Friday, January 01, 2010

2009 Giants: September PQS and Final stats

Happy New Year!

Sorry for the delay, didn't realize that I didn't get this done yet.

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September 2009 and their season totals, 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

Madison Bumgarner - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/1): 3

Matt Cain - (63% DOM, 6% DIS; 20:2/32): 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, 5, 3, 4, 0, 5, 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, 6% DIS; 27:2/33): 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, 5, 5, 0, 5, 5

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

Brad Penny - (67% DOM, 17% DIS; 4:1/6): 4, 5, 3, 0, 4, 4

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

Jonathan Sanchez - (41% DOM, 24% DIS; 12:7/29): 0, 3, 3, 0, 2, 2, 4, 4, 0, 0, 3, 0, 2, 5, 4, 3, 4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 5, 0, 0, 3, 3, 2

Barry Zito - (48% DOM, 24% DIS; 16:8/33): 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, 0, 1, 5, 0, 0, 4

Giants season overall - 53% DOM, 19% DIS out of 161 games counted (85:30/161); I did not count Cain's injury-shortened start against him.

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)

Giants Month of September/October - 48% DOM, 29% DIS out of games counted (15:9/31)

Lincecum, Penny and Cain came up big in Sept/Oct, with 4, 3, and 3 DOM starts respectively. Each also had a DIS start. Sanchez did not come up big, with only 2 DOM starts plus 2 DIS starts.

Zito was the big letdown with 4 DIS starts, though the other two were DOM. Though, relative to what they were doing all season long, each pitcher had a bit of a let down in this month plus period. Lincecum only had one DIS start all year until he doubled it in this month plus. Cain only had two before adding his one, or 50% increase. Zito, with his 4, doubled his seasonal totals up to then.

In total for the month plus, there were 9 DIS starts, the worse total for any month this season. Worse DIS% of the season too, at 29% (April was 25%). In fact, Zito's 4 DIS starts alone was almost as many as or more than the staff altogether did in any prior month: 5, 5, 4, 5, 2.

Despite this letdown on both Sanchez and Zito, the Giants actually went 8-5 in their starts. Where the losses came were with Cain and Lincecum, as the Giants went 2-4 and 2-3 respectively. Of course, the offense was a big part of that, but the opposing pitchers were part of that too, as both Lincecum and Cain faced more of the better pitchers of the opposing team.

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).

2009 Season Comments

Pitching was the name of the game, as I have been saying for three seasons now. And pitching is going to be our foreseeable future, with Bumgarner about ready to make the majors (and looking to dominate, much like Lincecum) and Zach Wheeler considered a top 40 pitcher by the analysts writing for the book, The Graphical Player (and probably elsewhere, I just read this and remembered).

Yet, I still see comments out there about how the Giants should be trading some starting pitching this offseason to boost up the offense. As much pitching as we have, it is still not the right time to cash in our chips on pitching.

The right time is mid-season 2010. By that point, both Cain and Sanchez should hopefully have established themselves as good to great starters in the majors. The Giants should be trying to tie up Cain with a long-term contract extension since he's happy here and considers the Giants HIS team, as he grew up without any team affiliation, according to one interview he gave before. Also by that point, Bumgarner should be ready to make a permanent move to the majors.

If they are unable to sign Cain, then they should be looking to trade him mid-season and pick up both a bat to help us now and a bat that could help us in the future. Pitching would be nice too, and I expect a bundle of at least 3-4 good prospects, but I would want offense to the the top two prospects we get in any trade. He would be extremely valuable then, as he would still have 1.5 years economically in contract, and teams battling for the playoffs should be seeking an edge like Cain. Plus perhaps long-term.

If they are able to sign Cain, then Sanchez is also at a good point to trade. We still have 2.5 years of arbitration control, which is still cheaper than market. If he continues to do well, he'lll have the cachet of his no-hitter plus he has more talent than Cain in striking out guys (he's just not as good a pitcher as Cain). Teams, as noted, should be looking for a good addition like that. We should be able to get a good offensive piece, perhaps two good offensive prospects, depending on how desperate the other team is.

And such a move would help boost the Giants as Bumgarner should be ready to come up and replace the departing pitcher, both in the rotation and in terms of general production. Meanwhile, the trade should help boost the offense somewhere.

In addition, by then, whether in the majors or minors, Posey should be about ready to come up and contribute offensively. If he starts off in the majors (right now it seems unlikely but he could with a good spring), he will probably struggle offensively until later in the season. If he's in the minors, then obviously he couldn't contribute but could be ready to come in and do OK, much like how Sandoval and Ishikawa came up in August 2008 and hit well the rest of the season.

As I have been noting, the pitching needed to mature and develop and reach a certain talent level before they are traded off. You have to wait until the cup is overflowing with talent. People have been just too impatient with the process of re-building the team, complaining about this and that, but this team is a mere adolescent in terms of development and demanding that they do better is like asking a 10 year old to do well in the College World Series: not going to be pretty.

I think the team is getting close to the right point where we start really cashing in on the bountiful pitching we have. One thing I do admire about Billy Beane is his ability to wait out the market and draw a lot of value in trade. He could have waited on Haren, he could also have traded him earlier. But he let Haren establish his value on the market first, and when the team was in the right position, was ready to trade him.

Both Cain and Sanchez are looking ready to be trade bait that can get us a bounty of offensive talent. The Angels have a lot of offensive talent and just lost Lackey, for example. And if Lincecum proves to be a big expensive pain in the arbitration process, I wonder what type of bounty we could get for him in trade.

The key here is that Bumgarner is looking ready to leap in and take a spot atop the rotation. Thus there would be minimal transition while shifting to MadBum by trading someone. Meanwhile, we should be able to pick up some hitting as well. Plus we have Wheeler in the on-deck circle and if he develops fast like Bumgarner, we could be talking another big trade in 2-3 years of whoever is left of Cain and Sanchez, plus Bumgarner and even Lincecum.

Go Giants!

And best wishes to everyone for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!

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