HEAD-TO-HEAD: Avoiding PQS-DISasters

Introduction

In 2012, Jeanmar Gomez (RHP, PIT) started seventeen games. 53% of these games ended in PQS-DISasters. In a head-to-head league, some of his performances (i.e. allowing 8 earned runs on May 9 against the White Sox) could single-handedly destroy your team’s ERA and WHIP for a given week. Simply put, Gomez was a roster bomb. 

Head-to-head players need to avoid rostering bombs at all costs.  Gomez’s middling Dom (5.2) didn’t do him any favors. However, Bronson Arroyo (RHP, CIN) only had a slightly higher Dom (5.7) and he had a PQS-DIS% rate (9%) that was over five times lower than Gomez’s. Moreover, Arroyo’s PQS-DOM% of 50% was more than four times higher than Gomez’s 12% PQS-DOM%.  In retrospect, was there a way to avoid putting this bomb on your roster?

The answer is: yes. There may be a surprisingly simple way to spot roster bombs in advance—use the Cmd metric as your bomb sniffer. That’s right, the boring, old Cmd metric may help save your ERA and WHIP from roster bombs. Many fail to give this metric the weight it deserves in head-to-head leagues. However, in analyzing PQS-DOM% and PQS-DIS% scores, a pitcher’s Cmd stands out as the metric that might forewarn of an impending disaster.

But PQS-DOM% scores offer more. They are slightly neglected, and it’s time they are given their due. Preliminary research suggests that PQS-DOM% scores can function as a control for both skills and consistency. PQS-DOM% provide us with another prism through which we can analyze players, perhaps unearth some gems, and avoid the pain of rostering a bomb.

PQS Basics

PQS-DOM% is the percentage of a starting pitcher’s games where that starter obtains a PQS score of 4 or 5. PQS-DIS% is the percentage of a starting pitcher’s games where that starter obtains a PQS score of 0 or 1. When a pitcher posts six consecutive DOM starts, there is a greater than 70% probability that his next start will be a PQS-DOMinant performance.  If the DOM streak does end in the seventh game, there is a less than 10% chance that the pitcher’s performance in that game will score a PQS-DISaster.  However, other than the aforementioned extreme hot-streak, the 2013 Baseball Forecaster cautions that we cannot put much weight into the trends of a pitcher’s PQS scores as a reliable predictor of future success.

This data suggests there are too many variables in play to predict with a high degree of certainty the results of a league-average starting pitcher, or perhaps even an above-average pitcher, on a given night. So sit back and digest this for a moment—PQS-DISasters are bound to happen. It’s really about limiting those disasters as much as possible to stay competitive in ERA and WHIP each week.

PQS Analysis

We have analyzed the PQS-DOM% and PQS-DIS% scores for all starting pitchers that pitched at least 50 innings in 2010, 2011 and 2012.  Here are the annual averages:

Metric Average   2010 (201 SP)   2011 (204 SP)   2012 (198 SP)   3-Year Average
==============   =============   =============   =============   ==============
Avg. PQS-DOM%    44.58%          42.14%          45.66%          44.12%
Avg. PQS-DIS%    21.6%           21.6%           23.9%           23.11%
Avg. Cmd         2.5             2.3             2.65            2.48
Avg. Dom         6.7             6.6             7.27            6.85

The PQS-DOM%/DIS% splits are fairly consistent.  Over these three years, the average pitcher is likely to provide PQS-DOMinant performance 44.12% of the time and a PQS-DISaster 23.11% of the time.

When we sort these pitchers by their PQS-DOM% scores, there are significant differences.  The top 20% of these pitchers (sorted by PQS-DOM%) have impressive PQS-DOM%-PQS-DIS% splits:

                          Avg. PQS-DOM% = 68.54%
                          Avq. PQS-DIS% = 9.48%
                          Avg. Cmd = 3.43
                          Avg. Dom = 8.13

These starting pitchers have outstanding Cmd and very good Dom.  They also average a PQS-DISaster in less than 1 out of every 10 starts.  In almost 7 out of 10 starts, they are likely to have a PQS-DOM performance. And here is the magic PQS-DOM% number: with one exception in 2011, the top 20% of these pitchers all had PQS-DOM% of 60% or higher.  If you considering using an alternative metric for evaluating pitchers, trying applying a PQS-DOM% filter of greater than 60%.  These pitchers are anything but roster bombs.

Pitchers who have above average PQS-DOM% in a given year, but fall just outside the top 20%, post the following average statistics:

                          Avg. PQS-DOM% = 51.04%
                          Avq. PQS-DIS% = 18.6%
                          Avg. Cmd = 2.63
                          Avg. Dom = 7.12

Not surprisingly, the average Cmd and Dom has fallen.  More disturbing however, is the fact that the PQS-DIS% score has doubled.  These pitchers are still considered above the league average (based on PQS-DOM%), despite the fact that they are due for a PQS-DISaster at least once per month on average.

The results are more nauseating for those pitchers who are below the league average PQS-DOM% for a given year (44.12% on average over the three year period):

                          Avg. PQS-DOM% = 30.75%
                          Avq. PQS-DIS% = 32.26%
                          Avg. Cmd = 1.93
                          Avg. Dom = 6.06

Think about these numbers for a moment. If you roster a pitcher with a PQS-DOM% below 44.12%, you can expect a PQS-DISaster in one out of every three starts, on average.  Be sure to pause when you see a PQS-DOM% score below this level.

PQS Duel: Cmd vs. Dom

Given that both Cmd and Dom are components of a pitcher’s PQS scores, it’s not surprising that there is a correlation between these metrics and a pitcher’s PQS scores. Both Dom and Cmd have a say in PQS scores. But does one speak louder than the other?  The results are close, but suggest that Cmd is a stronger indicator of PQS-DISasters:

2010
League Average Cmd for Qualifying SPs = 2.5
League Average Dom for Qualifying SPs = 6.7

               Cmd > Avg. and Dom < Avg.   Cmd < Avg. and Dom > Avg.
Avg. PQS-DOM%       43.78%                      40.54%
Avg. PQS-DIS%       17.69%                      27.08%


2011
League Average Cmd for Qualifying SPs = 2.3
League Average Dom for Qualifying SPs = 6.6

               Cmd > Avg. and Dom < Avg.   Cmd < Avg. and Dom > Avg.
Avg. PQS-DOM%       46%                         42.17%
Avg. PQS-DIS%       14%                         25.4%

2012
League Average Cmd for Qualifying SPs = 2.65
League Average Dom for Qualifying SPs = 7.27

               Cmd > Avg. and Dom < Avg.    Cmd < Avg. and Dom > Avg.
Avg. PQS-DOM%       48.37%                       43.93%
Avg. PQS-DIS%       18.89%                       30%

In each year, pitchers with above average Cmd, but below average Dom, have lower PQS-DIS% scores than pitchers with above average Dom but below average Cmd.  On average, there is a 10.63% difference in PQS-DIS%s between these two categories of pitchers. This indicates that pitchers with good Cmd, despite a lack of Dom, are less likely to encounter PQS-DISasters. Therefore, if you were to compare Arroyo’s 2012 Cmd ratio of 3.7 with Gomez’s 1.4, you may have been able to foresee that Arroyo would do much less damage to your team than Gomez.

Disclaimer: these results should not be interpreted to mean that you draft pitchers with low Dom. They instead suggest that if you are comparing two pitchers to add to your head-to-head roster, the pitcher with the better Cmd is more likely to avoid PQS-DISasters.

Conclusion

There are several important takeaways that you can use to limit PQS-DISasters and improve your team’s pitching consistency:

  • Pitchers with PQS-DOM% of higher than 60% only deliver a PQS-DISaster in one out of every ten starts (on average).  Filtering pitchers using this metric result in more consistent performances and elite peripherals: 3.43 Cmd and 8.13 Dom.
  • Starting pitchers with below average PQS-DOM% scores average a PQS-DISaster one in every three starts (on average).  If you are considering rostering a starting pitcher with a PQS-DOM% in the 40s or lower, just say no.
  • The Cmd metric more closely correlates with PQS-DIS% than the Dom metric.  If you have to make a quick decision about choosing a pitcher that is less likely to adversely affect your ERA and WHIP, give more weight to Cmd.

 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.