An Alternative to Wins

October 17, 2013



With the progression of new statistics into the baseball media, there has been a groundswell - at least in fantasy circles - to develop a new category that better describes a starting pitcher’s contributions than does Wins. The problem with wins is that it is dependent on factors beyond the actual performance of the starting pitcher. His offense has to score more runs than he allows while he’s still in the game and the bullpen has to hold that lead until the end of the game. For this reason, great real-life pitchers like Felix Hernandez who pitch for lousy teams are often not as valuable as lesser pitchers on better teams.


Personally, for fantasy purposes I'm ok with wins for its simplicity, and I think it should cost more to buy pitchers on better teams the same way it costs more to buy hitters on better teams due to the increased RBI opportunities. But I also like to explore better ways to demonstrate the true quality of players. I'm not thrilled with quality starts as a stat, largely because most formulas for quality starts frankly fail to live up to the one condition they promise: quality. Giving up 3 runs over 6 innings yields a 4.50 ERA, and I don’t know of any fantasy player who clamors to load up on pitchers with that kind of performance.


So I'd like to offer GS60+ as at least an alternative to consider. It's not a stat per se and I don't know if most stats services can accommodate it (maybe if enough people request it they will), but it does address many of the concerns that have been expressed. Namely it shows statistically that a starting pitcher did his job well and it correlates fairly strongly with the notion that he should have gotten a win for his performance. Basically, it uses Bill James game score formula to generate a numerical value, i.e. a game score of 60 or better.


If you're not familiar with game score, here's how it works:

  1. Start with 50 points.
  2. Add one point for each out recorded, so three points for every complete inning pitched.
  3. Add two points for each inning completed after the fourth.
  4. Add one point for each strikeout.
  5. Subtract two points for each hit allowed.
  6. Subtract four points for each earned run allowed.
  7. Subtract two points for each unearned run allowed.
  8. Subtract one point for each walk.


It’s not as if this is a brand new concept. James created this evaluator decades ago. ESPN currently lists starting pitchers by average game score and you can find game scores for each game on


Of course, there is a downside: you have to use a calculator when you watch a game to know whether or not your pitcher is helping your cause. I'll admit that's a biggie because that's basically the reason I left - just couldn't sit back and enjoy the game because I was too concerned with minutia.


That said, it does a fairly good job of rewarding starting pitchers for good work:


Starts in which the starting pitcher got a win in 2013 = 1659

Number of GS 60+ starts in 2013 = 1819

Starts in which the starting pitcher got a win in 2012 = 1738

Number of GS 60+ starts in 2012 = 1722


And over the last five years:

Starts in which the starting pitcher got a win = 8555

Number of GS 60+ starts = 8550


Here is the list of GS60+ leaders from last year, showing the number of starts in which they reached or surpassed a game score of 60:

Player                GS60+
Clayton Kershaw        23
Max Scherzer           22
Chris Sale             21
Felix Hernandez        20
Cliff Lee              19
Cole Hamels            19
Hisashi Iwakuma        19
James Shields          19
Jose Fernandez         19
Yu Darvish             19
Adam Wainwright        18
Anibal Sanchez         18
Ervin Santana          18
Madison Bumgarner      18
Justin Verlander       17
Travis Wood            17
Gio Gonzalez           16
Matt Harvey            16
Patrick Corbin         16
Dillon Gee             15
Jordan Zimmermann      15
Lance Lynn             15
Mike Leake             15
Stephen Strasburg      15
Ubaldo Jimenez         15
Zack Greinke           15
David Price            14
Doug Fister            14
Jarrod Parker          14
Justin Masterson       14
Kris Medlen            14
Mat Latos              14
Matt Cain              14
Mike Minor             14
R.A. Dickey            14

Again, I'm just throwing this out as another way to look at the issue… something to think about this offseason as you decompress from this season and begin preparing for 2014. Enjoy the hot stove!