Thursday, August 01, 2013

2013 Giants: July PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of July 2013, 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 2013 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (90% DOM, 5% DIS; 19:1/21):  5, 3, 5, 5, 5, 4/ 4, 5, 0, 5, 4/ 5, 4, 5, 4, 5, 4/  5, 5, 5, 5/

Matt Cain- (48% DOM, 14% DIS; 10:3/21):  5, 0, 4, 3, 5, 3/ 3, 5, 3, 5, 3/ 4, 3, 3, 4, 5, 4/ 0, 0, 3, 5/

Chad Gaudin - (56% DOM, 33% DIS; 5:3/9):  // 5, 5, 0, 0/ 5, 3, 5, 0, 5/

Mike Kickham - (0% DOM, 67% DIS; 0:2/3):  /0/ 2/ 0/

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (52% DOM, 14% DIS; 11:3/21):  3, 4, 2, 5, 5/ 3, 4, 5, 3, 5, 0/ 5, 0, 3, 5, 3/ 3, 5, 5, 0, 4/

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

Ryan Vogelsong - (22% DOM, 33% DIS; 2:3/9):  3, 4, 5, 3, 2/ 0, 0, 0, 3///

Barry Zito - (24% DOM, 48% DIS; 5:10/21):  3, 4, 0, 4, 0/ 1, 4, 1, 3, 3, 4/ 3, 0, 3, 5, 0/ 0, 3, 0, 0, 0;

Giants season overall - 49% DOM, 26% DIS out of 106 games counted (52:26/106)
Giants Month of April - 56% DOM, 11% DIS out of 27 games counted (15:3/27)
Giants Month of May - 41% DOM, 30% DIS out of 27 games counted (11:8/27)
Giants Month of June - 56% DOM, 19% DIS out of 27 games counted (15:5/27)
Giants Month of July - 44% DOM, 40% DIS out of 25 games counted (11:10/25)

The Giants rotation regressed a lot in July, even worse than in May, and the team's offense was likewise also a lot worse.  They ended the month with a losing record, an 8-17 reocrd that is among the worse in Giants history in SF.  The DOM was low again, but still a good overall 44% DOM, but the Giants had a horrendous 40% DIS in July, so the Giants earned that poor record in spades due to a lot of bad starting pitching. 

The leaders for the staff in July were actually very good.  Bumgarner had 4 DOM starts out of four starts.  He is now one of the top aces of the majors, few pitchers maintain a 90% DOM, even Lincecum at his best never finished a season at 90% that I can recall, so that shows how hard it will be for Bumgarner to accomplish that and what an accomplishment it would be if he did achieve that.  Both Lincecum and Gaudin had 3 DOM starts and 1 DIS start.  Gaudin has been great for us, in terms of DOM% and ERA.  Lincecum had his no-hitter but his disaster start right after it ruined his ERA gains.

It was the rest of the staff that hurt the team.  Cain amazingly was part of the stink, with 2 DIS starts (only 1 DOM) in four starts.  He ended the month with a DOM start and today had a DOM start, so let's see if he can keep this going or not.  Both Kickham and Surkamp had a DIS start in their one start in July.  Kickham actually had a relief appearance that would have earned a DOM had it qualify as a start.  Cain just didn't have it and was removed in the first inning, and Kickham came in and did great. Zito was the one who really sunk the rotation's overall stats:  he had 4 DIS starts out of five starts.  Together, they only had 1 DOM start vs. 8 DIS starts out of 11 total starts.  That is a good part of the reason the Giants went 8-17 during the month.

The pitchers who did well showed good control.  Bumgarner led the way with 4.67 K/BB (8.7 K/9) and Lincecum was right behind with 4.40 K/BB (helped out by his no-hitter and 12.4 K/9).  Timmy was smoking in July, he appears to be rounding into shape, as he recorded a number of starts with over 10 K's.

Kickham actually was good with a 3.25 K/BB and 10.6 K/9, but he just gave up way too many hits.  However, in his last "start", which actually was a long relief appearance, he pitched 5.1 IP that resulted in a 4 PQS and a DOM, and two more outs would have earned him a 5 PQS, so he could be close to coming back to the majors and dominating if he can continue to maintain his level of performance.

Gaudin had a nice 2.55 K/BB and 8.5 K/9.  If you took out his disaster start on July 24th, he would have had a stellar 4.50 K/BB and 9.3 K/9.  And that start could have been flukey, as apparently his teammates have been hazing him over his lack of hits (he just got his second hit EVER in his last start, which is not as amazing when you realized he pitched mostly in the AL, but still, 2 for 59 is pretty bad, and it was his first hit since 2009) and so he went into the batting cage and swung at 150 pitches, and that apparently affected his next start, which was a day or two later. 

Bringing up the rear were Zito, Cain, and Surkamp.  Zito had a horrible 1.17 K/BB (though OK 6.3 K/9, he was just walking way too many).  Cain had a horrid 1.08 K/BB himself (and it was the walks too here, he had a 7.8 K/9 which is very good).  Surkamp didn't even strike out anyone in his short start, for a 0.0 K/BB and K/9. 

The ERA's reflected their success or lack thereof for the most part.  Bumgarner had a 1.55 ERA.  Lincecum however, had a bad 4.50 ERA despite his string of good pitching AND a no-hitter.  If you took out his bad DIS start that may or may not have anything to do with him throwing 148 pitches in his no-hitter, he had 2.54 ERA, with a 13.3 K/9 and 4.67 K/BB.  That just goes to show how much effect a disaster start can have on a pitcher's ERA.  Kickham had a horrendous 10.64 ERA due to all the homers and hits, in spite of his nice K's and K/BB.  Gaudin had a great 2.73 ERA.

For the starters with really bad peripherals, Zito had a 7.65 ERA, Cain had a 8.40 ERA, and Surkamp had a 23.63 ERA.

Zito as I noted in another post, has actually been bad since his third start of the season, and getting worse, so the Giants are actually contemplating skipping his next scheduled start, which could go to Moscosco, and then by the next start, Vogelsong would be ready to return to the active roster, at which point the Giants would need to DFA someone in order to add Vogelsong back to the 40-man because they opened up a spot by putting Vogie on the 60-day DL.

End of the Line For Zito?

I wonder if we may have had the last Zito start as a Giants player.  The next DFA of a prospect would hurt, the rest of the remaining prospects on the 40 man have been doing well in the minors.   The Giants could trade someone via the waiver process, but that is tricky because teams often try to sneak players through only to have a team force them to take the player off waivers by claiming the player.

Meanwhile, Zito is having his worse full season since 2008 and arguably his worse season, as he's mostly been bad this season, recording only 24% DOM while stinking it up with 48% DIS starts, and his contract is over this season unless the Giants exercise their option for $18M instead of doing the buyout at $7M.  $11M for a 2009-2012 Zito is a no-brainer, but a 2013 Zito is not worth much, maybe $1-3M.  And they only owe roughly $6M to Zito by the time Vogelsong needs to be added (plus the $7M buyout).

Bochy has already said that he's not sure if Zito is taking the mound for his next start and the on-line notes "TBA".  One of the beats already says that he's available in relief.  It looks like Moscosco will be taking the mound for his start, as the other possibles just had starts in the minors.

July 2013 Comments

The Giants starting pitching was not the only thing not working overall in July.  At least they had Bumgarner being an elite ace.  No hitter had an OPS above .770, and that was Sandoval, who a lot of Giants fans have been jumping on.  He hit .272/.346/.424/.770, 152 ISO, but only 1 HR in 92 AB.  His 11 doubles did the trick though.  Crawford, another maligned hitter, hit .290/.364/.391/.755 and hit his first homer in many months just the other day.  Unfortunately, his jammed fingers from his slide into secondbase appeared to put his offense on ice until this month.  Very nice 8 walks and 11 K's in 69 AB, he is turning into the hitter many were hoping for from Belt.  And that's it for OK hitting.

Next tier had a number of players.  Posey hit .265/.319/.398/.716, which is probably the worse July he has ever had offensively, he usually is scorching this month.  2 HR in 83 AB.  Belt continued to hit well into mid-July but has been arctic cold the past 10 days of the month or so, resulting in a .225/.329/.380/.710 batting line for the month, 28 K's in only 71 AB, around 60% contact rate, which is pretty bad.  He's been getting a rest with Pill starting at 1B, to work on his next batting adjustment.  Scutaro hit .303/.386/.316/.702, as his bad back issues appear to be only affecting his power now, with 11 walks but only - only - 4 strikeouts in 76 AB.  That's just amazing for today's game, that was common back before the Babe made the strikeout sexy, and hitters were still doing that in the 50's, but today they are as rare as anything on Earth.

That left the bottom of the barrel.  Tanaka hit .267/.353/.267/.620, showing good OBP, plus 4 walks, only 3 K's in 30 AB, but if you can't hit for any power at all, pitchers will dare you to hit the ball.  Plus, he started off strong, so that final batting line shows how cold he got at the end, once pitchers adjusted to him.  Pence finally cooled off, after being one of the main offensive cogs at the start of the season, hitting .242/.279/.333/.612, but he was BABIPed, he only had 16 K's in 99 AB.

The rest were really bad.  Torres only hit .208/.283/.283/.566 and Abreu .205/.238/.308/.546.  Quiroz hit only .188/.229/.313/.541 but he is not the lowest by far.  Blanco hit .169/.270/.208/.477 and Francoeur hit .179/.200/.205/.405.  Kieschnick will be seeing time in LF, sharing with Francoeur as Frenchy tries to get his stroke going like he did initially with the Giants, but if his poor hitting continues, Kieschnick will get more and more chances, especially if he keeps on hitting like he has so far now in two games.  He drove in the tying run today. 

People have been complaining about Belt and Sandoval, but Blanco's poor hitting and OBP at leadoff and Posey's mediocre (for him) numbers at cleanup are the bigger culprits in the lack of run production, Pence's poor hitting is also a big contributor as well.

Pablo didn't hit many homers but he had 11 doubles so he did hit for power, and that enabled him to lead the team in RBI with 15.  Posey was second with 11, Pence had 9, but nobody else was over 6.  Pill, despite playing only 2 games, were among the leaders in RBI with 4.  Abreu, despite not hitting that well, had 5 RBI in his 39 AB.

Being 10 games back with only 8 weeks left really leaves the Giants in very poor shape of defending their World Championship again.  And that's not something to get down over, almost every team does not return to the World Series back to back most of the time.

Still, would have liked to at least contend.  The Giants once led the NL West with a 23-15 record, but has compiled the worse record since, dropping so low that they are now in the Top 10 for draft picks in next year's draft (they ended the month in 6th, but could easily fall down to 10th to 14th as they are only 2.5 games below those teams;  but they had the 5th pick as of July 30th). The team made no moves either to buy or sell, other than picking up Moscosco, who I feel is their Gaudin/Vogelsong for the 2014 season. 

So that leaves me conflicted.   I feel that the Giants are coming together and with a hot Posey and a benched Zito, the Giants could at least reach .500 and get back into contention as the Dodgers are only 8 games above .500; they have been a scorching 23-7 in their last 30 games and I don't think that they can continue at that hot rate.  However, if they continue to tank, the Giants could have a great Top 10 pick in next year's draft, which would help boost our farm system, especially if they get a Top 5 pick.

Personally, I would tank the season.  Either continue starting Zito or replace him with Kickham or Surkamp in the rotation and give one of them more experience and the team more data about how good they are in the majors.   Give more starts to Kieschnick and Pill, maybe DFA Torres and bring up Peguero or Perez to start in CF, while benching Blanco, as he hasn't had it for a while.  Then again, maybe keeping him starting is better if he is so cold. 

The odds of the Giants making an extended run through the playoffs would be miraculous, almost as miraculous as last season, with only Bumgarner as our sure stud starter.  Plus he would need to pitch on 3 days rest and other He-man stuff like that.  Cain hasn't been the same since his no-hitter, still good, but not great.  He would have some great starts like the last two, then unravel in the next set of starts.  Lincecum has had great peripherals but loses it at inopportune times, resulting in a lot of runs.  Gaudin has actually been good for us, our second best starter using PQS, but given his history as a starter, that's kind of scary having him as our #2 going into the playoffs.  Vogelsong should be rested but at this point, until he proves he is back, we can only hope that he's our #2 starter in the playoffs and if so, then Lincecum is the super reliever again like last season.

On top of that, our offense has been sputtering for the past 6-8 weeks, mostly due to injuries to and health issues with Pagan, Sandoval, Scutaro, Crawford, but also due to Blanco playing full-time because of the injury to Pagan.  He has not risen to the occasion, his poor hitting at leadoff is part of the huge hole in our offense.  I also wonder if Posey has been fighting that "crud" that Bochy said was going through the clubhouse a while ago (and which could also be a cause of the overall team offensive malaise), because he usually gets very hot starting in July and continues for the rest of the season.

It would seem better to not make the big effort to get back into contention, and instead spend more time evaluating prospects like Pill, Kieschnick, Peguero, Kickham, Surkamp, Hembree, Bochy Jr., among others, which also probably has the nice side benefit of most of them probably struggling to some extent, resulting in more losing and a good draft position for next year.  Or if they can break out and help us win some games, that's great too, win-win either way, probably better if they can break out, that guy could contribute in 2014, instead of drafting a prospect who will take a few years to develop and maybe help.  Still, would love to get a great draft pick in next year's draft.

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