Your 2016 Giants: Peavy Rough Start and Turnaround

It was just reported that Jake Peavy had something heavy on his mind throughout spring training and the season:  a crooked financial advisor stole around $15M from his investments.
ogc thoughts

I wondered if it might have distracted him much, so I looked at his game by game stats, and it broke down evenly into 7 games each, suggesting that he was bothered in some way:
  • First 7 starts:  Giants 2-5, 8.47 ERA in 34.0 IP, 52 hits, 13 BB, 31 K, 1.067 OPS, .405 BABIP
  • Next 7 starts:  Giants 5-2, 2.82 ERA in 38.1 IP, 30 hits, 9 BB, 28 K, .556 OPS, .264 BABIP
He actually struck out more per IP in his first seven starts where he did very poorly, than he did when he was very good.  Perhaps the theft gave him anger and he was overthrowing, much like him in the playoffs.  Overall, his ERA is 5.47, and given that, 7-7 Giants record is pretty good then.

His average GameScore would suggest that he didn't do that well, as he averaged 46.7.  And that matches up with his 5.47 ERA.  Using the GameScore W/L methodology, Peavy was 6-6-2 ties, and that matches up with how the team did.

However, looking at PQS, overall he has a 50% DOM vs. 21% DIS, which is good (DIS could be lower, but that's tolerable, especially for a back of rotation starter).  And in his last 7 starts, he had 6 DOM and 1 DIS, which is excellent.  What this suggests is that he has pitched better than his results so far.

And empirically that seems right to me.  He was having a bad Timmy start to the season.  He would be doing well then suddenly it's batting practice and a crooked number is on the scoreboard.  And that could come from not having the best focus, say, if you just lost a ton of money to someone you had trusted, and wondering what you are going to do now, and so you throw mostly well, but then lose that key pitch at a key time.

So his numbers would look good in some ways, horrible in others, particularly BABIP and OPS.  A 31 K/13 BB ratio is actually OK.  And his K/9 was around 8, which is pretty good.  But 7 HR in 7 games will hurt when you only pitch on average less than 5 innings per game, as he did in that first seven starts.  He only gave up 1 HR in the next 7 starts, and while his K went down, his BB went down even more, for an even better 28 K/9 BB ratio.

That has been his pattern the past number of years:  start off the year badly, like it's the end of his career time, then suddenly the light goes on and he's dominating and winning a lot of games for us.  If he can continue that 2.85 ERA for the rest of the season, combined with what Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija has been doing, we should be in very good shape.  And when Cain returns, if he can find his form like he did before injuring himself, we should be in great shape.

2016 Draft: Giants Make Up For Loss of First Round Pick

This is probably the first draft in a decade where I didn't prepare by capturing mock drafts, know exactly when I need to start monitoring the draft, and follow along in some way, whether radio, internet, social media, or some combination.  Part of it was the loss of the first round pick for signing Samardzija.  Part of it was just a lot of overtime for work.  Part of it was feeling pretty good about our crop of prospects.   Mostly, I guess it was too much a combination of life intruding on my blog life, just didn't really have time for it this year.

The MLB has their usual list, available here.  Tops picks are (links are to the MLB videos):

ogc thoughts

The feelings about the draft is that the Giants had as good a draft as they could had they not lost their first round pick.  Out of the BA 500, the Giants ended up picking up 15 of them; if split among the 30 teams, the average would be 16-17.  However, the Giants ended up selecting 4 of the top 90 (average 30), so they got quality in the draft, they only lost out at the far end.  In fact, the 15 were selected from the Top 411, albeit skewing to the two ends (four of them in the 400's).

This is another sign of a John Barr draft.  Reynolds we got with the 59th pick.  But he was 31st in the BA 500, and they had him 17th in the March BA 100, and 11th in the BA 100 College in January.  MLB had him 23rd in their Top 200.  Krook was only 87th in the BA 500  (similarly, 92nd per MLB Top 20;  he was the 125th pick overall), but 18th in the March BA 100, and 9th in the BA 100 College in January.  That's similar to Crawford, who was a Top 10 in the pre-season but fell a lot because he didn't perform as expected in his junior year.   And we basically picked up two of them with Reynolds and Krook. 

Thoughts on Krook and Reynolds

Now, I have a few ideas on what Krook did (or didn't do) to fall so much.  Part of it was that he is getting over the TJS surgery that he had two years ago, this is his first season back.  Mostly, though, he has huge issues with command, which would be a deadly issue (see Crick) if he can never figure it out.  I guess it was bad enough that teams just didn't want to deal with it.  But he was good enough as a high schooler to be drafted 35th overall (I actually remember his name!) and most pre-season rankings put him high up in talent, so clearly the Giants are hoping to help him back to health and get his command straightened out.  The Giants can't fix everyone, but they at least have some experience and success.    Excellent pick.

Reynolds also had issues, though he was still highly regarded when the draft happened, as the BA 500 had him 31st, and he made it into a number of the mock drafts which covered the first 34 picks, covering the first round and the supplemental first round picks.  The scuttlebutt I got from reading is that his problems with striking out spooked a lot of teams (or really, all the teams other than the Giants) as he fell deep into the second round, meaning most teams passed on him at least twice already before the Giants picked him.  But he did things the Giants like a lot (Cape Cod; collegiate national team; led Vanderbilt offensively to World Series), and while he didn't have any standout tool, is good in a number of areas.  And if they get him to hit reduce his strikeouts, he'll be a very solid player, which is all we need when we have players like Posey, Belt, Crawford, Panik, and Duffy in the lineup.  Another excellent pick.  

Slot Thoughts

The Giants bonus pool was just short of $3.495M, and with the 5% max overslot allowed, that is nearly $175K that the Giants can go over.  They have already signed Quinn for slot, and Krook for slightly over, at exactly $500K.   They signed both Howard and Barengar to much lower deals, most likely negotiated beforehand, and together the Giants saved nearly $146K against the bonus slots that they can now spend on getting Reynolds and other draftees like Brusa, Heyward, Williams.   Altogether, the Giants currently have almost $390K to play with in terms of overslot bonuses.

A good chunk will probably go to Reynolds.  His pick is slotted for $1.090M.  Had he been selected 31st, as per his BA 500 ranking, he would have been slotted for almost $2M.  Depending on how important it is to him to get what he might have gotten (or even what he thinks he should have gotten; remember, that is how we got Lincecum, he thought he was worth $1M but the Indians only went to $400K in the draft before us getting him).   

Not sure how it will go with signing Reynolds.  Thus far, both Quinn and Krook took roughly slot to sign, they did not insist on what might have been (Krook got a little bump up, people just love round significant numbers).  The counter to that is that while Mac Williamson was a huge overdraft, he held out for slot, and eventually the Giants yielded (they were probably hoping to save money on him in order to sign one of the 30's round draftees, which seem to be their M.O. under the current draft rules).  I'm only pretty sure that the Giants will sign him, because they haven't missed on anyone in the first ten rounds in a long time (can't remember the last one not to sign), just not sure to what.  Anyone have any thoughts?

I'm probably going to write up Reynolds and Krook when I get the chance to, but, again, been busy, so it'll be a while.  Plus, may as well wait for Reynolds to sign before spending the time writing him up.  I might get to Quinn at some point, but I'm leaning towards the two above because both were ranked highly at some point, whereas Quinn has been no higher than 48th in any of the lists I found him in.  

2016 Giants: May PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of May 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- (82% DOM, 0% DIS; 9:0/11):  2, 5, 2, 5, 5/5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 5/

Matt Cain- (44% DOM, 33% DIS; 4:3/9):  4, 0, 0, 3, 3/0, 5, 5, 5, X/

Johnny Cueto - (82% DOM, 0% DIS; 9:0/11):  4, 4, 5, 3, 5/3, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5/

Chris Heston - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 0:0/0):  //

Jake Peavy - (36% DOM, 27% DIS; 4:3/11):  3, 0, 2, 4, 0/3, 3, 5, 0, 4, 4/

Jeff Samardzija - (73% DOM, 0% DIS; 8:0/11):  3, 4, 3, 4, 4/5, 4, 4, 5, 5, 3/

Albert Suarez - (0% DOM, 0% DIS; 1:0/2):  //

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

Giants Season overall - 64% DOM, 11% DIS out of 53 games counted (34:6/53)
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)

The month of May for PQS was stupendously brilliant!  I don't have time to go through past stats, but I'm 99.9% sure that 79% DOM is the best month ever!  Mainly because Zito was a big part of the past rotations and he was rarely this good at delivering the DOM starts, then Lincecum in recent years was up and down.

Bumgarner, as he has in recent years, get into high gear after early season issues (seems to happen most years than not; he actually said that he was still not feeling it into late May) and led the staff with 6 DOM starts out of 6.  Both Cueto and Samardzija followed closely with 5 DOM starts.  And both Peavy and Cain delivered as well, with 3 DOM starts.

And the great thing about throwing so many DOM starts is that there is fewer starts for the DIS starts that are basically guaranteed losses (the Giants were 0-6 in DIS starts to EOMay, 0-2 in May).  There were only two in May, leading to a stellar 79% DOM/7% DIS, which led to a stellar 21-8 record in May, in spite of the offense only averaging 4.07 runs per game.  This zoomed the Giants into first place, until they took over on May 15th and kept on building since.  In 8 days, they pushed it to 4.5 games ahead, then was amazingly matching the Dodgers to the end of the month, staying exactly 4.5 games ahead, win or lose (it helped that they went 5-2, as well).

With the great DOM came great stats.  Bumgarner had a 1.05 ERA for May, with a 3.75 K/BB, 9.5 K/9 and 0.961 WHIP.  Cueto was next with 2.03 ERA, 4.33 K/BB, 7.9 K/9, 0.992 WHIP.  Samardzija started having results to go with his good PQS stats, 2.08 ERA, 5.00 K/BB, 8.3 K/9, 0.969 WHIP.

Cainer was finally starting to feel back to pre-Perfecto form, with 3 DOM in 4 starts, compiling a 3.38 ERA, 4.25 K/BB, 5.7 K/9, and 1.275 WHIP.   Still giving up more hits and homers than usual, but keeping the walks down helped, clearly.  Too bad he had the injury hiccup with the strained hamstring, he was starting to feel it good.

Peavy was still getting crushed when he was on, in spite of his good PQS for the month.  He had a 4.73 ERA, 2.36 K/BB, 7.2 K/9, and 1.268 WHIP.

Still, great month for the starters overall, stupendous, really.  They collectively pitched as if they were the best pitcher in baseball, pitching in every start, with that 79% DOM and 7% DIS.   And we should have been even better in the win column.  Had we gotten some better offense, that would have really put some distance between us and the NL West.  Though, really, had we gotten better bullpen pitching (3 blown saves), specifically Casilla, we could have been 24-4 instead.  But this is getting picky, all in all, the Giants starting pitching was great in May.

May 2016 Comments

I may keep it shorter, since June is basically half over as it is (but I yam whut I yam...).  As bad as April was (relatively, by Giants past standards), May was that good.  The offense that saved them in April with 4.96 runs scored per game, helping them get to 12-13 in spite of all the bad pitching in the back of the rotation, was stagnant, averaging only 4.07, and it won't get much better with Hunter Pence missing big parts of the coming months (hopefully to return by start of August).  

The biggest difference between the months is that while only Span and Duffy did not hit well in April, more did poorly in May, with a bifurcation in the offense in May.  While Tomlinson, Pence, Belt, Posey, Crawford, and Span were hitting well, Parker, Blanco, Duffy (still...), Gillaspie, Panik, Williamson, Brown, and Pagan were not.  Parker at last was hitting for power, so his OPS was .686, which is where Span and Duffy roughly was in April.  All the rest from Blanco on down, ranged from Blanco's .628 OPS to Pagan's .439 OPS (probably already showing the effects of his hamstring issues, half of what he did in April).  And none of the OF options has done well enough to justify given them more AB's.

But when a defense (pitching and fielding) can keep runs allowed to the 3.24 average in May, it covers up a lot of offensive ills.   It allowed the team to go 7-0 in one-run games, pushing the team up to 15-7 in one-run games.

And the good news is that May is greatly improved over April and look, at the moment, closer to the true talent level of the rotation.  Peavy is reaching his regular second half peak that he's been doing for us the past two seasons.  Cain was dealing until his hamstring, but Suarez did well in taking two starts for Cainer, keeping the line moving in the rotation.  With Bumgarner, Cueto, and Samardzija looking relatively dominant, all we need is one of Peavy and Cain to do well in order for the Giants to continue winning more than they lose.  In addition, nobody on the team is striking out a ton, so the poor OPS for many of these players could just be a case of BABIP hurting them.  In particular, Duffy, Panik, and Pagan all have BB/K ratios above or very near to 1.0, and generally those hitters hit for a much higher BABIP.

As noted last month, the Giants were below Pythagorean last month, and they regressed to the mean by playing above Pythagorean in May.  They should have been 17-12, but ended up 21-8, 4 games above.  And in April, they should have been 13-12, but ended up 12-13.

Most sabers would then say that the Giants should regress back to .500, because of May, but as my research showed, Bochy has been able to maintain a +4 games above .500 record over his managerial career, until the past two seasons.  So 2016 could be his career-wide regression to his talent mean, meaning 15-7 (+8 and higher has been attained by Bochy in nearly 40% of his career managerial seasons) could just be Bochy managing to his talent level.

Lincecum Era Over (For Now)

Unfortunately, the Angels had a rash of injuries in their starting pitcher, so they offered Lincecum a starting job, roughly in the $4M range (but pro-rated), so he didn't get a lot of money, but that wasn't his goal, he just wanted the opportunity to start.

I still think that Lincecum will be very good when he come back and have a very good season, setting him up nicely for a free agent contract after the season.  Will he stick by the Angels because they gave him the opportunity?

Perhaps, but, at least in the past, when he was an amateur and in his early years in arbitration, his agent would try to get what they thought he was worth.  He could have been an Indian all these years had they given him the $1M he wanted when they drafted him the year before (only offered $400K).  And he held out for $200K more from us when we drafted him.  He and the Giants had the widely different arbitration numbers during those years.

The Giants will see Peavy's contract ending this season, opening up a spot in the rotation.  Nobody so far is making the Giants management say that they should be starting in the majors instead.  Blackburn had his early struggles, though Giants Prospect Talk noted that high altitude was a factor in that.  And he has an 0.66 ERA since returning from the majors.   And Cain's contract ends after 2017 (plus Cueto most probably opts out), so openings in the rotation are available, should the Giants decide to pursue Lincecum in the off-season.
Will they?  First, we have to see how Lincecum does, but if he does as well as I think he can, he can probably get a pretty big one-year contract (I just don't see anyone giving him a long-term big money contract based on one year, plus he seems to favor shorter terms than having the weight of a huge contract on his conscience).  And the Giants probably would be very fine with such an arrangement, going year to year.  But so would other teams, if he's as good as I think he is.