Thursday, July 05, 2012

2012 Giants: June PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of June 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).

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 (unfortunately, they removed the article and thus the table is no longer available, sorry), 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 a 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- (63% DOM, 6% DIS; 10:1/16):  0, 3, 3, 4, 5, 5, 3, 4, 5, 4, 5, 3, 5, 4, 3, 5

Matt Cain- (81% DOM, 0% DIS; 13:0/16):  4, 5, 4, 4, 4, 5, 5, 4, 4, 3, 5, 5, 5, 2, 5, 3

Eric Hacker- (100% DOM, 0% DIS; 1:0/1): 4

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (50% DOM, 19% DIS; 8:3/16):  2, 0, 4, 3, 3, 3, 4, 5, 0, 1, 4, 5, 2, 3, 5, 5

Ryan Vogelsong - (64% DOM, 0% DIS; 9:0/14):  5, 5, 4, 3, 2, 3, 5, 2, 5, 3, 4, 5, 5, 4

Barry Zito - (44% DOM, 31% DIS; 7:5/16):  4, 4, 1, 5, 0, 2, 4, 4, 0, 4, 4, 1, 2, 0, 3, 3

Giants season overall - 59% DOM, 11% DIS out of 79 games counted (47:9/79)
Giants Month of April - 64% DOM, 14% DIS out of 22 games counted (14:3/22)
Giants Month of May - 59% DOM, 14% DIS out of 29 games counted (17:4/29)
Giants Month of June - 57% DOM, 7% DIS out of 28 games counted (16:2/28)

The Giants pitchers continued to do well, and that was in spite of Zito, who struggled during June.  Lincecum we all know has been having problems, but he actually had 3 DOM starts and zero DIS starts in June, while Zito only had 1 DOM start but two DIS start in 6 starts.

Still, their 57% DOM in May 2012 is similar to last year's 56% DOM.   That 57% DOM as a group is still an excellent number - remember, great pitchers have DOM of 50% or better and they are doing it as a group.  Their 7% DIS is good, as well as an improvement over last season's 20%.

The dominant pitchers were Cain (4 DOM starts) again and Bumgarner (4 DOM) again, plus Vogelsong had 4 as well.  Lincecum, as noted, had 3 DOM.  And Zito brought up the rear,  only 1 DOM.

Most importantly, the Giants starts did not have many DIS starts again.  As I've noted before, DIS starts are the ones that really give a pitcher a bad ERA.  Everyone except for Zito had none, who had 2 again in June.  Zito actually ended the month strongly with 3 DOM starts out of 4 and continued that into his first start in June, before a poor three start stretch, before stabilizing in his last two starts.

Lincecum in seasons' past had 73% DOM/ 6% DIS in 2011, 61% DOM/ 18% DIS in 2010.  He only has 50% DOM/ 19% DIS in this season, but that was much improved over his 36%/27% that he had entering June.  Plus, that is actually good.  If he had team results like he did last season, instead of the team going 4-12 in his starts, the Giants probably would would have been more like 10-6.  That alone would change our record to 51-29, running away with the division and 7 games ahead.

It should be noted that Tim actually did better in June over May, as well as May over April, so he has been trending upward, July's Washington start notwithstanding.  He had 1 DOM start in Aprile, 3 DOM starts in May out of 5 starts, and 3 DOM again in June but with no DIS starts.  That worked out to 60% DOM in May and June, which is still very good.

It was also pretty clear by the pitching peripherals why each month was such for each pitcher.  Bumgarner had 5.6 K/BB, Vogelsong 3.0, Cain 4.8, Lincecum 2.7 (2.2 is good; 2.4 is very good).  In Zito's case, his K/BB ratio fell from 2.33 to 1.0 to 0.95, as his walk rate basically tripled from his early season success.  He basically needs to cut out the walks to return to good pitching performances again.

Amazingly, for the season, we have three pitchers pitching really well in terms of DOM and, more importantly for ERA, DIS.  Cain leads the way with 81% DOM/ 0% DIS, but Vogelsong has a very good 64% DOM/ 0% DIS and Bumgarner a similarly good 63% DOM/ 6% DIS.  As noted, Timmy raised his overall numbers into good territory, 50% DOM/ 19% DIS.

And Zito brings up the rear again - but in this rotation, almost any other pitcher would too - with 44% DOM/ 31% DIS.  And that is actually good in terms of DOM for pitchers in general, though horrible for DIS.  The key to his still good ERA so far, unlike Timmy's bad ERA but better PQS profile, is that he has been able to contain the damage in his disaster starts.

In addition, he hasn't had his good mojo in his last five starts - before that he had a 64% DOM/ 27% DIS, which was up there with the rest of the staff.  At that point, he reached 66.1 IP, which is not even close to the 92.2 IP he threw last season, so conditioning should not be an issue, but obviously something went very wrong there, as he had 3 disaster starts in a row there.  The good news is that he has had two straight 3 PQS starts, and with one more strikeout in each start, they both would have been DOM starts, so he's very close to being back.  Hopefully the All-Star break will help him locate his good strikeout mojo again, perhaps a pep talk refresher with Tom House would help.

June 2012 Comments

Brandon Belt was the big contributor offensively in June, finally breaking out the way we all felt he could do. His batting line was .296/.400/.563/.963, leading in the top 3 categories, he was tied for 4th in BA.  Buster Posey also hit his usually good numbers, .299/.379/.483/.861.

But Melky had cooled off considerably - most likely due to his hamstring problem, as his extra-base hit production fell in half, in terms of balls that fell for hits in the field (i.e. excluding homers) from pre-injury to post (which happened on June 7th).   Still, he hit a respectable .304/.343/.441/.784.

Unfortunately, the OF fell off drastically, Blanco fell to .218/.277/.355/.632 and Pagan to .245/.302/.306/.608.  So Schierholtz might see more action as he hit .250/.368/.344/.712 in limited action in June, though he hasn't been hot himself.

Theriot also cooled off, though his OBP is still good, .307/.333/.351/.684.  And Crawford has been OK for a SS and for a #8 hitter, hitting .260/.313/.377/.690, with a good contact rate of 87%, which he wasn't doing for a while after they worked on his mechanics in early May, but appears to have incorporated that into his mechanics in June.  Since June 10, his low point, he has hit .321/.345/.464/.809 in 16 starts, 19 games (out of 21 total team games).

Arias continued to be cold and if it weren't for Sandoval's bad physical condition after returning, Arias probably wouldn't have even seen that much playing time as he did (60 PA, 15 starts).  I have to think that either he or Burriss could be replaced by the end of July, via trade, or if Franchez ever heals in time to make this season.

Also very disappointing this month has been Hector Sanchez.  Right when he is getting more starts - he got 10 in June - his hitting took a big hit, .222/.216/.250/.466, as his started striking out a lot more.  That cut sharply into his RBI totals for the month, as in previous months, he was among the leaders in RBI despite playing part-time.  Looks like he's getting beat up a lot as a catcher, just by following the games and news, and that appears to have taken a toll on him.

The pitching has been great as usual, overall:  3.35 ERA overall for the staff.   And the defense stellar, only 4 unearned runs for the month, for a great 3.42 runs allowed per game.  They had a 3.63 RA last season.

We know who was really good generally, so I thought I would point out two who might not be recognized for that.  George Kontos had a great month, 2.16 ERA in 7 appearances, 9.7 K/9 (excellent) and only 1 walks for a stellar 9.0 K/BB ratio (8.1 IP, 9 K's, 1 BB).  Jeremy Affeldt also did well, 2.38 ERA in 11 games, 2.67 K/BB ratio (ideally closers have at least 2.4 K/BB, good pitchers at least 2.0).

Performing badly, besides Zito and Lincecum, were Loux, Hensley, and Casilla (ERA's all above 6).  Loux had bad BABIP luck, as his K/BB was 2.5, but oy, all those hits.  Casilla was not great but he did have a 2.0 K/BB and 10.3 K/9.  He also had some bad BABIP luck.  Hensley, however, after a great start to his season, just plain walked too many batters, 8 in 8.2 IP, only 6 K's, for horrid 0.75 K/BB, plus he also gave up a lot of hits.

Overall, though, the team was 17-11 and they earned that with their hitting and pitching, but mostly their pitching and fielding.  Plus a little Bochy magic, they were 6-3 in 1-run games in June.  They also took first place as the Dodgers fell back to the pack, as I had been expecting in this stretch, though they fell further than I imagined, I would have been happy with being 2-3 games back, and here we were 1 games ahead.  They were 11-17 for the month.  The D-backs rose, as they got their pitching into shape - again, rotation in shambles but they cobble together a working rotation by June - as they were 16-10 during the month.

I think the All-Star break will be welcomed for much of the team, except for our four All-Star players, Cain, Posey, Cabrera, and Sandoval.   Especially Sanchez, as his body is beat.  If Belt can continue his nice stretch of hitting and Blanco can turn it on again in terms of OBP, I think the team's offense will be good enough to have another winning month, plus should note Pablo Sandoval's power hitting is definitely kicking in, since June 25th's 2 double breakout, he has hit .367/.412/.767/1.178 and, more interestingly, a sustainable .360 BABIP (2 HR in 30 AB, 9 games), so that makes Belt continuing his hot hitting a bonus for the offense, most probably.

And if the pitching can hold up - I think Lincecum will be his usual self in the second half, he's been slowly progressing there the whole season, just agonizingly slow for our 2 Cy Young ace - we should be OK there as well, with Casilla being my only real worry.   But I like the addition of Penny to the bullpen, I can see him working his way to set-up duties if he keeps up the good work and Kontos has been a great addition, replacing the performances that Casilla was providing when The Beard walked to our mound.

Still, the team will need to tread water in terms of the standings for the next 13 games, as there are 10 road games among them, before a 10 game homestand, which brings us to the end of July and into early August.   The Dodgers are going through a similar stretch of road games as well, perhaps even longer, so we should be able to hang close to them, if not on top.  

Arizona was the one to watch, but they are on a 5 game losing streak - getting swept by the Padres at home is pretty bad - and have lost 7 of 9, so the pressure is not as hot as it could have been.  Still, they play more games at home than road for the month, so they could insert themselves in the divisional race with a good stretch of playing.  So while I would not expect the Giants to fall too far from the race - barring losing one of our better players to a long-term injury - but would not be surprised if it were a three horse race by the end of the month, though the odds of that looked better until the D-backs recent bad skein.  Still, as DrB notes sometimes, they are dangerously close.


  1. Just saw the news, Freddy Sanchez is out for the season for back surgery. Luckily he didn't want to sign for 3 years with us...

    I can maybe see the Giants offering a minor league deal or even $1M deal to Sanchez for 2013, but have to think the Giants will mostly move on, with either Theriot being the starter and maybe Noonan in the mix next season, along with Burriss, if he survives this season. Given how poorly Arias has hit, even worse than Burriss, he will be odd man out eventually if he does not bring his average up higher. And, of course, if any free agent MI looks interesting, Sabean will kick his tires as well.

  2. Random Giants thoughts I had posted on DrB's:

    Gary Brown is on fire!!! He's finally figured out the league and now taking no prisoners!

    I've seen rumors that the Giants are supposedly in on Greinke - which didn't make sense - and that rumor was knocked down by Henry Shulman today in his blog. Shulman interviewed Sabean the other day and Sabean reiterated what he told Shulman a month ago, the Giants are not looking for a starting pitcher.

    He's reportedly looking for a position player who he can keep long-term, so that could mean that a lot of our top prospects could be in play.

    It also noted that he was looking at pitchers, which means relievers since he's not looking for starters. Have to think that Hensley's job is the one gone if the Giants acquire anyone.

    I saw somewhere, don't recall now, but someone dissed Jeremy Affeldt's performance this season. I think he has been fine, if not pretty good. Good 2.6 K/BB ratio (ideally you want closers with at least 2.4, from what I recall, so that's good for a set-up reliever). He has been very good in 3 of his 4 seasons with us, don't know what more he could have done, really.

  3. OGC - hope your summer is going well - check this out:

    Looks like the literal reading of the was right after all. This devalues the let em walk aspect of Cabrera and Pagan.

    1. Thanks Shankbone! Yes, going well, particularly with Giants doing well! :^) Was just off on vacation, just got back last night.

      Thanks for the announcement. Yeah, losing players like this is not really the way to go anymore, but it also kills some of the trade value as well, limiting it mostly to how badly the team needs that player. Teams have to do trades at least a year ahead in order for the new team to get any compensation, and basically the team getting that player will be motivated to try to sign the player for maximum long-term value for the players given up in trade, like what the Phillies did with Hunter Pence, or BoSox with A-Gon, or Nats with Gio.

      Hopefully, since Melky is publicly having his agents talk to Giants about a long-term deal (sounds like he wants at least 4 years because I recall an interview probably in the same article where he said he would like to be on a team more than 2 or 3 years) and Sabean already said that the Giants would be open to discussing this before the end of the season, a fair deal can be done before the end of the season. But I would have to check around at some recent contracts to see what I think is fair and whether that would pass the smell test. You have any thoughts yet on what would be fair for him?

    2. I was gone as well. Quite nice to be away from all tv/internet/etc.

      I am getting a bit irrational about Melky. Aaron Rowand deal, or even 5/75MM. Anything limited to 4 years would be a steal I think. The thing that will limit how much money Melky can get is his lack of power. So maybe 4/60MM? He is definitely getting paid though, especially after the All-star MVP and all the national attention. Cost of doing business I guess.



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