Blog Entry

Baseball's Flawed Statistics Ch 1: quality starts

Posted on: September 15, 2009 7:57 am
I don't know who really looks at this one.  People say how wins and losses are tainted by run support or lack there of.  Maybe it goes toward consistancy.  Pitchers do lose wins to blown leads by the bullpen, errors by fielders or as I mentioned, poor run support, things that cost Jon Lester a few wins this year.  The person with the most quality starts has been the more consistant pitcher.  Is that correct?  That's what the stat was designed to reflect.  Or so I am told and from what I've read.  The only reason that I look at it is that it's a scoring category in one of my custom head-to-head fantasy baseball leagues.

For those not familiar with the statistic, a quality start is a statistic for a starting pitcher defined as a game in which the pitcher completes at least six innings and permits no more than three earned runs.

My biggest gripe with the stat is with the basic three earned run requirement.  6 innings and 3 earned runs comes up to an ERA of 4.50.  If the pitcher only meets this basic requirement, there is at least 2 if not 3 inning of work coming out of the bullpen.  Not very quality.  I mean, if you're going to cause wear and tear to a bullpen, why isn't 5 innings with only 1 or 2 runs considered quality?

If the pitcher goes 8 innings and allows 4 earned runs, even though it equals the same 4.50 ERA as the 6 inning minimum requirement, it's not a quality start because 4 earned runs were allowed.  How does this make sense?  Isn't it actually more quality than only going six innings?  Let alone if the pitcher goes the full 9 and allows four.  Lower ERA than the guy going 6 and giving up 3, goes the distance, bullpen gets rest... how is this not quality?

I was just doing a little inventory of my fantasy team, where I went wrong this season and the stat jumped out at me.  As I pointed out, Jon Lester was robbed of a few wins due to a lack of run support or blown leads by the bullpen.  He leads my team with 21 quality starts, a 13-7 record, 3.29 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, and a 3.52 K/BB ratio, 211 Ks in 188.2 innings.  Second on my team in the stat is Justin Verlander with 20 quality starts, a 16-8 record, 3.34 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 4.19 K/BB ratio, 239 Ks in 210 innings.  But it gets weird to me from here.  Here are the lines for the rest of my pitching staff and guess who had the next most quality starts:

1.  208 IP, 14-9 record, 3.03 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 6.31 K/BB ratio with 183 Ks.
2.  193.1 IP, 15-6 record, 3.82 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 3.53 K/BB ratio with 180 Ks.
3.  172.1 IP, 12-9 record, 3.71 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 2.16 K/BB ratio with 136 Ks.
4.  172.2 IP, 13-8 record, 4.33 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 3.64 K/BB ratio with 142 Ks.
5.  183 IP, 11-9 record, 4.33 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 1.92 K/BB ratio with 167 Ks.

Which pitchers would you want on your staff?  In order those are the stats for Roy Halladay, Josh Beckett, John Danks, Scott Baker, and A.J. Burnett.  Lets just say the problem with my fantasy team in this league was not starting pitching.  Quite proud of the staff I built. 

And the one of those five with the most quality starts was the last one, AJ Burnett.  He and Scott Baker were on my trading block the whole first half of the year and I had more bites for Scott Baker.  All the stats I listed there (wins, losses, ERA, WHIP, K/BB ratio, total K's and quality starts) were scoring categories in my league.  And AJ was a two of seven category starter.  How quality is that?  And maybe I should have traded AJ for less that what I thought he was worth considering what he brought.  The fewest wins of my starters, tied with the most losses and higest ERA, worst on my team in WHIP easily as well as the worst K/BB ratio.  The dude with these numbers beat out four better pitchers (statistically) in quality starts.

By the way, Burnett had 19 quality starts, followed by Halladay, Beckett and Danks (18 quality starts each), with Scott Baker bringing up the rear (15).

I wish this was a keeper league.  Do I dare push for that?


Category: Fantasy Baseball

Since: May 19, 2010
Posted on: April 25, 2011 10:18 am

Baseball's Flawed Statistics Ch 1: quality starts

I like to use both QS and Wins.  wins are bogus because they are based on run support and bull pen support.  Guys pitch gems and dont get a win and sometimes even lose for 1 run games.  They need to be rewarded for something.   Also, most leagues dont give enough for quality starts. 3pts aint enuff.  In general , wins are worth too much and QS worth too little.  Use both and beef up the QS.

Since: Feb 9, 2007
Posted on: September 15, 2009 3:15 pm

Baseball's Flawed Statistics Ch 1: quality starts

It is pretty wierd how a pitcher with an ERA in one start of 4.50 is considered quality.  What does that say about Baseball or a pitchers job?  I mean isn't a pitcher supposed to not give up any runs?  Yet an ERA of 4.5 is "normal?"  I can see the innings (6) as being something that a pitcher needs to get before they are considered to have a quality start, yet they really should knock the runs from 3 to 2.

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