FanPost

Revised Quality Starts

Quality starts are a pretty good statistic for telling how consistent a pitcher is.  They often tell a more complete picture than rate stats which can be altered by a couple of really bad, or really good starts.  The problem with quality starts are that they don't really tell how well a pitcher pitched.  With new advanced pitcher evaluating statistics, such as FIP, we can get a much better picture of how well a given pitcher actually pitched if we eliminate non-performance based factors like defense, luck and ballpark. Translating FIP to quality starts, we can see what percentage of the time a pitcher was "really" effective.

My first example is Johan Santana, who led the league in ERA and quality starts.  However, his FIP was a full run higher, meaning that he got "lucky" this year.  His .287 BABIP and 22.4 LD rate give credence to that notion.  So I wanted to see how many "real" quality starts he had.  

I went to Santana's Fangraphs game logs and downloaded them to Excel.  Than I imputed the FIP formula to each of his individual games.

IP	HR	SO	BB	IBB	Game FIP
7 1 8 2 0 3.63
7 0 3 0 0 2.34
6.2 3 7 2 0 7.63
7 1 10 0 0 2.20
7 0 4 1 0 2.49
5.2 2 7 3 0 6.20
6 0 8 4 2 3.49
6 1 5 1 0 4.06
7.2 3 5 2 0 8.20
7 0 1 0 0 2.91
7 1 7 2 0 3.91
7.2 0 6 3 0 2.77
6 0 5 1 0 2.20
7 0 10 3 0 1.63
6 1 5 2 0 4.49
7 1 4 2 1 5.20
6 0 8 4 1 3.06
8 0 6 0 0 1.49
5 0 5 3 0 3.06
4 2 2 3 0 7.63
8 1 4 0 0 3.91
9 1 5 1 0 4.06
6.1 0 3 2 0 3.20
7 1 7 3 0 4.34
7 1 6 2 0 4.20
9 0 7 0 0 1.20
7 0 5 1 0 2.20
6 2 6 3 0 6.49
6 0 10 1 0 0.77
7.1 1 6 3 0 4.63
7 0 4 2 0 2.91
7 0 8 2 0 1.77
8 0 10 2 0 1.20
9 0 9 3 1 2.34

Sorry for the lack of a table, I don't know how to do one on a fanpost (help?).  For FIP quality starts, I basically used the same criteria as normal quality start, so at least 6 innings pitched and at least a league average FIP (4.40).  So Santana really had 26 quality starts instead of 28, which was still good for 76% QS which would be third in the league.  He had a great season and was probably underrated by his FIP.  His overall FIP was aggravated by his two 3 homer starts.

Okay, so my first example failed as the FIP-ERA disparity didn't reflect that much in his actual game by game performance.  My next example is Adam Wainwright, who also had a rather large disparity in his ERA vs. FIP.  He finished with 12 quality starts in 20 games or 60%, but how did he really do?

IP	HR	SO	BB	IBB	Game FIP
8 1 4 1 0 4.34
7 0 6 0 0 1.49
7.2 0 6 2 0 2.34
7 0 6 4 1 3.63
9 3 6 2 0 7.91
6.1 0 5 1 0 2.20
7 0 3 2 0 3.20
6 3 3 1 0 8.34
5.2 0 2 1 0 3.06
7 0 5 2 0 2.63
8 1 8 1 0 3.20
8 1 4 2 0 4.77
5 1 4 1 0 4.34
6 1 4 1 0 4.34
6 0 2 0 0 2.63
5.1 0 7 2 0 2.06
8 1 6 1 0 3.77
4 0 3 2 0 3.20
5 0 5 3 0 3.06
6 0 2 5 0 4.77

Wainwright really had 2 more quality starts by FIP.  Like Santana, he had a couple of 3 homer games (although one of them came in a complete game win) that significantly raised his FIP.  His real QS percentage was 70%, which would be 10th in the league.  When watching WW last year, it seemed like always turned in a good start and kept the team in the.  When he pitched, I felt that we were going to win.  A lot of us feel that he is becoming an ace, and judging by his consistency between starts, that might be true.  

Now lets look at Kyle Lohse.  He finished with a small disparity in his FIP vs. ERA and and 20 quality starts in 33 games.  He parlayed that consistency to a 40 million dollar contract extension.  Going by last years numbers, he earned it, but was he really that that consistent?

IP	HR	SO	BB	IBB	Game FIP
5 0 3 3 0 3.63
7 0 2 1 0 3.06
5.1 0 2 1 0 3.06
7 0 3 0 0 2.34
4 0 1 2 0 3.77
6 0 3 1 0 2.77
6 1 0 2 0 5.91
4 0 4 5 0 4.20
7 1 4 1 0 4.34
6 0 5 0 0 1.77
6 0 5 0 0 1.77
6 1 0 1 0 5.49
5 0 2 0 0 2.63
6 1 3 2 0 5.06
8 1 3 2 0 5.06
6 1 4 2 0 4.77
4 1 2 1 0 4.91
7 0 4 2 0 2.91
7 1 6 2 0 4.20
7 0 3 1 0 2.77
7 1 4 2 0 4.77
8 0 7 0 0 1.20
5 3 2 1 0 8.63
5.1 1 6 3 0 4.63
7 1 5 1 0 4.06
4.1 1 5 0 0 3.63
6 0 2 3 1 4.34
6 0 3 2 0 3.20
8 1 6 1 0 3.77
6 0 7 2 0 2.06
5 0 5 2 1 3.06
6.2 0 5 2 0 2.63
6 2 3 1 1 6.91

Overall he only had 16 real quality starts.  4 less than he had with the original measure.  His QS percentage drops to a Jo-El esque 48%.  Yuck.  It turns out that he really wasn't that consistent at all.  You'll notice that he had a lot of ~5 inning games in which he struggled, but was able to not implode.  While that may be an admirable quality in a back of the rotation starter, it simply are not acceptable in your #2.  We re-he-healy need Carp back.

So um... what do you guys think?  Would there be a better way to measure what a quality start instead of 6 innings and above average FIP?  Do you want to see any other pitchers on the staff (It only takes me a couple of minutes to do)?

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