Friday, May 01, 2015

Your 2015 Giants: It's Getting Better All The Time

Seems as good a point to get out from all the grey clouds and examine where we are.  I would probably normally put this under my PQS for April, but don't have time to get to all that before game time.   I posted much of this at Shankbone's and put it here for those who haven't (or don't) go there regularly (which they should, good stuff there).

ogc thoughts

Yes, things have been bad.  An 8 game losing streak somewhere within your first 22 games will leave quite a large hole in your win/loss record.  One as large as the one that Messenger just left on Mercury, which is quite large if you could survive standing on the face of Mercury.  But the flip side is that outside of that bad stretch, the Giants were 9-5, so there was good with the bad (including a Dodger sweept!).

Yes, it will get better. In fact, it has already gotten better, as Peavy was a big problem, as well as Vogelsong, and presumably Peavy is on the mend, plus Bumgarner had his wobbliness as well and he's back he says. Since Peavy got put on the DL, there has been 10 starts, 5 QS (which is good) and only 1 disaster start, sabermetrically per PQS, which was the last Vogelsong start. If the Giants keep that up for the rest of the season, that's pretty good.  And with Cain making progress, I think that is not only a fair statement, but likely if he returns to normal.  Thus the crater left by the 8 losses should not look so bad in the rear view mirror, as time and distance (as well as the games, can't forget the games) moves on.

The Giants problem has been that when they have been neither good nor bad (i.e. had a MID start from their starting pitchers), they have went 2-6 (generally, should be around .500; they were .455 in MID starts last season), and part of that is bad luck on pitching, where normally there is a middling results (but has been pretty bad thus far, due to a lot of hits and homers) as well as poor offense. Add to that the lack of offense when the team gives up a lot of runs, that adds up to a bad record thus far.

SSS Theatre

If the Giants were .500 in these MID games, as I call them (per PQS), they would be 11-11 right now, and the angst people are having would not be as pronounced given that 1) we didn't have Pence, 2) we really didn't have Posey either, 3) Belt got injured and fell back down the Chutes and Ladder to Spring Training, 4) we lost Cain, 5) then we should have lost Peavy but he insisted on two horrible starts before DLing, which possibly led to 6) Vogelsong being wobbly, as he's not a spot starter, he don't know how to do that, maybe if he started out inserted as the starter over Peavy he's more comfortable and not throwing so badly.  Playing .500 given these circumstances would be pretty good.

And even changing one loss MID start to a win would make us 10-12 right now, also not that bad off.   This shows the volatility of feelings we are getting due to the sensitivity of our overall record, just due to one or two bad luck starts that we should have won but didn't.  We are very unhappy with 9-13, but could have easily been 11-11 instead.

Which is another way of saying that this is just part of the SSS Theatre that happens every year to some team in the majors, where injuries meet poor performances, and it leads to a whack record. I don't believe their record reflects where they are right now. They have been around .500, and that's OK, Posey hasn't been himself and the pitching has been taking a while to find itself. This pitcher thing happened last year too, almost same sequence, bad to mid-month in April before end of month improvement by the entire staff, only the offense was good enough to hide this from people last season. Then the pitching got better while the offense faltered and the good times continued until June when the injuries was just too much to overcome.  Not that this will necessarily happen this year, but we have good pitchers, let them pitch.

If I'm to pinpoint one area of complaint, I would say Posey has been a big area that everyone is missing. His underperformance has costed us roughly 0.2 RS in the lineup. That's roughly what McGehee has done batting 6/7, costing us 0.25 RS. Belt has cost us 0.2 RS roughly too, in the 5th position, all due to his lack of power so far, but that should be coming back soon, he just got back his hitting stroke. These drop a lineup that should average roughly 4.0 RS without Pence to one that scores 3.4 RS just due to these three influences, and in total, we have only been averaging 3.0 RS per game.

Not that the pitching has been great. But based on PQS, they are at 41% DOM/23% DIS for April, slightly bad but not horribly so, not 9-13 so. And the ship has been righting itself here, we have seen the results, they have been 6-4 during this improved stretch of 50% DOM pitching.  But SSS Theatre has made that hard to see as a trend.

Silver Lining Playbook

Aoki has been the silver lining of the Pence injury, I'm not sure Bochy would have necessarily batted Aoki leadoff (where he should be) without the injury, he might have just gone Pagan leadoff because that is what Angel likes and he can be a bit of a prima donna sometimes.  But he is a team player and understood the need to utilize Aoki up top and him 3rd given Pence being out.

Aoki has been everything I was hoping for.  He's basically been what he has been the past two seasons with a dash of extra good luck on BA.  Him batting leadoff deepens the lineup, with Pagan essentially replacing Sandoval in the 2014 lineup (and based on Sandoval overall 2014 contributions, improve on it), and Aoki taking over the leadoff spot, and probably improving it (given Pagan was out so much, we only got .314 OBP from the leadoff hitter in 2014).

And once Pence returns, Bochy can go with a relatively set lineup, adjusting for SP handedness:

  • Vs. LHP:  Aoki, Panik, Pagan, Posey, Pence, Belt, McGehee, Crawford (with Duffy and Maxwell getting to sub some)
  • Vs. RHP:  Aoki, Panik, Pagan, Posey, Belt, Pence, Crawford, McGehee (with Blanco subbing some, maybe Ishikawa, if still around)

This will improve the overall lineup by around 0.1 runs per game, which might not see like much, but that would add two wins over a full season.  Two wins can make a huge difference for a team in the 88-90 win potential range, making a road wild card into a home, or perhaps winning a division.  LA is the team to beat again, but they gambled hugely (given their payroll) by really having nothing solid after Kershaw and Greinke in the rotation.

Bridegrooms Might Be Left At the Altar of the Mound of the Sabers

People complain about the Giants rotation, but at least they are mostly solid in terms of pitching most of the season, with only Peavy the big question mark, much unlike the Dodgers.  Ryu, despite being young, hasn't pitched a full 32+ game season yet, missing games every season, and, worse (better for us though) each season.  He has already missed 5 starts this season and still not off the DL.  Then they get starters like Anderson and McCarthy, guys who haven't put up a full season regularly (between the two, over roughly 10 seasons between the two, only two seasons with 30+ starts in them).  Then add in Scott Baker, who has had one full season over 8 possible seasons.  If Ryu don't return soon, and Urias don't come up by June, the Bridegrooms are facing two months (May and June) of 60% rotation roulette, because they don't have any proven depth nor much depth in the minors other than Urias.

Beyond Urias, there is not much (which is true for most teams, fans just don't seem to understand, even with the Giants, that there is not a lot of depth in the minors for anyone, for if they were that good, they would be pitching in the majors right now).  Wieland is interesting, but he missed much of 2012 and 2013 (with another team, they got him in off-season).  And he has interesting numbers, but not that dominating (low K/9; if you can't strike out minor leaguers at a huge rate, what hope do you have in the majors?).  Bolsinger was another pickup, has never been all that good in the minors.  Again, interesting numbers but not dominating.  Much like Heston has been for us, but such pitchers basically need to prove it at each new level, and most don't.

The Dodgers has basically gambled this season on the health of their pitching staff holding up despite a history of their healthy not holding up.  On top of that, they have the great offense, but pitching is what is going to get you through the playoffs, as I have shown in my Playoff PQS studies.  If you don't have good pitching, no offense is going to help you much.  And it is even worse for them because Kershaw has never stood tall in the saddle like Bumgarner has.

On top of that, their bullpen isn't that great.  There was a number of articles in saber watering holes discussing the wonders of the Dodger's bullpen, but I popped that balloon for them by noting that if you took THEIR OWN PROJECTIONS for the relievers, collectively they were at best an average bullpen, that three of them needed to be replaced to get the unit to be above average.  Part of their problem was losing their closer, but he has had health problems in the past, and, unfortunately for them and him, this looks like part of his issues for his career.  And they have nobody like Strickland or Okert waiting to help out.

This Is Not Fantasy Baseball, Sabers Got IT Wrong

Ultimately, it appears to me that they dedicated this season to proving sabermetric principles.  They dumped the veteran relievers who had been good before but not lately, didn't sign any real replacements, traded for promising pitchers who may or may not deliver, added veterans (on the cheap) who may or may not deliver, traded for a vet or two (don't recall or care to confirm exactly), all in line with the saber rule that relievers are fungible and easily replaceable.  The A's had success with that bullpen strategy last season, so what the heck, lets gamble their $200+ Million payroll on proving this principle.  They did likewise with their pitching rotation, it appears, I would think that they could have easily gotten, for example, Shields, if they wanted to.

What they and others don't realize is that this is reality.  You don't get to run the simulation 1,000,000 times and say, see, this is the right move to do.  This is not fantasy baseball where you can sucker another GM to give you Posey for a guy who will give you steals.  If your closer isn't working, you don't necessary have a replacement easily available (see Giants B.W.:  Before Wilson.  And After Nen.) and trading for one could cost you one of your best prospects because the other teams got you over the barrel.

That's why you pay to keep your veteran relievers (barring poor health reports, of course).  You pay them the market rate.  And if you treat them well, you will have guys like Romo not even checking out the other teams, just wanted to work it out with you, because your team has been fair and even generous with their players.  You don't risk your season (and it will never come back) by picking up a bushel of relievers from other teams and hope that the volume method works for you, you want a better expectation than that from your team.

And you can't buy 9 of everything and not piss off a player or three who expected to get playing time but is forced into a platoon (or worse) situation.   This will affect free agent decisions going forward, you can't screw with players careers and not have it kick you in the rear at some point, the players understand that this is their one chance and they will start to avoid you or make you pay through the nose to get them.  This is do or die, there is no try as Yoda sagely once noted, and that is true for teams as well as players, who get that because they live with that daily, with their careers.  They only got this one career and they want to make the best of it.

Reality Setting In

And the other teams that people had been oohing and ahhing about has settled down.  The Padres, Rockies, and D-backs have reverted to mean, they are all around .500 today, one game above for Rox, one game below for the two darlings of the off-season.   All were praised about making their teams relevant during the off-season, yet they are only at .500, and Arizona has basically been at .500 all season long.

The Padres, in particular, has gone from 10-5 to under .500 in just 8 games, going 1-7 against the Dodgers and, gasp, the Astros, the former doormat.  And they did this mostly at home (7), not on the road.  The Giants are only 1.5 games behind.  That can be wiped out in a week or two, and there is still around 20-22 weeks of baseball still left to play.

The Rockies also instilled some excitement as well.  They were 4-0 to start the season and 7-2 at one point.  But since that point, they have been 4-8.  They are 2.5 games ahead of the Giants, again, not insurmountable lead.

Heck, even the Dodgers at 4.5 games ahead is not impossible.  The NL West has done this dance most seasons over the past dozen years or more.  One team flies ahead of the pack and leads the NL West.  They then fall back to the pack, while another team flies up the standings and often take over the NL West lead.  Teams jostle for the lead into August, but one team holds serve in September and win the division.  So it would not surprise me to see LA fall back to the pack at some point during the season.

Susac is Posey Insurance

Frankly, I see people pointing out Susac as a trade chip (unfortunately, I got the itch to play in the MCC sandbox again and it was just too depressing, too many people just don't get it) and I don't really get it.  Yes, I get the trade value part, anybody can see that.

But really, we need to think more of the long-term transition of Posey.  People like to point to his statements of wanting to stay but the plain fact is that catchers don't really last that long before the tools of ignorance affect him physically in a significant way.  Joe Mauer is built like a tank and he washed out of catching at age 30, forced to 1B at 31, and missed significant time at ages 28 and 30 while catching;  Posey is 28 this season.  Catching is a ticking time bomb of a job and Posey already had his 2011, and he don't have a classic catcher's body either.  We need Susac as starting catcher's insurance.

So, no, Susac is not going anywhere.  Anyway, if he was going to be traded, anyway, by the Giants, they would have done it this last off-season.  They could have gotten a way better replacement at 3B with Susac as the trading chip than a couple of low level prospects (though I did like Flores).   And teams were probably asking for that much.

McGehee is Not Here Forever

Giants fans do this every season.  There will be one player who many hate and they wonder what is up with Bochy, and they believe that they are better than he is.  It's the old Fantasy baseball GM syndrome that hits many people.

Players are human beings, and they want to be loved, if I may paraphrase some lyrics from a song I love.  You sit McGehee right now and play Duffy instead, and McGehee is useless to you for the rest of the season.  The manager needs to show respect and love to their players, or they end up useless.

For example, if Bochy had not treated Renteria with respect and handled him, keeping him in there when fans though he was done, Edgar would not have been the MVP of the 2010 World Series.   Same with Sandoval, he could have been pissed off after 2010, and not want to play well for Bochy, especially after 2011, he could have done things to force a trade, but he came through for us in the 2012 playoffs and World Series.  Same with Lincecum and Zito in the 2012 playoffs and World Series.

McGehee could be that guy later for us, treated well now, delivers later.


  1. I'll be the Devil's Advocate again.
    Yes, the Giants' pitching has improved. It is now precisely in the middle of the NL in terms of runs given up.
    However, the Giants' hitting is now the 2nd worst in terms of runs scored except for poor Philly.
    Thus I'd note that while 1 run games are a tossup in general - I firmly believe that 1 run games for teams that can't score are generally a losing proposition. The Giants are scoring runs at a pace 2/3rds of most other teams.
    So, while we can look forward to likely continued marginal improvement in Giants' pitching with the return of Cain and hopefully a fully functioning Peavy (marginal because even great pitching from those 2 won't erase the runs already given up), the Giants' are not going to surpass 3 other divisional opponents plus the Dodgers without significant improvement in run scoring.
    You've accurately noted the problems Posey, Belt, McGehee and the absence of Pence have imposed, but these have been partially offset by extremely good hitting by Pagan and above expectation OBP by Aoki. There's also been a pleasant surprise with Maxwell.
    Hopefully this is all mostly a matter of poor BABIP and slow starts rather than some hidden factor to do with Pence and Sandoval not being in the lineup. Time will tell.

    1. Agree, time will tell.

      Sometimes things do go wonky. I'm basing my opinions on the history of the players and sometimes history takes a left turn.

      So I know the offense has been horrible. No team can average 3.0 RS per game and expect to not be in the cellar. If things don't improve, it will be as you describe.

      Except that we've seen these players hit before. McGehee has been horrible for us, but the 2014 version would be great at the bottom of our lineup. Posey, Belt, Pence has basically been missing, power-wise, the whole season. Would I bet that continues all season? I wouldn't.

      But yes, there needs to be significant improvement. That improvement really has to start with Posey and Belt. Beating up on McGehee is not going to do anything, and Duffy is no power source himself.

  2. Replies
    1. I went over to the McCovey Cove Chronicles to comment, as Grant is a good writer and brings up interesting things.

      But I found being there tedious, and I didn't even spend much time there, as it feels like I'm getting ganged up on, en masse, and then I have to explain everything umpteen times and, I realized, for what? For who?

      I would rather spend my time usefully, writing here and commenting at my regular watering holes, like Shankbone's and Raising Matt Cain.

      But it's like fire - ooo, the flames! - and I end up going places I probably shouldn't. Then I get burned, I get reminded, I focus on my research.

    2. Ah. I read there. I don't discuss anything there. Too big and too shallow.

    3. Ah. I read there. I don't discuss anything there. Too big and too shallow.

    4. Agreed, but I'm a bit of an absent-minded professor sometimes, and I forget that the hot stove burns, it burnsss...

      And frankly, I miss some people like Roger, who is a smart commenter. Very cogent and knowledgeable commenter. Must be a great person to know, and great friend, being able to tolerate what goes on there and be prolific in his commenting. It drove me crazy and I just tipped my toe into that sandbox.

  3. That 8-game losing streak could easily have been 2-6 or 3-5 as there were some very winnable games in there. Getting the offense synched with the pitching can take a while.

    I think the pitching will improve and the Giants will see a better record as a result. The offense is still underperforming, but I'm liking what I'm seeing this weekend. Belt and Posey will get their hits in over time and that will be a big difference maker.

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, I was trying to make that point, but didn't get there, good observation.

      The offense don't have to get too into sync, for if the pitching is as good as I think it'll be, we should be winning more than enough until Pence comes back and give the offense a boost. I see this period as treading water until we get healthy enough. And I agree, Belt and Posey will eventually start hitting, and perhaps already making the adjustments, I like that Buster and Belt had extra base hits this weekend.

    2. One could add that Panik is dispelling the doubts that rightly remain for sophomore ball players, and that Crawford has kept up his pattern of continuing improvement. As of today he leads the team in fWAR with .9, is third after Aoki and Pagan in OBP, and is slugging .500. In sweeping the Angels, Hudson and Lincecum looked remarkably good, and Heston keeps giving the impression that he is for real.

    3. Honestly, I don't believe in the sophomore jinx. I think I explained that at some point in my blog (post or comments) before, but it is just human nature making something of nothing.

      Basically, if a prospect has a great first year, then another one, people's antenna don't register anything, nothing to see here.

      But if he has a bad second year, then their radar is front and center, "sophomore jinx!".

      Then nobody notices what happens the third year, really.

      And basically, what this jinx catches is when a player out performs his projections then regresses back to his mean skill level. And that burns into their memory.

      But if he's good his third year, OK, he's actually good, and they forget that he was bad his second year, because the good end result outweighs the bad.

      For example, nobody seems to remember that Pedroia actually had a pretty horrible first month in the majors, but really good contact rate which suggested that he would eventually adjust, which he did.

      Or I like to bring up Jose Guillen. The pat story that some Giants fans, like Grant, likes to bring up is that he was a bad acquisition, because his numbers were bad overall with the Giants. But the fact is that he was one of our best hitters for 6 weeks, around .800 OPS, and he helped us go from 66-51 and 3.5 games back on August 13th to 87-67 and 0.5 games ahead on September 24th (gaining 4 games on Padres), before his neck issues caused a 1 for 21 streak to end the season.

      In that 38 game period, he played in 34 games, started 31, drove in 15 runs and scored 9 runs, contributing 21 runs while batting .308/.353/.439/.793 for us. Not too shabby.

      We don't make the playoffs without his contributions, and thus I was thankful for his acquisition. He played poorly at the end, but then other players picked him up and we won anyway, just as he helped pick up the team, as they were 4-6 just before acquiring him. Without the push upward while he was hitting, there might not have been the chance to stay on top at the end when he wasn't hitting. He was the 4th best hitter in August, .853 OPS, and still had a .749 OPS, OK in September until his bad streak. It is a matter of appreciating the good that did come from his acquisition.

    4. Frankly, it is too soon to be singing Crawford's praises. And I say this as someone who believes wholeheartedly in his hitting talents. But injuries or whatever seems to intervene.

      I was expecting a breakthrough last season and he did in April, one of our leading hitters and he had 5 homers, but then, and he noted this himself in the interview after he hit that homer, he only hit 4 homers the rest of the way.

      So I would say good start and I think he can continue it for a whole season, but he needs to continue hitting well.

    5. I'm actually a bit worried about Hudson. Not one DOM start all season yet in five starts, and his PQS actually was lower in his last two starts, both 2 PQS after three 3 PQS starts. He's not striking out guys like he did for us early last season. At least he's being the vet and not allowing any DIS starts either.

      I'm hoping it's because he had a late and slow spring training and is actually still in his spring training, getting ready still. I thought his third start was a sign that he was starting to click, as he had 6 strikeouts in that start, but he reverted to few strikeouts in his last two starts, and so luckily he was good enough not to give up more runs. 2 strikeouts is no bueno.

      Lincecum and Heston, though, yum! Aside from Colorado, both have pretty dominant.

      Heston, in particularly, wow, his four 5 PQS starts leads the staff easily, Bumgarner is the only other one with a 5 PQS, and he has two, both in his last starts. So Hesto Presto Chango has a 80% DOM/0% DIS line so far.

      And Lincecum is second with 60% DOM/0% DIS so far, with three 4 PQS starts and two MID starts. Bumgarner is next with 60% DOM/20% DIS. A DIS start early in the season is an anchor on a pitcher's DIS% until you get into June, at least.

      The problem has mainly been Peavy and Vogie, they own all the other DIS starts, with two apiece. But Hudson has zero DOM starts after five starts, which isn't good either. Even Zito contributed a good 40%+ DOM when he was a mainstay in our rotation, Hudson's PQS reminds be of Brad Hennessey, who was able to keep a low-ish ERA because he was rarely bad, but he was also rarely good too. DOM starts are much more likely to be won, teams in the playoffs win a large percentage of DOM starts in the past handful of seasons. Particularly when your offense is beating up on the other team enough.

      We probably won't take off and battle for the division title until a fourth starter starts to deliver DOM starts for us, whether Hudson figures things out, Peavy or Cain gets healthy and productive.

    6. But I'll take what we're getting right now, we are now in third, only 1 win away from .500, 1.5 games away from second place.

      Dodgers are winning a lot and running away with division so far, as per experts, but that's easy to do when your subs are batting .803 OPS, that's better than most teams 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th hitters. They have 3 starters over 1.000 OPS, and that's not going to continue either. 2 bench over 1.000 OPS as well. All that over performance covers up a lot of sins.

      Their bullpen has also been mostly shutdown, unlike what their projections say, and thus they have been over performing there as well.

      These all covers how poorly their starting rotation has been doing outside Greinke and Kershaw. Two have been released, another on the DL, gone for the season for TJS (luckily they signed him to a four year contract for $48M :^). Their current 3rd starter has a 4.21 ERA and a history of not making it through half a season, let alone a whole one.

      They do have Urias in the minors, but he's probably not coming up until the All-Star break, he's only in AA, would probably have to get to AAA first, dominate there, before coming up to majors.

      They do have Wieland and he's doing great in AAA right now, Bolsinger did great in AAA and is a starter in the majors now.

      But Bolsinger don't have a great minor league history, and currently projected for a low 4 ERA by ZIPS, while Wieland has an up and down history in the minors and majors, and ZIPS didn't even bother to project him, but based on how the others projected Bolsinger, ZIPS probably projects Wieland to be low 4's as well (ZIPS seems to be a good mid-point projection system, I found most to be at extremes for many Giants players, either too high, Bill James in particular, or two low, BP in particular there, same with Davenport who, no surprise, built the BP system).

      They also have Frias in the rotation, also did well in AAA this season, but not so well previously, and thus projections see him somewhere low to mid 4 ERA.

      They appear to be hoping to last into the trading period in June/July with these backups. Even if Anderson makes it to mid-season - last time he did that was many moons ago in his second season - then they have Frias and Bolsinger in the back half of their rotation, neither of which projects to do all that well, though probably OK enough for the back half of a rotation, and especially with their offense.

      But that's the thing about projections of minor leaguers, they often miss and by a lot. They have already burned through Huff and Baker, dumped Correia already (and showing how desperate the Giants are, we picked him back up), and now relying on two career minor leaguers with little history of good performance to hold down two rotation spots indefinitely.

      Ryu, I just remembered, is suppose to return at some point. But he just started throwing a bullpen session (well, better than where Peavy or Cain are), and close to throwing live batting practices, though estimates have him more than a month away from returning still (which don't speak well about when Peavy and Cain will return). A shoulder issue, though, and he missed a month of action last season as well, seems to suggest that his body is breaking down even though he's only 28 YO.

      And who are they are going to trade to get better pitchers? Teams will know they are desperate, but they presumably will want to hold onto Urias and Pederson. And maybe Urias comes through and performs, but what if he doesn't and Anderson breaks down?

    7. The Dodgers have made a huge sabermetric bet that they can pick up pitchers on the cheap that their offense can carry when Kershaw and Greinke are not the starting pitchers. They appear to be following The Hidden Game's advice that teams with a pitcher's park should focus on offense, and big time, picking up all these scraps for the rotation and bullpen.

      But as my PQS playoff studies have shown, teams getting DOM starts in the playoffs are pretty hard to beat. It is no guarantee, but if you want to maximize your chances in the playoffs, it behooves your team to find pitchers who can dominate other teams, and continue to do so in the playoffs (of course, that last part only can be found out in the playoffs...).

      The Dodgers do not behoove, it appears, by the way they are building up their rotation and bullpen. Interesting saber metric experiment but with real money, not fantasy money, though the amount of money they have is kind of fantasy money for 27 of 30 MLB teams. It will be interesting what they do and how they do.

    8. I still think the Giants have a chance to win back-to-back. Even with the 8 game losing streak, I didn't lose hope. While I'll agree with others that our team is not great, I think that it is good enough to win.

      I can see some people call "luck" at some point because of how well Heston is doing. But these people seems to like to have it both ways, because if they would examine any team who won championships, they also had luck at some point, whether it be a prospect doing better than expected, a veteran doing better than expected, picking up a player who had no rights to do as well as they did for you based on history, or just plain being given a good player without giving up much (my big worry about the Dodgers, I'm afraid someone will just give them someone good for crumbs from their farm system).

      Was it luck that the Giants picked Heston up? Yes, but that's true for any pick past, say, the first 5 picks overall.

      It wasn't luck that they chose to keep him while letting go of interesting prospects like Kickham, Brown, Villalona, perhaps others, guys they DFAed in order to keep Heston on the 40-man roster. It was not luck that they chose to bring him up first when they needed a starter, they planned their depth in this way.

      Him pitching this way certainly feels like luck, he wasn't that great in the minors, and yet, he was still pretty good, putting up good ERAs except in 2013, which caused the Giants to drop him off the 40-man, but nobody else picked him up either.

      He's one of those pitchers who do really well at each level until he reaches his level of incompetence, which is the Peter Principle, a nice business term for that. We have had a lot of those types of pitchers, most recent one being Pucetas, but the thing is that the reason teams keep these types of pitchers is because some of them do make it to the majors and do well. They adjust with each new level and find a new level of performance.

      I've never studied career patterns, so take this with a huge grain of salt, but this seems like the real deal. Four 5-PQS starts in five starts does not seem to be something pitchers just throw out there randomly. 80% DOM is elite level, not something I expect him to repeat for a full season, but to even do that in five starts, I mean Lincecum has been struggling just to have a 5 PQS, let alone four in five starts. Most other pitchers too.

      Other teams could adjust but then what, he's a 4-PQS starter? That's still considered a DOM start.

      And I should clarify, by real deal, I mean he's a good (meaning 40%+ DOM starter with low DIS starts, <= 20%) starter who can hold a spot in our rotation as the Giants figure out who will be the top three for 2016-2020.

      As regular readers know, I analyzed the Giants rotations and basically the formula has been this minimum: one ace, two good pitchers, one around average (1-3 WAR) pitcher (Zito, Lincecum), and one standard #5 starter, generally composed of all the starters who they were forced to use because one or more starters were injured or otherwise not suitable for the rotation any more. I think Heston is at least that average starter, capable of generating 1-3 WAR for us.

      And who knows, maybe this is just part of his continuous adjustments and this is the real deal for him. Would not be the first prospect to do something like this. His BABIP is a beautiful .299, so no regression there. And he's been earning his ERA, his FIP is only 3.13, SIERA 3.16.



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