We’ve made no secret ’round these parts about our love for Jose Quintana. I think the Cubs did an excellent job bringing him in, and I fully expect the most consistent pitcher in baseball over the past half-decade (yeah, that’s a thing) to keep it up as he heads into his age-29 season with the Cubs.
But, just for fun, we thought it would be worth taking a look not at how good Quintana has been throughout his entire career or even necessarily how good he projects to be next season, but instead at how good he was in his short time with the Cubs – and what that production would look like stretched out over the course of an entire year. Like, if the *Cubs’* version of Quintana had been the guy for all of 2017, how would he have stood in the ranks of MLB? (Get that White Sox stuff outta here.)
Quintana made 14 starts for the Cubs last season for a total of 84.1 IP or an average of 6.0 innings per game. He took every turn in the rotation, which (in both reality and our Cubs-only imagination) means he was a 32-start, 190-ish inning starter.
As for his actual results, well, they looked like this:
I hope you can tell that if Quintana posted these numbers over the course of an entire season, he’d be an excellent pitcher across the board. But, for additional clarity and precision, let’s see where some of those numbers would rank relative to the other MLB starters from last season:
Before we get to the batted ball data, it’s easy to see that the upfront numbers Quintana posted in his time with the Cubs were excellent. He was one of the best strikeout pitchers and command guys in the game last year, and while it may not have shown all the way through in his ERA, it could mean great things are in store for his future.
And while were on the topic of his ERA, I’d like to remind you that 3 of his 14 games (6.8%) accounted for nearly half (46%!) of his earned runs with the Cubs. A few really bad ones disproportionately dinged him. They still count, but just sayin’.
As for the batted ball data …
… It’s not quite as good, and that probably goes a bit to why that ERA was relatively higher than his other metrics.
But Quintana he still had excellent ground ball and fly ball rates, which can be a huge help in this current era, and helps explain why, despite mediocre (at best) hard and soft-hit rates, he allowed the same volume of homers as Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta (all of whom were tied for the 21st fewest HRs allowed in 2017).
And fortunately, as we can see by the additional peripherals, Quintana wasn’t particularly lucky during his time with the Cubs. In fact, he’s probably due for some *positive* regression in this arena next season. But, as was the point of this article, it’s good to know that even if nothing changed at all in the luck department, he can still easily be one of the top 20-25 pitchers in all of baseball.
So was Jose Quintana good during his 14-game debut with the Cubs? Absolutely. If he posted those same numbers over the course of a full season – including the number of innings per game – he’d be pretty close to a 5.0-WAR pitcher. And just so you know, Cubs pitchers have accomplished that feat just 39 times in their LONG MLB history.
I don’t want to drag this conclusion out, but while Jake Arrieta and Jon Lester both reached 5.0 fWAR in 2015, the last Cubs pitcher to do it before that was Mark Prior all the way back in 2003. So, yes, Jose Quintana’s debut was very, very good.