5/12 Len Kasper’s “Quality wins” stat

Cubs TV play by play man Len Kasper has some interesting thoughts on improving pitchers’ stats to more accurately reflect their performance. Here’s his suggestion, which he made in a column in the Arlington Heights (Ill.) Daily Herald:

Wood’s record illustrates ‘Tough Losses’ stat
By Len Kasper

Pitcher wins (and losses) have long been the source of controversy and debate in our game — mainly because they often are misleading.

There are lots of examples, but just a couple are: Kevin Millwood’s 2005 season with Cleveland, during which he led the American League with a 2.86 ERA yet finished the season with a 9-11 record; and Felix Hernandez’s 2010 season that stood out because, despite a pedestrian 13-12 record, he put up a 2.27 ERA and beat out David Price (19-6) and CC Sabathia (21-7) in the AL Cy Young Award balloting in what was seen as a victory for the stat-heads.

Relief wins create even more eye-rolling among the new-school contingent. You can make one pitch (or no pitches if you pick off a runner) and grab a win. You can even blow a save and still put up a “W” if your offense comes back and bails you out.

Oh, and a starter can pitch a complete game, give up 1 lousy unearned run and suffer a loss.

I realize pitcher wins and losses always will be around, whether we snooty numbers geeks like it or not. But maybe there is a way to reach across the aisle to those who still believe in individual wins and losses by creating a better (and simple) version of these stats.

Travis Wood’s career spurred this thought.

Wood has been rather unlucky as a Cub, putting up lots of quality starts with very little to show for them in terms of wins. His career record (including time in Cincinnati) is 28-39, even though his 3.89 ERA has been a little better than MLB average.

So, how do we balance out these two things that don’t seem to match up?

Baseball-Reference.com has a couple of stats that help us find out if a starting pitcher has been lucky or unlucky in his career or during a particular season.

The site lists “Cheap Wins” (Wchp) and “Tough Losses” (Ltuf) on each pitcher’s “More Stats” page. Cheap Wins come in non-quality starts (a quality start means at least 6 innings and no more than 3 earned runs allowed).

Tough Losses, conversely, are losses in quality starts.

Interestingly, Wood has 1 Cheap Win in his career and a whopping 14 tough losses.

So, if we were to make starting pitchers “earn” their wins by having to put up quality starts to qualify for them, we could create a new stat called the Quality Win. And let’s make starters “earn” their losses. too. by only hanging a defeat on their record if they don’t pitch a quality start. We can call this the Quality Loss.

What I am doing here is trying to take as much bad luck and good fortune out of a starter’s record as I can without involving complicated math. By eliminating the outliers, we are getting a little closer to a pitcher’s “true” record.

To find Wood’s “Quality W / L Record” (QWL), we simply subtract his Cheap Wins (1) and his Tough Losses (14) from his 28-39 record. The resulting QWL record is 26-25.

With his ERA, a 26-25 record feels about right — at least better than 27-39 does. Same goes for Jeff Samardzija by the way — he’s 19-32 as a starter, but his QWL of 17-19 (subtracting 2 Cheap Wins and 13 Tough Losses) gets us closer to his career value as a starting pitcher.

Again, this is not a perfect stat, but I believe it gets us closer to a starter’s true value than a simple W-L record.

So, in summary, for QWL a starting pitcher can win in a quality start but he can’t lose, and he can lose in a non-quality start but he can’t win. Simple and clean.

12 Comments

Hey cubstalk HOW YOU LIKE THEM APPLES!??!?!?! ………………… LOL thanks Carrie for a great article. Hopefully this can teach some of the more dense individuals on here a thing or two.

I may not be to bright but the article was by Len Kasper,just posted by Carrie. But hey call me DENSE!

and carrie posted it sooooo im trying to figure out whats the problem here… I know who it was by but len didn’t post it carrie did soooo i thanked carrie… nice try at the attack tho

At the end of the day, a Win is a Win, and Loss is a Loss……..If Travis Wood has so many quality starts….he should be producing quality Wins……….so lets put the blame where it should go……on the Hitters who fail to produce “Quality At Bats” when the game is on the line…………hitting 300 or having 30 HR is one thing, but can a player drive in runs when they really count!………Aramis Ramirez was a player who drove in runs when they didn’t count……..I call those “padded” stats…….several times this year, Rizzo had a chance to change the game around with runners on base, but strikeout………………when Lake is used as a pinch hitter, a sure bet is that his at bat will end in a strike out………….Rollie Fingers use to pitch 2or 3 innings for his saves……Dennis Eckersley had many “cheap” saves in his career………at the end of the season, the stat most Cubs fans will talk about is that 90 plus loss season in 2014……..in my book, it will be another non-quality season for the Cubs.

Ok so let me get this straight from the post above…. A Win is a Win and if Wood has so many quality starts he should be getting Wins….. BUT THEN you go on to say you put the blame on the hitters who fail to produce. LOL that is the exact reason that looking at a pitcher’s win/loss column doesn’t prove how good he is. Once again YOU MAKE MY POINT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Wow this is just at an all time low right now.

o wait its probably Wood’s fault for the hitters not to hit right? LOL ………… and look you can’t keep comparing pitchers stats now to pitchers from the 70s. The game has changed soooo much. You won’t see pitchers nowadays pitching 300+ innings.

Baseball is Baseball……….What has changed sooooo much as you say since the 70’s?……I believe MLB change the rule of transferring the ball from the mitt to the hand…..so what is “Sooooo Much” to you that has changed?………..elaborate, if you can.

Win a team loses…..it s a team loss….when a team wins….its a team win………..Awards go to the best player, pitcher, rookie, etc…….so if we get rid of various stats that many feel are over-rated, lets get rid of the awards also………………….all I know this rebuilding process will take more years then Theo & Ricketts will want to admit to Cubs Nation………….

Real Men played baseball back in the 70’s…….better players back then there are today in the game.

What hasn’t changed? The baseball is even made different … Pitchers are used very different … Relievers are way more important… Injuries are increasing … Guys are bigger faster and stronger … Small ball is seen as an inefficient way of offense most of the time … Instant replay… Need anymore or do u want to keep running your ignorant mouth. You can’t even take words for an expert, Len , and learn anything. Bc somehow you think you got it figured out but why aren’t you in a front office position ?

The designated hitter, interleague play, best-of-seven league championship series, the divisional series, the wild card, the wild card game, teams in Denver, Miami, Tampa Bay, Phoenix, Washington DC, no team in Montreal, Milwaukee in the NL, Houston in the AL, All-Star Game winner determines World Series home field advantage, pitch counts, lefty specialists, 12-man pitching staffs, 5-man rotations, Tommy John surgery, ballparks changing from cookie-cutter shape to shorter fences with higher walls and unique power alley configurations, retractable roof stadiums, switch from Astroturf to synthetic grass, defensive shifts, sabermetrics, expanding scouting departments, ESPN, MLB Network, individual team networks, 26th player allowed on the roster for double headers, fewer double headers, fewer day games, $100+ million contracts, the luxury tax, the salary arbitration system, free agents linked to draft pick compensation, draft slot bonus spending to determine how much you can spend on draft picks, international slot spending to determine how much you can spend on international free agents, and the Japanese posting system. But other than that, not much has changed in baseball since the 70s.

Nice enough idea, I guess. But too many stats are just that. Simple and clean? To me, that is all about wins and losses. No matter if you need to protect a 0 or 21 run lead. And Travis, Edwin, Jeff et. al need to learn that. So I think this is superfluous details that add nothing of real value to baseball. Sorry Len. But you should stick to just describing that which you see.

About our local announcers…….Len is just an AD Man for the Cubs……promoting social events more often then talking about the game……Hughes and Coomer makes you switch the radio channel……..Hawk is terrible……Stone lost his edge he once had as a baseball expert…….forget about Farmer & the other guy …………….on the National scene, Joe Buck is annoying………..Vince Scully is the best in MLB.

Interesting. Most baseball people have aleady moved beyond wins for a SP. Just look at Shark — he’s clearly one of the top 5 starters in the game this year, but doesn’t have a single win. Crazy! Still, I like WHIP and ERA; I don’t need this new stat.

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