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Hiroki Kuroda Is High Quality

Stop touching it.
Stop touching it.

When something is great or interesting, there aren't enough things that can be written about them. This season it's mainly been perfect games, no-hitters, Bryce Harper and Mike Trout. As the season wore on, the words slowly became less about Harper and no-hitters and more about Trout. They should have been and they still should be. For as much press as Trout gets, he should probably get more. He's magic, or would be magic if magic existed. It doesn't, so he's just really good at baseball at a really early stage in his career and it's incredible.

Not all the words should go to Trout, though. Some need to be saved for other players doing great things. I used some of my own on Hiroki Kuroda back before he was doing great things. A couple months have passed, things have really changed and it's time to use some more. It's kind of an update, but it's more of holy hell Kuroda has been awesome thing.

So yeah, in case you have been living under a rock or some other thing that would prevent you from knowing stuff about baseball, Kuroda has been pretty great. He's been everything he was signed to be and more. Considering he was signed for just one year and $10 million, 'and more' is probably underselling things. He's pitching like an ace for the price of Tim Hudson. Maybe Hudson is overpaid, but it's more likely that Kuroda is wildly outperforming what was expected. How much is he outperforming? Well, that's kind of why we're here. Not only is he pitching like an ace, he's pitching right along side the established aces. His quality starts speak to that, or would if a concept could speak.

It isn't a perfect stat, but quality starts is a pretty good one. Even if it isn't perfect, it's still better to judge a pitcher with than wins. But everything is better high. Not like that. Where the quality start sets the bar at three earned runs in six innings, the high quality start goes, well, higher at two runs over seven innings. The quality start is better when it's high, and Kuroda has racked them up with the best in the game.

Starts Quality Starts High QS HQS%
Felix Hernandez 25 17 17 68%
David Price 24 19 14 58.30%
Justin Verlander 25 19 14 56%
R.A. Dickey 24 18 13 54.20%
Madison Bumgarner 24 17 13 54.20%
Ryan Vogelsong 23 19 12 52.20%
Hiroki Kuroda 25 17 13 52%
Johnny Cueto 25 19 13 52%
Clayton Kershaw 25 18 12 48%
Cole Hamels 24 17 11 45.80%
Kyle Loshe 25 19 11 44%
Jake Peavy 24 18 9 37.50%
Yovani Gallardo 25 20 9 36%
Josh Johnson 25 17 9 36%
Chris Capuano 25 17 8 32%
C.J. Wilson 26 18 8 30.80%
Jordan Zimmermann 24 20 7 29.20%
Jason Vargas 26 18 7 26.90%
Stephen Strasburg 24 18 5 20.80%


  • It was obvious Kuroda was pitching well, but it's still pretty surprising to learn over half of his starts had been high quality. Even more surprising to see that he's doing it slightly more often than last year's NL Cy Young winner and a guy who just signed a $140 million contract extension. That's bang for your buck.
  • Kuroda needs more effusive praise, so here it is! Of the 19 players with as many or more quality starts, he is tied for second on the list in percentage of quality starts that are high quality. (76.5 percent) When Kuroda throws a quality start, he isn't going to get cheated. There will be many innings and not as many runs. He could be number one on the list if Felix Hernandez didn't exist. Then again, watching him pitch, I'm not sure he does exist. He is a vaguely human form brought to life by a worldwide subconscious hallucination. Everything is better high.
  • Semi-related: Shut up, Felix. There's a boom or bust joke to be made there, but 100% of quality starts being high quality pretty much strips it of humor. That's not a joke, it's a sheepish realization that there's a greater than 65 percent chance he's going walk all over your favorite team without wiping his shoes first.
  • There are the same number of Mariners on this list as Giants and Nationals. Felix is one, and Jason Vargas is the other. Jason Vargas has allowed 26 home runs this season, three fewer than the ML leader. He has more quality starts than Felix or Kuroda. That Jason Vargas.
  • It would be interesting to see where Strasburg would rank if he wasn't on an innings limit. A safe bet would be to say "not last." He's been taken out after six innings in 12 starts this season, needing to finish one more inning for a high quality start in ten of them. Safe bet is on not last with the slightly less safe bet being "towards the top."
  • Jason Vargas has 18 quality starts in one season. This season. What?

Kuroda might falter in a couple games down the stretch, or he might not. That's how non-committal is done. At this point it doesn't really matter even if he does drop off a bit. With 13 high quality starts to his name, he's done more than enough to be a stabilizing force in an inconsistent rotation. Given what some of the other one-year options have done, (Joe Saunders - 14 QS, 6 HQS; Paul Maholm - 15 QS, 7 HQS) the Yankees got a bit of a steal at $10 million. Quality doesn't come cheap, but it can in a relative sense. Quality came cheap this time.