I have heard some fans and media guys over the years say the quality start stat is not a good one because you can have an ERA of 4.50 and get a quality start.
For those that don't know, a quality start is defined as an outing where a starting pitcher goes six innings or more and gives up three earned runs or less.
So, yes, if you give up exactly 3ER over 6IP, you fulfill the minimum requirement and your ERA for that game is 4.50.
But if you give up 2ER over 6IP, the ERA is 3.00. If you give up 3ER over 6 2/3 IP, that's an ERA of 4.05 and 3ER over 7 1/3 IP is an ERA of 3.68.
My take is that a starter that gives you a quality start is at least keeping you in the game and, at most, asking your bullpen to get nine more outs. Many nights, if you have any offense at all, you'll have a chance to win that game.
I think quality start is an under-rated stat.
Oakland led the AL in team ERA last year and Tampa was second. They were also first and second in total quality starts with Oakland at 103 and Tampa at 95.
The Orioles were 10th with 80 quality starts and 13th in team ERA at 4.59.
Among the pitchers with the highest percentage of quality starts last year were guys named Felix Hernandez, David Price, CC Sabathia, Roy Halladay, Adam Wainwright and Matt Cain.
Jeremy Guthrie, the O's best starter over the whole of the 2010 season, posted 20 quality starts last year. The O's went 12-8 in those games and they lost four of them where Guthrie allowed one earned run or less.
Quality starts lead to wins.
Granted, I researched just one O's starter and another player may not produce similar results, but I think a large amount of research would produce results to back up the fact that quality starts lead to wins.
By the way, Guthrie's ERA in his 20 quality starts was an impressive 1.96. That is no where near 4.50. Sure you can have a quality start with an ERA of 4.50 but it's probably going to be much better than that in most of those games.
ESPN stat gurus researched starting pitching lines over five years, from 2005 through 2009 and found this win percentage for these pitching lines.
Pitcher A: 6 IP, 3 ER Team win pct = 49.6%
Pitcher B: 7 IP, 3 ER Team win pct = 55.0%
Pitcher C: 9 IP, 4 ER Team win pct = 54.5%
Pitcher D: 6 IP, 2 ER Team win pct = 60.9%
Of course pitcher C did not record a quality start. Pitcher A, when producing that line, lost more than they won. But again, they kept their team in the game with a game ERA of 4.50 and won almost 50 percent.
Hey, no shock, good starting pitching leads to wins and is a positive development for your team.
We know that, but I think the dismissal by some of the quality start stat is short-sighted.
For a different opinion on this stat, see what this guy says.
For that ESPN article, click here.