Saturday, November 14, 2009

REAL QUALITY STARTS

Not that baseball needs another new statistic...

A Quality Start (QS) is credited to a starting pitcher who pitches at least 6 innings and allows 3 or fewer earned runs. There were 2,344 quality starts in the Major Leagues in 2009. A full 49% of all games started were credited as quality starts.

It would seem that for an event to be called "quality", it ought to happen quite a bit less than half of the time. This would be like calling a quality at bat anytime you got a hit, a walk, or hit the ball hard. There is some truth to that, but what is real quality?

I came up with a new, as easy to compute statistic which I call a Real Quality Start (RQS). To get an RQS, a pitcher must allow fewer base runners than innings pitched. Simple. In a mathematical formula it's equally simple:

(H + BB) < IP

There were 946 Real Quality Starts in the majors last season - only 20% of all games started. Comparing the two stats side-by-side, you can see that RQS is a much more stringent test of true quality:

QS RQS
Number 2344 946
% all starts 49% 20%
W (by SP) 1293 631
L (by SP) 389 86
W/L Pct. 0.769 0.880
ERA 2.04 1.40

The Major League leaders in RQS last season were:

Pitcher Team RQS
Tim Lincecum SF 15
Dan Haren Ari 14
Javier Vazquez Atl 13
Chris Carpenter StL 12
CC Sabathia NYY 12
Jon Lester Bos 12
Randy Wolf (FA)
LAD 11
Josh Johnson Fla 11
Jered Weaver LAA 11
Ricky Nolasco Fla 11
Ted Lilly ChC 10
Josh Beckett Bos 10
Bronson Arroyo Cin 10
Edwin Jackson Det 10
Zack Greinke KC 10
Felix Hernandez Sea 10
Wandy Rodriguez Hou 10
Carl Pavano (FA)
Cle 9
Roy Halladay Tor 9
Barry Zito SF 9
Mark Buehrle ChW 9
Kevin Correia SD 9
Gavin Floyd ChW 9
Justin Verlander Det 9
Scott Feldman Tex 9
Clayton Kershaw LAD 9
Jarrod Washburn (FA)
Sea 8
Johan Santana NYM 8
Joel Pineiro StL 8
Rich Harden (FA)
ChC 8
Scott Kazmir TB 8
Scott Baker Min 8
Jason Hammel Col 8
John Danks ChW 8
Matt Garza TB 8
J.A. Happ Phi 8
John Lannan Was 8
Jair Jurrjens Atl 8
Kevin Millwood Tex 7
Jason Marquis (FA)
Col 7
John Lackey (FA)
LAA 7
Cliff Lee Cle 7
Jorge De La Rosa Col 7
Matt Cain SF 7
Cole Hamels Phi 7
Joe Saunders LAA 7
Chad Billingsley LAD 7
James Shields TB 7
Jeff Niemann TB 7
Luke Hochevar KC 7
Ross Ohlendorf Pit 7
Clayton Richard ChW 7
Trevor Cahill Oak 7

Noticeably absent from this list are any Milwaukee Brewers - and noticeably present are a number of free agent who the Brewers are rumored to have some interest in. Look how far down the list John Lackey is - and how many other free agents are above him. The more of this stuff I see, the more I think Lackey is going to be a Suppan-esque albatross for whoever signs him.

I was a little surprised that the Brewers declined Bradon Looper's option. Looper actually tied for second on the team with 4 RQS:

Gallardo 6
Looper 4
Bush 4
Parra 2
Suppan 2
Burns 1
Narveson 1

What that chart really shows though is just how pitiful the Brewers' pitching was in 2009.

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