Wednesday, July 08, 2009

2009 Giants: June PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of June 2009, 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). Regular readers can skip to the next section.

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.

I wholeheartedly recommend buying Baseball Forecaster and learning more about their methods of analyzing baseball. It has been greatly illuminating for me, and if you want to get a taste for it without paying full price, they used to sell their old editions of their annuals on their website for half price or less (plus shipping); but that was before he sold the company off, and I haven't checked recently.

Giants Starters' PQS for 2009 Season

Matt Cain - (67% DOM, 7% DIS; 10:1/15): 5, 2, 4, 4, 1, 4, 3, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 5, 5, 5

Randy "The Big Unit" Johnson- (31% DOM, 31% DIS; 5:5/16): 3, 0, 5, 0, 5, 0, 2, 0, 3, 5, 3, 2, 4, 3, 5, 1

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (81% DOM, 6% DIS; 8:1/10): 0, 2, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 5, 5, 5, 5

Ryan Sadowski - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/1): 3

Jonathan Sanchez - (15% DOM, 38% DIS; 2:5/13): 0, 3, 3, 0, 2, 2, 4, 4, 0, 0, 3, 0, 2

Barry Zito - (33% DOM, 13% DIS; 5:2/15): 0, 3, 5, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 0, 5, 2

Giants season overall - 46% DOM, 18% DIS out of 76 games counted (35:14/76)

Giants Month of April - 40% DOM, 25% DIS out of 20 games counted (8:5/20)

Giants Month of May - 52% DOM, 17% DIS out of 29 games counted (15:5/29)

Giants Month of June - 44% DOM, 15% DIS out of 27 games counted (12:4/27)

Lincecum kept rolling into June and had another 5 DOM starts. Cain added 4 DOM himself. Each alone had more DOM than the rest of the rotation, which totalled only 3 among themselves. However, more importantly, while there was not DOM starts, they did a good job of avoiding DIS starts, reducing the number to only 4 in June.

Johnson has not been able to give a DOM performance every time out, he can muster one up every other start or so. Sanchez had a bad string of DIS starts after his first two DOM starts - very odd - that resulted in him being put in the bullpen to straighten things out. He has put in two good relief appearances since then, and with Johnson's injury and time on the DL (initial talk was 2-3 weeks, but the TV news noted that it could be 6-8 weeks; will need to confirm this), Sanchez will take his spot. Let's see what he can do now that he cleared his head.

Meanwhile The Big Sadowski had his first major league start on June 28th (and first major league hit and first major league victory) and the only blemish was that he didn't strike out enough batters. And his next start was a DOM start that netted him his second victory. Two starts, two victories, 0.00 ERA, the world at his feet. Johnson, out with his injury, hopes to return quickly but if Sadowski can keep this up, we could be OK in his absense.

Plus, Sanchez will be taking Johnson's spot in the rotation while he is out, and he has been good in the two bullpen appearances he has made, in fact, striking out the side in his first one. And he was not that far away in his last start before he was removed from the rotation - two more outs and either one less walk or two more strikeouts, and he would have had a DOM start, his first in 5 starts. If he has turned the corner, that would also help ease the loss of Johnson.

Not that Johnson has been that great with us this season. With a low DOM% and a high DIS%, he is lucky to have such a good record and ERA (relatively). His ERA should be much higher given the high DIS%. But he had improved things lately, getting 3 DOM starts out of 6 total starts, and, more importantly, avoiding the DIS start until his last two starts.

Zito has been on and off all season long. The difference is that recently he has been starting to strike out more hitters per inning pitched and that should help him get more DOM starts. He now has two in his last four starts, and could have had three if he would have lasted just two outs longer on one start. In addition, since June started, he has a 4-2 record.

Overall, the rotation performed pretty much like it did in May, a little worse but overall very good. The DOM% went down a little but was still a very respectable 44%. More importantly, they kept the DIS% low and even got it a little lower. That is important for keeping the overall ERA lower, generally.

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.

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).

June 2009 Comments

As I noted last month, we were not that far behind in the wild card race, and with a 17-10 June, the Giants took the lead. More young players were either producing regularly or becoming white-hot or both. Sandoval in particular, pushed himself into All-Star berth consideration with his hot hitting in June (8 HR in 94 AB, .394/.459/.745/1.203 batting line). Schierholtz was also hot once he started regularly, hitting .375/.406/.578/.984 with 3 HR in 64 AB. They were joined by Ishikawa, who hit .250/.283/.591/.874 in June with 4 HR in 44 AB. They plus Rowand (hit .320/.383/.495/.878 with 3 HR in 97 AB in June) helped drive the offense in June.

The vets recently started hitting as well, helping out as the younger players have started to fade in July. Winn and Molina in particular have started hitting in July. And Uribe had been hitting nicely in June and July, now that he's been getting regularly playing time, first at 3B when Sandoval had to play 1B, and now 2B when neither Burriss nor Downs could hold the position. That has helped the Giants win two series so far in July and four in the last five games, a very nice homestand thus far.

However, while it is nice that Uribe is contributing, Bochy should really start Frandsen at 2B now that he is up - he has been on the bench for the two games since he has been up here. As nice as it would be that we get into the playoffs this season, this season should really be more about finding out more about whether we have position players who can start for us going forward. Frandsen has shown flashes in the past, and needs the opportunity to show whether he can hold the job down or if we need to find a vet who can play 2B for us in 2010.

Plus, why bother bringing him up if he's not going to start? If he's sitting on the bench anyhow, then why not bring up Bowker instead and start him at 1B and LF occassionally to take advantage of his hot bat. That would push both Schierholtz and Ishikawa, both of whom has cooled off in July so far (though small samples).

Meanwhile, there are talks of the Giants looking to add a player to help this team reach the playoffs. With the Wild Card lead, Sabean is trying to weigh development and keeping prospects for the future and improving the team to try to get into the playoffs this season. I think that it would take a deal like the one he did in 1997, where he traded a bundle of prospects to get a starting pitcher, closer, and utility pitcher (starter/reliever).

The loss of Johnson complicates things as now the team needs to hold onto Sanchez, though we do have Pucetas waiting in AAA and Martinez should be ready to play soon too, as he works his way through rehab. Being in such a good position, the Giants will probably not be focused so much on development as on making the playoffs.

I think it would be great to make the playoffs, because then Lincecum and Cain can get that off their To-Do list of first experiences, and hopefully not be so amped up the next time we make the playoffs, hopefully next season. But I hope the Giants continue to try to balance that with developing players.

I don't want to see any of our top prospects traded away. I am OK with mid-tier prospects going in a package deal to take salary off another team. But right now, I don't see any team looking to do that other than the Padres and they won't dump salary on a fellow NL West team and help us out. The Pirates will want a good package in return for Sanchez, and trading for him now will hurt our farm system. Hopefully the Giants were just kicking the tires for him or that the Pirates don't want that much in return for us taking his salary off the books while giving them a good replacement in return, though Burriss's broken foot makes including him in such a trade unlikely.

Lastly, just wanted to note that if the Giants can complete the sweep of the Marlins, that would push one of our wild card competitors 5 games behind us. And with four games against the weak 'Dres (3-7 in their last 10) before the All-Star break, they need to win that series in order to pull away from the other contenders, D'Rox (2 games back), Brew Crew (3 games back), Cubs (4 games back), Marlins (4 games back), and Reds (4.5 games back).

Pulling off a sweep of the 'Dres would put us in a nice position going into the break, and we throw Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain, and Zito at them, while we face, I believe, Geer (5.46 ERA but 1.30 WHIP), Banks (5.60 ERA but 1.36 WHIP), Silva (8.76 ERA with 1.99 WHIP) and Correia (4.58 ERA but 1.28 WHIP), respectively. Both Peavy and Young are on the DL, and that has hurt them greatly.

Lincecum and Cain should win, but Sanchez vs. Silva is still iffy, and Correia has been pitching better of late and should give Zito good competition. A sweep does not look likely, though possible. The Giants have beaten two great starters in the past week, Carpenter with the Cards and now Johnson with the Marlins, so they are capable of taking on the other team's top starters, but the 'Dres starters don't look anything like any team's top starters, so hopefully our offense can beat up on them.

7 comments:

  1. They won't be facing Silva since the Padres DFA'd him yesterday.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Boof.

    I checked their site, but no announcement on who is taking over Silva's spot in the rotation. With the All-Star break coming, they could decide to move Correia up a day and pitch Gaudin in the last game of the series.

    If so, it won't be a cakewalk for Cain against Correia, but we should still win, and Zito should have a good chance of beating Gaudin, who has not been doing well, though he does mix in a good game every now and then, and was particularly good against the AL clubs during inter-league play. And short rest might mess him up.

    FYI, the 'Dres like ex-Giants, they have Elizer Alfonzo, Kevin Correia, Luis Perdomo, plus they grabbed Travis Denker from us. Perdomo has done OK, 3.94 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 29.2 IP, but 13 BB and only 18 K's. He's also giving up too many gopher balls.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Hi Martin--thanks for the link to my blog, I've got you on mine now too. And I totally agree with you about Baseball Forecaster. I am fairly heavily involved in fantasy baseball and my teams jumped in the standings across the board a few years ago after I incorporated Shandler into the equation. It was a little hard to grasp at first but I don't make a move on the Waiver wire or at the draft without first consulting him. Cheers. --Craig

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am usually in a couple of leagues myself, the open Yahoo free for all league plus a keeper league that is fun, but unfortunately managers keep dropping off and we are forced to find new people to take over franchises.

    I stand by Baseball Forecaster totally. I used it to guide me in my first Yahoo fantasy league, but unfortunately I had already did the draft, and was stuck with a bad draw because I ended up with a lot of Giants on my team :^).

    So I had to rebuild the team on the fly, pulling available players off the free agent ranks and jumping on prospects when they hit the waiver wire. It helped me select Justin Morneau, David Wright, and Chase Utley, none of whom were established at that point. I also jumped on Ryan Howard when he was brought up. I ended up winning the league that year.

    Yeah, I rely on Baseball Forecaster for major league talent and the companion Minor League Baseball Analyst (which used to be incorporated in BF) when making moves in my leagues.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This is obviously off-topic, but...
    Sadowski throws way too many pitches out of the zone. I noticed it in his first start and he hasn't gotten any better. Today he threw 91 pitches, only 49 for strikes. Somehow he only walked 4 guys. I know he doesn't have nasty stuff so he has to nibble at the plate, but geez. No way he'll be an effective ML starter if he can't get it together.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Matt, I would say that is it on-topic, as my post has to do with a pitcher's effectiveness and how good he is.

    Yeah, Sadowski was like that in the previous games, throwing a lot of pitches out of the zone. That's why I've said on other boards, and should have noted here, that we should be thankful for whatever we get from him. He has not been that great a pitcher in the minors. That does not bode well for his future as a major leaguer.

    However, one reason pitches are out of the zone is probably because he is a sinkerball pitcher. So that makes me think of another pitcher who was not that highly considered before he made his major league debut, who was so far down the depths on his team's prospect rank that a preview of their farm system that season did not even mention him. But Brandon Webb figured out something to make his sinker and repertoire work in the majors.

    Not that Sadowski can reach Webb's potential, I think that's once in a generation, but he's a sinkerballer with a live arm, so maybe he can figure out how to adjust to major leaguers if he's given enough starts in the majors, and become good enough to hold a back of rotation spot, and, who knows, maybe be a middle of rotation guy.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sadowski's Fangraph stats should be interesting, I don't understand all of it, but it has to do with swings on balls in zone, and ball out of the zone.

    ReplyDelete

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