Jose Quintana has long been a victim of one of the more useless stats in professional baseball: wins. He hasn’t hit the double-digit mark in wins during his tenure with the White Sox even though he has pitched well enough to hover around the 15 win mark every season. That’s a product of being on a bad team, something Quintana can’t control and gets unfairly punished for. Couple that with having possibly the best pitcher in the game starting a day before you, and you have a guy with ace-level production being completely overshadowed.
Quintana is off to a torrid start this year that hasn’t been recognized much in Chicago because of the dominance of Chris Sale and the dude on the North Side. You can see for yourself the ridiculous numbers he’s putting up right now, but the key is that it’s clearly all real. His FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching), which basically removes any bad or good luck scenarios that ERA does not, is a miniscule 2.12 to go along with his 1.40 ERA. To compare, Chris Sale’s FIP is 2.92 while Jake Arrieta’s is 2.80…a crazy person (me being one) would say that he’s off to a better start in terms of pure performance than both Sale and Arrieta.
Now obviously one statistic does not tell the whole story. No one is taking Jose Quintana over Sale or Arrieta to start Game 7 of the World Series, so everyone who just called me an idiot should take a deep breath and relax. I’m not trying to take away from what Sale and Arrieta accomplish as the aces of their respective staffs, I’m simply trying to understand why Quintana isn’t recognized for performing at an ace-level for the past three years.
Currently, Quintana ranks as the fourth best pitcher by WAR in the MLB. Some names below him include Chris Sale, Jake Arrieta, Corey Kluber, and Jose Fernandez. Relatively small sample size, so let’s go back a couple years. In 2015 he ranked 14th in WAR among pitchers and in 2014 he was even better, ranking 10th. So let’s see if we can do some simple math here. There are 30 teams in Major League Baseball. If we’re conservative and say Quintana is the 15th best pitcher in baseball, that means half the league is searching for a pitcher of his quality to lead their staff. Oh, and he’s only making $5.4mm this year. Compare that to pitcher such as Johnny Cueto ($15.8mm), Masahiro Tanaka ($22mm), David Price ($30mm), and Zack Greinke ($34mm). Comparable pitchers in terms of performance, but not so comparable in terms of cost and age. Considering we’re getting this guy at such a low price tag, I think we need to start recognizing him as the White Sox’ second ace.