June 23, 2010

Looking At Ubaldo

When you see Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez's 1.15 ERA after 14 starts, you might flash back to Pedro Martinez in 1999 or 2000:
After 14 Starts

Pedro 2000 106.0 62 20 140 1.44
Ubaldo 2010 101.1 65 36 88 1.15

Pedro 2000 .164 .227 .260 .487 4.152
Ubaldo 2010 .189 .272 .279 .551 3.782
Okay, so it doesn't match the greatest season a pitcher has ever had, but is very, very good.

From April 17 to May 31, Jimenez made nine starts and allowed four runs in 68.1 innings for a 0.53 ERA. In nine road starts, he has a 0.80 ERA (five home starts: 1.85).

2010 NL ERA: 4.11 - Ubaldo ERA 1.15 (diff: -2.96)
2000 AL ERA: 5.28 - Pedro ERA 1.74 (diff: -3.54)

I can't find Pedro's ERA+ at any point during the 2000 season, but he finished the year at 293 - the greatest mark of all-time*. Jimenez's ERA+ is 390.

* At that link, you will see Tim Keefe's 1880 ERA+ of 295. While slightly higher than Pedro, it was achieved at a time when the mound was 50 feet from home plate and a walk consisted of eight balls.
JoS commenter mattymatty blogged about Jiminez yesterday -- Why Boston (Or Anyone Else) Can Beat Ubaldo Jimenez:
I don't like the word luck. I think it's overused in the sabermetric community. It's become a catch-all for stuff we don't totally understand. However, in this case, we have a pretty good understanding. Jimenez is allowing far fewer hits than he ever has before and stranding far more of those runners than he ever has before. He's doing it by striking out hitters at the rate he always has, walking hitters at the league average rate, and getting ground balls at his normal (though above average) rate.

Jimenez has been pitching almost like he has been for the past two seasons and yet his results are in a completely different stratosphere from any posted in his career. Maybe I'm missing something, but to me this screams 'unsustainable'. At some point more of those balls in play are going to start falling, more of those runners are going to start scoring, and Jimenez's ERA is going to start rising. And through it all Jimenez will still be the same guy he has been since '08. Ain't pitching weird?
The whole post is great and my hodge podge of stuff here is merely expanding on some points and stats that matty made/used.

Jimenez leads all MLB pitchers with only 5.8 hits allowed per nine innings this year.

He has stranded 91.2% of his baserunners this year, which is insanely good. The next four pitchers in the NL are all bunched between 81% and 84%. Jimenez's LOB% for 2007-09: 67.7%, 70.8%, 73.5%. He has also had 14 double plays turned behind him, which is tied for the NL lead.

His overall BABIP (batting average on balls in play) is .239*, far lower than his .283 career number and well below this year's NL average of .299.

* Fangraphs has it at .239, Baseball Reference says .245. ?

The NL's BABIP with men on base is .306. Jimenez's BABIP in that situations? .158!

A BABIP comparison (overall and men on base):
                OVR   MOB
Jimenez 2010 .239 .158
Lester 2010 .276 .248
Buchholz 2010 .274 .255
Pedro 2000 .237 .231
               FIP               DIPS
Jimenez 2.94 7th in NL 3.00 9th in NL
Lester 3.16 4th in AL 3.25 7th in AL
Buchholz 3.49 8th in AL 3.63 15th in AL
* Fielding Independent Pitching and Defense Independent Pitching Stats help you understand how well a pitcher pitched, independent of how his fielders fielded behind him. They are read like an ERA.

About a week ago, Fangraphs posted Ubaldo's Unimpressive Start. The word "start" in the title refers to his June 17 outing and not to the "start" of his season, but the post still drew over 300 comments in only a few days. And the heat of that discussion prompted a request for some in-depth analysis.

Over at the Rockies blog Purple Row, Andrew Fisher posted:
Among all the fracas at Fangraphs last week, it seemed to me that no one was aware that someone can be lucky AND good. Either Jimenez is lucky upon historic proportions, or he is legitimately having one of the best seasons ever.

It is as if talent and luck are mutually exclusive. They are most certainly not. A player can be lucky and good, unlucky and terrible, lucky yet bad, unlucky yet good, lucky and mediocre etc. etc. etc. Ubaldo has been decidedly lucky and good this season.
Anyone pitching as well as Jimenez (and/or someone with a lot of luck) is bound to regress. It is next to impossible to both be "on" for 30+ starts and catch all the breaks for a full season. And Jimenez seems to be coming down to Earth this month. In 11 starts in April and May, he allowed a total of only seven runs. In three June starts, he has already allowed six runs.
      GS   IP    H  R  BB   K   ERA   WHIP
April 5 34.1 22 3 14 31 0.79 1.049
May 6 46.0 24 4 12 39 0.78 0.783
June 3 21.0 19 6 10 18 2.57 1.381

1 comment:

Rick (f/k/a westcoastsox) said...

This is good stuff. Thanks for putting this together.