I’m getting back online after a week hiatus from blogging. Sometimes real life takes over and the fun stuff (Giants baseball and blogging) has to take a back seat. But, have no fear, I’m back and you should be seeing updates with more regularity heading into the future.
In today’s post, I wanted to look at Giants pitching in terms of those who are underperforming vs. those who are overperforming. I did a similar post back in December that will utilize the same graph-types for today’s post. The basic premise is that I’m comparing a defense neutral runs allowed stat (tRA) vs. how many runs a pitcher has allowed in total (RA/9) with a league average adjustment between the two. We”ll sort the pitchers into two groups. Underperformers = those with tRA’s lower than their RA/9′s. And overpeformers = those with tRA’s higher than their RA/9′s.
- Despite some velocity concerns, Tim Lincecum is still having a truly dominant season. He’s posted the largest differential between his RA/9 and tRA (0.90 runs). He’s raised his K% this season — 30.66% this year to 28.71% last year — and he’s also cut down his BB% — 6.93% this season to 8.80% last season. Just amazing stuff. Tim Lincecum is, and continues to be, the engine that drives the Giants.
- Randy Johnson is technically an underpeformer — his tRA says he should be closer to a 5.05 run pitcher — but he’s still struggled at times this year. It’s no secret that RJ has been up-and-down in his performances but he’s still got some very positive underlying numbers. He can still punch out batters with the best of them (24 K%) but his control has been problematic at times this year (8.44 BB%). Once Johnson’s HR/FB% settles down — it’s still a very high 20% — and his control shapes up, you should see his overall numbers improve.
- tRA doesn’t buy the Barry Zito comeback story. Zito is firmly placed in the overperforming category. In fact, his differential of -2.12 runs edges out Matt Cain as the biggest overpeformer on the starting staff. Of course, most defense neutral pitching statistics, historically, haven’t liked Zito. The key for Zito has been his control. It’s gone from horrible (12.47 BB% in 2008) to just slightly worse than average (9.92 BB% in 2009). The Giants should just leave him in the 5th rotation spot for the rest of his contract and be done with it.
- Matt Cain has been brilliant this season but tRA thinks his underlying peripherals aren’t indicative of a pitcher with a 2.40 ERA. Cain, behind Barry Zito, has the 2nd largest differential between his RA/9 and tRA. What does this mean for Cain? He’s been slightly lucky in some regards (BABIP, a lower K rate this season) but if Cain can continue to keep the ball in the yard at his previous career levels, he should beat that tRA a little.
- Jonathan Sanchez, by tRA, is pitching almost exactly as well as his RA/9 indicates. Which is to say, not that great. Sanchez has been a little like Randy Johnson this year — inconsistent. He’s still posting a strong K% (21.99) but his control has been terrible. In 43 IP he’s walked 31 hittters. His BB% (16.32) is nearly 6 points higher than his 2008 BB%. A Sanchez improvement starts with a reduction in walks.
- Brian Wilson has had some tough outings this year, but tRA still thinks he can be an above-average reliever. He’s got the biggest differential between RA/9 and tRA of our reliever group. Wilson has been hurt by a low LOB% of 63.8. That’s the 7th lowest LOB% for relievers that have thrown at least 20 IP in all of baseball. If Wilson starts to strand a few more runners, his RA/9 numbers will look better.
- Bob Howry also has a pretty large differential between his RA/9 and tRA. Howry has been shaky at times but he should probably be given a few more chances to work things out.
- The rest of the bullpen comes down on the overperformers side. Brandon Medders is the biggest overperformer in the bullpen. His RA/9 of 3.15 is 2.31 runs under his tRA of 5.46. Ideally when Romo is activated Medders would get bumped out of the bullpen but I can’t see the Giants dropping a guy with a 3.05 ERA no matter how poor his underlying numbers are. Justin Miller, Merkin Valdez, and Jeremy Affeldt will all probably see some correction in their RA/9′s.
When you look at these graphs remember that for some of the relievers we are dealing with some pretty small sample sizes. Same thing for the starters. The highest IP by a Giants’ starter is Lincecum’s 65.1 innings pitched. We’ll revist these graphs in a couple of months to see how things have changed.