Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Stephen Strasburg (ever notice that he's never called "Steve"? maybe he needs a girlfriend named "Slim"...) got roughed up yesterday, allowing three runs in the first inning and eventually losing his first game in 2012.

"You know how to pitch, don't you
Steve? You just put your fingers
together and...throw."
Stuff like this will happen to everyone--some more frequently than others.

From the QMAX (Quality Matrix) perspective, however, Strasburg's off-day was a first for him. It represented the first time that one of his starts registered as a "7" in the QMAX "S" column (for "stuff", measuring overall hit prevention). That's the worst possible score you can get: Strasburg had eluded it over his first two dozen big league starts.

Overall, "Steve" (who probably won't change his name to Harry Morgan just to satisfy our unquenchable thirst for vintage black-and-white movies) is (as Bacall says to Bogart at an entendre-laden juncture in The Big Sleep) "doing alright," as a glance at his basic career data (2.44 ERA, 11.1 K/9 and 163 ERA+) clearly indicates.

QMAX adds some nuances, however, so we thought the occasion of what will probably be a rare occurrence would be a good point in time to trot out the entire arsenal. (Please, no references to being "stung by a dead bee.")

Here's the Strasburg career in a QMAX nutshell. What's emerged thus far is that he's not--at least, not yet--a dominating hit prevention pitcher, as he's barely registering in the very top hit prevention category. What "top" hit prevention he's doing is in the more moderately dominating "2" region.

We added a "Success Square Analysis" feature, which shows the tendencies within the overall region where the pitcher is doing his best work. That 32% in the "outer" region is about twice as high as is ought to be, and suggests some chance of regression.

And that 8% figure for the "1" range (measuring it birectionally) in the "QMAX Range Probability" data (the figure rendered in baby blue...) is only around league average.

Overall, of course, things are quite rosy for "Steve," as a 76% "success square" measure will attest. But he's not yet on a course that makes him the type of truly dominating ace that we've seen in various guises over baseball history: Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux, Roger Clemens, Bob Gibson, Sandy Koufax at his peak, Justin Verlander last year. He still has a ways to go to reach that level.

Still, a kid pitcher who's putting you in the 50% probability range for the top two performance categories every time he takes the mound is clearly nothing to sneeze at. In fact, it's something that one should probably whistle about, if they could only put their lips together and...