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06/09/2014

Ron Washington, Eric Nadel & re-defining the dreaded "quality start"

UnknownARLINGTON, Texas - Sitting in his office chair, Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington whipped out his SmartPhone and typed in "quality".

"How good or bad something is," Wash' read.

The subject was the horrendous practice of classifying a starting pitching performance as "quality."

Created by veteran baseball writer John Lowe of the Detroit Free Press, the term "quality start" has become a fixture in the baseball lexicon for years. It is basically a lower standard for starting pitchers, a tool for agents to use in contract negotiations, and another stat for stat geeks.

By definition, a quality start is three runs or less in a minimum of 6 innings. That's a 4.50 ERA. That's crap.

"So you are telling me (Rangers starter) Colby Lewis has four wins, and no quality starts?" Wash' asked.

In 10 starts this season, Lewis has only gone six innings once, so - no - he has no quality starts. He does have four wins.

Personally, my definition for quality has been 7 innings of three runs or less. And in the '80s or '90s, that would have fit. Today, 7 innings and three runs would be Cy Young.

According to www.baseballreference.com, 52 percent of the starting pitching performances this season are "quality starts."

Unknown-1In this discussion in Wash's office included Rangers Hall of Fame broadcaster Eric Nadel, who - in his quick research - found some alarming statistics that should at least make you reconsider the legitimacy of the quality start.

"The league average for ERA for starters is (3.93)," Nadel told us. "(A quality start) is one-half run higher. How can that be quality?"

It's not.

Here is a happy medium - if we are going to insist on having a "quality start" it must at least hit the league averages. Granted, the averages will vary from day to day, but to call one-half run higher "quality" than the league averages seems is inappropriate.

@MacEngelProf
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