Saturday, September 07, 2013

2013 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 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- (78% DOM, 7% DIS; 21:2/27):  5, 3, 5, 5, 5, 4/ 4, 5, 0, 5, 4/ 5, 4, 5, 4, 5, 4/  5, 5, 5, 5/5, 3, 0, 3, 3, 4/

Matt Cain- (56% DOM, 12% DIS; 14:3/25):  5, 0, 4, 3, 5, 3/ 3, 5, 3, 5, 3/ 4, 3, 3, 4, 5, 4/ 0, 0, 3, 5/5, 5, 5, 5, inj (0 but headed for 2, he was steady after runs)/

Chad Gaudin - (58% DOM, 33% DIS; 7:4/12):  // 5, 5, 0, 0/ 5, 3, 5, 0, 5/5, 4, 0 (inj but really bad start)/

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

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (52% DOM, 11% DIS; 14:3/27):  3, 4, 2, 5, 5/ 3, 4, 5, 3, 5, 0/ 5, 0, 3, 5, 3/ 3, 5, 5, 0, 4/5, 5, 2, 2, 4, 3/

Guillermo Moscoso - (0% DOM, 100% DIS; 0:1/1):  ////0/

Yusmeiro Petit - (100% DOM, 0% DIS; 1:0/1):  ////5/

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

Ryan Vogelsong - (36% DOM, 29% DIS; 5:4/14):  3, 4, 5, 3, 2/ 0, 0, 0, 3///4, 0, 5, 4, 2/

Barry Zito - (21% DOM, 52% DIS; 5:12/23):  3, 4, 0, 4, 0/ 1, 4, 1, 3, 3, 4/ 3, 0, 3, 5, 0/ 0, 3, 0, 0, 0/0, 0/

Giants Season overall - 50% DOM, 25% DIS out of 134 games counted (67:33/134)
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)
Giants Month of August - 52% DOM, 21% DIS out of 28 games counted (15:6/28)

The month of August was actually pretty good for PQS, particularly compared to July's stink, but overall ERA of 4.09 and RA of 4.31 in August was more average than good.  August leaders are Cain with 4, Lincecum and Vogie with 3 DOM starts.  Unfortunately, after leading the staff all season (90% PQS is AWESOME!), Bumgarner had a poor month, only 2 DOM starts out of 6, plus his second DIS start of the season.  That dropped his DOM% from 90% to 78%, which is still super elite, but Madison was probably headed for some sort of PQS record, from what I can recall of other great PQS seasons, 80's was the max I can remember.  Shows how hard it is to keep excellence in starting pitching over a full season.

Cain really changed things around from last month's stink to this month's dominance until he was injured.  He was headed towards a non-DOM start, but looked like he would have at least avoided a DIS start as well, until his injury, so I took that off his record, unlike Gaudin, who was out of control, really hit badly plus walks, so I counted his injury start as a DIS start.  Still, Gaudin added two more DOM starts.  Lincecum had a good PQS month with 50% DOM and 0% DIS, and that showed in his 3.62 ERA for the month.  Vogie had a good month too, but Zito stunk again.

Disaster starts were mostly spread out, one per starter or less, which is actually normally very good, but Zito led the way with 2 DIS starts out of 2 starts.  He is ending his Giants and probably MLB career with one of the all time stinkers ever.  And he actually started out the season well.  Maybe his father's death shook him up more than he had let on in interviews, and that would be understandable.  Or maybe some other personal travail will come out eventually.  Or maybe all the Giants fans' negative sentiment finally got to him, even after his World Series triumph that helped the team get its second trophy, there are still a lot of fans who pushed aside his great accomplishment to focus on the bad.  Whatever the reason, this is truly the worse season of his Giants career by far.

He is not coming back, as I had discussed last month, you can bet on that one, and as of early this season, it seemed very possible that the Giants would pick up his option, because at $11M extra, getting a 4.15 ERA starter you can count on for 33 starts and nearly 200 IP is actually a fair market value proposition when you don't have to worry about outbidding other teams.

While the Giants ERA was OK this month, most of the starters had K/BB that were only OK or worse.  Only Cain with a 5.20 K/BB was great, that explained his 4 DOM starts out of 4 starts for the month (plus the injury start).   Bumgarner (3.47 ERA), Lincecum (3.62 ERA), and Vogie (2.93 ERA) had good ERAs despite middling (2.06, 2.14, and 1.80 respectively) K/BB ratios.  Zito was actually around his recent results (1.60 K/BB) but batters have just been hitting him hard, resulting in his 12.08 ERA.

August 2013 Comments

I was totally off for August.  The gauntlet beat down the Giants again, and they ended with a 13-16 record (29 games in 31 days, oy!).  The pitching returned to their more usual performances, but the offense could never get untracked as I thought they would, when one would rise, another would fall or get injured or both.

Belt had a great month, finally unleashing his inner goodness as I had hoped, but nobody else could really unleash their inner RBI-guy, both Sandoval and Posey continued to struggle with that, Panda because of that injury he suffered near the start of the month, which stalled him again, Posey because he finally hit that straw with the camel's back, he had to start a lot more games at catcher this season (due to Hanchez's injury from his Venezuelan winter league playing; Blanco blamed that for interfering with his 2013, so he's skipping it this season after a dozen or so years playing there) and he was not as well rested as he was coming into 2012, plus there was only two days off the whole month and I think they lost one of those days visiting the White House.

Still, even had the Giants got untracked, it would have been all for naught anyway, as the Dodgers did even better in August than July, going 23-6 for the month, after a stellar 19-6 in July.  Despite Puig falling down to slightly above average levels, from July 3rd to the end of August, he hit .297/.376/.453/.829,  the rest of the team picked things up and they just took off like a rocket for the two months.  And I would note that the Dodgers were only 7-10 in his first 17 games, before they ignited when Hanley rejoined them in that time period and he took off, then the pitching staff took off in July and August, so it was not all Puig as the hype might seem, it, to me, has been really all due to the great pitching the last two months. 

The pitching took off and vastly outperformed, 2.52 ERA in July, 2.09 ERA in August, after collectively 3.81 ERA from April to June with basically the same pitching staff, the only significant addition was Nolasco, and while he has delivered, 2.20 ERA in 10 starts after 3.85 ERA with Miami in 18 starts to start the season, after 4.68 ERA in his prior four seasons, it was a virtually complete team effort.  Kershaw has been great, as usual, plus Greinke had stepped up too, delivering great starts, who knows, maybe he was held back by his former teams, but his ERA is starting to match his peripherals (though I would note that it appears to be all LA derived, 2.20 ERA at home, 3.49 ERA, very much in line with his career numbers, on the road).  Ryu has also performed great too, only Capuano has been the "laggard" and only because they were great, he basically is doing what his career suggests, low-to-mid-4 ERA, and with their offense, that wins games.

I have to wonder if all these above career performances can continue into the playoffs, but that is not a big deal to me now that we are so many games out of making the playoffs, my interest turns to where the Giants might draft in 2014, now that we have such a poor record.

Lemons Into A Nice Draft Prospect

The Giants are currently in line for a pick somewhere in the high single digits, we have been in line for somewhere in the 7-9th pick at the end of August.  But the teams are tightly bunched.  While the Giants could conceivably end up as high as 4th overall pick, they could also fall back to the 14th pick as well.  So I think it behooves the Giants to stay in the single digits if possible, or better tank some more and get a Top 5 pick.

Ideally, I never want the Giants to lose, but now that we are here, in position to get a great draft pick, it would not be logical to go full out to win.  My study found that Top 5 picks are generally the best chances of finding somebody who can make a difference for your team long term.  So it would only make sense for the Giants management to focus less on losing, more on figuring how who is the wheat and who are the chaff that we can throw away. 

So I'm hoping that the Giants keep on playing the young guys as that improves our chances of losing if they keep on failing and thus of keeping a great draft pick.  And if they play well, then that works too, then we'll have the good player in hand rather in draft pick that may or may not work out (over 50% of Top 5 picks still fail to become a good player).  That's also why I'm OK with Zito starting, as right now, those are guaranteed losses, the way things are going, he has not had a good start in ages. So try all the young unproven guys, we win either way, and given that most of them are not that hyped, the odds favor that they will struggle in the majors.  And for those who beat the odds and perform well, that's great for the Giants too, for Sabean loves the bird in the hand versus the two in the bush.

And they are still playing a number of playoff teams and teams over .500.  There are 21 games left and 7 against the Dodgers and 3 against the Yankees,  and 10 games of those games are on the road (4 Dodgers, 3 Yankees plus 3 Mets who have been .500 since July started, roughly).  Plus the 2 games left against the D-backs.  And the remaining games against the Mets, Rockies, and Padres are against teams that are just as bad as the Giants have been, record wise, overall.  There are no easy series, and about the same number of games home as on the road.  

The Giants look headed for roughly 90 losses for the season.  That would have got them the 7th or 8th pick last season.   Right now, it looks good for a pick around that same spot in this year's draft.  The teams are too bunched up right now to accurately forecast.   BP's playoff odds report has them in 8th if I got the teams right, and they could easily be 10th or worse with an extra win or two. 

As I noted previously, they could be anywhere from 4th to 14th, depending on how bad or good they play the rest of the games here on out.  And that's basically all the teams with losing records.  Two team are around .500 and the rest are headed for at least 85 wins in the season.  So they look to be in pretty good shape for getting a top 10 pick, with which they have selected Lincecum, Bumgarner, Posey, and Wheeler in recent drafts, but if they play better down the line, they probably end up in double digits beyond 10th. 


  1. This is looking like a very strong draft. If the Giants end up picking 14, they should still get a very good player, but the other part of getting a top 10 pick is it is protected from being lost due to signing a FA who got a Qualifying Offer. That would give the Giants some flexibility to either add a strong FA player or sign one to replace Pence if they lose him.

    1. Thanks for your comment.

      Good to know that there is depth to the draft. And good point about getting auto protection of the draft pick if Top 10, which would allow us to pursue a high end FA if necessary.

      Generally, when a player and team say publicly that they want each other, it seems to work out, but, of course, each case is different. I strongly suspect that there is a wide divide between what the Giants are thinking and what Pence's side is looking for, and that this won't get resolved until he goes into the market and see what's there.

      At which point, I think the Giants will win the bidding for him. His decline the last two years has got to give most teams a pause before giving him a "buy him now" offer, and since he would like to return, I assume his agent will let teams know that they will wrap it up by whatever deadline Sabean gives them for when they move on, which (and someone can correct me) I think is usually the winter meetings. Together, I think they'll realize that their market value is not as much as they thought, and then will come up with a number that they would want from the Giants to sign with them which is more in line with market forces than the overpay that he got from the Astros via arbitration (they market valued him at $17.5M-ish, which is at least 10% if not 20% too high; his current arb salary is probably where his annual value for his contract should be for a LT contract).

    2. Pence's current season has been pretty good. He's hitting in the .280's and will probably finish with a 20/20 which still has some magical value. I think the Giants will try to get him re-signed in the exclusive negotiating window for something like 4/60 or 5/75. If he really wants to stay as bad as he says he does, then he'll accept something in that neighborhood.

      If not, the Giants will make a QO, but I think the chances are high that he will end up somewhere else. There is just something about being on the open market that makes it very unlikely for a player to re-sign with their original team. Yeah, I know it happened with Pagan and Scutaro, but Pence is on another level of value.

      We'll see. If Pence leaves and they do not have a protected first round draft pick, the Giants are in a world of hurt. Might as well go into full rebuild mode.

    3. I agree that the Giants will try to hammer out a deal in the exclusive window. Pence has said that he wants that as well. Some have suggested something in Pagan's contract specs is possible, but he's not getting signed below his current $13.8M contract.

      At best, we can get a 3 year deal at $14M per, but since Pagan got 4 and Scutaro himself got 3, a 4 or 5 year deal as you outlined makes logical sense, and $15M per would be viewed as a raise for Pence.

      And I think that frames the parameters, 4 or 5 years deal, for $14-15M per, or from 4 years, $56M to 5 years, $75M. As nicely as 20/20 looks, his last two seasons is being generally interpreted as him being on the down side of his career, though I think it could be argued that he's right there around his career averages. Still, what he has consistently produced looks probably to continue given how fanatic he is about keeping fit, like his dive into that Paleo diet and downing the kale.

      And I agree, if he's serious about what he has said publicly, I don't see how he don't sign for something in that range.

      If he don't sign and turns down the QO, though, i still think it's possible he signs with the Giants. I don't think the market will be there for him, as much as one might think, because of his past two seasons. I don't think what the Giants gave up for him was all that much in prospect value, and presumably that was the best deal the Phillies could do. And what he has done for us last season and this season, I don't think that changes that downward valuation on him.

      That said, I didn't think that Carlos Lee was worth all that he got either, so what do I know. :^) I think the QO will also affect his prospects too, because that would cause competitive teams to think twice on signing him, while mainly losing teams would try to sign him. I don't see him wanting to go back to a losing situation.

      While I would prefer keeping him, I don't think that the Giants are in a world of hurt if they lose Pence and no protected first round pick where they need to go into rebuild mode. I think that Belt is ready for his closeup and can take Pence's place in the lineup, heck, he's already batting 3rd and doing great there. I also expect Pablo to be back, but at this moment, even if he is the Pablo of the past couple of years, I think we'll be OK.

      The key will be, for me, whether Crawford is ready to take a bigger role in the offense. His decline recently makes it seem unlikely, but I was very encouraged by how well he hit early season and then once his fingers were healed. His sharp decline lately has me wondering if he's hiding an injury - maybe he reinjured those fingers again. But if he steps up like I think he can in 2014, he could take the Belt role of the past two seasons - high enough but inconsistent production. With that offense in late 2012, the team scored a lot of runs.

      Of course, we would still need a Super-Posey at some point, particularly in the second half, but that goes without saying.

      but I don't really anticipate any full rebuild mode as long as Bumgarner and Posey are young and healthy. They should be competitive enough with them and the crew the Giants have surrounding them and hopefully surrounding them in the future.

    4. Trust me. There is going to be a strong market for Hunter Pence. Any other notion is wishful thinking. There are just 3 OF's even worth looking at in the FA market: Ellsbury who I consider an injury risk, Choo who will be extremely expensive and Pence. Yeah, he'll find a very friendly market out there.

      I should have clarified that the world of hurt the Giants will be in will be for 2014. The longterm future is bright, but come on! That would leave a starting OF of Pagan, Blanco and a big question mark. Maybe they move Belt to LF, but do you really want Blanco to be you starting RF, or even Pagan, for that matter? I guess Sabes can look into trades using his minor league pitching surplus as the bait.

    5. I do see your logic, DrB, and otherwise would agree, but last season, an OF with a QO who otherwise might have signed early, Bourn, didn't sign until basically spring training started.

      Ironically, also a former Astro and Phillies OF, he had a poor FA-1 season followed by a career norm FA season (norm for recent seasons, he was much above his career numbers), but couldn't find a buyer willing to give up that draft pick. He got $12M per, which I would say is on the high side given what Pagan got.

      Pence is performing similarly, but at $13.8M this season, he has to be looking for at least $15M per season (maybe he'll give Giants discount to $14M, but probably not), which is kind of high for an OPS that is good but not great, and $15M is a lot to pay for good. He should be a late sign too.

      However, as I noted, he seems to really want to sign with the Giants, and Sabean clearly, from prior behavior, wants things settled by around the Winter Meetings, so if he wants to sign with the Giants he'll have to decide by then or Sabean will move on to other OF. The Giants tend to be OK with slight overpays (like Cain, I thought it was a little high, same with relievers, same with many arbitration offers) so I expect them to lay their cards out, as well as Pence since he says he wants to sign, during the exclusive period.

      I realize I'm speculating, psychoanalyzing when I don't know him. But he seems to be a straight forward guy, heart on his sleeve. He does seem to love playing here, much like Scutaro did too, and to me, must have a "buy me now Giants" price, which for Scutaro was the money the Giants eventually gave him, at which point, he could have gone back to the Cards and asked for more and probably got it, the Cards offered him a lot more than I would have for two years, but he did not.

      I think Pence has such a figure too. He mentioned a fair price being his litmus test, and the Giants tend to be fair in their contracting, if not, as noted, a little generous.

      And yes, there will be a good market for him, due to lack of supply, but I see some clouds as well. 20/20 is nice, but I don't get the sense there is value in the market for that. He has nice OPS+ and wRC+, but I don't think teams look at that. We are a couple of years into the baseball returning back to the pre-1993 years (some call the last era the "Steroid" era but I think Eric Walker is right, it's the "Silly Ball" era; that leading sabers ripped into him when Eric gathered all that information and data - which they refused to read all that - and instead, one said "it didn't feel/smell right", basically, that irony amused me to no end, if it wasn't sad), I don't think that teams have necessarily adjusted their thinking about where good is/was. What Pence has done this season is basically average for a RF during the last era, good for the prior era. $15M per is way over priced for average. And teams will recall that when the Giants needed his offense, he was stone cold during the summer, his nice hitting now, for some teams, will be too little, too late.

      Plus, Choo has better career numbers than Pence, so I would expect interest in the $15M+ range (scuttlebutt I saw says contract starts at 4 years and $60M) to focus on Choo first, Pence as an second thought, particularly since he can play CF too, as well as the corners. And Choo is basically a 20/20 type player as well as playing CF (though poorly, moving him to RF would probably put him above Pence defensively, who isn't that good in RF). So Choo looks to be the better "bargain" than Pence right now, for teams, he hits better while expecting around the same money as the starting point.

    6. That said, again, he said that he just wants a fair salary, the Giants tend to be fair if not a little generous, both in money and years, so I don't see how outside demand for his services will affect those two key points, and stop him from signing during the exclusive period. Being fair, in today's game, is the same as a home discount to me, since going FA could result in a bidding war.

      If he goes FA, then I think that his agents convinced him of a higher salary than warranted (much like Aurilia high salary demands), and he will be signing near spring training with another team, probably around what the Giants offered him.

      Again, don't know him, but I don't see how he don't sign fast with us, as we have a good core for the life of his expectancy for his career and after losing all those years with Astros, I think he'll want a winning environment. Bourn got stuck with Indians, who had not been winning, and somehow winning in spite of his poor play so far. On top of all that, he lives to play another day with his teammates, and all of them will be there again next season. Plus, again, the Giants generally pay fairly. And 4-5 years at $15M per will buy a lot of kale, remember, he don't come driving in a tricked out super car to games, he motors in on a scooter like the hoi polloi. All this leads me to think that he'll sign.

      So I do trust you that he'll have a great market waiting for him in terms of interest due to the lack of supply - I have an econ and bus degree so I do understand supply and demand - but given the points I made, I don't see how he'll reach free agency to test that, I see him signing and being happy with that. Pagan said he had to see what's out there, Pence said he only wants what's fair and prefers to sign here.

      So it all revolves on what is considered fair on both sides. I think it should be close enough that a deal gets done.

  2. Going to be one of the most exciting offseasons in recent memory. Prefer the parades and what not, but you can't win every year.

    Interesting to see just how bad our starting pitching has been, at least compared to what we've cranked out the past 4-5 years. With bad defense and bad pitching, there are too many leaks. The other lemons to lemonade scenario - no trades so the farm is reinforced from a depth perspective as well.

    I hope they play a lot of kids, and rest the starters with pitch limits to sooth their egos. Lots of pitches the past 3-4 years. Hope all the squad takes it easy except for prove out types with winter ball.

    Like DrB says, this draft appears to be loaded. Should be a decent chance of getting something good, from the 4 to the 14.

    1. Thanks for the comment.

      Yeah, love parades but know that we won't win every year. People are upset over how poorly the team did this season, bringing out all the closet Sabean Naysayers (as well as the openly against), but I rather this than what we had 2011, even if we got in, we probably would not have gone deep, and most probably would have just had a .500+ record, no playoff spot, but also not that good a draft spot. I actually prefer this and have no problem that they stumbled, as I don't think that is a permanent thing, just a temporal one.

      Of course, they will need to crank out some new young blood to come in soon, and, as well discussed at your site and DrB's, we have a great crop of interesting prospects rising up the system, led by Crick at the top, then I would say Escobar, Blackburn, Mejia, at the next level, then a great bunch of "maybe's" at the next level, including Stratton, Agosta, Blach, and many others.

      Plus, even without these prospects, I think the Giants have already found two good and relatively young starters in Gaudin and Petit, who will help to keep the salaries down while keeping the production up. Personally, I think the group we have would be a great trial for a 6 man rotation of Cain, Bumgarner, Lincecum, Vogelsong, Gaudin, Petit, if we can resign Lincecum to a fair deal, basically QO or a two year deal around there.

      The key is that all of our older pitchers had a poorer second half than first over the past few years - Cain, Lincecum, Vogelsong, Gaudin - and they were not really that old to begin with. Going with a 6-man would help to keep their arms cooled off and ready to do what it is capable up late into the season, instead of that seemingly regular let down in August that seems to hit every season (this year it hit early in July, which could be blamed on both the WBC and getting into the playoffs and losing a month's rest). Plus, one starter could be skipped when there is an off-day to keep most of the pitchers on a steady schedule. That could be varied depending on who is going most poorly at that time.

      The Giants have said publicly that they will start reining in their regular starters early to give the young guys an appearance. And they did it with Bumgarner, only 85 pitches in 6 IP, he probably would have easily made the 8th inning and could have had a chance at a complete game, but why waste his arm/throws in a lost season, give the young guys a try because, frankly, not everyone in the pen is a lock to make the 25-man.



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