Tuesday, September 01, 2009

2009 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 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 - (65% DOM, 4% DIS; 17:1/26): 5, 2, 4, 4, 1, 4, 3, 3, 4, 5, 4, 3, 5, 5, 5, 3, 5, INJ, 5, 4, 4, 3, 4, 4, 4, 3, 3

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, INJ

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (82% DOM, 4% DIS; 23:1/28): 0, 2, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 4, 3, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 3, 5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 3, 4, 5

Joe Martinez - (0% DOM, 40% DIS; 0:2/5): 3, 0, 2, 2, 0

Ryan Sadowski - (17% DOM, 50% DIS; 1:3/6): 3, 4, 3, 0, 0, 0

Jonathan Sanchez - (45% DOM, 23% DIS; 10:5/22): 0, 3, 3, 0, 2, 2, 4, 4, 0, 0, 3, 0, 2, 5, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 5

Barry Zito - (52% DOM, 15% DIS; 14:4/27): 0, 3, 5, 3, 4, 4, 3, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 0, 5, 2, 0, 4, 0, 4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 4, 5, 4, 5

Giants season overall - 54% DOM, 16% DIS out of 130 games counted (70:21/130)

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)

Giants Month of July - 62% DOM, 19% DIS out of 26 games counted (16:5/26)

Giants Month of August - 68% DOM, 7% DIS out of 28 games counted (19:2/28)

Lincecum kept rolling into July and yet had another 5 DOM starts. But he did not lead the team in August, as, surprise, surprise, Barry Zito had 6 DOM starts out of 6. In addition, Lincecum was not even 2nd in DOM% for the month because Jonathan Sanchez had 5 DOM starts out of 5 for 100% DOM, just like Zito. Cain added only 3 DOM himself, as he struggled a bit, which is unusual because in years past, August was when he dominated. And Martinez had no DOM starts, leading to the acquisition of Brad Perry.

The staff altogether now have a 54% DOM overall: remember, only the best pitchers can achieve a 50% DOM in a season, but our staff is so good that as a group it has 54%. And if Sanchez hadn't decided to take on some of Johan Santana's mechanics, who knows how good he could have been this season. Since he has returned to the rotation, he has a 89% DOM, no disaster starts, in 9 starts.

Zito led the way to their amazing August where they had a 68% DOM: remember, only the elite pitchers of the league can get their DOM% to 70% and our pitching rotation did that together as a group. Zito has been amazing this month, leading the rotation and winning some tough games against the D-Rox.

Cain was disappointing because he has been up and down in August. I'm not sure why he is struggling, there is no sign that anything is wrong, for now, but he had been a horse previously, piling up the innings, so I'm worried about his health for the 2010 season, hopefully this is not a sign that he's starting to break down.

Johnson is not returning to the rotation and might not even return to the team. Sounds like he wants to return and do some relief pitching, which would be exciting to have. If he can be productive in that role, he would be a valuable addition to the bullpen.

With Penny joining the rotation, it should only get better for DOM. In his last 10 starts, he has 4 DOMs and 3 DISs starts. That would add to DOM while having the same DIS as Sadowski or Martinez.

Overall, the rotation performed pretty much like it did in July, only better. As I noted, with a 54% DOM overall and 68% DOM for the month, the staff has been great, and should only get better as long as all the starters continue to churn out the DOMs.

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).

August 2009 Comments

With their stirring sweep of the D-Rox, the Giants have climbed back to the lead spot for the wild card, tied with Colorado. With how well the pitching staff pitched in August, the offense (and bullpen) really let them down by not doing more with what the starters accomplished in August. Still, the team ended the month 16-12.

And the offense did do better, despite both Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Garko not doing much for the team, the former because he wasn't around as he did help when he was in and the latter because he didn't hit as well as he had previously. The team averaged 4.39 runs per game in August, a nice jump in offensive production.

However, a lot of that was from playing in Colorado, where they scored 23 runs in 4 games. That means the Giants scored 4.17 runs per game in the other games. They also benefited from playing in Houston, scoring 21 runs in 3 games. That drops them to roughly 4 runs per game, which is how badly they scored in previous months.

And, despite the good outings by our starting rotation, the Giants still allowed 4.18 runs per game. As contrast, it was 3.48 in July, 3.30 in June, 4.00 in May, and 4.00 in April, the worse in the season.

And that was entirely due to the bullpen, as the ERA for starters in August was 3.35 while the relievers had a 4.46 ERA in August. It was the worse month for the relievers which had a 3.36 ERA in July, 2.57 in June, 3.43 in May, and 4.16 in April. So, while the starters have taken things up a notch in the second half (3.63 ERA first half; 3.33 ERA second half), the relievers have took things down a notch (3.29 ERA in first half; 4.25 ERA second half). It would have been nice if the Giants could have picked up Trevor Hoffman from the Brewers to bolster the bullpen, or even Aaron Heilman. Hopefully Waldis Joaquin can add to the mix but that is a lot to ask for from a rookie.

Going forward, taking into account both the Giants and D-Rox records home/away, good/bad teams, and the number of games left for each, the Giants and D-Rox should end up tied at the end of the season. However, with the Giants playing them for 3 at home, that would tip things in favor for the Giants to end up one game ahead at the end. So things should be pretty close between the two teams the rest of the way.

But, of course, things will not work out exactly as those prior records did. The remaining games will be a different mix than what had happened before. Plus both teams have been playing much better than they were earlier.

In particular, the thing is that the next 13 days will be huge because the Giants will be playing tough teams like the Phillies, Brewers and D-gers, while Colorado will be playing easy teams like the Mets, D-backs, Cincinnati and San Diego. In addition, Colorado will be playing most of those games at home, while the Giants will be on the road for the most part. All this will happen before Colorado show up in SF to play 3. They could be up on the Giants again by 3-5 games depending on how well they beat up on their patsies at home and how well the Giants hold up against tough teams on the road.

Then the shoe is on the other foot. Colorado will be playing St. Louis, Milwaukee, and LAD in their last 10 games of the season. The Giants would be playing in their last 13 games the D-backs, Cubs, D-backs again, and lastly the 'Dres. If the Giants could hold their ground and stay relatively close during the next roughly 2 weeks, then they should be able to pull ahead of them in the last two weeks of the season. And should they be behind by a good number of games, this stretch of lesser teams to play is the silver lining that might help them back on top.

And, of course, the fulcrum for all these games is the 3 game series we have with the D-Rox in mid-September. It could be another situation like the last series where the Giants are behind the D-Rox by a number of games but could pull themselves back close to, or even ahead of, the D-Rox by sweeping them again. But that is a lot to ask of the team to do again.

The Giants will need to hold their own. If they can split the road games and keep winning 2 of 3 at home, they can go 7-5 in the games before the series with Colorado. Judging by how well they have played before, the D-Rox could go 8-5 or 9-4, meaning the Giants would be only 0.5 or 1.5 games behind, or perhaps 2.5 games back. Beating them 2 of 3 would roughly return us to equal to them in record and leave us with the soft part of the schedule, while they face the tougher teams.

The caveat there is that by then the Cards and D-gers might be preparing for the playoffs and resting their better players, while the Brewers would be just finishing off the season. That would make it easier on the D-Rox to beat them, as they don't have to face the other team's best lineup on a daily basis. We will see how that goes when we cross that bridge.

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