Wednesday, May 16, 2012

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).


What's Good and What's Not

From my observations, 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.

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). Read the link, as I noted, there's a nice chart there showing the combination of high DOM% and low DIS%, and there you can see particularly how s low DIS% is so important to a low ERA.

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).  But I think when the DOM% is high enough, you win more by choosing a high DOM% over a low DIS%, as there are more high quality games pitched overall.

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 2012 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (40% DOM, 20% DIS; 2:1/5):  0, 3, 3, 4, 5

Matt Cain- (100% DOM, 0% DIS; 4:0/4):  4, 5, 4, 4

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (20% DOM, 20% DIS; 1:1/5):  2, 0, 4, 3, 3

Ryan Vogelsong - (100% DOM, 0% DIS; 3:0/3):  5, 5, 4

Barry Zito - (75% DOM, 25% DIS; 3:1/4):  4, 4, 1, 5

Giants season overall - 62% DOM, 14% DIS out of 21 games counted (13:3/21)
Giants Month of April - 62% DOM, 14% DIS out of 21 games counted (13:3/21)

The Giants pitchers continued to do well, carrying over their collective goodness from last season.  But as we all know, Lincecum was not his usual dominant self.  Probably related to his decision to lose around 20 pounds, dropping him from the 190 pound range to the 170 pound range, he could be trying to figure out how to pitch again, with his reduced frame.  He wanted to drop that weight because he felt sluggish like that.

Still, their 62% DOM in April 2012 is an improvement over last year's 56% DOM, even without Lincecum!  That 62% DOM as a group is excellent - remember, great pitchers have DOM of 50% or better and they are doing it as a group.  Their 14% DIS is good, as well as an improvement over last season's 20%..

The dominant pitchers were Cain (4 DOM starts), Vogelsong (3 DOM), and Zito (3 DOM).  Bumgarner started slow again but adjusted over a couple of starts and then started piling up the DOM starts, ending up with 2 DOM to end the month.  Lincecum brought up the rear, for once, with only 1 DOM.

Most importantly, the Giants starts did not have many DIS starts.  As I've noted before, DIS starts are the ones that really give a pitcher a bad ERA.  Cain and Vogelsong had none!  Bumgarner had one to start the season and righted himself after signing his long-term extension.  Zito had one after two good DOM starts to start the season, and followed up with a 5 PQS DOM start afterward.  Lincecum at least only had 1 DIS start, leading to the low overall total of DIS starts for the staff.

Lincecum in seasons' past had 73% DOM/ 6% DIS in 2011, 61% DOM/ 18% DIS in 2010.  He only has 20% DOM/ 20% DIS in this season.  If he would have pitched like he did last season, instead of going 2-3, the Giants probably would would have been more like 4-1.  That alone would change our record to 20-16, four games behind the Dodgers, instead being 18-18 and six games back.

April 2012 Comments

Wow, to think the Giants starting pitchers could improve on last year's performance. Amazing!  Still, the pitching was lacking some early on, suffering from bad pitching, bad luck and bad defense, losing games that we should have won.  Once that imbalance was fixed, the team started playing better and winning more games.  They ended April with a 12-10 record, which meant that they were 12-7 since that 0-3 start.

However, Pablo Sandoval's injury put a damper on things and the team has struggled to a .500 record overall, going 6-6 since his injury.  Gregor Blanco has emerged to take a starting OF spot and the leadoff spot, but his strikeout rate suggests that this is just a lucky streak and Nate Schierholtz will be getting starts again soon enough.  Brandon Crawford has emerged from the break the Giants gave him, and he's been on fire for the past week or so of games once they started him in every game since his break.  And Brandon Belt, while still not hitting that well, he's at least taking enough walks to have a good OBP, and 2nd in the lineup, hopefully.  Melky Cabrera has been hot and hotter, and now there is talk about signing him up long-term from the fanbase (I had broached this topic earlier, noting the Giants need for outfielders going forward and thus if he's proving that 2011 is a new plateau for him, then we should look into signing him.

The Giants have also been suffering from an imbalance in too many road games as well as less games against big losers, that the Dodgers beat up on.  That imbalance should shift back to our advantage as we get closer to the All-Star break, which should bring them back to the pack.

Though there is really no pack.  Arizona has been a lot worse than I had expected, though I was not surprised that their pitching did not hold up.  And their Kubel signing now seems prescient given how their star CF is out injured and their star RF is scuffling big time.  And Colorado is playing so badly that they are close to #6 San Diego than the Giants in the standings.

The Giants need to tread water while Sandoval is out.  Ideally, this is when we need someone - Belt, Huff, Pill, whoever - to break out and prop up the team.  It needs a jolt of energy, which I'll be writing a little about in my next post.

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