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Entries in Ubaldo Jimenez (9)

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.                           

Friday
Jun032011

The quality pitching of Jair Jurrjens

Braves righty Jair Jurrjens is this year's Ubaldo Jimenez. In case you haven't noticed, Jurrjens has made nine starts and has nine Quality Starts to show for it. In fact, he's 7-1 with a 1.51 ERA because he has yet to give up as many as three earned runs in any start this season. In May, in six starts, he was 5-1 with a 1.65 ERA and was the NL Pitcher of the Month.

So why is Jurrjens as hard to hit as his name is to spell? Take a look at him working the corners.

Jurrjens versus lefties

Lefties are hitting .260 against JJ

Jurrjens versus righties

Righties are hitting only .216 against JurrjensOverall, batters are hitting .234 against Jurrjens and if you haven't seen him yet hit the corners, you can always wait until the All Star Game, cause he'll be there.

 

 


Monday
May232011

The struggles of Ubaldo Jimenez

At this point last season, Ubaldo Jimenez of the Colorado Rockies, was being compared to Bob Gibson. On May 23, 201, Ubaldo was 8-1 with 0.99 ERA. He finished the first half of the season 15-1 with a 2.20 ERA. His fastball was electric and his splitter could only be described as "nasty."

What a fifference a year makes. Following yesterday's loss to the Brewers, Jimenez is now 0-4 with a 5.44 ERA and we can graphically show you why. Control is clearly the issue for Ubaldo who had thrown 63.1 innings last season at this time and had walked 23 while this season he has 28 walks, but in just 44.2 innings. Equally as important is his absence of control in the strike zone.

Let's look at the fastball first.

Here is the fastball in the first half of 2010:

Look at his control and location. He clearly was nailing it, time and again.

Now let's look at the fastball from this season:

You can see the ball is drifting all over the place.

Now, look at Jimenez's splitter.

Look at the nastiness of the splitter in the first half of 2010:

That pitch, that looks like a fastball as it approaches the batter, drops off the table as it enters the zone resulting in swings and misses (34.3%).

Now look at the splitter this season:

Swings and misses are down to 21.7% because those higher pitches are much easier to hit and ptch is much easier to read.

The Rockies are now just a game over .500 and if they truly want to control in this division, Jimenez has got to get his control first.