Thoughts on Wins and Quality Starts

by JohnBowen

In an article published earlier this week on his blog-that’s-not-a-blog, Murray Chass raised some interesting points about pampered pitchers in this day and age. The article made some interesting points with regards to pitch counts and 5-man rotations, but he goes on to bring up some questionable points with regards to how pitchers are evaluated.

Chass writes:

About 25 years ago, baseball writer John Lowe, then writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer, created a statistic he called Quality Start. If a starter pitched six or more innings and allowed three or fewer earned runs, he received credit for a Quality Start.

Pitchers came to love the statistic and embraced it psychologically. They soon became convinced that all they had to do was last six innings, and they had done their job. Managers contributed to that six-and-out mind-set by adding the bullpen job of set-up man to the closer and then set-up man to the set-up man.

He goes on to discuss what he views as a regrettable move away from wins as a barometer for success by pitchers, using Cy Young award winners Tim Lincecum, Felix Hernandez, and Zack Greinke, along with Pittsburgh arbitration winner and 1-11 starter Ross Ohlendorf .

My first question – how is a quality start any worse a measurement of a pitchers ability than a win? For a quality start, you need to go 6 innings and give up 3 runs or fewer. That’s not a high standard for dominance, but it’s something quantitative and qualitative related to factors (pretty much) in the pitcher’s control. For a win, on the other hand, you really only have to go 5; and there’s no standard for how well you pitch. You can give up 9 as long as your buddies score you 10 and your bullpen backs you up.

The idea behind a quality start is very simple really: did you give your team a chance to win? If you’ve gone 2/3 of the way through a game and kept your opponent to 3 runs, then you’ve given your team a reasonable expectation of winning, plain and simple. Yes, that amounts to a 4.50 ERA, which isn’t considered very good, but step away from the statistic for a second (bet you’d never hear me say that!) and look at what it means in the context of that game. The average team scored 4.38 runs per game last season, so in the context of the game even the minimum requisite for a quality start has given the team at least a decent shot at winning. Have you ever been watching a baseball game that your favorite team was playing in which they’ve given up 3 runs through 6 and thought, wow, game over? Maybe if the opposing pitcher is really dealing but, like run support, pitchers have absolutely no control over what happens when they’re not on the mound; that’s why most folks who follow baseball have stepped away from wins as an accurate measurement for pitching effectiveness.

Chass continues by citing a player near and dear to my heart, former Milwaukee Brave Warren Spahn:

But given one of the primary excuses for pitchers not winning games, this, I think, is my favorite Spahn statistic: the man gained 25 percent of his victories, 91 of 363, when his team scored three or fewer runs.

Warren Spahn was an all-time great pitcher. He was able to win so many games with low run support because he himself was a tremendously gifted pitcher, with a career ERA just a shade above 3 and a career WHIP below 1.200. Had he pitched for even higher run-producing teams (though it’s hard to complain about pitching behind Aaron and Matthews!), he would have won more games, pure and simple.

Same with Felix Hernandez last year. He went 13-12 for no other reason besides the fact that his team scored the fewest runs of any team in the history of the DH era. He led the league in both ERA and innings pitched. He wasn’t going 6 and hitting the showers. On average, he pitched into the eighth inning and dominated opponents. But his team was historically bad at hitting. If you don’t change a thing about his starts but allow him to have CC Sabathia’s offense, he would have won 25 games or so, and you would have thought he was awesome (which, he was). I’ll point out that in his NINE no-decisions, King Felix averaged just over 7 innings a start with an ERA of 1.92, WHIP of 1.036 and 8.1 K/9.

Same thing with Ross Ohlendorf. The man was dinged up last year, so he was limited to 21 starts, but if you look at the past two seasons, he’s very clearly worthy of 2 million dollars in arbitration. Since 2009, he has started 50 games and maintained an above-average ERA. He’s not an all-star or anything, but his 1 win should not reflect his performance. In his nine no-decisions (almost half of his starts), Ohlendorf had a 2.62 ERA. Unless you think his salary should be based off his performance at the plate, 2 million is pretty fair (remember, Gil Meche was making 10+ million a season before he retired).

He then quotes his friend Marty Noble as saying the following:

I’m never going to measure a guy based on the number of 1-0 wins, but the best pitchers can win regardless of their support.

Felix Hernandez had 13 wins last year, despite having arguably the worst offense of all time (certainly the worst since the implementation of the DH in 1973). He did win regardless of his support. I would even contend that no pitcher in history could have actually won that magical 20 games with the mediocre run support that Felix Hernandez received. Not Koufax. Not Spahn. Not Palmer, or Seaver, or Mathewson, or Young.

Not even Pedro Martinez, who won the 2000 Cy Young award even though Tim Hudson and David Wells won more games. That season, he went 18-6, while having a better ERA in his losses than any other pitcher in the league had period (he won the ERA title by 2.00 runs).

Chass also includes a small diatribe against WAR, which would probably make him a lot of friends on this site. I would argue that, if anything, WAR may have underrated Felix Hernandez’s last couple seasons; I could easily see him being worth an extra 8 or 9 wins to his team as opposed to the 6 he has been valued at for the past couple seasons.

Nonetheless, I think the league leader in WAR is usually a better Cy Young candidate than the league leader in wins, although this past season in the National League was a noteworthy exception.

Anyway, I’m curious to hear all of your thoughts on wins, quality starts, WAR, retired New York Times sports columnists, or anything pertaining to how pitchers are evaluated statistically in this day and age.

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77 Responses to “Thoughts on Wins and Quality Starts”

  1. Raul Says:

    The interesting thing about this post to me is whether the Quality Start statistic did, in fact, lead to the explosion of the middle reliever.

    It’s not a scientific thing or anything, but I decided to look at Complete Games.
    As a percentage of all games, this is how many were CG:

    2010: 0.03
    2000: 0.05
    1990: 0.10
    1980: 0.20
    1970: 0.22
    1960: 0.27
    1950: 0.40
    1940: 0.44
    1930: 0.44
    1920: 0.57

    There are some outlier years there. But it’s clear that a change in philosophy happened within the past 25-30 years.

    The percentages were decreasing, but not nearly as rapidly as they did after around 1978-1980.

  2. Raul Says:

    Also of interest, 2010 was the first year that the average number of home runs per game was less than 1.00.

    It was 0.95 in 2010.
    The last time it was under 1.00 was in 1993 when it was 0.89.

    Prior to 1993, only once in the history of baseball was the average home run rate higher than 1.00 per game — that was in 1987 when it was 1.06.

    The all-time high? 1.17 in the year 2000.

  3. Chuck Says:

    Are wins the be-all, end-all stat to determine how well a pitcher pitched?

    No, but no stat by itself tells a story.

    Ichiro Suzuki and Albert Pujols have the same lifetime batting average. If that’s all you have to go by, you’d have to believe them to be equally as good. It’s only when you start looking at other stats do you realize the difference between them are night and day.

    Quality Starts is a dumb stat, if every pitcher met the minimum criteria for a QS in every start and his team scored the league average in runs, they’d all have losing records.

    And if managers and general managers actually design their bullpens and how they are used based on the stat, well, stupid is as stupid does.

    I’m not going to get into WAR again because nothings changed, it’s silly.

    The guy who graduates last in medical school is working at a free clinic in Harlem instead of Sloan-Kettering.

    The guy who graduates last in journalism school is a sportswriter for the Times.

  4. JohnBowen Says:

    “Quality Starts is a dumb stat, if every pitcher met the minimum criteria for a QS in every start and his team scored the league average in runs, they’d all have losing records.”

    The average team scored 4.38 runs per game in 2010
    Relievers had an ERA of 3.93 in 2010, which is 1.31 runs per 3 innings.
    The worst quality start lasts 6 innings with 3 runs given up.
    So that yields 4.31 runs, by my math (not counting defense, which pitchers can’t control).

    So, if you’re looking at neutral circumstances, than even the WORST possible quality start yields the pitcher coming out ahead slightly (4.38 to 4.31).

    That’s basically the definition of “quality.” Not “greatness.” Not “dominance.” Quality. Giving an average team a roughly 50/50 shot of winning.

    If every pitcher met the minimum requirements for a win (from a pitching perspective), they would last 5 innings per start. How is that better?

  5. Raul Says:

    That’s not what I would define as “quality”.

    If the average car has a life span of 150,000 miles and your car breaks down at 70,000, is that a quality car?

    No. It is not.

  6. JohnBowen Says:

    What?

    A quality start is the equivalent of a car that breaks down at like 150,002 miles.

    Basically average.

    The minimum benchmark for “doing your/its job.”

  7. Chuck Says:

    There’s nothing quality about a 4.50 ERA regardless of how many innings you pitch or whether you win or lose.

  8. JohnBowen Says:

    See, that’s what a stat-head would be expected to say, Chuck.

    If you go 6 and give up 3, I don’t care what ERA that translates to.

    Your team has a good shot at winning the game.

  9. Raul Says:

    I suppose I made a mistake in my analogy.

    At the end of the day, a performance that gives your team a 50% chance of winning is not “quality”. It just isn’t.

    That’s what your numbers above suggest.
    That a performance that gives you a tick above 50% of winning a game is “quality”.

    Essentially that means that any performance that is barely average, is considered quality.

    You talk about doing your job. Doing your job requires a heck of a lot more than merely not messing things up.

  10. brautigan Says:

    I know this is just me, but when I see WAR, I just don’t even let it register. To me, it is a meaningless number. I see no context in it, none. I understand why some people use it, but if I see no context with it’s use then it is meaningless.

    I’m not sure what a quality start is supposed to signify. I see the explanation, but when you hear so and so has 12 quality starts and the total results are mediocre, the only thing I see quality starts doing is giving fuel for that person’s next salary battle.

    In other words, is Quality Starts the new GWRBI?

  11. JohnBowen Says:

    Here’s the basic scale

    Terrible (the average Jeff Suppan start)
    Very Bad
    Bad
    Below Average
    Quality
    Good
    Very Good
    Great
    Dominant (Your Pedro’s, Halladay’s, Madduxes – Madduxi?)

    A quality start merely says how many times you were AT LEAST average. Out of 34, how many of your starts was your team in the game?

    Cuz here’s the thing…you can give your team 9 quality starts and one horrendous one and your ERA will look just dreadful. Same with your WHIP. But those statistics wouldn’t do justice to the fact that your were a net positive in 90% of your team’s starts.

    Go ahead and look up the teams that lead the league in quality starts. I dare you.

  12. Raul Says:

    “A quality start merely says how many times you were AT LEAST average”

    It’s that very definition that I disagree with. To call something “quality” and include performances that are “average” completely destroys the integrity of the term “quality”.

  13. Cameron Says:

    A quality start… To me, that equates an average performance. In my arbitrary benchmarks, it’s a nice scale over what a guy can be expected to give up over 6 innings of work.

    Joba Chamberlain – 8 runs
    Bartolo Colon – 7 runs
    Average KC Starter – 6 runs
    Average pitcher on a bad game – 5 runs
    Bad Pitcher – 4 runs
    Average Pitcher – 3 runs
    Good Pitcher – 2 runs

    The real hosses of the league like Lincecum, Hernandez, Hallady, I can expect 2-3 per 9. There’s very few guys I calculate run totals by complete game though.

  14. Cameron Says:

    Leader in QS? …Um, I’m just gonna go with the ERA leader and say San Diego. By basic math they averaged a quality start every game.

  15. Chuck Says:

    “I know this is just me, but when I see WAR, I just don’t even let it register.”

    No, it isn’t just you.

  16. Raul Says:

    It’s such a low benchmark.

    There are two ways to correct this:

    1. Change the name to Average Start, because that’s what it is.
    2. Change the qualifications that equal a “Quality Start”.

  17. JohnBowen Says:

    Actually, here’s a fantastic example: Brett Myers.

    Brett Myers had a pretty damn good season by usual measures. 123 OPS+. 1.243 WHIP. 180 K’s in 223 IP.

    What you don’t see is that he had 24 quality starts, 1 off the NL lead (held by like 6 people).

    You see that and it’s no wonder that the Astros outperformed their expected record by EIGHT games. Check it out! They won 76 games when they were only expected to win 68. Some of that is just good luck, but 8 games is an incredibly high number.

    It comes in large part from the fact that Myers gave his team quality starts 75% of the time.

  18. JohnBowen Says:

    It is what it is Raul.

    A guy goes 7 and give up 3? Me, I call that a good start.
    A guy goes 6 and gives up 2? I call that a good start.

    Quality is just below good in my book.

  19. Chuck Says:

    “Quality is just below good in my book.”

    So, you’re admitting then it’s below average?

  20. JohnBowen Says:

    You know what good means, right Chuck?

  21. Cameron Says:

    …Yeah, Brett Myers last year is the cutoff for what I call a quality starter. Not guys like Jake Westbrook who provided “quality” ball. He was good last year, but not even very good, just good.

  22. JohnBowen Says:

    Overall, I would say Brett Myers was VERY good last year.

    Of his 24 quality starts, exactly one was a minimum requirement QS.

  23. Raul Says:

    Mark Prior pitched 2/3 of an inning, struck out 2, walked 2, and allowed 3 runs on 1 hit today.

    Sabathia and Halladay looked great from what I’ve read.

    Josh Thole, catcher for the Mets appears to having a nice offensive Spring.

    Julio Teheran pitched a scoreless inning today.

    Daisuke Matsuzaka hasn’t looked very good in 3 starts this Spring. He got rocked again today against the Rays.

    Desmond Jennings is 3-22 this Spring for Tampa.

    Eric Bedard continued his comeback from injuries with the Mariners tossing 2.2 innings while scattering 3 hits and striking out 2.

    That Valencia kid might not have much power in Minnesota but it looks like he can hit.

    New KC Royal Vin Mazzaro was rocked today.

    3 innings, no hits, 5 Ks for Justin Masterson against the Cubs. Should I be impressed? Was it his birthday? LOL Nice line today though.

    Mark Teahen hit a homer today for the White Sox. I don’t know if Teahen is starting for the Sox or not, but if he’s a bench player, I think that’s a pretty good bat to come off the bench.

    Bumgarner struck out 6 in 4 innings today, while giving up just 1 hit to the Reds. Nice job.

  24. Chuck Says:

    Mariners 3B prospect Alex Liddi hit a grand slam today, he homered yesterday and twice on Tuesday in a “B” game. He doesn’t have a chance to make the team with the committment of moving Chone Figgins back to third, but with Dustin Ackley struggling……

    Pete Bourjos had a three hit game…ten bucks says it’s the only one he has all year.

    Koby Clemens is 2-21.

    Carlos Pena is hitting .118, Mark Reynolds .200.

    And to think some people thought a change of scenery would help.

    Dice-K stinks.

    But not as much as Carlos Silva or Matt Garza.

    Over/under on when Mike Quade gets canned?

  25. Raul Says:

    Geez

    I remember hearing about Koby Clemens like 5 years ago. I thought he’d be like 30 years old at this point.

  26. Raul Says:

    If Mike Quade gets fired, it won’t be his fault. The Cubs just have a bad roster right now.

  27. Raul Says:

    Chuck,

    I got $100 says you could out-hit Carlos Pena right now.
    When he swings the bat this year, half of Wisconsin is gonna get a nice breeze.

  28. Hartvig Says:

    I’ll have to keep a closer eye on Valencia this season. Last year I kind of wrote him off as a bit of a fluke but I’m always happy to be proved wrong.

    I just happened to look at Bob Gibson’s page on Baseball Reference earlier today. From 1968 to 1972 he had 5 consecutive seasons of 20 or more complete games, a feat he repeated in 2 other seasons. All told he had 13 consecutive seasons of 10 or more complete games and just missed a 14th by 1 game. He managed to lead the league in complete games exactly once. Compare that to Roy Halladay who has a reputation as a work horse and has led the league in complete games 6 times. His career high for complete games in a season? 9.

    I think we need to consider calling ANY game a pitcher goes 9 innings a quality start, no matter how many runs they give up.

  29. Chuck Says:

    Carlos Pena’s career avg is .241.

    Hitting a buck ninety six last year and .227 the year before really isn’t all that far off from the norm.

    Sure, he led the league in homers one year, but, so did Jose Bautista.

    They both suck.

  30. Raul Says:

    LOL
    Fair enough, Hartvig.

    The game has changed dramatically in your lifetime.

  31. JohnBowen Says:

    I’ve drafted Manny and ARod in my fantasy draft tonight.

    If only this were 2005…

  32. Chuck Says:

    Valencia’s a good player, I first saw him in the AFL a couple of years ago.

    Offense was a question for him, but the guy can pick it.

  33. Chuck Says:

    Hopefully you have more than a two man roster, John.

  34. Kerry Says:

    I don’t think average is quality. If they changed it to 2 ER or less in at least in 6 IP, I’d go for that as a quality start.

  35. Chuck Says:

    Jorge Posada played first base today.

    That must have been fun to watch.

    Jesus Montero went 0-3, dropping his average to .158.

    For a guy who’s supposed to be in a competition for a ML roster spot, he certainly doesn’t seem to be going after it.

  36. Chuck Says:

    “I don’t think average is quality. If they changed it to 2 ER or less in at least in 6 IP, I’d go for that as a quality start.”

    For me, it isn’t about the runs, it’s about the innings.

    Six innings isn’t enough.

    Leave it three runs, but go up to at least seven innings.

    At least.

  37. Raul Says:

    lol @ Jorge Posada playing first base.

    The guy can barely block a pitch a foot to the outside. Going into the hole to pick a grounder at 1st? Impossible.

  38. Jim Says:

    Chime in with the names and lines of Minor Leaguers who are having very good spring trainings for your favorite teams, minimum 15 at bats. Acknowledging ST numbers don’t mean much but its fun to see young guys get a second look.

    For the Red Sox
    Oscar Tejeda (2b).391/.440/.696
    Julio Iglesaia (ss) .381/.435/.381
    Yamica Navarro (3B) .333/.364/.476
    Nate Spears (3B) .381/.435/.476
    Juan Carlos Linares .368/.400/.632

    Kalish, Reddick and Anderson are having mediocre springs.

  39. Raul Says:

    Interesting @ Jim

    I have no idea who Yamica Navarro is.

  40. Chuck Says:

    Jose Iglesias’ SLG is the same as his BA.

    LOL

    Ryan Kalish sucks.

    I have no earthly idea what Red Sox Nation sees in that kid.

    Then again, three years ago they were saying the same things about Anderson.

  41. Raul Says:

    I don’t know what to make of Ryan Kalish, but I would say…….if the Red Sox are hanging their hat on the future performance of Ryan Kalish, they are making a mistake.

  42. JohnBowen Says:

    The Red Sox don’t hang their hat on the future of any one player.

    Because that would be stupid.

  43. Raul Says:

    They hung their success on Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez. Frankly, that worked out pretty well for them.

  44. Cameron Says:

    I know what they see in Iglesias, the glove.

  45. Cameron Says:

    Wow, a report came out on a list of players that would have been needed to send Zack Greinke to the Rangers.

    -Derek Holland
    -Tommy Hunter
    -Jurickson Profar
    -Engel Beltre
    -Michael Kirkman

    …I think I like Milwaukee’s package better.

  46. JohnBowen Says:

    “They hung their success on Manny Ramirez and Pedro Martinez. Frankly, that worked out pretty well for them.”

    What?

    In 04, every player on that team played a pretty significant role. Schilling. Ortiz. Vartiek. Mueller. Damon. Foulke. Lowe. Wakefield. Arroyo. Nixon.

    By 2007, Pedro was gone and Manny had a shitty season. And they went basically wire-to-wire. Because they didn’t hang their success on one guy.

  47. Cameron Says:

    A 20 homer, 80 RBI season where he still managed a 126 OPS+? Not shitty, but a down year by Manny standards.

  48. JohnBowen Says:

    Yeah.

    I mean, it was a good year by normal OF standards.

    Not a Manny year, nor a 20 million dollar year.

  49. Bob Says:

    Tampa would love him to do that this year.

  50. JohnBowen Says:

    So would I. He’s like my 4th OF.

  51. Jim Says:

    @Raul #39 Navarro is 23, finished last year in AAA (.887 OPS)and projects as a utility infielder/3B. He was signed as a SS and was considered a plus defender there, but has moved around the infield when the Sox had more promising players they wanted to develop. He’s a kid who has been better than projected. He came up last September and hit miserably OPS .367 but fielded 3 infield positions well. He had a good winter league in the DR.

    And I spelled his first name wrong its Yamaico

  52. Chuck Says:

    Heading out to my first game of the spring today, which in itself is probably some kind of a record considering we’re two weeks in.

    Cincinnati at Texas.

    Johnny Cueto v. Colby Lewis

    Plans for Saturday are to get up early and head to Peoria and watch Felix Hernandez throw in a “B” game. If not, then staying local and watching the Angels/Royals game.

    Speaking of the Rangers, CEO Chuck Greenberg, who put together the new ownership team, will announce his resignation, probably as early as today.

    “Friction within the group” is listed as a probable cause.

  53. Chuck Says:

    Navarro’s probably going to make the Red Sox as one of the backup infielders along with Jed Lowrie.

    Navarro can play second, Lowrie can’t.

  54. Chuck Says:

    It should be noted plans for tomorrow are contingent on what happens with UCONN and Syracuse today.

  55. Raul Says:

    Way to cherry pick 2 seasons, John.

    Even the guys at FJM would look down on you for that one.

  56. Kerry Says:

    Chuck:”Leave it three runs, but go up to at least seven innings.

    At least.”

    Let’s see, 7 IP + 3 ER = 3.86 ERA. That’s enough below the average ERA (sadly), I could go for that as a quality start. 6 IP and 2 ER = 3.00 ERA, which is pretty unusual these days; maybe call that a superior start.

    And I agree 7 IP is much better than 6; if you could get an extra IP from all your starters throughout the year, it would really reduce the load on your bullpen. 8 IP gives an ERA of 3.38, maybe a little too high of a requirement.

    I’m convinced. All in favor of changing the quality start to no more than 3 ER in at least 7 IP, raise your hand :-)

  57. Raul Says:

    *raises hand*

  58. Raul Says:

    Today would have been Dock Ellis’ 65th birthday.
    He died December 19th, 2008.

    On June 12, 1970, Ellis threw a no-hitter against the San Diego Padres under the influence of LSD.

    In context, it’s one of the most impressive things ever.
    In reality, it’s one of the funniest things ever.

    Ellis finished his career in 1979 with a record of 138-119 and 3.46 ERA.

  59. Chuck Says:

    Ellis gave up Reggie Jackson’s moonshot in the ‘71 All-Star game.

    He said it was the only time in his life where he he actually “heard” the sound of a batted ball.

    They would be teammates briefly on the ‘77 Yankees.

    Also Dwayne Hosey.

    He was an outfielder for the Giants. One year, my wife and I are at a spring training game in Peoria…Giants and Mariners.

    We’re in the first row down the rightfield line and the Giants are warming up. Hosey makes a bad throw which bounces off the railing and hits my wife in the arm. He runs all the way over from centerfield to see if she’s OK. He was very apologetic and concerned. He signed the ball for her.

    Nice kid.

  60. Raul Says:

    Nice story about Hosey.

    To correct my post, today would have been Ellis’ 66th birthday.

  61. Kerry Says:

    OK, using 7 IP and 3 ER as the criteria, the most quality starts since 1920 (when bbref.com has game data) is Bob Feller, 35 in 1946 (he had 42 starts and 36 CG). He was 26-9 in those games.

    Since 2000, the best totals are (with their record in those games):

    29 Randy Johnson 2002 (24-2)
    26 Curt Shilling 2002 (22-2)
    25 Felix Hernandez 2010 (12-6, ouch!)
    24 Curt Shilling 2001 (20-2)
    24 Pedro Martinez 2000 (17-6)
    24 Felix Hernandez 2009 (17-0, apparently his poor 2010 record was payback for this)
    23 Chan Ho Park 2003 (11-4)
    23 Tim Lincecum 2009 (14-4)
    23 Randy Johnson 2001 (15-2)
    23 Roy Halladay 2010 (17-5)
    23 Chris Carpenter 2005 (19-1)

    The combined record in these games was 188-34, WPct = .847. In 2010, there were 1473 quality starts, and teams had an 901-237 record in those games (WPct = .794).

    In 1968, there were 1685 of these quality starts, and the team had a 1020-407 record (WPct = .715) in those games.

    Finally, the number of quality starts (by the new definition) in each year since 1998 (the last expansion year):

    1998 1570 4.79
    1999 1432 5.08
    2000 1455 5.14
    2001 1432 4.78
    2002 1459 4.62
    2003 1389 4.73
    2004 1341 4.81
    2005 1511 4.59
    2006 1310 4.86
    2007 1252 4.80
    2008 1260 4.65
    2009 1279 4.61
    2010 1473 4.38

    Given the low run level, you would expect quality starts to be at their peak, but they are barely below the year 2000 total.

  62. Kerry Says:

    Um, barely above.

  63. Chuck Says:

    The bottom line remains that you don’t have to pitch well to qualify for a QS, which in turn makes the stat pointless and irrelevant.

    Raise the bar, or abolish the stat altogether.

    Same with saves.

  64. Bob Says:

    The Nationals cut Cla Meredith and the Phillies waived Robb Quinlan. Meredith will probably sign elsewhere, Quinlan could be done, although I suppose he could play overseas.

  65. Bob Says:

    Meant to say Meredith may sign with somebody next year, as he just had Tommy John surgery.

  66. Cameron Says:

    Speaking of Ellis, here’s a nice little animated short set to an NPR interview Dock did about the game.

  67. Cameron Says:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_vUhSYLRw14 Sorry, forgot the link.

  68. Raul Says:

    Just a thought, but I kinda liked the old Milwaukee Brewers logo with the M and B that looked like a baseball glove.

    Just saying

  69. Chuck Says:

    One of my favorites.

    Eighty six degrees in Phoenix today, great day for a game.

    Pretty cool to see, during pregame warmups, the two defending MVP’s standing in short center field talking.

    The Reds have this kid outfielder named Dave Sappelt. He is right up there with Dustin Pedroia and Freddie Patek as the shortest player I’ve ever seen.

    Mike Olt, the Rangers first round pick last year, (from UCONN, I might add) comes into the game and promptly lets a groundball go through his legs. He’s wearing #83 with nothing else on the jersey.

    Some guy in the stands gets up and yells out, “That’s no way to get your name on your jersey.”

    Cracked me up.

    Olt did get revenge though, in the bottom of the ninth.

    He tied the game with a bomb to leftcenter.

  70. Jim Says:

    “He is right up there…” LOL

    Maybe that should be right down there…

  71. John Says:

    @Raul, 68…right on. Best logo ever. Way better than an M and some barley.

    @Chuck, 63… “well” is a relative term. You give your team 6 innings with 3 runs or less, and your start is better than the median. Frankly, I don’t care how much you long for the days of Bob Gibson, its a different game today.

    @Kerry, 61…what is the dropoff in record for quality starts as theyre currently defined? Now compare that to, say, 5&2 or 6&4. I’ll bet the dropoff is much more severe.

    @Raul, 55….I “cherrypicked” their two very best seasons, when they won the world series. Smart teams don’t rely on single players no matter how good, as the rangers have learned over the past decade.

  72. Kerry Says:

    John,

    The records above are of the pitcher, not the team (I said it wrong at one point); the team does worse in the games where the pitcher gets a no-decision. I’ve done some more research on this, and the team WPct over the last 5 years for the current definition of a quality start is .678, and for the new definition (at least 7 IP) it is .726.

    A WPct of .678 may seem pretty good, but that includes all games with at least 6 IP. Games on the margin, with exactly 6 IP, are a different story. For exactly 6 IP and 3 ER or less, the team WPct is only .607. Not bad, but not great either. It goes up to .676 for exactly 7 IP.

    Of course, that includes games with 0, 1 or 2 ER; if you look at games with exactly 6 IP and exactly 3 ER, the WPct is only .483! (This makes sense since the MLB average RPG is about 4.5, so a 4.50 ERA should give you about a 50-50 chance of winning.) Clearly the current minimum requirements for a quality start are not strict enough if you think a quality start should give your team a better than even chance of winning.

    This is interesting enough that I will write an article about it with a comparison of WPct for all the IP and ER combinations, so stay tuned.

  73. John Says:

    Kerry, just looked it up using the play index, thanks. I’ll concede; its not really quality!

    Even if you look at the heart of the steroid era, its still under .500 (which I thought was weird).

  74. John Says:

    Also, there were 2584 quality starts last year. So I was wrong; a quality start is not necessarily better than the median.

  75. John Says:

    This is kinda interesting…

    7 IP, 3 ER, since 2008:

    Teams are 215-256 (.456)

    6 IP, 3 ER, since 2008:

    Teams are 343-382 (.473)

    Baseball’s a funny game, isn’t it?

  76. Chuck Says:

    A buddy of mine was at the Giants/Mariners game last night and he said after his start, Tim Lincecum went down the rightfield line towards the clubhouse and stopped and signed autographs for fifteen minutes.

    Considering he had just thrown four innings, that’s big league stuff right there.

    Gold star in my book.

  77. Dugout Central » Blog Archive » Re(de)fining The Quality Start Says:

    [...] a recent Dugout Central article, John Bowen asked if the quality start is a bad statistic. A lively discussion ensued, and the [...]

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