Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2015 Giants: September and Final PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September 2015 and for the season, 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 (wow, 10th year of this!) 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 had 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).  Part of this is the MID (starts neither DOM nor DIS; my term for this as Baseball Forecaster never labeled that category of starts) starts are average starts which gives your team a chance to win still, unlike DIS starts.  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 2015 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (73% DOM, 4% DIS; 19:1/26):  4, 0, 3, 5, 5/5, 4, 2, 4, 3, 5/4, 4, 5, 5, 5/2, 3, 4, 5, 3/5, 5, 5, 5, 5/

Matt Cain- (30% DOM, 50% DIS; 3:5/10):  DL///0, 5, 3, 5, 3/1, 0, 0, 5, 1/

Chris Heston - (44% DOM, 28% DIS; 11:7/25):  5, 5, 5, 3/5, 2, 5, 0, 1, 5/0, 5, 2, 2, 5/3, 3, 4, 5, 3/0, 0, 4, 0, 0/

Tim Hudson - (19% DOM, 19% DIS; 3:3/16):  3, 3, 3, 2/2, 3, 2, 3, 0, 4/5, 1, 3, 2, 4/0, 2//

Mike Leake - (100% DOM, 0% DIS; 3:0/3):  ///4, 5, 4/

Tim Lincecum - (40% DOM, 33% DIS; 6:5/15):  4, 3, 4, 2/4, 5, 0, 4, 2, 0/4, 0, 2, 0, 0//

Jake Peavy - (57% DOM, 29% DIS; 7:2/13):  0, 0//4, 5, 2, 4, 4/5, 4, 2, 4, 3, 2/

Yusmeiro Petit - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/1):  /3////

Ryan Vogelsong - (52% DOM, 38% DIS; 11:8/21):  0, 4, 0/4, 5, 1, 4, 5/5, 4, 0, 5, 5, 2/0, 2/0, 5, 5, 0, 0/

Giants Season overall - 45% DOM, 24% DIS out of 117 games counted (53:28/117)
Giants Month of April - 41% DOM, 23% DIS out of 22 games counted (9:5/22)
Giants Month of May - 50% DOM, 20% DIS out of 30 games counted (15:6/30)
Giants Month of June - 54% DOM, 23% DIS out of 26 games counted (14:6/26)
Giants Month of July - 42% DOM, 13% DIS out of 24 games counted (10:3/24)
Giants Month of August - 52% DOM, 38% DIS out of 29 games counted (15:11/29)
Giants Month of September - 52% DOM, 38% DIS out of 29 games counted (15:11/29)

The month of August for PQS was high or low, DOM or DIS.   Out of 29 starts, 26 were either DOM or DIS, only 3 were MID.  This continues a string of poor (for the Giants) months since September last season.

Bumgarner led the staff with 5 DOM starts.  Peavy and Leake were next, both with 3 DOM starts (Leake was picked up in a trade and he missed a couple of starts due to injury, had his 3 in only 3 starts, an excellent start to his Giants career, except for the injury).  Vogie had 2 DOM, and both Cain and Heston had 1 DOM.   Hudson was on the DL, getting healthy, while Lincecum continued to struggle until it was decided that he needed surgery to get his hips fixed, and the Doctor said that it was not arthritic and that it should fix the problems that have been bothering him for a couple of years now.

It was a horrible month for DIS starts, the opposite of the last month, perhaps the BABIP gods provided regression for last month's goodness (together, the DIS for the two months was 26%, which is in line with all the other months).  Both Cain and Heston led the staff with 4 DIS.  I don't think that has ever happened in any month I've chronicled of the Giants monthly PQS stats.  One pitcher, yeah, but not two.  On top of that, Vogelsong had 3 DIS himself.  This contrasted with the fact that these three pitchers had DOM starts in their non-DIS starts.  The only thing keeping the month from being a total disaster was that Bumgarner, Leake and Peavy all had 0 DIS starts.

Again, deep divide between the great performances and the not so great.  Bumgarner, of course (5 DOM in 5 starts!), led the way with 1.43 ERA, 12.7 K/9 and 13.25 K/BB (amazing!).   The team went 5-0 in his starts.  That contrasts with Mike Leake, who had 3.38 ERA (3 DOM in 3 starts) but 3.38 ERA, 7.2 K/9 and 3.75 K/BB, and the team only went 1-2 in his starts.  They were the only ones to have good ERA.

The rest were bad to worse.  Peavy had a 4.67 ERA in spite of his 3 DOM and 0 DIS, he bumped up to 7.3 K/9 and 2.80 K/BB, so a bunch of bad luck there.  Still the team only went 3-3 in his starts.  Vogelsong had a 4.31 ERA in spite of all those DIS starts, boosting to 9.4 K/9 and so-so 1.85 K/BB (5.1 BB/9!!!).  The team was 2-3 in his starts.  Heston had a 5.79 ERA with only 4.6 K/9 and 0.92 K/BB and Cain had a horrendous 8.03 ERA with 5.5 K/9 and 1.50 K/BB.  The team went 1-4 for the two of them.

Both Heston and Cain had horrible months.  That was clear from their 4 DIS months, and shown by their poor ERA, K/9, and K/BB.

Cain was actually OK in his first five starts, which was last month, but he lost a lot in the following five starts in this month.  Day and night.  He was eventually DLed for elbow irritation, and recently returned to the team.

Heston clearly hit the wall, he only had 3 DIS starts in the first 20 starts of the season, then had 4 DIS in his next 5.  The Giants optioned him to the minors, but he continued to travel with the team, and basically rested, before he was returned to the rotation to take over Cain's spot when Cain was DLed, and had his last DIS for the month.

Heston gained weight over his last off-season, which helped him gain velocity and helped him perform well this season.  Unfortunately, like last season, he started hitting the wall in August and was not able to pitch to the level he was for much of the season.  He and the Giants need to work together this off-season to improve his stamina so that he can last through August and September.

September 2015 and Final Comments

I'm not going to rehash September.  This post is late, and the 2016 season is almost upon us.   But as I noted in the last PQS post, it would take a lot to win the division and we were not up for it.

Bochy's Declining Years as Manager?

It didn't help that this was the worse season of Bochy's with the Giants in terms of one-run win-loss differential, heck, it was the worse of his career.  His -9 in 2015 beat out his -7 in 2002 with the Padres, and the -4 in 2007, his first season with the Giants, and in 2014.  In addition, this is the first time in his managerial career where he had three consecutive seasons without being among one of the leaders in one-run win-loss differentials.  It is also the first season with consecutive negative stats, where he lost more one-run games than won.

Perhaps it was a blip.  The Giants started August at +3 in one-run games, so at that point, Bochy was doing well enough per his career averages (roughly +4).  However, in the last two months of the 2015 season, the Giants went a horrible 4-16 in one-run games, accentuated by a 1-3 record in extra inning games, which leaves a still poor 3-13 record in regular nine-inning games.   Part of the reason for the collapse then could be related to the team missing all those starting players:  Pence, Belt, Panik, Aoki, Crawford some.  But the offense did well enough, the pitching just didn't hold up as well.

Is this the beginning of the end for Bochy?  Is it a blip?  Is it connected with his emergency heart surgery that he had in spring training of 2015?   Is it related to a lesser quality bullpen, due to Affeldt's decline in 2015?  I'm not sure, but it is certainly something to watch in the coming seasons.

Giants PQS Decline and FA Improvement

What is clear is that the team's rotation has been slipping in recent years in terms of PQS and the additions of Cueto and Samardzija should help with that.  Here are the new rotation's PQS for 2015:

  • Bumgarner:  73% DOM/4% DIS
  • Cueto:  59% DOM/6% DIS
  • Samardzija:  47% DOM/9% DIS
  • Peavy:  57% DOM/29% DIS (but excluding first two starts which he should not have pitched since he was injured:  64% DOM/0% DIS)
  • Cain:  30% DOM/50% DIS

As I've noted before, a low DIS% is actually more important that a high DOM% (unless you are in the 70%+ range).  That keeps the team in games a lot more as it is mainly DIS starts that puts the game out of reach for your team.  And now we got four starters with low DIS%.

On top of that, Samardzija had a down year in DOM% because of his bout with tipping pitches.  In his prior three seasons, he had 64% DOM/11% DIS, 70% DOM/9% DIS, and 73% DOM/6% DIS.   In his first 21 starts of 2015, he had 13 DOM starts, 0 DIS for a 62% DOM/0% DIS, which was approximately what he was doing before.  Over his next 9 starts, he had only 1 DOM vs. 3 DIS.  And reportedly he figured things out with his last two starts, good for 1 DOM in 2 starts.  As a result, as long as he's not tipping off pitches, he should have a DOM% of 60-70% and a DIS% of 6-10%, which is in line with his career results thus far.

Using 2015 and career norms, I get the following for the five man rotation, assuming they pitch the full season:  58% DOM/15% DIS.  If Cain just reverts back to 2014, things improve to 63% DOM/8% DIS.

Since 2009, the Giants have ranged from a low of 45% in 2015 to a high of 62% in 2011 for DOM% and a low of 14% in 2011 and a high of 24% in 2015 and in 2013.   2011 is the only season at 55% or above DOM% that did not result in a World Series championship.  Likewise, 2011 is the only season at 17% or below DIS% that did not result in a World Series championship.   2009 and 2010 were very similar, in fact, DOM was higher and DIS was lower in 2009.  

Given these ranges, it appears that our rotation has improved enough to at least get us back into the playoffs, we were able to get into the playoffs with similar DOM/DIS in 2012 and 2014.  Especially considering that our offense in 2015 and 2016 is among the best we have had during this period of excellence, relative to the league, that is, as there has been seasons at or better than 2015, but none relative to the NL average.

Go Giants!

1 comment:

  1. I see the improvements on this team especially the pitching staff. If healthy I see this team winning over 90 games. Yet most of the professional predictors have them in the mid to high 80's in wins. Of course a few big injuries and we can win even less than 80 games, but a relatively healthy season by this roster, should yield at least 90 games. It is hard to know if Cueto will become the true ACE and Bumgarner the number two, or if Cueto will turn south. Could Bumgarner slip this year? The giants are hoping that the can take Samardjxxxx and turn him into Jason Schmidt. Maybe they can. Peavy when healthy seems to be good for about 90 to 95 pitches. After that he just seems to weaken. Cain is the wild card. If he comes back as the Cain of old, and the giants hit behind him, the giants can have a great year. If Cain remains the 2015 Cain, the giants will have to go to their next option. No team has a better chance than the giants at this time to go all the way.

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