Wednesday, September 03, 2014

2014 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 2014, 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 2014 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (69% DOM, 14% DIS; 20:4/29):  0, 4, 4, 0, 3, 1/5, 5, 3, 4, 5, 5/4, 4, 5, 5, 3/3, 2, 4, 5, 5, 0/5, 4, 5, 4, 5, 5/

Matt Cain- (57% DOM, 7% DIS; 8:1/14):  1, 3, 5, 5, 2/X, 3, 4, X, X, X/4, 3, 2, 5, 4/4, 5, DL/60-day DL/

Tim Hudson - (55% DOM, 5% DIS; 13:3/25):  5, 4, 3, 3, 5, 4/4, 3, X, X, 5/5, 2, 5, 0, 3, 5/5, 2, 3, 4, 3/1, 4, 0, 3, 5/

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (54% DOM, 35% DIS; 14:9/26):  3, 0, 4, 4, 0/4, 0, 5, 4, 4, 3/0, 4, 5, 2, 4/5, 4, 5, 5, 0, 0/4, 0, 1, 0/

Jake Peavy - (71% DOM, 14% DIS; 5:1/7):  5/4, 1, 3, 4, 5, 5/

Yusmeiro Petit - (43% DOM, 14% DIS; 3:1/7):  5/0, 2, 3, 5//3/5/

Ryan Vogelsong - (58% DOM, 12% DIS; 15:3/26):  0, 3, 3, 0, 5/4, 3, 4, 5, 5, 3/4, 4, 2, 3, 5/5, 4, 4, 0, 4/4, 3, 5, X, 2, 5/

Giants Season overall - 58% DOM, 16% DIS out of 134 games counted (78:22/134)

Giants Month of April - 43% DOM, 29% DIS out of 28 games counted (12:8/28)
Giants Month of May - 63% DOM, 7% DIS out of 27 games counted (17:2/27)
Giants Month of June - 62% DOM, 8% DIS out of 26 games counted (16:2/26)
Giants Month of July - 62% DOM, 15% DIS out of 26 games counted (16:4/26)
Giants Month of August - 63% DOM, 22% DIS out of 27 games counted (17:6/27)

The month of August for PQS was both great and bad, as there were a lot of DOM games, but there were also a lot of DIS starts as well.

Bumgarner, after being the worse in April, has been the top guy most of the time since.  He crushed it in August with 6 DOM starts out of 6.  Peavy was second with 4 DOM starts and Vogie was third with 3 DOM.  Unfortunately, both Hudson and Lincecum had down months, Huddy had 2 DOM and Lincecum 1 DOM.  Petit had his one start and that was a DOM (the one where he completed his record of getting 46 consecutive batters out).  So the pitching was still pretty good from a PQS perspective in August overall, but two of our starters were really struggling.

That is why disaster starts was worse, increasing for the second month in a row by 2:  there were 6 DIS starts in August.  Lincecum had three, obliterating a nice run he had there for 13 starts, and really, most of the season, causing him to be skipped in the rotation and starting the angry villagers ranting and raving with their pitchforks and torches.  How soon they forget.

It still appears that making him save that long extra inning game affected him physically, as after that nice 13 game stretch, he has had five DIS starts out of six starts, after saving the day as well as the game by closing out that extra inning game.  It got so bad that they had to take him out of the rotation to work on his mechanics, and in his one relief appearance since, he was not that good in it.

Hudson also declined, he had 2 DIS starts out of 5 total, which is not good at all.  And this continues his decline since his early streak of greatness, he had 3 DOM out of 5, then 4 DOM for a great 7 out of 10 DOM or 70%.  Since then:  2:1/5; 2:0/5; 2:2/5.  He's been struggling relative to earlier since the beginning of June.  If Lincecum wasn't doing so poorly, the attention might be on Hudson right now.

Peavy had the one remaining DIS start, and that's pretty good, because he was 4:1/6 in August or 67% DOM and 17% DIS.  Bumgarner, Vogie, and Petit has zero DIS starts.

Their ERA reflected their pitching.  Bumgarner had a 1.57 ERA, with 11.0 K/9 and 18.67 K/BB.  Peavy had a 2.40 ERA with 6.8 K/9 and 3.10 K/BB.  Vogie had a 2.58 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 2.45 K/BB.  Hudson had a 3.81 ERA with 5.4 K/9 and 2.43 K/BB.  and Lincecum had a 8.05 ERA (includes his relief appearance) with 6.6 K/9 and 1.17 K/BB (horrible).  Petit, including relief, had a 0.63 ERA with 13.2 K/9 and no K/BB ratio because he didn't walk anyone in 14.1 IP while striking out 21.

August 2014 Comments

We were on a roller coaster during the month, but ended on an up note, so the Giants went 16-12 during the month.  Despite the relatively poor pitching, the Giants allowed an average of 3.43 runs per game in August while scoring 4.86 runs per game.  That should have been an 18 win month, so the Giants had some bad luck during the month.

Still, it is not like LA has run away from us, and the Giants gained a half game during the month, ending up 2.0 games back at the end of August.

Obviously, the great pitching overall, particularly the relievers (except for Casilla and Affeldt), helped a lot to keep the runs allowed low.  Except for June, the Giants have kept the scoring in the 90's each month.  Great pitching and fielding like that helps give the team a great chance to win.  And when the offense has been clicking, we win a lot of games, like in April, May, and August.

And we could even be in the lead right now if not for the abnormal year Bochy is having with the Giants:  the team is a horrible 15-21 in one run games this season.  As my research showed, Bochy has AVERAGED four more wins than losses in one run games over his long career.  If the Giants were 20-16 instead, we would be leading LA by 3 games instead of trailing by 2 games.

The offense was great in August.  Your lineup is stacked when your 6th best regular had a .845 OPS.   Or when one regular had a .506 OPS and yet the team had a .771 OPS for the month.  8 hitters with at least 30 PA had at least an .845 OPS, and the Killer P's (Posey, Pence, Panik; wow, five letters too) all had OPS of .900 or above.

This hitting and pitching was what I was hoping would return and get us back on track.  Unfortunately, we only gained 0.5 games (and we could credit the completion of the May 22nd suspended game for that since we won that game) in a month where Puig hit .544 OPS for August (he has been on a weird alternating Barry Bonds and Neifi Perez imitation during his career; hopefully he's breaking the pattern in September, and doing poorly) and Ryu was placed on the DL for 15 days.  

So it is looking like it is coming down to the six games the Giants got left with the Bridegrooms in order to close in on them.  Unfortunately, they have manipulated their rotation to throw Kershaw at us in both series, so most likely the best we can hope for is going 4-2 with Kershaw winning two games.  But they also manipulated to get Greinke and Ryu facing us as well, so basically the Giants hitters will have to continue to hit well and take it to the Dodgers, which they have been able to do before, but trying to do it to all three of their ace pitchers in the same series is a tall order.

Still, miracles are not uncommon for this team.  Let's focus on two things that have helped greatly in August:  Panik and Susac.  Panik is hitting .314/.363/.394/.757 overall, but .338/.384/.424/.808 since July began, and his August was hot:  .379/.416/.484/.900.  And he was 4 for 9 with 2 doubles to start September.  He hit his way into the 2-spot and hasn't looked back.

Susac is hitting .288/.327.538/.866 in part-time play but 55 PA so far.  He struggled early on, but in his last 12 games, 1.124 OPS, with 3 homers in 34 AB.  He already has 3 3-RBI games already, and 14 RBI in his last 12 games (only 8 of which were starts).  Bochy is talking about starting Susac more at C since Posey can play 1B while Belt is out and Morse is not 100%.

Who says the Giants can't develop hitters?

Hopefully (and most probably will if no injuries) the team can continue to play at this high level.  After all, it was the same level that they were playing in April and May when they were mostly healthy.  And Peavy is an improvement over what Cain was delivering then, and hopefully Lincecum/Petit can match what Lincecum did early on when he was also struggling early on.  Plus Pagan is one of the hitters not contributing in August, if he can get started, the offense could be even better.  Same with Crawford, the other regular not hitting, and he has seemed to be getting healthy (apparently he has been having shoulder issues but playing with it).

In any case, if they want to win the division, they will need to keep it up.  They probably will get one of the wild cards as they are in the lead at the moment, as long as they do not collapse like in June and July, so not all is lost, but it's better to win the division and, being only 2 games back, should be the focus, then if not, then hopefully the wild card is there as backup.

Go Giants!

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