Tagged: Ubaldo Jimenez

Ubaldo Jimenez & Carlos Silva

Ubaldo Jimenez and Carlos Silva have both been good this season.  Beyond that they have little in common on the hill.  All you have to do is watch them pitch one inning each to see that.

About Jimenez.  He’s a super stud.  He was my “sleeper who’ll make a splash” guy this season.  96 with sink.  Faster than that at times.  Every pitch moves, and I mean moves.  On top of it, his delivery adds deception to his already electric stuff.  You watch guys at the plate who simply haven’t got a chance a lot of the time. Well he was NL Pitcher of the Month for May, which means he’s won two of the two NL Pitcher of the Month awards that have been assigned for the 2010 season.  That award was assigned before he went out and was, for him so far this season, so-so while “edging” the D-Backs for his 11th victory this season.  I don’t quite know how one can say that 7 innings of work, 8 K’s, 6 hits allowed is so-so, but given the numbers from his other starts, that is positively mediocre for Ubaldo this season.
About Silva. He’s not studly the way Ubaldo is.  He may get some movement on his pitches, but one look at his peripherals compared to those of Jimenez will establish that right quick.  Nevertheless he is 8-0 for the Cubs.  So, what the hell is going on with this guy?  I’ve asked this question before and tried to answer it and I’m still as dumbfounded now as ever.  It makes me feel a little better that Craig Calcaterra doesn’t get it either.  “The Daily Pitch” also takes note of Silva’s ridiculous start to the season.  I am inclined to say–again–that Silva’s success provides yet more evidence that the NL is a bad league, basing that assertion on Silva’s peripheral numbers being more-or-less the same as they were in his last three notoriously unsuccessful years in the AL.  Rob Neyer kind of suggests the same thing, only he puts it much more nicely, talking about how the NL is “easier” than the AL, though he points out that Silva’s K rate is way, way up from the past.
At any rate, no matter what Silva does, I don’t think he will be challenging Jimenez or Halladay for the NL Cy Young.
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1968 All Over Again?

That’s what Bob Nightengale of USA Today is wondering.  He sort of has a point, as scoring is down in the Majors, but to call it 1968 is getting pretty wild: scoring in ’68 was 3.42 runs/game.

Right now scoring is 4.47 runs/game, which is 31% higher than ’68.  A runs/game level that would be 31% higher than it is in 2010 would be a league where each team scored 5.86 runs per game; that should take our breaths away and make us realize just how much higher scoring is now than in 1968.  
2010’s scoring level of 4.47 runs/game is a decline since 2006 of .39 runs/game (a decline of 8%), but there have been much more startling fluctuations in the last 10 years, for if you look at the data set from this decade (2001-2009) you’ll see that 2005 presents a much larger aberration than whatever is going on now, a sudden lull in scoring sandwiched between two fat numbers.
2009 MLB scoring was 4.61 runs/game.
2008 MLB scoring was 4.65 runs/game.
2007 MLB scoring was 4.80 runs/game.
2006 MLB scoring was 4.86 runs/game.
2005 MLB scoring was 4.59 runs/game
2004 MLB scoring was 4.81 runs/game
2003 MLB scoring was 4.73 runs/game
2002 MLB scoring was 4.62 runs/game.
2001 MLB scoring was 4.78 runs/game.
Scoring declined 6.7% from 2004 to 2005, and then increased by 8.1% from 2005 to 2006.  I–well, baseball watchers generally–would need to look more closely at year-to-year fluctuations in scoring to see if there’s anything truly unusual about the amount of fluctuation between last year and this year, which is .14 runs/game, a decline of 3%.  That’s right: 3%.  Just outside the margin of error.   
On the other hand, ’68 was quite an aberration, for scoring in ’67 was 3.77 runs/game, meaning that 1968 saw a decline of .35 runs per game per team, a rate of decline of 9.2% in one season.
To return to the now: 2010’s level of scoring is lower than any of the other years shown.  Possible explanations include, but are not limited to:  (1) It could be evidence that the Steroids Era is definitely behind us; (2) perhaps April and May have been cooler than “normal” thus depressing offense; (3) maybe Nightengale is dead on accurate and pitching is just better all-around.
By the way, after Nightengale’s piece was in the paper, Ubaldo Jimenez threw eight shutout innings, lowering his already microscopic ERA to 0.88.
UPDATE: David Brown of “Big League Stew” ponders what it would take for Ubaldo to finish 2010 with an ERA lower than the one Bob Gibson posted in 1968 (1.12).
For some possible explanations of the decline in scoring in 2010, the comments section of this post at FanGrapsh is pretty solid.  
I sincerely hope that the scoring decline is due to the umpires calling the strike zone the way it is supposed to be called by rule.  I think the way the zone has been called for many years is a factor that has been overlooked by too many people, and that failing to call the strike zone as it is defined contributes to: (a) lower innings pitched totals by starting pitchers, since batters just wait the pitchers out rather than having to try to put the ball in play  (b) longer games since the batters are waiting and waiting and more pitches must be thrown, and (c) increased offense as batters can simply wait for the exact pitch they want to hit rather than putting the ball in play on the pitchers’ terms.  In fact, Mitch Williams, in his new book, Straight Talk from Wild Thing, mentions the smaller strike zone–particularly one where pitchers don’t get calls on the inside corner–as a key factor for the offensive explosion in post-1996 (or so) Major League Baseball.  (Combine a smaller strike zone with smaller ballparks, ‘roided up hitters, and maple bats and you got an offensive explosion.)
By the way, I must extend a tip of my hat to Dick Enberg and Mark Neely, broadcasters for the San Diego Padres, for discussing the strike zone and the failure of umpires to call it as defined by the rulebook for its impact on game length during their Tuesday night broadcast of the Cardinals-Padres game sometime in the seventh inning.  I wish more commentators would bring this up.  
(I also want to note that Dick Enberg is turning out to be a darn fine baseball play-by-play guy; in fact, I think baseball may be his best sport.  He’s no Vin Scully, mind you, but, then again, who is?  Enberg is, however, a damn far sight better than Joe “I’m Just Cruising on My Daddy’s Name and Reputation” Buck, but, then again, who isn’t?  That is, sside from that guy who did play-by-play for TBS in last years’ playoffs.)

A Study in Contrasts: Hernandez vs. Jimenez

Game 1 of Nationals at Rockies features a real contrast between their respective starting pitchers (moundsmen?).

Their stats are way above average, their stuff couldn’t be more different:

Livan Hernandez, Nationals (stats/stuff, with the chart showing % of time a type of pitch is thrown and the number in parentheses the average velocity of those pitches for the pitcher) vs. Ubaldo Jimenez, Rockies (stats/stuff).
Note, though, that Ubaldo has given up a homerun today, the first he’s allowed all season.  At least he gave it up to a guy who can really hit the heck out of the ball: Adam Dunn.

Kershaw v. Jimenez

Kershaw was just better today, but Jimenez still pitched very well, surrendering only two hits over seven innings.  (Boxscore here.)  And rarely, and I mean rarely, have I seen a pitcher make Todd Helton look helpless at the plate the way Kershaw made him flail today.

So that makes two gems (uh, two and one-half?) thrown on the Left Coast this afternoon, what with Dallas Braden getting all perfect on us.

Ubaldo Jimenez: Filthy, Nasty, and Awesome

BP Jimenez Ubaldo.jpg

Jeez, it’s like some substantial portion of baseball “commentators” never watched the guy pitch or something.  Now, they are coming out of the woodwork to praise him.  
I mean, it’s nice that he’s finally getting some recognition, but, seriously, if you ever watched the guy work over the past two seasons, however, you had to have thought to yourself, “If he ever cuts down his walk rate–and if he starts throwing first pitch strikes–this guy is going to be a super stud.”  Anyone who pumps its 96+ with movement, especially with sink, is going to be a stud.  And if you bothered to look at his HR/9 rate, or even better, his groundball %, you just had to figure that he was going to be a star, especially since he misses bats like crazy.  And his HR per Flyball ratio is particularly insane for (a) someone who throws as hard as he does, and (b) Coors Field.
Yeah, aside from Joe Mauer there is no one I currently love more than Ubaldo Jimenez.
At any rate, here’s some nice Ubaldo-love over at the Daily Pitch.
Big League Stew says that after last night’s start Jimenez is taking his turn as the NL’s best pitcher with his dominating 13 K performance (but remember, Lincecum has a start tonight–and you should pay attention to his velocity because I have some questions, and Roy Halladay is still not done definitively proving that the AL East was a whole lot tougher environment than the National League; look, in particular, at that K/BB ratio and then pick your jaw up off of your keyboard). 

Aaron Gleeman gives us “just the facts” reminding me that Jimenez already took home NL Pitcher of the Month in April (!! Just look at Lincecum and Halladay’s stats and remember that Ubaldo’s been even better than that!!), and then Gleeman crushes my bubble by also reminding me that Jimenez has thrown some high pitch count games.  Like Gleeman, I’m hoping the workload won’t push him into some Pitcher Abuse Point abyss.  (I have the same concern about Francisco Liriano of the Twins as well, who, by the way, was the AL Pitcher of the Month for April)

I guess: Enjoy him until they blow him up!

ubaldo-jimenez.jpg