Checking in on a Sunday night for a quick look at our 1st place Giants, as well as some tidbits about starting pitching around MLB.
Giants – A Whole Lotta Runs
It’s important to get the season off on the right foot. Remember last year’s April slide? Well, 5-2 (good for 1st in the West) ain’t bad at all. When you consider a 1-run loss in Milwaukee and a blown 9th inning lead against the Dodgers are the only blemishes, it’s easy to see that this is one of the hottest clubs in baseball at the moment.
Though the bullpen’s done a pretty nice job of limiting runs, the rotation hasn’t hit full stride so far (Bumgarner’s Saturday notwithstanding). Still, you have to admire Cueto’s tenacity today. All kinds of dinks and dunks plus a ton of bad luck, and he’s looking at a 5-0 hole in the first. Six innings later, he’s pitching with a 9-6 lead. That dude can absolutely pitch, and his teammates had his back today. Would Hudson/Vogey/Lincecum have been able to get back on the bump for 7 innings like that last year after laboring through the first? I’m not so sure.
Anyway, this team is riding an offense that is #1 in MLB runs scored, #2 in homeruns (sometimes spring training trends DO continue!), #5 in OPS, and #6 in walks. This is supposed to be a team of gap hitters, but so far they’re putting the ball over the fence with ease. It’s been fun to watch. You know what else I love about this lineup? They’re 6th in the league with only 36 K’s. Every team above them (Miami is #1 with 30) has played 2 or 3 fewer games. Most lineups who hit the long ball also swing and miss. The Giants are packing the punch without striking out. Now THAT’s impressive.
What About Game Score?
I wrote extensively about pitcher Game Score (GSc) this offseason and have taken on the challenge of calculating it for every starting pitcher in every game this year. Remember, Game Score is an easy to calculate metric (start with 50; add 1 pt for every out; 2 pts for every IP after the 4th; 1 pt for every K; subtract 2 for every hit; 2 for every run; 4 for every earned run; 1 for every BB).
Game Scores are often used to compare dominant outings (particularly no-hitters & perfect games), but very few people have ever used them to compare pitchers (and rotations) over a full season or a career. When IP, ERA, H/9, BB/9, and K/9 are still some of the most prevalent counting stats used to evaluate pitchers, why are we not using a metric that combines all of them into one I ask?
A study was done by Sabr.org in 2007 to show the correlation between specific game scores and team wins. Long story short, a pitcher who earns a score of 55 or higher gives his team at least a 60% chance of winning, while a score of 43 or less lowers the team’s win probably to under 40%. The middle area, that 50/50 spot, falls in the range of 44-54. I use this information to award pitchers with wins (55+ GSc), losses (0-43), and no decisions (44-54).
So, just how has the league fared so far in the eyes of Game Score this season?
MLB Totals: 172 GP, 75 W, 54 L, 43 ND – .436 win% | 50.6 GSc avg
NL Pitchers: 87 GP, 37-31-19 | .425 win% | 49.8 avg
AL Pitchers: 85 GP, 38-23-24 | .447 win% | 51.4 avg
The league average looks to be pretty close to last year (Baseball-Reference lists it at 52 for 2015). How are the win probabilities holding up so far? Teams whose SP’s earn a 55 or higher (GSc W) are winning at a 71% clip. 44-54 (GSc ND) have a win% of 44%. Scores of 43 or less are winning at only a 26% clip so far.
Top 5 GSc by Team
Royals 60.8 | Dodgers 60.7 | Cubs 60.3 | Phillies 58.3 | Mets 58.2
Bottom 5 by Team
D-Backs 37.9 | Rockies 39.2 | Padres 40.5 | Cardinals 40.8 | Astros 41.8
Giants: 2 W -3 L- 2 ND (49.1 avg)
It’ll be interesting to check back in on these throughout the season. If the trends of the first week continue though, the Giants are going to have a lot of fun scoring runs against NL West pitching. As we get a little farther along, I’ll start posting individual pitcher scores and W/L records. For now, it’s a little too early for that. I do know that Clayton Kershaw leads the Majors with a 76.5 Avg through 2 starts. Zack Greinke? 32 Avg.
After two starts of their own Bumgarner’s average is 54.5, Cueto’s is 52.
Thanks for reading everyone. Here’s to another great week of Giants baseball!