Mains: The vanishing ERA qualifier

From SABR member Rob Mains at Baseball Prospectus on September 21, 2017:

Last year, Sam Miller wrote about the minimum-innings threshold. He noted that the number of pitchers who qualify for the ERA title had dropped precipitously as innings per start have declined. He explained the causes and proposed a solution.

In order to qualify for the ERA title, a pitcher must pitch one inning per game his team played. That means that pitchers must usually compile 162 innings per season since 1961 (American League) or 1962 (National League). Before then, when schedules were shorter, the standard was 154. A minimum standard for ERA qualification is similar to the minimum standard for batting title qualification, which is 3.1 plate appearances per team game played. (There is one difference: In one of baseball’s more obscure rules, hitters who fall short of qualifying for the batting title can still qualify by having hitless plate appearances added to their total in order to reach the minimum standard. No such fudge factor exists for ERA qualification.)

The ERA qualification standard, though, covers more than ERA. For counting stats, like wins or strikeouts or home runs allowed, a minimum standard isn’t relevant. Through Tuesday’s games, Brad Peacock, who will not qualify for the ERA title this year (he has 121 innings), had 153 strikeouts. Julio Teheran, who’s already qualified (175 1/3 innings), has 143 strikeouts. We don’t discount Peacock’s strikeout total because he didn’t pitch 162 innings.

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Originally published: September 21, 2017. Last Updated: September 21, 2017.