Tuesday, September 13, 2016

2016 Giants: August PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of August 2016, 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, 11th year of this!  10th anniversary!) 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 2016 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (75% DOM, 0% DIS; 21:0/28):  2, 5, 2, 5, 5/5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 5/5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 2/5, 5, 3, 5, 5/2, 5, 5, 3, 3, 5/

Matt Cain- (27% DOM, 40% DIS; 4:6/15):  4, 0, 0, 3, 3/0, 5, 5, 5, X//0, 2, 3/3, 0, 0/

Johnny Cueto - (63% DOM, 7% DIS; 17:2/27):  4, 4, 5, 3, 5/3, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5/3, 5, 5, 5, 2/4, 5, 1, 5, 2/4, 2, 3, 3, 5, 0/

Jake Peavy - (48% DOM, 29% DIS; 10:6/21):  3, 0, 2, 4, 0/3, 3, 5, 0, 4, 4/4, 4, 5, 4, 0/5, 0, 4, 3, 0//

Jeff Samardzija - (67% DOM, 19% DIS; 14:4/21):  3, 4, 3, 4, 4/5, 4, 4, 5, 5, 3/1, 0, 4, 0, 2/3, 5, 2, 1, 2/4, 2, 5, 5, 5/

Albert Suarez - (43% DOM, 29% DIS; 3:2/7):  //4, 3, 0, 4, 3/5/0/

Matt Moore - (83% DOM, 0% DIS; 5:0/6):  ////4, 4, 4, 3, 5, 4/

X - Cain had a disaster start, but was dealing when hamstring went out, not counting in PQS stats

Giants Season overall - 58% DOM, 15% DIS out of 104 games counted (60:16/104)
Giants Month of April - 48% DOM, 16% DIS out of 25 games counted (12:4/25)
Giants Month of May - 79% DOM, 7% DIS out of 28 games counted (22:2/28)
Giants Month of June - 56% DOM, 19% DIS out of 27 games counted (15:5/27)
Giants Month of July  - 46% DOM, 21% DIS out of 24 games counted (11:5/24)
Giants Month of August  - 52% DOM, 14% DIS out of 27 games counted (14:4/27)

August continued the slide in the rotation that had started in June, with our two horses, Bumgarner and Cueto faltering, and without the addition of Moore providing a huge boost, it would have been a pretty bad month, worse than July, and probably worse in my tracking of these stats.

Moore led the way with 5  DOM starts, followed by Samardzija with 4 DOM.  Bumgarner only had 3 DOM, Cueto only 2 DOM.  Cain and Suarez both had 0 DOM (to be fair, Suarez only had one start, Cain three).

Samardzija continued to turn things around some, at least.  Instead of the 3 DIS starts he had in June, he only had the one in July and zero in August, plus boosting his DOM to 4 in the month.

Cain led the staff with 2 DIS starts, and Cueto and Suaraez also had 1 DIS start each.  Everyone else had 0.

The stories of the month were Bumgarner, Cueto, Moore, Shark, Cain.
  • Bumgarner because he sputtered some.  Most SP would love to have a 50% DOM month with 0% DIS, but he got BABIPed some and ended up with a 4.14 ERA.  With a 9.0 K/9 and 2.85 K/BB, he did well in his peripherals, so he should be good to go, but still, in terms of the standards he has set, this was a poor month for him, as we needed someone to get us out of the post-All-Star funk, and he didn't deliver.
  • Cueto because he continued to sputter.  It appears that he has started his second half downward trend that I had posted on previously, based on this and continuation of this into August.  He at least turned it around some by the end of the month, and continued it into September with a string of 3 DOM starts in 4 starts.  Still, he had a 4.38 ERA for the month.  But a 7.8 K/9 and 4.00 K/BB shows that his peripherals are doing OK.
  • Moore helped save the month for the Giants starting staff, coming in with 5 DOM starts out of 6.  Unfortunately, his wildness early - most likely due to nerves of the trade and wanting to impress his new boss and teammates - cost him with a LOT of walks.  Still, 5 DOM starts led to his sterling 3.16 ERA, so it didn't cost him that much, only resulting in his poor 1.71 K/BB, but he had a great 8.8 K/9, and he was only one out away from a no-hitter in one of his starts.  
  • The Shark continued to improve and, not only that, reached the heights of where he was at the beginning of the season.  Per an article during the month, he credited it to him returning to using a curveball again.  Incredibly, when he moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation, unlike other pitchers who would add a pitch to his repertoire, he actually dropped the curve from his.  The Giants had him add it back into the mix.  He would have led the staff in DOM starts if not that Moore had more, but did lead the staff with a 2.76 ERA.  However, he only had a 7.2 K/9 and 2.60 K/BB.
  • Cain could not find his bearings in the minors, after getting DLed, and continued to struggle to find his form in the majors.  It was not his stuff, he had a 9.9 K/9, but he was very wild, leading to only a 2.14 K/BB in spite of that high K/9, leading to a very bad 7.23 ERA.  Then he got DLed again, but this time, upon his return, he ended up in the bullpen instead.  Many were down on the Cainer, but he unfortunately needed spring training to get back his throwing form, and he was still searching when he got placed in the bullpen.  I think he should be fine with a full winter's rest and 2017 spring training to get in shape again (barring another injury, natch).  It could be his last season, as it's the last season on his contract, though there is a buyout and it is large enough that the Giants could decide to keep him around longer.  It depends on a number of factors:  1) of course, how he does in 2017; 2), how Cueto does and whether he opts out of his contract, and if the Giants then re-sign him or not; 3) how our SP prospects do.  With Bickford traded, Beede is the most likely to ascend in 2018, but Blackburn, Andrew Suarez, and perhaps Blach, could also pressure to get a SP spot.  At least the Giants got Bumgarner, Samardzija, and Moore signed (well, I think Bumgarner will have the team pick up his option in 2018, and perhaps instead sign some sort of long term deal, in place of it).    
August 2016 Comments

I will keep it shorter, since September is almost half over as it is.  Work has been very busy this summer, on top of everything else, so I've been putting in even more overtime.  Plus, I'm not worried, like I was not worried in 2014, as while the Giants have been doing up and down, I know that the Giants were not going to keep on winning so much and was glad they were putting wins in the bank.  I didn't expect such a huge collapse, especially when there were not that many injuries this summer, but with injuries setting back Panik, Pagan, and Pence, and Span's and Belt's hot and cold streaks, it was enough along with the SP overall struggles for the team to hit bottom.

It did not help that our two co-aces, Bumgarner and Cueto had mediocre months, Cuetio in particular, as Bumgarner was affected by bad BABIP hurting him.  You can't expect good results when your two top guys get a 4.2+ ERA together, the Giants went 3-3 with Bumgarner and 2-4 with Cueto.

But the offense hurt chances by not winning games when Samardzija and Moore were  pitching.  The Shark gave up 3 ER or less in 4 of 5 starts and the Giants went 2-3 with him, losing 4-3 and 2-0.   With Moore, the team was 3-3, losing a game 2-0, else they would have been 4-2 with him starting.

Still, the offense averaged 4.44 runs per game, so it was more the pitching that cost the Giants in August, that's more than enough to win a lot of games, not go 11-16.  Per Pythagorean, they should have been more like 14-13 or even 15-12, so they didn't win as much as they should have.  Just winning those games for Shark and Moore would have turned the month to 14-13, still in the NL West title race instead of games behind now.   Plus we got nothing from our fifth starters, to go with the poor co-ace production, for most of the month, only turning things around late in the month.

While the starting rotation appears to be heading into 2010 shape, with at least 3-4 of them dealing in each rotation turn (though we don't have a Zito-type holding up the end, surprising how useful he really was, unlike what a lot of naysayers were saying, neither Cain nor Suarez have delivered anything from the #5 spot so far), the bullpen has been a source of frustration due to a number of blown saves.

Bullpen Transition

While I appreciate the angst about the screw ups, that's part and parcel of this transitional year for the bullpen, that started in ernest with Affeldt's retirement, but really started during last season with Affeldt's struggles and the bullpen's DL stints during that season.  We had Strickland, Osich, Broadway, Hall, and Guerrin make their auditions to hold a spot in the bullpen last season, and that process continued this season.  And, needless to say, when we got young prospects up here, you are going to have struggles now and again, as they are not proven, like Affeldt, Lopez, and Ramirez was when we acquired them, or BWills by the 2010 season.   And perhaps we were spoiled by how quick Romo and Casilla came in and dominated, from the get go.

It should be getting better next season.  It is getting pretty close to a new Core Four, especially with the remaining Core Four contracts ending after this season, with Romo, Casilla, and Lopez ending.  Right now, we got Kontos, Strickland, Smith, Law, Osich, Guerrin pretty much locked in for next season, the only questions being Law's health and Osich's health/performance.  Osich's hiccup this season is probably what precipitated the Smith trade, though that hole really opened up last season with Affeldt's poor season.

So the question then becomes, who, if any, of the Core Four gets resigned?  I expect Lopez to be gone.  He hasn't been effective this season against LHP, which could be due to SSS, even more so for a Loogy, but he's old too.  He wants to pitch next season, so I assume he's moving on.  Romo could be signed, but he got $9M this season, and if he wants that again, he's gone too.  Plus together, that's $14M saved off the budget, probably gets us back under the penalty threshold for the budget.   Casilla is still throwing heat, so if he's OK with what he's been getting, we will probably sign him to a 2 year, $12M deal again, else I think he'll be gone.

So who gets that last spot?  Casilla most probably, but I'm not aware of who is a free agent this season, so perhaps they kick a tire here and there.  I'm hopeful that if Lincecum is OK with a minor league deal and with being a reliever, that he might return here, but I just don't really see him coming back to the Giants, given the lack of space for another reliever plus the number of good arms in the minors, like Okert and others.  I think he will seek out Seattle first.   But I expect him to return here at some point, the Giants seem to bring back vets frequently enough that it seems probable.

Will Smith Has Done Well Overall

Speaking of the bullpen, how about Will Smith?  Some might look at his stats with us and see a 4.50 ERA reliever and get mad about losing all those players for him.  Take away his first appearance, though, when he admitted to nerves, and you got a 3.09 ERA reliever in 17 appearances, 11.2 IP, 9 hits, 8 walks, 16 K's, 2.00 K/BB, 12.3 K/9 14 scoreless appearances, unscored upon in his last 10 appearances.   That's what we got him for, for the most part, except for all the walks.

I'm still excited to have him in our bullpen, still OK with the trade (when viewed in context of what we gave up to get Smith, Moore, Nunez; still weird to me that Bickford was in this trade and not the Moore trade).   I'm only frustrated that he's clearly an Affeldt type reliever who handles both RHH as well as LHH, but Bochy has used him more as a Loogy so far.  Might even have even better stats with us had Bochy done that, as he's been better against RHH this year than LHH.  Hopefully he will be used in a greater role if we get into the playoffs, which, at the moment, we got a wild card spot.

Moore is More, More or Less

Speaking of trades, how about Moore?  The worry when we got him was that we gave up a lot for him if he pitches like he has mostly pitched since he returned from TJS, but is a bargain if he can return to how he pitched in his one great season.  He had a 3.16 ERA in August, striking out a lot, and, overall, if not for the blip in Colorado, which does that to even the best pitchers, he would have a much better ERA with us than his 4.05 ERA with us suggests.  His ERA hides the fact that he has pitched well or better in 6 of his 8 starts for us, with only two starts with more than 3 ER, and 6 DOM starts out of 8.   So far, he has been far worth the gamble, he was basically our best starter in August, and we would have been even further in the hole in the division race had we had Peavy pitching instead of Moore.

Nunez Good Defense at 3B

Lastly, the Nunez trade.  I've been curious how he would do defensively for us.  Because he has been mostly horrible as a fielder for the Twins, except for a brief stint in LF before (by both DRS and UZR).  We always hear about how our  coaches work with guys and how their analytics team provide info on how to position for hitters, but it is one thing to hear about it, another for it to show up in the stats.  Not that Duffy was horrible at third, but he was only OK defensively at SS by reputation, and he was a great defensive 3B for us.  And, really, Pablo before him, he had his really good moments, especially when he was fit enough and not over weight.

And so far, Nunez's been pretty good defensively, per Baseball-Reference.com, 2 DRS so far, which works out to 8 DRS over a full season, or nearly a win added.  SSS, which really affects fielders, but a good start, you gotta start somewhere.  Plus, he has had good stretches there before, in 2013 and 2015, so it is not totally usual for him, he has done well defensively at 3B previously.  Perhaps getting to stay at one position will help him gain the repetition that enhances his defense.   Plus, it can't hurt that Crawford is next to him, Brandon can probably get to balls Nunez misses, and still get the out.

And perhaps his poor play previously hid how good he could be.  Per UZR, he's been roughly average over the past three seasons, across all the positions he has played, if you look at his defensive WAR contributions, -0.7 over the past three seasons, or average of -0.233 per season.  That is roughly a loss of 2 runs per season.  Part of that is that most of his OF play has occurred in the past three seasons, though nothing this season.  And he actually did very well for the Twins at SS per UZR in 2015, but he was just horrible before.  So he looks like he can be decent defensively in the infield and outfield, per the most recent stats.

And I can see him being used in a utility role next season, much as he was with the Yankees and Twins before.  The Giants recognize the value of rest and been looking for a super-utility guy to handle that, plus be a good replacement should the usual injuries crop up across the lineup.   Particularly since he can be a good leadoff guy, with speed and OBP, plus be speed off the bench, as well as provide some decent double-digit power as well.

So who starts at 3B then?  While I think that's his role, I see the position being open for competition next season, between Nunez and Kelby Tomlinson, with Adrianza also getting a good chance as well, with the caveat about his health, and perhaps Green and Pena if they are still around.  They could always sign a free agent, take a gamble on a player with a good history, but poor 2016.  But I would not bet against Christian Arroyo being a dark horse competitor who could win the position.

Arroyo had a poor 2016 season overall, per his batting line of .274/.316/.373/.689, but his very poor hitting at home (which is a poor hitter's park) is causing people to overlook his .315/.348/.438/.786 batting line on the road, with only 38 strikeouts in 260 AB.  He was not getting fooled as an under-aged hitter there, it is a sign of a good prospect to make AA by age 22, and he is only 21, more than holding his own there on the road, where the average hitter hit .259/.328/.389/.717 in the league and the average pitcher's age is 24.5 YO.

I would also add that Nunez could also be in competition to start in LF as well.  He has been very good defensively there so far, and Pagan will most likely not be re-signed.  I expect the Giants to let there be a competition there, between Nunez, Parker, and Williamson.  Plus Slater, Cole, and Duggar did well in AA, so they will probably get a look too, and Hernandez, assuming he's still around, I see him being a replacement for Blanco next season, as Gregor's contract is up as well, and he will probably get more than the Giants will offer, from another team.  Another transition we will have to go through, as the players who helped us win in 2010, 2012, and 2014 move on.

Other than those, we are set elsewhere in the starting lineup:  Posey, Belt, Panik, Crawford, Span, Pence.

Bench Shuffle

While our bench could be much different, depending on what the Giants decide.  Posey was severely overused this season, part of it seems to be that Belt was healthy and playing, instead of DLing and giving Posey a lot of time at 1B, and the other part was that Brown was not that great with the pitchers.  Part of that was that he got a lot of starts with Cain, Peavy, and Suarez, the worse starters in our rotation this season.  But Cueto and Moore did not do that well with Brown starting either.

As noted, Blanco could be gone, and Parker or Williamson could win the starting LF role.  And Adrianza could finally be cut loose if the Giant tired of his brittle frailness, he's been very Fragile.   Nunez could start but he could just as easily be a super-utility player.  Tomlinson could also be on the bench as well, but with one last option, he could end up in AAA once again.  And then there is Gillaspie, Green, and Pena as possible bench players as well.

As a sign that it might just be the Giants that help guys be good fielders, Gillaspie has been horrible on defense per DRS, he has never had one season at any position with a positive DRS, and only 3 with 0 DRS, but covering a total of 10.0 IP, so nothing really at all, but this season, he is very positive for both 1B and 3B with good amount of playing time at both.   His OPS would even be a high for him this season, if he can keep it up, for any season with at least 180 PA.  That with some power and good batting eye, as he don't strike out that much (oddly, though, he has a very low BABIP, even though he hits hard enough for a good ISO; get his BABIP up 20-30 points and he would be a very productive bench player), leads to a relatively productive bench player for the Giants.  So he might stay around for another season on the bench, assuming he is not a free agent after the season, he still has two more arbitration years, so we got him if we want him.

1 comment:

  1. I am just going to comment on Belt's streakiness. He has a quick bat, a great eye, but a long gawky and loopy swing. I could more accept this swing if he were hitting 40 or 50 dingers a year, but he has just 15. With this minimal power, he needs to instead make more contact ala Reynolds, who has cut down his K's big time, and raised his average. I still think with a shorter more level swing, Belt will not lose much in power, but will have much better contact. He needs to be more consistent and has the bat speed to do so, but his loopy swing yield many swings and misses, and we have no proof that it adds to his power numbers. Also, both he and Pence get called out on non-swings, that are called swings because of their large body pivots and swivel around their hips when swinging at the ball. I do not know if Pence has the eye that Belt has, and would not at this point recommend any tampering with Pence's swing, but I see the potential for vast improvement with a different approach for Belt. Quick swing, more level, more flat, better results, a lot less K's and a good chance that their will be no drop in power numbers, which is usually the fear one has when cutting down one's swing.



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