Thursday, April 18, 2013


Department of "bad taste is timeless" opening sentences: Yes, that's right, when the fertilizer plant blows up in Texas, it's time for QMAX.

(Seriously, we express our sincere condolences to those whose family members were hurt or killed in the Waco blast.)

Now, back to QMAX (short for the Quality Matrix). We'll take a quick look at the best hit prevention performances thus far in 2013, which fall into the top row of the QMAX matrix diagram (as shown at right). The "1S" row is the elite row for low-hit games, where the number of hits allowed must be at least four fewer than the number of innings pitched.

There are 57 such games thus far in 2013; that's up eight over the same time last year. (This is not meant to be predictive of anything; it's too early to tell if there's any trend. 1S games have, however, increased by 36% since 2007.)

To verify just how elite this elite row is, consider that the aggregate ERA for the pitchers' performances in this set of games is 0.44. The won-loss record for the pitchers in these games is 40-2. (Overall, teams are 45-12 in these games: we calculate the QMAX WPCT, which we impishly abbreviate as QWP, from the average of those two records, which right now places it at around .870, not very far off the historical average.)

We do have already one of those rara avis QMAX performances, a "1,7" game, where the walks allowed is greater than the number of innings pitched. That belongs to Matt Moore of the Rays, who pulled it off on April 10th.

Our tabular display here shows the distribution of "1S" games by teams as of 4/17. Note that the Mets' Matt Harvey has three consecutive "1S" performances in his new role as starting pitcher; he'll go for a fourth in the next couple of days.

Also note that there are a few teams who've yet to have a "1S" game (four, to be exact.) One of these are the currently high-flying Oakland A's, which might make some skeptics (and you know who you are...) wonder if any of this breakout actually means anything. Here we must invoke the small sample size caveat, and remind you that we are looking at about one-thirteenth of a season's worth of data (that's about 7%).

The A's have five "2S" performances thus far ("2S" is the region just below the one we are focusing on that produces wins at about a 72% clip), which is in the top five for that category. And they've gone 6-2 in games where their starters have allowed more hits than innings pitched, which is a little more than three games better than the average team performance. This is another indication that their current 12-4 record is a bit inflated.

Likewise, the Mariners are getting wonderful top-level performances from King Felix and the apparently unsinkable Hisashi Iwakuma, but that's not translating into overall success. Some parks prevent hits just as much as they prevent runs, or they prevent particular types of hits; Safeco has always been one of these...this year, however, the fences were brought in, so we'll have to see how this affects the "1S" home/road splits, which have historically been among the most tilted toward the home park in all of baseball (upwards of 3:1). So far this year, it's 1.5:1 (3 at home, 2 away).

We were expecting the flailing Fish (Marlins, in case you're coming to these pages for the first time) to be the team that had been "1-Sed" by opposing starters the most thus far, but it's actually the Phillies who have that dubious honor. (You can see that data in the far right column, the one marked "Opp.")

We'll look at all this again later on...stay tuned.