Thursday, May 31, 2012

2012 Giants: May PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May 2012, PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here (unfortunately, they removed the article; this link gets you at least to the PQS definition, read down to middle for details). 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).

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Instant Replay Needs To Be Implemented

Bruce Jenkins just wrote a column regarding umpires and the need to bring in a replay system of some sort. I think he hit the nail right on the head: the umpires lost their right to have unanswered calls through sheer incompetence to keep the traditional system.

ogc Thoughts

I've been for a replay system to be put into place, but I've not heard a better, more succinct wording of why it must be done until now:  the umpires lost their right to have unanswered calls through sheer incompetence to keep the traditional umpiring system.  Not that all umpiring is incompetent, but enough that I feel that something needs to be done.  I've been on board for changing the umpiring situation for many decades now.

Hopefully the MLB will do something, but I've been discouraged that anything will happen with umpires since Sandy Alderson left the Commissioner's Office. Sandy's moves, including his great move to accept only certain umpire's letters of resignation (and his great quote on that:  "it is either a threat to be ignored or offer to be accepted"), gave me hope that something would eventually be done, but instead he moved on, and a pitcher lost his perfect no-hitter plus other travesties like the latest string of complaints have happened.

If tradition is the be-all and end-all, they would all still be playing with paper thin gloves, use balls until they are falling apart, spike each other in the legs when sliding, use spitballs regularly, and the homerun ball would still be gauche while the stolen base would still be king.  Times change, technology changes, tradition changes.

For me, it has nothing to do with good teams or bad teams, it has to do with getting the correct result in any game. Recently, there was an out call made when the firstbaseman's foot was a good foot or more off the bag. And while good teams don't usually get beat by bad calls, it can cost them a playoff berth.  The Giants nearly did not make the 2010 playoffs because the umpire called Ishikawa out at home plate when he clearly scored, looking at the replay, costing the Giants a win.  Mistakes that are so obvious using current technology simply cannot be tolerated.

And I love baseball's perfect/imperfect blend as much as anyone else. I think that there is greater skill involved - see how many high school teenagers make it in other sports vs. baseball - and that is part of why I love it, as I see/feel the difference.  As a former (not so good) ballplayer, I can appreciate the ability involved with professional baseball.  As a humanist, I don't want baseball to be sterile either.

I also feel that the MLB can be improved by a replay system. I'm tired of lazy umpiring. I'm tired of blown calls. I'm not there to listen to the umpire call a strike, though that is nice sometimes. I'm there to watch baseball and to see a team's or individual's efforts ruined because the umpire was clearly wrong is infuriating, whether it is my team or another, whether it is a nearly perfect game or a laugher of epic proportions.

I like the human element too so that is why I'm OK with keeping the umpires around and to have them call the strikes (though that also bothers me too). With all the new technologies, I would like to see the MLB better enforce the strikezone as well, grading umpires on their calls, creating minimum standards for consistency with penalties up to losing their job for incompetence.  And instant replay is another aspect of improving umpiring that makes even more sense, to me, at least with balls and strikes, you can maybe recover from a blown call.  Costing a team the tying or winning run is another thing, there are some mistakes that clearly costs one team and benefits the other..

So I totally agree that the human element needs to still be in there, but I really hate when umpires get in the way of the game, the purity of the game, if you will. The game will never be perfect, but at least get the calls right to the best extent possible without ruining or slowing the game.

Bruce's suggestion makes a lot of sense, and there is usually a break in play where the reviewing umpire can override an erroneous call. You don't even need the umpires or the managers asking for a review, the review umpire job is to correct wrong calls, so he should be able to buzz the home plate umpire and inform him of any calls that are changed by the reviewing umpire or let him know it is OK to proceed, that there will be no call.  That way, the home ump keeps the attention of the crowd and not a voice on the loudspeakers announcing to the crowd, like the Wizard of Oz.

That's 15 extra umpires per season,which would probably cost this multi-billion dollar industry less than $5M per season to implement, given how good TV broadcasts are at supplying all the angles almost immediately.  That's a small price to pay to fix egregious umpire errors, and it won't add much time either, to the game, almost seamless, part of the action.  You just have the reviewing umpire somewhere with a panel of screens with the ability to view any play by the various camera angles available.  And he communicates directly with the home plate umpire, who will announce any changed plays.

As much as I enjoy seeing a manager lose it sometimes on calls, I just want the umpires to get it right on the close calls.   To expect humans to do so is folly, but we have the technology to at least help the situation without much additional cost nor much additional time added.  I would also like to see further changes related to consistent strikezones, if not across all umpires, then at least that each umpire is consistent in his calls.  But I understand that a traditional sport like baseball will only change gradually, one battle at a time.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Lincecum or Gone?

Giants fans biggest worry this season is not what most of them have been worrying about.  The offense has actually been pretty good at producing runs, based on my win/loss system of observing the production of offense and pitching (see box to the side), the Giants offense has been 30-19 in producing 4 runs or more, which is a vast improvement over last year's poor, under .500 record.  At 4.08 runs scored per game, they are just slightly below the NL average runs scored of 4.14; as my analysis shown before, when the Giants pitching is humming along, they should be winning at a high pace, a division title pace.  Yet they are only 26-23, which is only an 86 win pace.  And this despite missing Sandoval for basically half of the season so far.

The thing the Giants most need to be worried about, and some fans are getting it and starting to turn their inner hater on him, impossible as it may seem since he blazed into our consciousness, is Tim Lincecum.  And he's aware of this, stating in an interview with Baggarly that "I don't want them to hate me".  And I see it in the blogs, there are Giants fans upset with Tim, and bloggers too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Media's Biased Influence, Once Again

One of my pet peeves about the media is that they bias their writing, which either influences the audience to feel a certain way, and/or caters to that stance.  As usual, the Giants offense is good boy that gets punished.

One reporter notes, "Given eight innings against one of the league's worst bullpens, the Giants couldn't overcome a deficit..."  It was 8-0 and they scored 5 runs in 8 innings.  Even Murderer's Row Yankees rarely overcame an 8-0 deficit, though (had to count them) they had an amazing 35 games out of 152 where they scored 9 or more runs (not going to check how many 8 run deficits are overcome by a team).  And that's a 5.63 ERA on the part of the bullpen, not exactly stellar.

Another newspaper similarly headlined that the Giants couldn't overcome Barry Zito's start, like that is the offense's fault.

They scored 5 runs, which is plenty enough to win most games.  There aren't any team today that can regularly overcome an 8-0 deficit.  Even the best offense would have trouble scoring 9 runs, while down 8 runs.  The offense did well to do what they did.  The headline should have been more about Zito's poor start exacerbated by poor defense, not about the offense not overcoming an 8-0 deficit.

The biggest comeback win this season was 6 runs in the NL.  Only 47 of the 706 games played in the NL this season even had one team score 9 runs, let alone come back from an 8-0 deficit.  The Giants offense did a great job coming back.  At least the Chronicle acknowledged that, noting "never-say-die" spirit.

Giants Showing More Offensive Fight

That's what I've been saying since Matt Cained the D-backs with his 2-run double and broke up that doubleplay, the Giants have been showing a lot more fight, either winning the games or at least coming back despite being behind, though there have been plenty of games where they overcame deficits to win.  Cain showed the offense how it's done, and he has won his last two starts because of the offense, not in spite of it, as he hasn't been quite the Cain we know and love.

This is the spirit a team needs to win their division and go deep into the playoffs.  I'm still hoping that the May 12th game was the turning point for our team.  So far, it has been.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

ReCained Confidence Building

Over a week ago, Matt Cain said with his actions, "I ain't taking this anymore" and took things into his own hands.  As I noted in this post, on May 12th, he not only pitched a good game, he drove in 2 runs and set an example for the rest of the team by upending the secondbaseman in breaking up a double-play.  Shades of Ty Cobb!  I suggested that maybe he has redefined what it means to be "Cained" (which many fans use in describing when the Giants don't score enough runs for him - and sometimes others - to win a game).

Bochy dubbed Cain's efforts as "old school" and I wondered in my post whether it fired up the moribund Giants, which, even before Sandoval got injured, was basically playing around .500 all season.  Now, more than a week later, I think it has.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Thoughts and Research on Draft: First Round Picks Are Not Easy, Sabean Has Done Well in Picking

I wrote most of this (I almost always tweak my writing, plus I need to make it flow as a post, whereas in the comment, I had to flow from the comment) on DrB's great blog, in this post of his on one of the Giants games:

Someone complained about there being no impact players found by the Giants outside of the first round, where the commenter basically states that in the first round it is very easy to find good players, and therefore Sabean's hits there - Cain, Lincecum, Posey, Bumgarner - did not represent any skill on his part.  I did some research and wrote up text that I've been meaning to write up before the June Amateur draft for the past two seasons.  Better late than never, I guess.  :^)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Redefining "Cained"

It has been popular among Giants fans to call whenever Matt Cain has a good start and either don't get the support offensively (low scoring game) or defensively (error happens or bullpen implodes), they say that he's been Cained.  I wonder if Matt Cain might have redefined that term over the weekend

2012 Giants: April PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of April 2012, 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).

Monday, May 07, 2012

Huff Decision: Who Leaves the 25 Man Roster?

With Huff able to leave the DL today, the Giants now have to make a decision on when to bring him back to the team.  Most of the public talk so far centers on Huff returning today, but not that long ago, they were sure he was going to be going on a rehab assignment in order to get his bat back into shape since he's been out for 2 weeks (though I would note that while he has not been in game situations, he has been spotted taking batting practice with the team during his time on the DL).  What had interested me was:  who gets voted off the 25-man roster to make space for Huff?

Friday, May 04, 2012

Baseball Economics 101: Strategies When Resource Constrained

This post was inspired by my agitation with a caller into KNBR's SportsPhone 68 on Thursday night, May 3rd.  He complained that the Giants philosophy towards hitting must be greatly flawed because it has generated hitters who are greatly flawed - the old bugaboo, being aggressive and swinging at pitches outside the strike zone - and therefore Sabean and Bochy must be fired, either because they hew to such a strategy or that they are so flawed to always find such players.

I find the reasoning that Sabean Naysayers find  to try to justify firing Sabean laughable, mainly because they rarely see the whole and/or the big picture.  It is like the tale of the blind men holding the various parts of an elephant and trying to describe the elephant accurately.  They complain that the mighty elephant is a hoax because all they can feel is the tail, when, if they would bother to examine all the evidence that is currently available - which is easily findable via a more extended search of available evidence - they will find that the elephant is much stronger than the wimpy tail in their hands.  They leave a whole body of research and evidence that would show them the way, if they would only seek it instead of being bullied by the groupthink that pervades most Giants blogs and outposts.  This post is basically contained in my baseball team business plan (link on this page), but addressing specifically this question of why the Giants hitters are so flawed.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

When the Sandoval Hits the Fan, Who You Gonna Call? Gillaspie!

Ooof!  Disaster in Giants Fanatic Land as Pablo Sandoval suffers a very serious injury to his left hand, apparently after swinging his bat during the game, but there appears to be some lack of clarity of what exactly happened and when.  More news today.  More panic until Pablo returns to the lineup.

Not really what we need right now, losing one of our best hitters overall and best hitters with RISP.  He is third in OPS right now, behind Schierholtz and Arias, and only Blanco is among the good hitters with RISP so far, the rest are below .725.

So basically, we just lost the only regular who is hitting with RISP, while we are in the midst of another season of poor hitting with RISP.

Our main saving point so far this season is that with the team more contact oriented, with the much lower strikeout rate, we have been having a lot more baserunners, leading to more RISP opportunities, so that even though the hitters are still doing this poorly, the team has been scoring more runs this season than last:  the team has scored 4 runs or more in 15 of 24 games, or 15-9 record as reported in my side panel (which apparently local media is now using in their reporting, just saw Baggarly note my pitchers stats on allowing 3 runs or less, plus recently I ranted about how many in the media are using my offense scoring 4 runs stat but not giving me any credit, even once; hey, I'm only human, give me a shout out, even a small mention, I like getting credit where credit is due).  Meaning, if the team's defense - pitching and fielding - had been doing their job (keeping scoring 3 runs or less), we would have a better record, closer to that 15-9 instead of the current 12-12.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

The Melkman Cometh ... Perhaps to Stay?

I had wanted to post something on Melky Cabrera during the off-season, pulled a bunch of research, came up with a snazzy title :^), but never got around to posting one.  Just ran into my notes and he's been doing well, so I thought I would run with what I had before and give some further thoughts on maybe him sticking around longer.


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