2016 Giants: June PQS

This post has the Giants Pure Quality Start scores for the month of June 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; 14:0/17):  2, 5, 2, 5, 5/5, 5, 4, 5, 5, 5/5, 5, 5, 5, 5, 2/

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

Johnny Cueto - (75% DOM, 0% DIS; 12:0/16):  4, 4, 5, 3, 5/3, 4, 4, 5, 4, 5/3, 5, 5, 5, 2/

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

Jake Peavy - (50% DOM, 25% DIS; 8:4/16):  3, 0, 2, 4, 0/3, 3, 5, 0, 4, 4/4, 4, 5, 4, 0/

Jeff Samardzija - (56% DOM, 19% DIS; 9:3/16):  3, 4, 3, 4, 4/5, 4, 4, 5, 5, 3/1. 0, 4, 0, 2/

Albert Suarez - (40% DOM, 20% DIS; 2:1/5):  //4, 3, 0, 4, 3/

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

Giants Season overall - 61% DOM, 14% DIS out of 80 games counted (49:11/80)
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)

As great as May was, June went back to where we were in April, only other pitchers scuffled.   Again, both Bumgarner and Cueto led the way, Bumgarner with 5 DOM starts, Cueto with 3, though Cueto not as much as before, bringing his seasonal DOM down.   Peavy also did well, with 4 DOM start, and Suarez did well in his role as back-up starter, with 2 DOM starts in June.  Unfortunately, the scuffler was Samardzija, who only had 1 DOM start in June.

And scuffle he did, he had 3 DIS starts out of 5 in June.  The only other ones were by Peavy and Suarez, one each.  This resulted in the overall 19% DIS, which was very similar to what we had in April when Peavy and Cain were scuffling.  And in spite of how well Bumgarner, Cueto and Peavy pitched, Samardzija brought down the staff to merely good status in June.

The stories of the month were Cueto, Shark, Peavy, and Suarez.

  • Cueto because he had two MID starts, which is what he had in April/May.  Could he be starting his second half downward trend that I had posted on previously?  We'll see.  But as noted my the media, the Giants were 16-2 in his starts (Bumgarner had more team losses just in April, and after a team win streak of 10 straight starts, the team has lost three of his last five, for a total of 13-6 record with Bum in the saddle).  
  • The Shark showed why his seasonal stats could be so up and down.  In spite of great pitching from him in April/May (8 DOM in 11 starts, that's premiere ace level stuff, like his 2014 season), he lost it in June, with only one DOM, one MID, and three DIS, though, somehow, the team went 3-2 in his starts, winning two of his DIS starts.  Still, the Giants were 11-7 in his starts.  
  • Peavy continued into June his upward swing that started mid-May (though, looking ahead, he faltered, ending the first half with two DIS in three starts), with 4 DOM in 5 starts.After all those early losses, the Giants are 8-3 in his last 11 starts, and the team is now 10-8 in Peavy starts.
  • Suarez did great taking over for Cain.  He has been as effective as Petit was in being a spot starter, compiling two DOM and only one DIS in five starts, which is what good pitchers do.  Unfortunately, the team only went 2-3 in his June starts.

June 2016 Comments

I will keep it shorter, since July is basically half over as it is (and I mean it this time).   The team continued to win, even though the starting pitchers were not as dominant as they were in May and slightly better than in April.  The key was that in April, while there were a number of MID starts, Cain and Peavy just were missing spots in key situations, resulting in more runs than would be expected given the number of DOM/MID starts.  So while the pitchers allowed 4.84 runs per game in April, they only gave up 4.04 in June.

Which is not really that good, generally.  The reason the team went 17-10 in June was because they scored runs in bunches, averaging 5.37 runs per game in June, which was even more than they did in April, when they had 4.96.  And the offense was plenty cold in May, only averaging 3.93 runs per game, but because the pitching and fielding were superlative, allowing only 3.24 runs per game, which was beyond elite, they went 21-8 in May.

The offense soared even though half the lineup was on and off the DL (or had to take extra days off) during June:  Pence, Pagan, Blanco, Panik, Crawford, Duffy, Tomlinson, Posey.  It helps when four starters are hot - Belt, Pagan, Posey, Crawford - plus one of the replacements, Parker, hit pretty well too (.914 in 67 PA; who would have thought he would be the one to do well in the majors, instead of Brown?  I certainly missed it).  Other replacements also did well in smaller spurts, but contributors nonetheless:  Pena, Williamson, Gillaspie, Green.

Also in spite of Span's poor 2016 so far.  Unlike Aoki, he started off semi-slow and has not been as advertised.  However, he was actually very good early on with his OBP (more middling for OPS and ISO-P), justifying his leadoff status, but his June was crushingly bad.  I would blame his hip injury that he had on May 27, but he was still hitting well in the games after, so the results are not exactly direct.  However, pretty soon after that, right on June 1st, he started his decline and basically has been free falling since, for the most part, though he's been OK at least, in his last six games (interrupted by a brief period of rest after another injury).  So perhaps it was a cumulative thing where his body finally gave up after a few games of pounding from those baseball games.

And June would have been better if not for so many blown saves.  After 2 in April and 3 in May, there were 7 of them in June, surpassing the total for the first two months.  Get back 4 of those blown saves in June, and the Giants would have been 21-6 instead (they were 21-8 in May).

This just shows the great potential for this baseball team, something I was writing about in the pre-season.  They can beat you with pitching, even if there is not much hitting, as what happened in May.  They can beat you with hitting, even if there is not much pitching, as what happened in June.  What they can't handle is when their starting pitching is off some, as they were in April, and put the team too far out of it for the offense to pick them up.  That's their Achilles' Heel, that and the bullpen in June.  Both we will need to watch going forward.