Friday, November 03, 2017

2017 Giants: September and Final PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of September  2017 and is the final 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, 12th 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 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' Final PQS for 2017 Season

Ty Blach - (38% DOM, 25% DIS; 9:6/24):  3,3/0, 4, 4, 3, 3/4, 3, 3, 3, 0, 4/4, 4, 4, 2/4, 4, 1, 1, 1, 1/2/

Madison Bumgarner- (82% DOM, 0% DIS; 14:0/17):  5, 4, 5, 4///4, 4, 3, 5/5, 5, 3, 5, 4/4, 3, 5, 4/

Matt Cain- (26% DOM, 35% DIS; 6:8/23):  0, 4, 3, 4, 3/0, 3, 4, 1, 4, 3/2, 0, 2, 0, 3/3, 5, 0, 1/0, 2/4/

Johnny Cueto - (52% DOM, 16% DIS; 13:4/25):  2, 5, 5, 0, 4/5, 4, 5, 4, 4, 5/4, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2/3, 0//3, 4, 0, 3, 5, 2/

Matt Moore - (45% DOM, 32% DIS; 14:10/31):  1, 4, 2, 0, 5/0, 3, 4, 4, 2, 5/0, 2, 0, 5, 0/3, 0, 5, 4, 4/2, 4, 4, 3, 5, 1/4, 0, 5, 0/

Jeff Samardzija - (69% DOM, 9% DIS; 22:3/32):  2, 4, 4, 3, 5/5, 4, 4, 5, 4, 0/5, 4, 3, 4, 5/5, 4, 3, 0, 5/4, 3, 4, 3, 5, 4/5, 2, 5, 0, 5/

Chris Stratton - (44% DOM, 22% DIS; 4:2/9):  ///3/3, 5, 3, 5/0, X, 5, 0, 4/

Giants Season overall - 51% DOM, 20% DIS out of 161 games counted (82:33/161)
Giants Month of April - 54% DOM, 15% DIS out of 26 games counted (14:4/26)
Giants Month of May - 62% DOM, 17% DIS out of 29 games counted (18:5/29)
Giants Month of June - 33% DOM, 26% DIS out of 27 games counted (9:7/27)
Giants Month of July - 52% DOM, 20% DIS out of 25 games counted (13:5/25)
Giants Month of August - 52% DOM, 21% DIS out of 29 games counted (15:6/29)
Giants Month of September - 52% DOM, 24% DIS out of 25 games counted (13:6/25)

The month of September for PQS was a continuation of July and August, though it again had a different mix of pitchers.  Blach was out, Stratton was in, this time.  Plus some vintage Matt Cain.

Bumgarner and Samardzija led the team with 3 DOM starts each.  Cueto, Moore, and Stratton had 2 DOM starts each.  Cain recorded a DOM his great last start ever.

Moore and Stratton had two DIS each.  I did not count Stratton's start that ended because of a rain delay, and recorded an X for it, else he would have led the team.  Cueto and Samardzija each had one DIS hiccup.  Neither Bumgarner nor Cain had any.

We had mixed results again, and the overall ERA reflected that, with a .  Stratton led the way with a good 3.43 ERA and 7.7 K/9, but bad 1.571 WHIP, and so-so 2.25 K/BB, but at least better than last month when he issued so many walks.  However, 25 hits in 21.0 IP will usually do you in some.  The rest of the pitchers did not do that well, in spite of good DOM numbers, so here is the ERAs for the rest:  Cueto 4.26 ERA; Samardzija 4.35 ERA; Bumgarner 4.91 ERA (in spite of 3 DOMs out of 4 starts); Moore 5.75 ERA (DIS's will do you in).  Cain and Blach each had one start, so no need to look into them, just know that Cainer went out with a Cain-game.

September 2017 Comments

Nothing much here to say or see, so I'll update what I wrote about the bullpen and starting rotation from last month, given that Cain is now officially retired, and not coming back as a player.

2018 Bullpen

Assuming Melancon and Smith comes back from their surgeries back to prior goodness, the bullpen is shaping up to be pretty good and set, with only the loogy position still in the air.   With Kontos being allowed to be claimed by the Pirates, when he was ran through waivers, that leaves the following who are going to make the bullpen at least pretty much for sure:
  • Melancon, closer
  • Dyson, righty setup
  • Smith, lefty setup
  • Strickland, righty power setup
  • Gearrin, righty middle and setup
  • Crick, righty middle and setup
That leaves loogy and the long relief pitcher.  Long relief should be in good hands with someone.  Stratton and Blach are probably battling for the #5 rotation spot, as well as both Suarez's, Albert and Andrew, who has pitched very well in the minors, and probably Beede as well.  Given how up and down Stratton has pitched (albeit very SSS) and Blach has pitched (albeit very SSS), I have to say that's going to be a toss-up, most likely, between the two.  If Stratton wins, most likely we will see Blach be made the long reliever.  If Blach wins, I think they will want Stratton starting in the minors, keeping his strength up, as a backup starter, and use Albert Suarez as the long reliever.  I doubt Albert Suarez will win the position, but possibly Andrew Suarez might.

The loogy can be handled a number of ways.  As mentioned by many so far, the Giants can pursue a free agent.  But even with Cain's salary coming off (and we still owe him a big buy out of $7.5M, unless he retired and let the team off, very unlikely), some are going up, and it is looking more likely that Cueto will not opt out, leaving his large salary on the payroll.  That leaves the payroll most likely over the penalty threshold again, taxing the Giants very highly for overage (50% this season).  Assuming we get someone good as a loogy, that's $7M per season, and with a penalty of at least 50%, that's effectively paying $10.5M.  I don't see the Giants doing that without dropping some salary off the team.  And, in any case, they probably view a good defensive CF a higher priority right now.

I think the Giants have some internal options.  Of course, Okert and Osich will be battling again, but neither has done well at all this season.   But the two options I'm thinking of are Blach and Andrew Suarez.  Depending on how the 5th starter situation and long relief is handled, most likely at least one of them will be available to be a loogy for us (if not one who can handle both, as both have done well enough against RHP).  

And I still have a lot of hope for Okert, who was amazingly good before his TJS, some pitchers need more than one season to get back to where they were before.  And if he can figure things out, he'll probably win that spot.  Osich, as much as I love his potential, he's been up and down a lot, and fought various injuries over the years, so he's probably in AAA next season, given these other options.  I'm still rooting for him, though, there is a lot there to like.

A major problem for rostering a loogy is that there are only 7 spots open in the bullpen, and six guys listed above, with a long reliever involved.   Unless they want to cheat some, where they use Blach or Andrew Suarez as the long reliever, but bringing him in for loogy duties here and there, with the idea that if he's needed for long relief after a loogy outing, the Giants could stretch one of the other relievers to two innings to account for that.

Then there is the possibility that the Giants might trade either Strickland or Guerrin, in order to open a spot for a loogy.  But since we don't have great options right now, any trade probably don't happen until mid-spring training when the situation is clearer what is happening.  

Starting Rotation

The starting rotation appears to be pretty set as well:
  1. Bumgarner as ace
  2. Cueto as co-ace
  3. Samardzija
  4. Moore
  5. Blach, Stratton, both Suarez, Free Agent
That's as good as it looked at the start of this season, but based on a lot of assumptions.  That Bumgarner doesn't have any issue with his injury, sometimes scar tissue can mess things up.  That Cueto is over his blister issues and can pitch like he did in 2016.  That Samardzija can utilize his high K/BB over a full season, while keeping the long ball down some.  That Moore is over his mechanics issues (so far so good in the last month or so).  Too many ifs to say definitively good, but strong possibility of being good.

If I were to bet, I would expect Bumgarner and Cueto to be back to normal, assuming the ball is not causing blisters anymore.  Samardzija and Moore are the big question marks, both have been in the Giants for roughly two seasons (1.5 for Moore), and yet both have struggled (as I noted, perhaps a reason why Righetti and Gardner were let go as pitching and bullpen coaches).  And, of course, the 5th starter is a huge question mark, I should add Beede as a possibility given that he's in AAA and shown some signs of being major league ready, though I think he needs another AAA season before he's ready for the rotation.  

6 comments:

  1. I'm not sure, after last year, I'd go 'co-Ace' with Cueto. Solid #2 if he rebounds well. But he's lost about 3MPH over his peak, historical velocity.

    Now, maybe that was the blisters and the elbow issue. But maybe not. Which is why I'm being more reserved.

    Also, thanks for the hard work in putting this together.

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    Replies
    1. That's fair to say. I guess I'm more optimistic that the blister issues are over, and that his ability to fool hitters depends less on his velocity and more on his ability to disrupt the hitter.

      I keep on forgetting about his arm issue (you say elbow, but I recall forearm). From what I recall, it was a similar injury to the one he had in 2015 with KC, and he had a similar period of sub-par pitching. And he recovered from that in 2016.

      Of course, repeated arm injuries are always a worry for a pitcher, but my impression of the injury was that it was very mild, and he did return to the rotation, though to your point, he wasn't as good with his velocity.

      I just go back to thinking that his "superpower" is not velocity, though that certainly is part of his overall package previously, but his ability to disrupt the hitter's rhythm with his ability to pinpoint his pitches, something that got degraded by his blisters interfering with his feel of the ball.

      Delete
    2. You're welcome, the more I write about this and look at the data, the stronger I feel that this is a good tool for evaluating the ability of a pitcher to be regularly good at pitching in a way that saber metrics has found to be signs of an effective pitcher (reducing BB, hits, and HR; increasing K and IP) without the BABIP assumption, allowing pitchers who are good at avoiding hard contact to also do well in PQS. It is better than Game Score, which is not saber enhanced with the latest discoveries, though I think both are useful, and Game Score is much better for evaluating minor league pitchers, where they often don't reach the 5.0 IP necessary to get a PQS score above 0.

      For example, while many were down on Crick in recent years, I was buoyed by his good game scores, even when he was struggling as a starter, showing that there was ability there. Not that I expected such a breakout, but 2017 was not surprising to me either. If he continues to do well, I wonder if he shows further improvement whether they might try to move him into the rotation, like they did with another wild stallion, Jonathan Sanchez.

      I truly believe that the vast concentration of analytic and fan interest in homers and hitting is tilted because that is the basis of historic fan interest in baseball. Pitching duels were very common until the live ball made offense more robust and that's when baseball made the public consciousness and became our national pastime. I think pitching and defense gets short shrift because of this (understandable) interest in offense, hence the common phrase, fans dig dingers.

      That's skewing people's perception of the game of baseball, as it is seen as hitters doing it against pitchers, and not the other way around.

      Delete
    3. Pitchers control the process. The best can impose their will on the hitters, hence why there are the great pitchers with low ERA. Even the best hitters can't deal with the best pitchers always, and even if they can, without support from other hitters, the pitcher can minimize damage. As it takes a sequence of moving the runners ahead to score, generally.

      The elite can do that consistently enough that they throw good games such that they made up at least 75% of the games where they are either good (DOM) or bad (DIS), ignoring the medium (MID) games where BABIP appears to control whether it's a good result (low runs allowed) vs. bad result (high runs allowed), and it's a bit of a coin toss.

      When you have one of these pitchers, you have a start where you can expect good results. Hence phrases like Spahn and Sain and pray for rain, and It's Lincecum Day! You expect a win.

      And when you have a rotation of them, at least 3 of them, then you have a powerful tool for winning short series, like those in the playoffs. We've seen offenses go crazy before and seen them fail to win (2002 in particular, but even Will the Thrill days). It is hitting that might get you into the playoffs, but it is pitching and fielding that gets you the championship.

      People looked at the hitting as the key factor for Astros winning, but I saw it as the Astros were the team that had a pitcher going consistently good for them in Morton, which tipped the World Series to them over LA. Had Darvish had even one normal start or Kershaw two normal starts, the Dodgers would be celebrating right now.

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    4. And I guess that's another thing to add to my list: pitchers who can do it in the playoffs.

      Kershaw has had a spotty history in the playoffs, and while he did much to change that perception in these playoffs, his blow up in Game 5 will mar his record.

      Good PQS in the regular season does not translate to the playoffs. Some pitchers have it within them to pitch in the playoffs like they did in the regular season, like Lincecum, Cain, and Bumgarner proved. Good pitchers like Hudson, Peavy, and, so far, Kershaw, have been unable to keep up the same standards in the playoffs, and some have been horrible, like Peavy, in spite of great seasonal numbers.

      I think that this World Series showed what happens when you have pitchers you cannot rely on in the playoffs. Look at most of the starters. Heck, look at the bullpens, particularly Houston. What are they going to do with Giles and the closer situation? Are they going to do that again, Giles in the regular season, then go to starters in the playoffs? I think they basically have to have faith and hope, but plan for in case he implodes again by picking up some good set-up relievers in the free agent market who can step up if things go bad. Like their version of Affeldt.

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    5. And it is not like the notion of defense being the key is new to professional team sports. It is universally true across major team sports that it is defense that wins championships.

      As much as we love Joe Montana, it was Dwight Hicks and his Hot Licks, led by Ronnie Lott, who made those championships happen. It was their great defensive plays that got me to realize that the 49ers were going to be good, not Montana. Air Coryell was great at scoring, but never did much without defense. And Dan Marino was THE QB of that period, but his team got swamped in the Super Bowl, because Montana had his great defense behind him.

      Same with basketball. Don Nelson, for all his defensive chops, had all those high scoring teams that could never win him that elusive championship. Michael Jordan, as great as he was offensively, was known for his tenacious defense as well. The GSW current dynasty has firepower, but it was Igoudala's defense on LeBron that won the first championship for the Warriors, enough so that he won MVP.

      Hockey and soccer, especially so with their goalies. As much as offensive stars abound, you really need the defense to win, particularly goalies. For example, the Sharks goalie Arturs Irbe phrase, "Like Wall".

      Girls may dig the dingers, but it is defense that wins the championships.

      Delete

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