Wednesday, October 08, 2008

2008 Giants: September PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September 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' Final PQS for 2008 Season

Matt Cain - (56% DOM, 9% DIS; 19:3/34): 3, 0, 4, 0, 5, 2, 4, 4, 3, 4, 5, 5, 3, 4, 5, 5, 3, 5, 3, 5, 3, 4, 4, 4, 3, 5, 3, 4, 2, 3, 0, 4, 4, 3

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

Brad Hennessey - (0% DOM, 33% DIS; 0:1/3): 3, 3, 0, 3

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (79% DOM, 3% DIS; 27:1/34): 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, 4, 5, 5, 5, 0, 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 - (45% DOM, 31% DIS; 13:9/29): 0, 5, 2, 3, 5, 3, 0, 0, 5, 3, 5, 5, 4, 2, 5, 5, 5, 4, 0, 3, 0, 0, 3, 4, 5, 0, 5, 0, 0

Barry Zito - ( 28% DOM, 34% DIS; 9:11/32): 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, 4, 5, 0, 5, 4

Giants season overall - 48% DOM, 22% DIS out of 140 games counted (78:35/162)

Giants Month of April - 43% DOM, 32% DIS out of 30 games counted (12:9/28)

Giants Month of May - 63% DOM, 15% DIS out of 28 games counted (17:4/27)

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

Giants Month of July - 40% DOM, 12% DIS out of 26 games counted (10:3/25)

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

Giants Month of September - 50% DOM, 31% DIS out of 25 games counted (13:8/26)

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 as a valid scoring 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; procedurally, he should have gotten a 0.

In September, it was all Lincecum, all the time, again. But Zito was also dominating as well, his extra velocity started paying off and he had 4 DOM starts, one behind Lincecum's 5. Cain and Sanchez had 2 each, and only Sanchez had more than 2 DIS starts; he had 3.

Zito appears to be well on his way back, unlike last year's season ending spurt which gave false hope. However he has done it - finally letting go of the contract amount, getting advice from his former pitching coach who was fired earlier mid-season, whatever - he has been able to up his velocity back up to the 88 MPH range where he was previously when younger and where he appears to need to be in order to be successful with his stuff. This was evidenced by his ability to strike out at least the innings pitched minus 2 necessary to qualify for a DOM point, plus get at least twice as much strikeouts as walks, through most of September.

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.

2008 Season Comments

Overall, our rotation was top-notch in 2008. 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 maligned 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). Few teams have a couple of starters who can be as dominating as 50% DOM and yet our rotation as whole is capable of doing that, led, of course, by Lincecum.

But Cain was very good too. Despite the many fans who think that Cain is not worth keeping or think that he's not very reliable or consistent, Cain was very good, as only very good pitchers have a 56% DOM and only among the best of the best can also keep their DIS down below 10% like Cain did as well. What he did in 2008 would be worthy of Ace status on almost any other staff other than the Giants, Lincecum's feats put Cain's in a long, dark shadow that hid his accomplishments away from some fans. Hopefully this will help illuminate his prowess and give him the credit that should be due him.

Obviously, Lincecum and Cain are the aces of the staff, but Sanchez when he was going good, was pitching at a level of an ace, he had 8 DOM starts out of 11 starts with no DIS starts, when he was going good. In fact, after his first 19 starts, he had 10 DOM starts, 3 DIS starts for a 53% DOM and 16% DIS overall, which is excellent for a pitcher over a full season, and he was about two-thirds through. Unfortunately, the wheel went off the cart at that point, and he had 6 DIS starts out of 11 after that (though still with 3 DOM starts), and he had a 45% DOM for the season, which is good for a starter; his downfall was his 31% DIS.

The best keep their DIS under 10%, the better ones keep it under 20%; 31% is plain horrible. That's what he needs to fix, but given his great 19 starts to start the season, it appears that his lack of conditioning for starting previously led to a dead arm for much of the rest of the season, as evidenced by the 6 DIS starts out of 11. In all likelihood, he should be much better in 2009.

Then there was Zito. He was horrible for much of the season, but slowly improved, with two steps forward, one or two step back, until he had his wonderful month of September. If he can continue throwing like he did in September, our top 4 of the rotation will be top notch in all of the majors. But after two years of mis-starts and bad pitching, we will have to wait and see if he can finally deliver.

Lastly, the #5 starter spot was horrible this season, though Correia pitched in a lot of bad luck, his DOM was up there among OK starters, which is great for a #5 back of the rotation starter. However, it has been speculated that he will be too expensive to keep and might get released. Given how poorly he did, he can't be expecting a raise, so perhaps he an stick around for around $1M for 2009. We will see, but if he's healthy and starting like he has shown he can do, our rotation will be excellent, best in the majors, as Correia can pitch like a middle rotation guy at times, like a good starter at other times, which is excellent coming from the back of the rotation.

Amazingly enough, if Lowry can come back and pitch like he used to, taking over the #5 rotation spot, our rotation could potentially (if Sanchez and Zito can continue to do well) not have many weak points during the season as Lowry is capable of at least mid-rotation performance. That's what gets me excited about the Giants future, most teams have a lousy #5 starter and a lot have a lousy #4 starter as well, but the Giants could potentially fill the rotation with pitchers capable of #1 and #2 type performances, all with ERA's under 4.00.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very good analysis - and I do not say that just because I agree with it.
    I believe the Giants have pitching that is in the top 5 in the Majors. And that does not include the big three in the minors - Madison Bumgarner (aka MadBum), Tim Alderson (aka Tim 2), and Henry Sosa (still thinking about a good handle for him).

    As someone who remembers other highly touted arms like Kurt Ainsworth, Jerome WIlliams and Jesse Foppert, I realize that potential is no guarantee of pereformance. However, Mr. Sabean has shown both foresight (9 teams actually passed on Tim Lincecum - who was a dominant pitcher in college - the PAC 10, no less!) and patience (Matt Cain, Brian Wilson, and Jonathan Sanchez are three arms most teams would love to have) when it comes to pitching. I believe the seeds he has planted will bear fruit in 2009, and beyond.

    For a look at the MLB.com take on the Giants farm system, you can go to: http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20081010&content_id=3610350&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=sf

    ReplyDelete

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