Introducing the Quality Quality Start for Evaluating MLB Starting Pitchers

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Some may say we need a new baseball statistic like we need a new Tiktok meme. But I’d argue if a new stat will help us make enjoy the game more, and help us make better decisions, it’s useful.

That’s why we’ve created the Quality Quality Start or QQS. We use it to find the best starting pitchers, the pitchers who truly impact their team’s chances to win a game.

The traditional Quality Start goes back several decades. A Quality Start is awarded to a starter when he pitches AT LEAST 6 innings AND allows 3 earned runs OR LESS.

But the Quality Start is problematic. That’s because at it’s most modest form (6 IP and 3 ER), a pitcher has produced at a 4.50 ERA level. That may be quality to some people, but it’s not what a baseball manager may consider real quality.

That’s why we’ve come up with a QQS, to create a stat that measures what we think is QUALITY.

How to Compute a Quality Quality Start

A QQS is any start where the pitcher goes at least 6 innings (18 outs recorded) AND allows 2 earned runs or less. With a QQS, the pitcher has pitched to a 3.00 ERA level or better.

In today’s game, as of 2024, starting pitcher’s are rarely going as far

If you bet on baseball, you know the Player Prop is one of the most popular ways to make money on the game. The starting pitcher props are often most bet on. Bettors place wagers on the number of strikeouts, how many runs a pitcher will allow, how many hits they will surrender, and so on.

Game Props, Moneyline Betting and Starting Pitchers

As starting pitchers have slowly lessened their impact on games, it’s become more difficult to evaluate their importance when looking at a matchup.

Consider this: from 2021-2023, the number of starts where a pitcher has logged at least 6 innings has ranged from 36-40%. As recently as 2017, that number was about 50%, and in 2011 it was 65.8%.Every season from 1930 to 2005, that percentage was above 60%. Starting pitchers are going at least 6 innings 33% less often than they historically did for 65 years.

When deciding on a moneyline wager for example, the starting pitcher is often the first thing you look at as a baseball bettor. If that pitcher is pitching deep into game less often, that factor matters far less than it did even 10 years ago.

This is why we need a stat like QQS to find the starters who limit earned runs at a better rate. The traditional QS is not accurate enough for our needs.

Most Quality Quality Starts, 2021-2023

A QUALITY Quality Start (QQS) is defined as at least 6 IP AND 2 earned runs or less allowed.

Gerrit Cole58
Sandy Alcántara54
Kevin Gausman52
Corbin Burnes51
Chris Bassitt50
Zack Wheeler46
Framber Valdez45
Logan Webb44
Max Scherzer44
Luis Castillo43
Zac Gallen41
Julio Urías40
Shohei Ohtani40
Max Fried40
José Berríos40
Marcus Stroman39
Joe Musgrove39
Pablo López39
Yu Darvish39
Brandon Woodruff38
Alek Manoah38
Kyle Gibson38
Merrill Kelly37
Adam Wainwright36
Blake Snell36
Aaron Nola36
Jordan Montgomery36
Lucas Giolito35
Dylan Cease35
Shane Bieber35
Robbie Ray34
Charlie Morton34
Logan Gilbert34
Shane McClanahan32
Clayton Kershaw32
Lance Lynn31
Martín Pérez30
Freddy Peralta30
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Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes

Dan Holmes is the author of three books about baseball, including Ty Cobb: A Biography. He previously worked for the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and Major League Baseball Advanced Media. He lives in Michigan where he writes, runs, and enjoys a good orange soda now and again.
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