Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Numbers for the Giants Numbered Starters

Fangraphs Brayn Smith wrote an article attempting to quantify certain levels in pitching statistics that correspond with the traditional pitching slots of the #1 pitcher through the #5 spot in the rotation.

He proposes that in evaluating pitchers you should use the things that pitchers have the most control over; namely the strike out rate, walk rate, ground ball rate and home run rate. To do this he has created cut off points in 4 different categories to rank pitchers.

Control (BB/9)

#1 Starter: 0.76 – 2.41 BB/9.

#2 Starter: 2.44 – 2.92 BB/9.

#3 Starter: 2.95 – 3.41 BB/9.

#4 Starter: 3.47 – 4.74 BB/9.

How the Giants Measure Up:

Tim Lincecum: 3.22 BB/9, Rank #3 Starter

Matt Cain: 2.46 BB/9, Rank #2 Starter

Jonathan Sanchez: 4.47 BB/9, Rank #4 Starter

Madison Bumgarner: 2.11 BB/9, Rank #1 Starter

Barry Zito: 3.79 BB/9, Rank #4 Starter

I think that these results are pretty much exactly what you would expect, Tim Lincecum has always been a little wild with a career walk rate of 3.25 and it is well known that Jonathan Sanchez has trouble finding the strikezone. Matt Cain who has drastically improved his walk rate since coming up from the minors is on the borderline between #1 and #2.

Swing-and-Miss Stuff (K/9)

#1 Starter: 10.95 – 7.86 K/9.

#2 Starter: 7.84 – 6.87 K/9.

#3 Starter: 6.86 – 5.44 K/9.

#4 Starter: 5.43 – 3.80 K/9.

How the Giants Measure Up:

Tim Lincecum: 9.79 K/9, Rank #1 Starter

Matt Cain: 7.13 K/9, Rank #2 Starter

Jonathan Sanchez: 9.54 K/9, Rank #1 Starter

Madison Bumgarner: 6.97 K/9, Rank #2 Starter

Barry Zito: 6.77 K/9, Rank #3 Starter

The Giants have quite the collection of strikeout arms. Barry Zito is the laggard of the group and he still is close to being in the #2 starter group. The ability to pitch to the strikeout is definitely one of the strengths of this Giants team.

Movement (GB%)

#1 Starter: 64.1 – 49.6 GB%.

#2 Starter: 49.4 – 44.9 GB%.

#3 Starter: 44.7 – 39.8 GB%.

#4 Starter: 39.5 – 28.3 GB%.

How the Giants Measure Up:

Tim Lincecum: 48.9%, Rank #2 Starter

Matt Cain: 36.2%, Rank #4 Starter

Jonathan Sanchez: 41.5%, Rank #3 Starter

Madison Bumgarner: 45.1%, Rank #2 Starter

Barry Zito: 37.8%, Rank #4 Starter

The Giants may have a collection of power arms but to go along with that they also have pitchers that tend to be more of fly ball pitchers. That may not be as big of a problem as it can be for some teams as AT&T park is pretty spacious and as long as the guys can keep the ball in the park they tend to do pretty well.

Overall Rate Value (xFIP)

#1 Starter: 2.92 – 3.80 xFIP.

#2 Starter: 3.81 – 4.18 xFIP.

#3 Starter: 4.19 – 4.51 xFIP.

#4 Starter: 4.56 – 5.62 xFIP.

How the Giants Measure Up:

Tim Lincecum: 3.21, Rank #1 Starter

Matt Cain: 4.19, Rank #3 Starter

Jonathan Sanchez: 4.11, Rank #2 Starter

Madison Bumgarner: 4.03, Rank #2 Starter

Barry Zito: 4.77, Rank #4 Starter

Lincecum is the class of the staff with the best FIP but Cain, Sanchez and Bumgarner are not far behind him. This is another category where Cain is right on the cusp of moving up a ranking. When you look at these numbers it is easy to see why the Giants have one of the best pitching staffs 1-5 in all of baseball.

Here is the all of the rankings put together:






Tim Lincecum






Matt Cain






Jonathan Sanchez






Madison Bumgarner






Barry Zito






Lincecum and Bumgarner rank as the best pitcher according to these measures followed by Sanchez and Cain. Zito brings up the rear but for the worst pitcher on the staff he still ranks higher then many #3 or #4 starters on many teams.

I was surprised by Cain's low ranking as this season he has been one the better pitchers on the team. He is hurt by being right on the edge between tiers in two categories and if he switched to the lower category his average would improve to a 2.25 average which is more of what you would expect.

The other surprise using this measure is how good Madison Bumgarner is he truly looks like he could be a future "ace" with his excellent walk rate, solid strikeout rate (that has improved as the season went on), solid ground ball numbers and very good xFIP. I am excited to watch him grow as a pitcher.

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