Cain Watch #1

SIDENOTE – THE ODDIBE AWARDS have been updated to include the averages for individual seasons, so some players have changed.  Click the link to re-view the results. 
Something I will be doing throughout the season is tracking the unluckiness of Matt Cain. Per my Net Luck Rating statistic, which determines luck or a lack of luck through the recorded decisions and no-decisions, Cain’s 2007 season was the unluckiest of this decade. He recorded a 7-16 W-L record but, based on his peripheral statistics and the frequency of well-pitched games, he would have an Adjusted W-L of 16-7; he was also determined to be a #1 SP in my SP Effectiveness System with a +50.
Since his team is going literally nowhere this year it is safe to assume that his efforts will once again be wasted. So, each week I will be breaking down his starts in order to show that the eventual 5-21 record he posts is going to be extremely non-indicative of his quality and performance.
START #1 – 4/1/08 vs. Dodgers
It could not be more appropriate for his first start to come on April Fool’s Day. Cain went 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. He pitched effectively though I wish he would have been able to go the extra 0.1 IP to get to 6+. This makes me rethink the definition of the AQS and desire to include games of 5-5.2 IP as long as 0 runs scored. Otherwise it would not technically be fair. Cain pitched a great game here and did not allow a run yet he would not be credited an AQS; however, if he went just one more out he would have. There are not too many examples of situations like this but if it keeps up I’ll have to slightly alter the definition to include one more variable.
Cain really never found himself in imminent danger (bases loaded, no outs) despite walking four. Through the first three innings he faced just one batter over the minimum–thanks to an Andre Ethier single–but retired everyone else. In the fourth inning, after retiring Russell Martin and Ethier, Jeff Kent doubled. Cain proceeded to throw a wild pitch allowing Kent to advance to third base and followed it with a walk to Andruw Jones. He then struck James Loney out looking to end the inning. Through four innings he had given up 2 hits, walked 2, and struck out 4.
In the fifth he had a 1-walk-2-3 inning which seems to be somewhat of a staple for Cain; instead of 1-2-3 innings he will allow one baserunner that will never advance and face just four batters. After inducing a pop-up from Russell Martin, in the sixth, Ethier again singled. Jeff Kent then struck out and Cain found himself one out away from six shutout innings. Andruw Jones followed with a walk, and then, well, Larry Bowa went absolutely insane.
Following Bowa’s Daniel-Day Lewis performance a likely-iced Cain walked James Loney to load the bases. His day had come to an end. Bochy lifted him for Jack Taschner–on a non-sequitur, isn’t it much more fun calling him Jumping Jack Taschner? Anyways, Jumping Jack Taschner struck Matt Kemp out to end the potential threat but, as usual, Cain’s great performance would go unheralded in the W-L column. While a performance like this last year may have garnered Cain a loss (yeah, that’s how unlucky he was) at least this was a no-decision. See, maybe the Giants ARE improving.

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5 Responses to Cain Watch #1

  1. For a split second I thought this would be a suicide-watch for dear Mr. Cain.
    To be fair, his four walks weren’t indicative of his control. The ump’s strike zone was pea-sized and inconsistent, something that contributed to the “wildness.” In my mind this was an AQS. The 6 IP 3 R standard for a QS seems too subjective for its own good.

  2. And in San Francisco, we like to call him Special Agent Jack Taschner.

  3. Yeah I would adjust my criteria to also include games of 5-5.2 IP when 0 ER are allowed.

  4. Nick, an excerpt from my upcoming book on Cain’s season, which discusses my SP Effectiveness System:
    “…based on the amount of time he recorded an AQS, Cain had 0 Cheap Wins, 9 Tough Losses, 7 Legit Wins, and 7 Legit Losses. The legit decisions cancel each other out leaving him +18 in the area of decisions. Of his no-decisions, 8 were AQND and 1 was not, giving him an additional +8 in this department. Overall, Cain earned a +26 in the decisions area. A pitcher who was legitimately 7-16 would earn anywhere between -20 and -26. Clearly, Cain was A LOT better than his record.”

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