Thursday, September 27, 2012

Your 2012 Giants NLDS Starting Pitching

Bochy has already announced that all five starters will be on the playoff roster.  I thought I would write about my thoughts on the starting pitchers.

Your 2012 Giants Playoffs: No Crying Over Melk-less Playoffs

The Giants announced (and Baggarly shushed out with his internal sources) today (Schulman) that Melky Cabrera will not be included on the Giants playoff roster if and when he become eligible.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Your 2012 Giants Are In The Playoffs!

With the Giants 8-3 victory today, after the D-gers lost to the Reds (who, FYI, clinched their division title with their victory), they have clinched the NL West Division title!  This is their second title in three years, in fact, the three years of 2010-2012, as the team are well on their way towards my prediction of their being the Team of the Decade for the 2010 decade.  Schulman noted that this is their 5th NL West Division title in 16 years with Sabean as GM, 8th overall for the San Francisco franchise since divisional play started, which, by my math,  means that 62.5% of our NL West Division titles have come during Sabean's reign.

The Giants are now 25-10 after the Melk-Gone, winning 6 in a row to clinch in a flourish.  They are now 74-46 since Cain exhorted his team when they were 15-17, and pitched and hit his way to a victory on May 12th.   They are 34-18 since they traded for Marco Scutaro, 33-16 since they traded for Hunter Pence, and 18-8 since the D-gers traded for A-Gon et al and "assured themselves" of relevancy in the 2012 pennant race.  They are now looking behind the 8-ball for even making the playoffs, let alone not even coming close to the NL West Division title.

The Giants and D-gers were last tied for the NL West Division lead on August 14th, which also happened to be Melky's last game for the Giants.  As noted, the Giants went 25-10 after that huge blow.  The D-gers soon picked up A-Gon et al in their big blockbuster trade, in fact, the lead went back and forth for the week after Melk-Gone, with the D-gers last holding the lead on August 19th, yet went 14-21 during that period, 10-16 after gaining A-Gon, meaning they played even worse after the trade, whereas the Giants played better once Melky was gone.

The media noted that Melky never said good-bye or met with the team to explain himself.  Perhaps that bonded the team together in a way that they had not achieved before then, as, frankly, the Giants were seen as cheats who did not belong where they were.  With their performance since, I think they have put an exclamation point that they did and do deserve it because, in the end, they earned it by running away with the division in the wake of both the Melk-Gone and the A-Gon et al.  They did it in a very decisive way, by nearly being the first team to clinch the division title in the NL this season, and still did it the same day.  Melky was a useful addition, for sure, the Giants showed what they were made up in the wake of his scandal, a scandal that would have sunk lesser teams.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Your 2012 Giants are 87-63: Clinching the Padres?

With the magic number down to 3, the Giants look pretty good to clinch the NL West Division Title during this series.  Lots of combos will lead to the Giants clinch, only a few lead to no clinch, as I commented on the Colorado series.  However, it won't be easy as the 'Dres have been as tough a team to beat over the past three months.

They have compiled a 16 games over .500 record since June 20th and 29th, their two low points in terms of games under .500, though I suppose I should go with their 24-46 record on June 20th as their low point in terms of winning percentage:  .343 or a 56 win rate over  a 162 game season (56-106).   Since that date, they have gone 48-32 (roughly half a season) for a .595 winning percentage, or a 97 win rate (97-65).  So they have been playing very well for a long time and if the Giants did not make their big push, they probably would still be in contention for the division title.  With that great play, they are only 2.5 games behind the D-backs for third place in the NL West and 5 games behind LA (though with 12 games left, it would be hard for them to catch up with LA).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Ryan's Song: Will His Throat Clear? Or Will the Cancer Spread?

I wrote much of this post in response to a Rob Neyer article, which was a response to Bay City Ball's excellent blog on Ryan Vogelsong, and how Giants fans should not get into panic mode.  I also added the large paragraph on Lincecum as well as words here and there, while at lunch.  I never stop tinkering...

Monday, September 17, 2012

Your 2012 Giants Magic Number is 9 With a Four Gamer Against Colorado

Wow, could not be better set up:  the Giants want to reduce their magic number by a lot and we get to face the Rockies for four games, against their 4-man rotation with 75 pitch limit experiment going on.  It does not appear to be working, if you look at the probable pitching matchups, their pitchers description notes how their pitchers are giving up at least 4 runs in their outings, this in spite of their limit on pitches, which generally has meant that they only pitch around 4-5 innings (4 or less when not doing well).

That's why I'm taking it easy with this series preview.  Please go to the link above for the text I've been copying into my blog post, and you'll see the sad parade of Rockies starting pitchers, in fact, we get to see their whole rotation, versus our top four starters right now, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Cain, and the amazing Zito, who is pitching his way in (and Vogelsong pitching his way out) of the playoff roster.   If we don't win this series, then we got problems bigger than figuring out the playoff rotation.

The Rockies are 5-10 in September and sinking like a rock, though I would note that they actually had a winning month in August, so that is a surprise (16-13) but an anomaly, as they were 10-18 in May, 9-18 in June, 7-17 in July.   In fact, it was their only winning month of the season, so the rotation was working for that month before letting down in September.  They also dealt the remaining division title contenders a blow at home, winning three straight series against LA, SD, and SF in August.  However, that was after a post-ASB malaise, losing series against Phillies, Pirates, Reds, Cards, Giants, before straightening out in the next homestand, winning 5 of 7.  Their winning month was built on sweeping the Brewers and Mets, basically, plus winning a series in LA.

And they have helped greatly in getting the Giants into the position where they are now:  they are 5-6 against AZ, 8-7 against LA, but 4-10 against SF.   They are responsible for 2.5 games of our lead over AZ and 3.5 games of our lead over LA.   And with these four games, perhaps more.

I'll cover the Giants pitching since that is our rooting interest.

Madison Bumgarner has a 1.04 ERA against Colorado in 4 starts at home.  22 K, 6 BB, in 26.0 IP, excellent ratios there, so that dominance was earned.  But wow, lots of them have hit Madison well (in Colorado clearly), Car-Gon (1.213 OPS in 25 PA), Pacheco (.357/.357/.429/.786 in 14 PA), Rosario (.300/.364/.500/.864 in 11 PA), Nelson (.556/.556/.556/1.111 in 9 PA), Colvin (2 for 6 with triple), Rutledge (.833 OPS in 6 PA due to HR), McBride (2 for 4).  The question seems more like who HASN'T hit him well in his career.  Yet his sterling record against them at home, clearly not against this bunch of Rockies, they battered Bumgarner in Coors, clearly.

Tim Lincecum has a 3.16 ERA against the Rockies in 9 starts in SF.  Of course, history does not mean as much since Timmy is different this season than prior seasons, though better now than earlier in the season.  Car-Gon (1.027 OPS in 44 PA), Rosario (.667/.778/.1.500/2.278; wow, 4 for 6, two doubles, HR, 3 walks, only one K, he has owned Big Time Jimmy Tim), Nelso (2 for 3 with 2 walks), else he has done OK but not shutdown with others.

Matt Cain has a 3.24 ERA in 16 starts against the Rockies at home.  He has walked a lot of Rockies, so his good ERA looks overstated as to his dominance, but after 16 starts, that pretty much means that what you see is what you get, he just dominates them in SF.  And he owns Car-Gon (.133/.250/.133/.383 in 36 PA) and most of their lineup.  Francis, who is a pitcher, is the only hitter with more than 4 PA to have a good OPS against him.  But LeMahieu was 2 for 3 with a HR for a great batting line (probably in Colorado, though).

Barry Zito brings up the rear, literally and figuratively, but not against the Rockies, he has a 2.05 ERA in 9 starts and 1 relief appearance against the Rockies in SF.   He has 55 strikeouts and only 19 walks for a stellar 2.9 K/BB ratio, in 65.2 IP.  And he just owns them, he has a 2.59 ERA in Colorado, probably one of the few pitchers in history to do that, and he has had 8 starts and 1 relief appearance there, so it is no fluke, there will always be a pitcher who seems to own a team and they appear to be his bitch.   Still, he does have trouble with certain hitters:  Car-Gon (surprise, surprise: .308/.333/.500/.833 in 27 PA), Giambi (old teammate has owned him, .235/.480/.647/1.127 in 25 PA), Hernandez (another old teammate, .333/.455/.444/.899), plus Colvin (2 for 4 with HR), Pacheco (2 for 4), Rutledge (1 for 3, double), and LeMahieu (1 for 1, with walk).

And this will be a test of Bochy's theory, in an interview yesterday, that home has hurt the Giants offense more than the opposition.  The lineup appears to be pretty steady now, set mostly in stone from up top, barring injuries, so it should be a fair enough test (though obviously small samples).  Can they continue that well-oiled offensive weapon that they exhibited on the road?  I think if Sandoval and Pence can start hitting, everything will be fine, the offense would continue to carry the team during this homestand.  When you got a hit parade going, it could be like that conga-line scoring scene in the classic Bugs Bunny baseball short.

ogc Thoughts

I actually like the Rockies' pitching rotation idea.  Pitchers usually kill in their first couple of times though the rotation, it is usually after that gets to some, as they begin to tire, as well as get familiar to the hitters.  Also, by limiting the pitches, you free the pitcher for two positives, one is that he does not have to save as much for later, so presumably you can hump it up like a reliever and get more strikeouts, and the other is that you forcefully change the pitcher's thinking to focus on not getting the strikeout, but being more efficient in getting out of innings, as the less pitches you throw in an innings, the deeper into the game the starting pitcher could go.  On top of that, relievers tend to be better than starters (due to the lack of need to save it for later), so if you put that together, that theoretically should yield better games pitched.

However, it has not worked out in execution for them.  I think that this scheme might take a while to get used to, which takes them out of their routine, causing poorer results early on, then as to their recent problems, well, it can only work so well against better, more talented playoff contending teams.  Plus, they have been losing for a long time, even before this scheme, meaning they aren't all that good, though I would note that they did have their only winning month of the season, August (16-13), using this rotation.  I'm not sure when it started, but it would be interesting to track the Rockies record since it started.  Oh, and I just noticed, they went to a five man rotation when Chacin rejoined the rotation on August 21st.

Looking at their games rest stats in's game log for pitchers, it appears that they first started up the 4 man rotation scheme on June 23rd.  Assuming that was the beginning of their journey, they were 36-59 at that point, .379 winning percentage, but have been 22-28 since, .440 winning percentage.  That was a 61 game seasonal win rate before, versus a 71 game seasonal win rate after.  They actually reached 18-18 on September 2nd with their win over San Diego, but then lost series to the Braves (3 of 4), Phillies (swept in 3), Giants and SD.   And they benefited by sweeping the Brewers and Mets in August (3 and 4 games, respectively).

Either way, I see this as a win for them (much like I was advocating for lesser prospects like Ortmeier to get starts back a few years ago, which MCC-ites didn't understand).   If it works out, you have another weapon you can use, another tactic.  If it don't work out, you lose a lot of games, which sets you up nicely for good draft position in the following draft.  That is how teams should approach rebuilding, people think that prospects like Ortmeier are not worth the try but at that point of the rebuilding, you find out for sure that he's not really all that, give him a shot, and you win either way.

They currently have the third worse record in the majors, and 6 games "ahead" of Miami, who holds the 6th draft pick right now, so they are pretty much assured of getting a Top 5 pick in the draft, which should be the goal of any team suffering from a losing season.  Once you know you are out of it, you should tank the season as best as you can without losing the ticket buying public, so that you can get into a Top 5 draft pick slot, where the odds are best for finding a good player, from my study of the draft.

Magic Nine

The Giants magic number is 9 and could be chopped at least almost in half with a win in the series (which means at least 3 wins plus assuming LA lose at least one game against the Nats in DC, where they have a stellar 44-27 record).  Even if the Giants split (drop 2 off the magic number), given how poorly LA has played A.M. (After Melky) and how well the Nats have played, they look likely to lose two in D.C., which would also give us a drop of 4 off the magic number after this series, reducing us to a magic number of 5 after this series.  So I would be disappointed if the magic number did not drop to at least 6, and I think we have reasonable expectations that 5 is relatively easily attainable too.  And that should just about eliminate the D-backs in this series.

Right now, if the playoff rotation was to be selected now, I can see the Giants bringing along all five starters, but that the playoff rotation will only have the first three starters written in stone, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Cain.     If game 4 was a potential loser for us, I can see Bochy pushing Bumgarner to start with less rest between starts; else, I would see Zito starting, with Bumgarner in the deciding 5th game.

However, I expect Bochy to fiddle around with the rotation when it comes time for the playoffs, should we make it in.  Particularly since the rest for the division winners get in order to allow the wild card teams to play for a playoff spot.   If we go by seasonal ERA, it would be Cain, Bumgarner, Vogelsong, Zito.  But if you go by ERA after the ASB, it would be Lincecum, Bumgarner, Cain, Zito.   I have to think Bochy will go with his 2010 rotation of Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner to start, then Zito or Vogelsong or Lincecum for the 4th game, depending on the situation and how his gut feels (and he has a good gut, one of the few managers in major league history to be statistically significantly above .500 in 1-run games, from my estimation).


One of the beat writers note that Bochy will have a hard job winnowing down the current 37 man roster to the 25-man playoff roster, but I think most of the spots are already taken.

For the pitching, it is really easy, I think these pitchers already have spots:  Lincecum, Cain, Bumgarner, Romo, Lopez, Affeldt, Casilla, Kontos, Mota, Mijares, and Hensley should get one if he pitches effectively in the rest of the season, as he was very good until he went bad.  That's 11 spots right there.

Among the position players, the lineup is assured:  Pagan, Scutaro, Sandoval, Posey, Pence, Belt, plus Crawford and Arias at SS, and Blanco and Nady in LF.  That's 10.  Then the bench of Sanchez and Theriot, and Huff also looks like he has earned a spot with his great hitting off the bench.  That's 13 spots for the position players.  And barring injury (and that is a potential question, as Blanco has a bad shoulder, Pagan a bad back, Sandoval has had hamstring problems, Nady too, plus Huff is a big question mark period), I don't see who else might get a spot, maybe Pill, but at this moment, nobody else has really shown enough to warrant a deep look, these are the 13, unless the Giants want to carry more pitchers, but even there, there is not that many borderline choices.

That leaves one spot that is in question, and it is most likely a pitcher.

So I don't think that it is all that hard a task to reduce the roster down, for the majority of the players in the mix are not really contenders for a spot.  I would say that it will come down to Zito vs. Vogelsong for the last spot, with Vogelsong getting the nod for general excellence and experience relieving, but that if he can't get back to a semblance of good pitching in his final starts of the season, Zito probably wins that spot, as he has spot relieved before, and, in fact, volunteered for one with the Giants.

And if both are pitching well by the time the playoffs come, I can possibly see Hensley being pushed out of a playoff roster spot to accommodate both of them on the roster.   As nicely as Hensley has done, even when he was performing well, his walk rate was sky high.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Your 2012 Giants are 81-62: Drowning the D-backs

The D-backs are 10 games behind but have 6 games left with the Giants.  If they can win all 6 games, they would only be 4 games back, still far back with only 13 other games to make up those four games, but close enough to sniff the division title.  And what alternative do they have other than to win and try to be an obstacle in the Giants path to the division title?  Meanwhile, they are getting close to the second wild-card slot as well right now, and sweeping the Giants would put them that much closer to that second slot.  So they should be highly motivated to try to sweep the Giants.

They just had a mano-a-mano series against LA, who also needed to win, and they won both games in the series, beating Kershaw, the Giants Killer.  Still, after a nice win streak when they won five games in a row back at the beginning of June, ending June 10th, they have only been 41-42 since, so they clearly have not done well for a long time, win a few, lose a few, never getting too far from .500 since then.  They need to have an extended period of good play to get into the playoffs but they are only 9-11 in their last 20 (19 games left) and 14-16 in their last 30.  So it has been more that LA was falling back to them than them rising to LA.  And San Diego is only 2.5 games behind them now, but has been playing well for over two months now.  SD might pass up both AZ and LA if those teams don't watch out.

Friday, September 07, 2012's 2012 Giants Top 20 Prospects: Post-season Edition

The's Jonathan Mayo publishes a Top 100 Overall and Top 20 by Team ranking both before the season as well as after.  He just released the post-season rankings.  The Top 100 is here.  The 2012 Giants Top 20 is here.

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Your 2012 Giants Are 77-60: Beat LA!

The Giants have been up and down lately, but so has the D-gers, unable to lift off the ground, as they had expected, when they made the blockbuster trade with Boston, k.  The Giants are 6-5 since the Boston-LA blockbuster trade, LA has been 5-7.  The key thing, however, is that the Giants are 13-7 since the Melk-down, while LA went 9-12, as they were tied when the Melk hit the fan and now the Giants are 4.5 games ahead of the D-gers.

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

2012 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 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 recommend buying their older books via their website to read up on this methodology and concept). 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, September 03, 2012

Your 2012 Giants Are Leading: Dumping the D-backs

The Giants have done a good job showing the majors that it was not Melky responsible for their good showing up to now, that it was their team.  Now they are facing their two closest rivals for the NL West Division Title this week, starting with the D-backs.

The Giants lead is so much that the only realistic way the D-backs can win the division now is to win (i.e. sweep), the remaining nine games they have left with the Giants, starting with these three in SF.  Gibson's luck last year (12 games over .500 in one-run games) regressed to the mean this season (10 games below .500 in 2012), so they have been swimming upstream for the most part and not succeeding.  Each Giants win means another nail in the coffin that is their division title hopes, and the Giants could really bury them by winning the series.


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