Is a “Quality Start” the Most Overrated Stat in Baseball?
In 1985 Philadelphia Inquirer sportswriter John Lowe created the stat known as the quality start.
A quality start is defined as a start in which the starting pitcher pitches six full innings and allows three earned runs or less.
The advantage of this statistic is that it does not punish a pitcher who suffers from a low run support the way a win-loss record does. If a pitcher allows one run but his team is shutout, his quality start percentage will increase, but his win percentage would decrease with the loss.
The problem with this statistic is that six innings pitched and three earned runs results in a 4.50 ERA. There are 100 pitchers in Major League Baseball right now that have started a game and have an ERA at or below 4.50. Giving up four and a half runs per game is not that impressive considering the majority (63%) of teams score above 4.5 runs per game.
This statistic is also unfavorable to pitchers who pitch deep into the ball game. If a pitcher pitches six innings and gives up three runs, they get a quality start with an ERA of 4.50. However, if they pitch a full nine innings and give up four runs, they would have an ERA of 4.00, but not get the quality start.
Which start would you rather have your pitcher turn in? The start with six innings pitched and three earned runs? Or the complete game with four earned runs?
ERA of 4.50 of 4.00?
Which is truly a “quality start”?
Considering the fact that 77% of teams this year are averaging more than four runs per game, a quality start should be rewarded for a pitcher that holds a team to 3.5 runs or fewer. Why award a pitcher for a start in which he allowed the opposing lineup to do what they have done all year long?
A quality start should be received when the pitcher does something that is not the norm. Such as hold a team below their run average.
I do not seen anything “quality” about giving up a run every other inning, which is what happens when you pitch six and give up three…
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