“Quality Starts”

30-641250595I hear so much negative talk about the value of the “quality start” statistic in baseball, that I want to throw in my 2 cents worth.  First of all, a quality start (QS) is earned when the pitcher throws 6 or more innnings and allows 3 or less earned runs.

People like to say “that ain’t a quality start”.  BlackJack Morris opined on a recent Twins broadcast that 3 runs in 6 innings would make a ERA of five and a half.  Well, Jack, you must be using Bert Blyleven’s “California math” if you believe that.  Actually, 3 runs in 6 innings would return an ERA of 4.50.

But let’s look at it realistically.  How many times does a pitcher get removed from a game after lasting 6 innings, having only given up 3 runs?  Not very often.   It may happen more often in the National League, where the pitcher can be removed for a pinch hitter, but if that happens, why punish the pitcher having a good outing?

6 innings and 3 runs are the limits of a QS, but a pitcher can earn a QS by pitching 7, 8, or 9 innings, and he can earn one by allowing less than three runs.  I don’t have the actual stats in front of me, but I have seen a statistic showing the ERA for a pitcher over several QS’s was UNDER TWO.

I will try to research this, but I believe the ERA for all combined QS’s would be under Three earned runs.   And that, my friends is quality starting.


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