Friday, May 6, 2011

Giants Pitching Staff April Pure Quality Starts

This is cross posted from Obsessive Giants Compulsive who will be tracking these stats all season long.

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of April 2011 (plus a game from March), PQS as defined in Ron Shandler's Baseball Forecaster annual book and they published the details here. I wrote on this first in 2006 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, 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 s 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 2011 Season

Madison Bumgarner- (20% DOM, 40% DIS; 1:2/5): 0, 2, 3, 0, 5

Matt Cain- (60% DOM, 20% DIS; 3:1/5): 4, 4, 3, 0, 5

Tim "The Kid" Lincecum - (83% DOM, 0% DIS; 5:0/6): 4, 5, 3, 5, 4, 5

Jonathan Sanchez - (50% DOM, 0% DIS; 3:0/6): 3, 4, 4, 3, 3, 4

Ryan Vogelsong - (100% DOM, 0% DIS; 1:0/1): 4

Barry Zito - (50% DOM, 50% DIS; 1:1/2): 5, 1, X

X = start Zito was injured in and had to leave the game. I don't include these in my analysis.

Giants season overall - 56% DOM, 20% DIS out of 25 games counted (14:5/25)
Giants Month of March/April - 56% DOM, 20% DIS out of 25 games counted (14:5/25)

The Giants pitchers continued to do well, carrying over their collective goodness from last season. Led by Tim Lincecum's 5 DOM starts, their 56% DOM as a group is excellent - remember, great pitchers have DOM of 50% or better and they are doing it as a group. Their 20% is good as well.

And they may even get better. Bumgarner was lost for much of April. After 4 starts, he had 2 DIS starts and 0 DOM starts. Now he has had two consecutive 5 PQS DOM starts. After walking a lot of people and more importantly, not striking out that many either at the same time, he shut things down and in those two DOM starts he had 2 walks and 14 strikeouts.

Plus Vogelsong had a nice first start, though very poor second start now. If he can keep up the good pitching he did in the minors, which he did in his first start, he should be able to at least duplicate what Zito delivered last season. But he had a really bad second start, so it is not clear what we got with him yet, lightening in the bottle or the career MLB journeyman pitcher.

Those could push the staff up above 60% DOM and below 20% DIS. Lincecum has returned to his Cy Young level of DOM and DIS: above 80% DOM and below 10% DIS. Cain has been his usual good self, with the occasional hiccup. Given his playoff run, I can see Cain making another leap in DOM/DIS this season, perhaps join Lincecum in a Cy Young caliber season.

Also importantly, Sanchez despite not having great control plus battling a flu in a recent start or two, has ZERO disaster starts, plus 50% DOM. He could be another key change in the rotation relative to last season, he still hasn't put together two great halves of a season, he has been great one half, and lost in the other half, for the past three seasons. While his old wild self so far this season, he has been unlike his usual self by limiting the scoring that could happen, and shutting down the other team despite the walks. Of course, part of that is his still high rate of strikeouts.

Read th rest for some more great analysis.

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