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Entries in Colorado Rockies (29)

Thursday
Jul142011

Ubaldo at Home

Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies owns an ERA of 6.24 at home this season.  That's nearly double his home ERA of the three previous seasons, 3.28.  One reason for that change comes from the number of home runs he allowed.  Have gave up a combined 19 at home in the three previous seasons, and seven so far this year.  Most of Ubaldo's home runs come off the fastball and the righty is having problems getting the pitch down at Coors this season:

Ubaldo Jimenez, pitch frequency on fastballs, 2008-2011.During his time, 13 of his fastballs resulted in home runs of 3104 pitches, or a home run every 238 fastballs. In terms of levels, 1251 (40.3%) of these pitches were high, 1009 (32.5%) in the middle, and 844 (27.2%) low.  Ten of the 13 homers on his fastball came on pitches in the middle.

Ubaldo Jimenez, pitch frequency on fastballs, 2011.Four of his home runs came on 403 fastballs his season, one every 100 pitches.  Ubaldo threw 179 (44.4%) up, 132 (32.8%) in the middle, and  92 (22.8%) down.  Batters can concentrate on the upper two-third of the plate, and that's where the home runs come against Jimenez.

Wednesday
Jul132011

Ubaldo Jimenez on the Market?

It's July, and you know what that means: trade rumors aplenty. The juiciest one yet came from Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal and Jon Paul Morosi, who report that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in Colorado Rockies ace Ubaldo Jimenez.

Loaded as the Reds' farm system is with major league-ready talent, any deal involving Jimenez is a long shot. Colorado won't part easily with the 27-year-old right-hander, who ranks tenth among starters in Wins Above Replacement since the beginning of the 2009 season. He is signed to a contract that pays him just a fraction of what he would command on the free agent market: Jimenez will pull in $2.8 million this season, $4.2 million in 2012 and he has club options for $5.75 million in 2013 and $8 million in 2014, though he can void that '14 option if he's traded.

But, while Jimenez would no doubt bring back upper-echelon prospects, his performance in 2011 hasn't been on par with his pitching in 2009 and 2010. Perhaps that makes the Rockies more inclined listen to offers. Look at Ubaldo's Fielding-Independent ERA (FIP) over the past three seasons, compared to the league average:

Jimenez's 2011 FIP looks just slightly worse than his work in 2009 and 2010, right? But we have to consider that run-scoring has been down across the game over the past few years.  Take a look at the league average FIP -- it has fallen sharply in each of the past two seasons. That means that Jimenez's pitching, relative to his peers, hasn't been as good this year. His FIP was 27 percent and 28 percent better than average in 2009 and 2010, respectively, but his 2011 FIP is 16 percent above average. Still very good, but not the sort of mark that puts a guy in Cy Young contention.

Why hasn't Jimenez been as sharp this season? His fastball and slider appear to be the culprits. Here's how those two pitches have fared this year, compared to 2009 and 2010:

Both the fastball and slider are getting hit harder this year, especially the slider. And both pitches are garnering fewer misses and ground balls. Velocity could be a major factor: Jimenez's fastball, which averaged 96 MPH from 2009-2010, is down to 94 MPH in 2011. His slider averaged a little over 86 MPH in '09 and '10 but is at 83-84 MPH this season.

Jimenez hasn't thrown his fastball in on the hands of hitters near as much:

 Frequency of Jimenez's fastball location, 2009-2010

Frequency of Jimenez's fastball location, 2011

Thirty-seven percent of his heaters were thrown inside in 2009 and 2010, but that's down to 26 percent this year. Jimenez's ground ball rate with the fastball is typically highest on inside pitches. So that, along with the decrease in velocity, could explain the lower grounder rate.

With the slider, he's going down and away to right-handed batters less often:

Frequency of Jimenez's slider location, 2009-2010

Frequency of Jimenez's slider location, 2011

And when he has located the ball down and away, hitters have smoked it:

Jimenez's in-play slugging percentage with his slider, 2009-2010

Jimenez's in-play slugging percentage with his slider, 2011Jimenez still ranks on the short list of the game's best arms, he makes peanuts compared to what a free agent acquisition of his caliber would earn, and he has pitched better of late. Those factors make it likely that he'll continue to wear black and purple for years to come. But it's not totally out of the realm of possibility that the Rockies look at Jimenez's decreased velocity and performance and decide to sell, raiding another team's farm system in the process.                           

Saturday
Jul092011

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies Rocket Launcher

Fly balls are a mixed bag for batters.  A high fly gives an outfielder plenty of time to get under the ball and record the out.  On the other hand, batters that get the launch angle right see those balls come down in the seats instead.  Here are the top 25 batters at turning home runs into fly balls in 2011, minimum 75 fly balls:



HitterTeamPlate App.HR/FB
Jose Bautista TOR 83 0.313
Mark Teixeira NYY 88 0.25
Curtis Granderson NYY 98 0.245
Mark Reynolds BAL 78 0.244
Matt Kemp LAD 93 0.237
Paul Konerko CWS 90 0.233
Ryan Howard PHI 81 0.222
Prince Fielder MIL 83 0.217
Jay Bruce CIN 96 0.198
Adrian Gonzalez BOS 86 0.198
Danny Espinosa WSH 76 0.197
David Ortiz BOS 88 0.193
Troy Tulowitzki COL 83 0.193
Kelly Johnson ARI 81 0.185
Alfonso Soriano CHC 82 0.171
Brian McCann ATL 85 0.165
Carlos Quentin CWS 87 0.161
Chris Young ARI 96 0.156
Alex Rodriguez NYY 77 0.156
Kevin Youkilis BOS 79 0.152
Albert Pujols STL 87 0.149
Andrew McCutchen PIT 88 0.148
Adrian Beltre TEX 109 0.147
Mitch Moreland TEX 75 0.147

 

Notice that the list is littered with all-stars and all-star snubs.  About in the middle, ranked 13th, is Troy Tulowitzki of the Colorado Rockies.  While he's joined by middle infielders Danny Espinosa of the Washington Nationals and Kelly Johnson of the Arizona Diamondbacks, long term Troy dominates the shortstop position.

 

HR/FB, 2008-2011, shortstops. Minimum 250 fly balls
ShortstopTeamPlate App.HR/FB
Troy Tulowitzki COL 422 0.190
Hanley Ramirez FLA 413 0.157
Alexei Ramirez CWS 434 0.129
J. J. Hardy BAL 377 0.125
Jhonny Peralta DET 510 0.110
Alex Gonzalez ATL 366 0.098
Derek Jeter NYY 358 0.095
Stephen Drew ARI 560 0.089
Miguel Tejada SF 484 0.089
Yunel Escobar TOR 395 0.084
Jerry Hairston WSH 296 0.084
Jimmy Rollins PHI 484 0.083
Ronny Cedeno PIT 250 0.080
Asdrubal Cabrera CLE 368 0.073
Jose Reyes NYM 397 0.071
Yuniesky Betancourt MIL 506 0.063
Marco Scutaro BOS 525 0.059
Jed Lowrie BOS 250 0.056
Edgar Renteria CIN 294 0.054
Jason Bartlett SD 382 0.045
Erick Aybar LAA 375 0.045
Cliff Pennington OAK 265 0.042
Jamey Carroll LAD 252 0.012
Cesar Izturis BAL 267 0.011

 

The average among this group is just 0.085 HR/FB.  Troy more than doubles that, giving the Rockies a great offensive weapon at a position known for defense.  In case you want to blame Coors Field for his high rate, over the same period his rage on the road is 0.180, still the best in the majors among shortstops.  His power is for real.

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