A “Quality Start” is a term used in baseball. It is a statistic that refers to the performance of a starting pitcher who can throw at least six innings while giving three or fewer runs. It was coined by John Lowe. It is used by organizations in Major League Baseball (MLB) as well as those in Fantasy Baseball.

Over the years, it has been added to with terms such as “High-Quality Start”. The term “Tough-Loss” is also associated with “Quality Start”.

Defining a Quality Start

This is a statistic that is used to define the performance of a starting pitcher. To be labeled as a “Quality Start”, the pitcher should be able to complete at least six innings and no more than three runs.


The coining of the term is credited to John Lowe of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He coined it in 1985 and has been in use since then.

He used the term to define how well the pitcher performed.

Criticism of the Statistic

One of the main criticisms of the “Quality Start” is that a pitcher who makes 6 innings and allows only three runs would record a 4.5 ERA.

Although adequate, this is not exactly the most desirable if that were to be made a benchmark of how well a pitcher performs.

“Quality Start” is also no guarantee that the team will win the game.

How Often Does a “Quality Start” Occur?

Statistics gathered through the decades of the MLB the percentage of how often “Quality Start” depends on trends in baseball gameplay strategies.

The most quality starts in a season were recorded in 1916 with 64.4% of all starts qualified as “Quality Start”. The next time the percentages reached as high was in 1968. This was when gameplay was mostly centered on the Pitcher.

Add-Ons and Associated Terms

High-Quality Start is related to it and is when the starting pitcher makes more than seven innings and allows less than three runs. This add-on to the term is credited to Nolan Ryan, who was a player in the MLB.

Quality Start Plus is the same as High-Quality Start. This was coined by Derrick Goold of the BBWAA.

Tough Loss is also associated with Quality Start. It is a loss that follows a Quality Start.

Cheap Wins are wins that come from a Non-Quality Start.

Similarly, announcers may also say “Quality Outing” or “Quality Performance”. They can also say of the pitcher, “He was Quality”.