is up among the best in the majors, even Sanchez is up among the good pitchers in the league, and even Correia is up among the OK pitchers of the league. Overall, our rotation is, as a whole, ranked almost among the best pitchers (best pitchers have DOM 50% and higher).

Zito, however, has been just plain horrible, but that's what happens in a transitional year like this where he had to hit bottom, with a thud, and has been slowly re-building and re-making himself. I don't know his September results yet (though could calc if had the time) but I do know his first two starts were DOM starts and yesterday's start looks like it was a DOM too, so he looks like he is well on his way, particularly since he has been able to up his velocity back up to the 88 MPH range where he needs to be in order to be successful with his stuff, which is evidenced by his ability to strike out at least the innings pitched minus 2 necessary to qualify for a DOM point.

And strikeouts are very important to DOM starts. Strikeouts are a key component to two DOM points - K >= IP minus 2 and K >= twice BB - making it a critical element of a dominating game, PQS-wise. It also makes it harder overall for hits (less AB's to get hits in) and thus is affecting whether the pitcher can keep his hits total equal to or less than his IP. The last two points are not related at all to strikeouts, IP >= 6.0 and HR <>

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 still good, and that's why he earned a spot in the starting position for the 2008 season.

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.

August's Comments

Again, normally write more, but since it's so close to the end of the season, I'll only note that the youth movement didn't really do much for the Giants this season until Sandoval and Ishikawa were brought up and both started hitting like they wanted to stay here a long time. That helped the Giants to a winning month for the first time this season and first since late 2007 season (also August) and best winning percentage since April 2007. In addition, Hinshaw and Romo came up and did likewise, they have been very good in the bullpen, and both could in the set-up spots in 2009 if they continue to do well.

So there was a lot more hope for the 2009 season as of end of August 2008. Lewis has established that 2007 was no fluke, he looks like he'll be manning LF for years to come (bunion permitting) as a league average offensively. Sandoval looks like he'll be rotating around 1B, 3B, and C in 2009, perhaps even start at 3B (probably his most regular position in 2009). Ishikawa has put his name back into strong contention for starting 1B. Burriss was also doing well too, eventually leading to being named starting SS, though he will have to fight off all comers in spring training.

Meanwhile, the Giants signed all their top draft picks, Posey, Gillaspie, Kieschnick, and Crawford, who all immediately become top prospects in our talent poor farm system at, respectively, C, 3B, RF, and SS. Our team appeared to be shaping up very nicely when August 2008 ended.

Lastly, I will leave you with this thought: the Giants record this season is basically what it had last season - with 70 wins, they will be right around last year's 71 wins - which means that the Giants basically replaced Bonds great performance in 2007 with a bunch of players contributing equivalent production overall. Through Lincecum, Fred Lewis's manning of LF, Wilson, Sandoval, Valdez/Hinshaw/Romo, Sanchez, Bowker, Burriss, Schierholtz, and now Velez, plus, of course, Aaron Rowand, all those bits of performance basically equaled replacing the run production of Bonds, which was still very good in 2007 (and also made up for horrible performances at SS until August). Chew on that for a while.

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