Quality start still a good measure of quality

When you hear the term "quality start" while watching a game on the tube, it's often accompanied by a snort of derision. "You can get a quality start," they say, "with a 4.50 ERA." Where's the quality there? Unfortunately, these discussions almost always end exactly in that spot, leaving aside (1) a more nuanced interpretation, and (2) a little credit for the inventor of the statistic: John Lowe, who today writes for the Detroit Free Press.

When Lowe invented the quality start more than 20 years ago, he was writing for the Philadelphia Inquirer. The following passage is taken from Lowe's unveiling, in the Dec. 26, 1985 edition of the Inquirer:

A pitcher gets credit for a quality start any time he allows three earned runs or less in a start that lasts at least six innings.