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Earlier this season, Brian Kenny and Harold Reynolds infamously debated the value of pitcher wins.

If looks could kill, Kenny would have needed a good lawyer at the end of that segment to avoid life in prison. If you were to put two fantasy players on either side of the table, they would likely debate which one of them hated pitcher wins more. As I write this piece, I watched Felix Doubront throw eight shutout innings on just 93 pitches while retiring the final 17 hitters he faced. For his efforts, he was rewarded with a hook as Andrew Bailey came in for a three-out save and promptly allowed the game-tying home run to Kelly Johnson. Jonny Gomes hit the game-winning home run in the bottom of the frame, handing Bailey a win to go with his blown save.

Wins are negatively impacting the joy of playing fantasy baseball. Many are tired of seeing a fantastic outing labeled as a no-decision or watching the bullpen blow what was a quality start and thus rob the starter of the win. Nobody has suffered more injustice in 2013 than James Shields. A lack of run support has followed Shields around baseball like the dirt cloud around Pigpen in the Charlie Brown cartoons. This season, Shields has a 2.72 ERA, a 1.12 WHIP, 13 quality starts in 15 outings—and just two wins, both of which came in April.

He is not alone. He has A LOT of company.

I found 136 starting pitchers in the Player Forecast Manager and ran their current values in 12-team mixed leagues with standard 5×5 scoring. Of that group, 99 would have their value increase by at least $1 if quality starts were scored rather than wins.

Shields has been worth $10 in standard 5×5 scoring leagues, but would be worth $17 in leagues that used quality starts. It has been a rough season for Cole Hamels, as he too has just two wins, but his 4.40 ERA is much higher than we have become accustomed to in recent seasons. He is worth just $1 in standard leagues but sees his value increase six-fold in leagues that count quality starts.

They are just two of 24 pitchers whose value increases by at least $3 in quality start formats. The other pitchers include: Joe Blanton, A.J. Burnett, Felix Doubront, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, Clayton Kershaw, Derek Holland, Kris Medlen, Wade Miley, Gio Gonzalez, Jeremy Hefner, Mark Buehrle, Homer Bailey, Jonathon Niese, Ricky Nolasco, Vance Worley, Matt Harvey, Edwin Jackson, David Price, Edinson Volquez, C.J. Wilson, and Phil Hughes.

Twenty-five pitchers did not see their values change in any way with the change in scoring format, including one of the most valuable pitchers these days, Hisashi Iwakuma. Yet, just 13 pitchers would have their values negatively affected by a change in scoring and none would suffer a big loss, as no starter would shed more than $2 of value.

I play in three different expert leagues in the industry: Tout Wars, LABR, and one as a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, Only the last league incorporates quality starts as a scoring category. LABR stays with the traditional 5×5 scoring rules as the industry’s first expert league, while Tout Wars has not adjusted the pitching categories and switched only to on-base percentage over batting average this season for hitters.

A shift to quality starts over wins would allow us to properly reward pitchers for their hard work while eliminating the randomness of relievers blowing wins or saves only to steal the glory all for their own. It eliminates any dependency on the offense to produce a result as well as eliminating the amazing run-support fortunes that some pitchers enjoy. In short, making the switch would level the fantasy playing field.

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saint09
6/19
Agreed QS is a category more indicative of Starter performance. However, it also has its flaws, including the 1 run, 5 and 2/3 inning, 10+ strikeout performances not being deemed "quality".
moonlightj
6/19
Everything has its flaws. Still, the type of game you described (<6 IP, <3 ER, >= 10 Ks) has happened only once this season and it was Trevor Cahill's start a few days ago. Even if I were to eliminate the runs requirement, only 4 other pitchers join the mix: Cobb, Iwakuma, Samardzija, and Burnett. Meanwhile, there have been 482 games this year where a pitcher had a quality start and did not get a win and a pitcher took a loss 161 times. 321 times, a pitcher had a quality start but had nothing to show in 3 of the 4 categories he can produce in.
davescottofakron
6/19
Jason, for comparison purposes, I would like to know how many pitchers had quality starts and did win? What's the winning percentage for pitchers with quality starts?
moonlightj
6/19
I show 584 quality starts that have become wins while 524 have resulted in no win per the most recent view into the B-Ref Play Index. So, quality starts have resulted in wins 53% of the time this season. We've had 2112 games started by pitchers this season, 725 which were won. A conversion rate of 34%.
Pinson
6/19
That would be about right. Obviously, even in a deep league, so long as we had Ws, our owners did not roster the worst pitchers or decent pitchers from the worst teams. So our effective % was a little higher.
Pinson
6/19
The first time I looked at just the figures from our 15-team roto league, a study to advocate this change, it was 62%. I saw the leaguewide figure recently, and it was not too far off from that. Wish I could remember it. Sorry. By the way, we did adopt the change and have been quite content with it.
BloodStripes
6/19
Or the 4 run, 8 inning, plenty of strikeouts performance. The worst is when your pitcher goes say 7 2/3, 2 runs but leaves with a couple of men on base and the reliever lets them score. QS down the drain.
MikeGianella
6/19
Like Jason, I play in three industry leagues (mine are Tout Wars, FSWA, and CBS) and like Jason, the only one i play in that uses quality starts is FSWA. It isn't perfect, but it is much better than wins and I heartily second Jason's endorsement of the stat. Yes, I agree with saint09 and BloodStripes that the stat isn't perfect...but it is a significant improvement over wins. Jason, do you want to forward this article to Peter or should I? :)
BurrRutledge
6/19
The league I play in changed to QS several years ago (2007?) and we've never looked back. Yes, there are some tough ways to have your starter get a BQS, or get yanked one out shy of a QS, but there are far more ways to see the W elude a worthy hurler.
ravenight
6/19
All stats are arbitrary to some extent - even BBs and Ks. My problem with the QS as a roto number is that it's still too granular, especially in H2H leagues. It might be an improvement over wins (though your math here only adds up if all that extra value is being removed from somewhere - is it relievers or do hitters lose value because there are now more consistently dominant starters?), but GS probably would be too. Why not just use IP?
moonlightj
6/19
Just me - but I'd take a league with wins over a H2H format. I rank H2H one step above trade vetoes but a league involving either is a non-starter for me.
kevinebert
6/19
H2H does add a large element of luck to the game because of the importance of the timing of performance, especially in the H2H playoffs. But I find that it's fun to compete against someone each week. Especially when the competition are friends...or foes for that matter. Why the vitriol for H2H leagues?
moonlightj
6/19
Because it stinks of fantasy football, which I quit playing because of the H2H format. I'd get back into it if I could find a points league for football but random luck was tiresome. I missed the playoffs 3 of my last 4 years despite being one of the 2 highest scoring teams in the league.
davescottofakron
6/19
Yeah, that's why casino gambling is boring and foolish. When it's just luck, the more you play, the more certain your are to lose.
moonlightj
6/19
I'm the worst guy for Vegas. When I go, I will randomly play a slot machine but don't play any tables. I'm too compulsive so I leave everything in my room & spend the time drinking.
JJoyce
6/19
So you're saying that as a Matt Harvey owner, there's a world where I don't depend on Scott Rice to get Harvey his W's?
BPKevin
6/19
I disagree with the use of QS over W, at least for my league. I do know that it is a better measure of a pitcher's worth. However, my league has 6 pitching categories, ERA-WHIP-K-IP-NetSv-Wins. If we were to switch from Wins to QS, we would just be double counting the ERA and IP catagories. Keeping Wins allows you to value the pitchers that let up 4 runs in the first inning, but gut it out, save the bullpen and allow his team's hitters a chance to score enough runs to win the game. That has value.
jonkk1
6/19
Keeping Wins also allows you to value the pitchers who give up 3 runs in a third of an inning to lose it for the starter, then get the Win themselves when their hitters score 3 in the next half-inning to retake the lead. That is a crappy win that does not value *anything* pitching-wise.
BPKevin
6/19
True, I'm not saying Wins is a better valuation, just saying it works better for leagues that have a scoring structure like the one I listed. In that league, no one owns middle relievers because IP, K and W counting categories devalue them and we have a high minimum innings pitcher for the year. Also, they really don't log enough innings to affect the ERA and WHIP. Again, I agree that QS is a better valuation of a SP than Wins or even worse NetWins. I'm just saying it doesn't work for every league.
BurrRutledge
6/20
Change IP for Holds, and W for QS. Limit the IPs for the season to 1475. NetSaves vs. Saves is optional. You can even go so far as putting 5SP and 6 RP slots on the starting roster. Now you're balanced and a better reflection of modern roster construction and, perhaps, reality.
captnamerca
6/19
But vulturing wins with middle relief pitchers is one of the best parts.
mdupske
6/20
I play in a deep NL-only league. The wins help out all those non-closers have any value which gets thrown out of the QS equation. I don't believe having a 4.50 ERA (which is a potential QS) makes for a 'good' pitcher.
Pinson
6/19
Now, if y'all will just quit playing in BA leagues and go to OBP, maybe we can all practice what we know and preach. We went to OBP about 10 years ago, but it took a long time for me to get the lads to give up Ws.
moonlightj
6/19
I hope we make the switch to OBP in Tout/LABR. I've enjoyed the format in FSWA where we have OBP & SLG over BA & HR & QS over wins.
davescottofakron
6/19
Or better yet, go to Strat-O-Matic where almost everything counts.
moonlightj
6/19
I'm in my 2nd year of a scoresheet league. I'm trying other things
Nacho999
6/19
Yeah Jason, saw both of those things from my perch here in Boston. The Wins thing sort of evens out, at least in roto baseball, though I'm loathe to admit it. Let's just say your AL only roto staff is Josh Johnson, CC Sabathia, Jake Peavy, Alexi Ogando, Matt Harrison, Chien-Ming Wang and Bartolon Colon (because mine is)...Let's say you've already had to give up on J.A. Happ and Ivan Nova too...We'll call them Colon and Wang for fun...You've got other guys roaming the league with 8, 9 and 10 wins pitching 4.50 or worse ball with no ratio and nearly three months into the season Bartolo Colon is your best and healthiest pitcher...What can you do?...You have Tex, Jeter, Pineda and Swisher on your roster (yes, from NJ, etc) and nowhere to put anyone with all the injuries...The vulture victory is your best friend!...I have Chad Allen, Drew Smyly and, as of yesterday, Alfredo Aceves sniffing around looking easy matchups and cheap W's. Aceves will be called someone else by Sunday, but he came through against the anemic Rays yesterday...Allen, who was in prime position earlier this week for a vulture W when fate had K King Mark Reynolds step up to the plate with one out and the sacks jammed vs KC...Naturally he whiffed and the Tribe found two runs for Steve Smith the very next inning...Yesterday that foul up was rectified when, against all odds (I used to lust after Kelvin Herrera mind you), the Tribe erupted for four in the eighth after Allen had allowed an unearned run in the top half of the inning. Even!...Andrew Bailey, another pitcher on my team, when he's not getting hurt, is supposed to nail down one run wins against inferior competition for Boston...He's threatening to lose that job, but yesterday rewarded me with the cheapest of W's...I'd like to think that was the result of watching Josh Johnson mow down the Rockies only to have journeyman Jorge De La Rose stand his five hit, ten strikeout performance up. It's late June and Johnson, who missed six weeks with an injury, has yet to win a single game! What place to you think this two time defending champion is in (fourth)? Even Chien-Ming Wang snagged one against the once mighty Rangers (desperate times call for desperate measures...I passed on several pitchers that have gone on to win five or six games since the beginning of the season so I needed to jump on someone's bandwagon). I've also had great performances by Jake Peavy stood up by Kevin Correia, Josh Johnson stood up by Tim Lincecum and Alexi Ogando stood up by Ryan Dempster so I feel like I earned the cheap ones...It goes on and on all season...I guess my long winded point is the wins have to, and should, go somewhere...Where they go is up to the roto player to gauge...In real life though I'm still a believer that the wins do need to be assigned to an individual vs a "team" win...Just my three cents...Good column...
mhmosher
6/19
We use a hybrid category. 1 point for a win and half points for each of QS, complete game and no-hitter.