Ubaldo’s Unimpressive Start

Behind Ubaldo Jimenez‘s eight IP, one run outing, the Colorado Rockies defeated the Minnesota Twins 5-1. As much as an eight inning, one run start can be unimpressive in the major leagues, this was it. Jimenez only struck out four batters while walking two. He allowed eight hits while allowing seven line drives and only inducing two swings and misses.

Not only that, but the Twins lineup today was especially weak by their standards, as Matt Tolbert was in the lineup for Orlando Hudson at second base and Drew Butera was at catcher for Joe Mauer. J.J. Hardy‘s continued absence forced Nick Punto to move over to SS and rookie Danny Valencia to start at third base. The loss of Mauer, in particular, lowers the lineups average projected wOBA from .344 – well above average – to .329, nearly average.

Given the results from Ubaldo’s start – 4 K, 2 BB, 12 GB, 4 OFB (outfield flies), 7 LD, we would have expected the Twins to score 3.75 runs, based on the average run values used from tRA. That would be 4.22 runs per 9 innings, or 3.88 earned runs per 9 innings. That’s not bad – it’s still well above average, but not what we’d expect from the pitcher who has essentially been crowned King of the World.

It’s starts like these that are the reason that we shouldn’t place Jimenez above such pitchers as Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, both pitchers who have performed at a higher level this season than Jimenez. Lee has a well-documented 15 K/BB, which would easily be the best mark in Major League history. Roy Halladay’s 2.38 ERA is supported by a superior 2.67 FIP, making him the most valuable pitcher in baseball so far.

It’s not like this start is just one isolated incident – see 5/26 vs. ARI – only 3 Ks and 1 BB, or 5/20 vs. HOU – there are times that, despite his ace stuff, he doesn’t quite dominate hitters like his ERA suggests he has.

This isn’t to say that Ubaldo Jimenez isn’t a great pitcher – I believe he’s squarely in the top 10 SPs in the league, if not the top 5. However, today’s start simply wasn’t a top-level start, even though he managed to hold the Twins to one run. We cannot crown him as the greatest pitcher in the league quite yet.




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353 Responses to “Ubaldo’s Unimpressive Start”

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  1. Matt K says:

    during the broadcast (i think the twins broadcast), the announcer mentioned that Bob Apodaca told him that he believes Ubaldo still hasn’t reached his potential.

    If Ubaldo knows he can still be better, I think soon enough, he can be the “greatest pitcher in the league”.

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  2. SF_Matt says:

    Performance is everything. Results are meaningless. Got it.

    Instead of watching the game tonight, I’ll just check out the tRA after the game and have a beer if my team ‘performed’ better.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Yeah, because that’s exactly what Jack said right? It think it’s perfectly fair to point out that Jimenez had a lucky start, especially when his peripherals are much, much, much higher than his ERA on the season.

      Although I have no idea why Jack chose to highlight a specific start of Jimenez’ instead of the whole body of work. Andrew is right that one “bad” start doesn’t mean he’s not an elite pitcher.

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      • SF_Matt says:

        vp, it’s a pretty good representation of what he said. 8 innings and 1 run = exceptionally good results. That’s thrown out the window and his start is instead considered ‘unimpressive’ (per the title of the article) because he only K’d 4 batters and gave up some line drives.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Nowhere did he say result were meaningless. He said his start was unimpressive, and he demonstrated that belief by calculating his tRA for that start, which was indeed unimpressive (compared to the results and his entire body of work this season). It’s up to you to decide whether results or performance dictates dominance – Jack, in this instance, chose performance (or at least estimated performance).

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      • SF_Matt says:

        vp, when someone tells me the outing is unimpressive despite having great results, that tells me that he considers the results meaningless and focuses solely on ‘performance’.

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      • Not David says:

        Your comprehension must be absolutely horrendous.

        Either that or you had your mind made up before even reading it.

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      • JR says:

        Not David: Why doesn’t one walk over eight innings stand up as much as someone getting 9 Ks? Much like a walk is often as good as a single, not walking someone (getting a groundout, or any outcome other than a hit) is as important as not letting them put a bat on the ball in the first place.

        Isolating a pitcher’s abilities from fielding is not the penultimate goal of baseball statistics. The composition of a groundball pitcher’s infielders matters as much as Strasburg’s K%

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      • Rich says:

        “innings and 1 run = exceptionally good results. ”

        No, the point is he didn’t pitch well. His team just played great defense/got lucky. There’s nothing wrong with that..

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    • Dirty Water says:

      I loved that comment. Thanks.

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  3. So today’s start should teach people not to consider Ubaldo? So what should I do with Roy Halladay’s two starts against American League teams this year? The biggest transformation in Ubaldo’s approach has been pitching more to contact than striking out everyone. That was shown in full force today. While some may call his start “lucky” based on baserunners, he pitches to get ground balls. He got them and kept the runs off the board. Seems to be a pattern that is not regressing.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Andrew – Jimenez’ ERA is 1.66 points lower than his FIP, 2.45 points lower than his xFIP and 1.51 points lower than his tERA. Are you really going to argue that he has not been lucky this year? At least to some degree? Either than or you think he is literally the best pitcher of all time.

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      • JR says:

        Jimenez’s batted ball rates trump FIP, xFIP and tRA. Obviously double plays are not fielding independent, but Jimenez sports a GB rate 2.5% higher than Halladay and 10% higher than Lee. His LD% is 7.7% lower than Halladay and 5.7% lower than Lee.

        Maybe he can’t sustain the 12.2% LD rate, but even if he can’t the GB rate leaves his batted profile similar or better than Halladay and Lee.

        He doesn’t have some double play magic wand, but he shouldn’t be dismissed for allowing one base runner and then eliminating him with a DP. There’s something to be said for what he’s doing, and it’s not just luck.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        tRA includes LD rate.

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      • JR says:

        Doesn’t it normalize LD%? If it does, tRA can’t be used to properly evaluate a pitcher’s past performance because it’s not based on what actually happened. It may be useful as a predictor, but nobody’s going to base their argument for or against Ubaldo on something like ZIPs. That’s where Fantasy Teams and dollar bets go to die.

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      • He has most assuredly been lucky to some degree. It’s inhuman to have a 1.15 ERA without luck. But pointing out FIP/xFIP/tERA disparities and calling his success strictly luck-driven is being incredibly ill-informed. He has the talent to strike people out. I guarantee he could have struck out eight today if he wanted, but with runners on, it is better to try to get double plays. And he did. For what it’s worth, I would throw xFIP right out the window when looking at Ubaldo. Normalizing a guy’s FIP to league average HR/FB rates is nonsensical when he has a HR/FB rate of just 7.5% in over 600 MLB innings.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        What does normalizing LD rate mean? Ubaldo’s LD rate is one of the lowest in the majors. His GB rate is one of the highest. tRA takes into account all the things that FIP does, but it also takes into account the quality of batted balls based off of LD/FB/GB/PU. Even taking into account Jimenez’s fantastic batted ball profile, it still thinks his ERA should have been 1.5 runs higher.

        And no Andrew, it’s NOT better to *try* and get a double play. If it was, the value of a groundball would be better than the value of a strikeout. But it isn’t, a strikeout is much more beneficial to the pitcher than a ground ball. It’s better to actually get a double play than get a strikeout yes, but pitchers don’t control how many doubles plays they give up, they control how many ground balls they give up with runners on base. And only a certain percentage of ground ball with runners on base go for double plays – many go for hits and many only go for single outs.

        For example, with a runner on first base and less than two outs this year, Ubaldo has allowed 34 non-home run batted balls and 11 double plays. That’s 32%. The league average this year is 15%. Jimenez has a higher ground ball rate than average, but not nearly twice the league average rate (which would be around 90%) so unless you can believe that Jimenez has some magical ability to pinpoint within 5 feet the exact location of his ground balls, you have to accept there is luck going on there.

        Furthermore, Jimenez’ BABIP with runners on base this year is .158. His batted ball profile with runners on base is 14% line drives, 55% ground balls and 31% fly balls. If you assume league average rates for each of those batted ball types, you get .272 – well above average – not EVEN CLOSE to what he is currently allowing with runners on base. You don’t think that’s a little bit lucky? A .158 BABIP with runners on base – which is the primary reason for him stranding so many runners – is definitely influenced by luck. It’s HALF the league average rate!

        You are either just being a homer or being moronic if you are going to continue to argue that Jimenez has not been lucky in preventing runs this year. And if you do, bring back some fucking evidence instead of bullshit.

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      • I don’t see why I should take the time and care to respond to your long rant, as you clearly did not read my FIRST SENTENCE

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Yes, you said that he was lucky, but then you digressed into the idea that he was intentionally trying to get double plays instead of strikeouts and that was *better*. 3/4ths of my post argued against that. Maybe you should read that part.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Besides, what is your point on this thread? Are you saying the Jimenez has not been lucky (as many of your posts indicate)? Are you saying that it doesn’t matter whether or not he’s been lucky? Are you saying that the particular way he’s gotten lucky is admirable?

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      • My apologies…I thought that was a response to me. It is undeniable that his ERA is lucky. It’s almost impossible to pitch well enough to earn that good of an ERA completely. The difference between his ERA and predictive stats cannot be attributed 100% to luck. There is some skill in there. His true performance level may be closer to the FIP side of the spectrum, but it’s still lower than his FIP from what I have seen

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        No problem sorry for cursing anyway. I agree with you completely there.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        No, I take that back. I’m not sorry. FUCKING EVIDENCE BULLSHIT

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      • Re: vivaelpujols

        How about his .279 SLGa (.090 ISOa)? That seems like a pretty decent description of “weakly hit”.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Just FYI, the guy with the -8 comment attached to my name and website is not me. One of the pitfalls of unregistered commenting I guess.

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    • zywicmd says:

      To me, it’s the sign of a truly dominant pitcher to allow that much contact and continue to manipulate towards an extremely positive outcome (still continuing with solid H/9 averages). He’s the only pitcher in the league that can consistently go 8-9 innings while striking out 12 or striking out 2… walking 1 or walking 4… For today, 8IP, 10 base runners, and only 111 pitches with 1 ER… That’s pretty impressive pitching. To compare a game like this to the master of efficiency (Roy Halladay) is a bit of a stretch. I seem to remember Halladay getting smacked around the last time he pitched there.

      I doubt Ubaldo is concerned about his FIP. If guys continue to smack his stuff into the dirt, he’ll keep throwing to them that way. How many pitchers can induce that many crucial double play balls in one game… Luck? I think Ubaldo is becoming the exception to the Sabermetrics rule. I’d much rather see the pitchFx data as reasoning to why his start was unimpressive (scout his stuff, the actual pitching performance), not tRA, FIP, BABIP (the luck factor), etc…

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        FIP takes into account ground ball rate indirectly, and tRA takes it into account directly.

        FIP isn’t some made up thing that rewards pitchers who get high strikeouts. It assigns how many runs per 9 a pitcher would give up if you look at his HR rate, his BB rate and his K rate. That *indirectly* takes into account how many balls in play he allows, because anything other than a K, BB or HR is a ball in play. To recap, FIP takes into account the following:

        -The amount of strikeouts a guy gets
        -The amount of walks a guy gives up
        -The amount of homers a guy gives up
        -The amount of balls in play a guy gives up

        It then assigns the league average value of each of those 4 events. The values of strikeouts, walks and homers are usually pretty static. Guys who get a lot of strikeouts and walks have a lower than expected value of home runs because they allow fewer baserunners, but the effect there is minimal and Jimenez doesn’t have dominating strikeout or walk rates.

        The last thing – the value of his balls in play – is the driving factor in the difference between FIP and ERA. FIP assumes a league average value of balls in play.

        That may not be the case with Jimenez – in fact it definitely isn’t – because he allows more ground balls and fewer line drives the value of his balls in play will be a lot lower than average. tRA takes those batted ball rates into account. It STILL thinks that his ERA is way, way, way too low.

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      • Rich says:

        “That *indirectly* takes into account how many balls in play he allows, because anything other than a K, BB or HR is a ball in play. ”

        No, it doesn’t take ground balls into account. FIP thinks a groundball and a linedrive are the same thing.

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      • baty says:

        I understand, but there’s nothing that communicates the quality of contact (or the quality of a contact pitcher). Until FIP and tRA distinguishes between a swing and a miss, contact, and the quality of contact, it’s still a shallow figure for pitchers like Ubaldo. There are a million different contact scenarios, and these figures cannot take enough into account to determine what his ERA should be (and that’s not even considering situational contact).

        I’m sorry, but the HR rate, BB rate, and K rate isn’t enough. Ubaldo’s LOB% is pretty insane. This describes the gap in his FIP and tRA ratings. Why is it so high? Is it luck? or is it showing that he’s a better situational pitcher than most? If that’s true, then why? Is he pitching consistent locations, velocities, and quality of break within these situations, to induce these figures? Is it his design as a pitcher?

        What are the average trajectories of his ground ball outs with runners on, with bases empty… ground balls that result in outs, that result in a hit… velocities… placement of ground balls… who’s fielding them, and where on the diamond… Line drive trajectories and velocities, placement, distances, etc…

        There’s a huge difference between a pitcher fielding a 2 hop chopper himself to turn a DP, a ground ball up the middle that leads the shortstop right to second for an easy turn, and a shot to a diving gold glove third baseman for a quick turn… These qualities are not covered in this metric. FIP and tRA are great measurements, but like all figures, with what looks like a statistical anomaly, it calls for a deeper investigation.

        I say scout the pitcher, because I haven’t been hearing many accounts of the actual game. When I watch the game, It seems pretty clear to me why his BABIP is so low (and why he can get out of jams with runners on base), and I think that until hitters start forcing him to pitch higher in the zone, most of these metrics are sustainable. For a pitcher with stuff as dominating as his, it isn’t out of the question to me that he’s just that hard to make positive contact off of.

        I am arguing that maybe his ERA is close to where it should be because of the quality of contact he induces, and the arguments of FIP and tRA don’t take into account enough of that information to determine true projected values.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Rich, read what I said. FIP takes into account the amount of balls in play a guy gives up, but assumes that they are at the league average rate. tRA is the same thing as FIP, but it also takes into account the distribution of batted balls (GB/FB/LD/PU). So if you want to credit Jimenez for his good GB rate and his low LD rate, use tRA.

        Baty, I understand that Jiminez likely induces weaker contact than the average pitcher (even though nobody has given me a shred of proof to believe that). I also understand that he may be better at situational pitcher (even though nobody has given me a shread of proof to believe that).

        My point is that given the degree of Jimenez’s BABIP and LOB%, he would have to be so far outside the norm (like ridiculously) in terms of inducing weak contact and situational pitching that I don’t believe it is possible.

        Jimenez’s BABIP is .239 and his LOB% is 91.2%. Can you find me a single other pitcher in the history of the game who has sustained those numbers?

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      • zywicmd (baty) says:

        I agree…
        I’m just suggesting that when his numbers begin resorting towards the norm, to look into his seasonal pitchfx charts to see if he began pitching differently batter to batter, situation to situation, and game to game, and not assume it’s because his luck is changing. There might be some interesting relationships. But for now, I think he has been pitching as well as the numbers suggest.

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  4. Kevin says:

    What Andrew said. Using K metrics to judge a pitcher who deliberately pitches to contact and induces ground balls is inherently unfair.

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    • eldingo says:

      He has been extremely luck though

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    • mattlock says:

      K metrics are what are used to determine how good that pitcher is. Not to determine how good that TEAM is when that pitcher is pitching, but how good that pitcher is. Deliberately pitching to contact relies on a large degree of luck and good defense, and inherently implies a weaker pitcher. So it’s ironic to read people defending him by calling him a “pitch to contact” pitcher.

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      • Rich says:

        “Deliberately pitching to contact relies on a large degree of luck and good defense, and inherently implies a weaker pitcher. ”

        Tell that to Roy Halladay.

        If you have a good defense behind you, ground balls are a good thing.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Not nearly as good as strikeouts. Besides, how freaking good do you think the Rockies defense is? Based on UZR this year, they are below average.

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      • re: vivaelpujols

        UZR says the Rockies defense is below average…shouldn’t that be HELPING Ubaldo’s case? Going forward, sure, it could spell trouble, I don’t think ATF is denying that. But looking BACK, it hasn’t. Do we simply discredit Ubaldo?

        Honestly, I have a bias, as evidenced by my username. I’m just having trouble believing that somebody could be as dominant as he seemingly is and have it be all smoke and mirrors. It’s honestly a constant mental debate, balancing the various metrics, trying to be somewhat objective, etc.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Rockiesmagicnumber – The Rockies defense this year is like 6 runs below average, which is not really significant especially given the error bars. I’m just saying it’s not such a juggernaut that Jimenez should just try to pitch to his defense instead of missing bats, which is what people here are implying.

        I know where you are coming from. Being a Cardinals fan and watching Jaime Garcia pitcher every start I have no problem admitting he has been lucky (he has the same ERA – FIP differential as Jimenez and nearly as low an ERA. He also has very similar stats all around despite having a completely different repetoire). There are plenty of times where he gotten himself into jams and have had batters swing at bad balls and make outs. I consider that luck.

        I’m assuming the same thing is happening to Jimenez. All of the number suggest that the proabilities are working in his favor. I posted some stuff on double play rates somewhere in this thread. Jimenez’s DP rate is twice the league average rate, despite his ground ball percentage in double play situations only being around 1.2 times the league average rate. I highly doubt any pitcher can influence how many double plays he gets outside of how many ground balls he has given up, so I consider that aspect of his game to have been very lucky thus far. That’s just one exampe. The overall BAIBP with runners on base is another. .158! There is just no way that he is doing that without getting a lot of breaks.

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      • @vivaelpujols (I like using @ more than Re: and henceforth I am switching)

        How do you feel about non-UZR fielding metrics, such as TZ or RZR or FRAA/R?

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      • followup

        TZ has the Rockies as 16 runs above average.

        I’m trying not to cite TZ just because I like it more, or like it more because it lines up more with my observations, but it’s kind of tough not to.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I don’t know. I think none of the fielding metrics are that good so we can officially declare one over the other. I would just look at as many as you can and see what the average is.

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      • @vivaelpujols

        I like that. When I need to incorporate fielding metrics into a piece I write, I first have to say “TAKE THIS WITH A GRAIN OF SALT” because that’s codeword for the “WHAT HOW CAN YOU SAY DEXTER FOWLER IS NOT AN ELITE FIELDER STATS ARE STUPID THIS ARTICLE IS STUPID YOU’RE STUPID” crowd to sit back and shut the hell up and for the not-the-former crowd to basically assume the standard caveats.

        I try to use them all so that I’m not cherrypicking. Which is hard. Because cherrypicking is fun.

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  5. Paco Torres says:

    Seriously Jack? Even the greatest pitcher is human and will have off days. No one is perfect. It seems a little unfair to Ubaldo to discount the body of work he’s accumulated this season because he had one mediocre start. The start wasn’t even that bad. Do you want to ask John Ely if he would trade Ubaldo’s “mediocre” start for what he endured today? Maybe it’s further evidence of Ubaldo’s skill that he was able to only give up one run through eight despite not having his best stuff.

    This article is an egregious exercise in cherry picking.

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    • mattlock says:

      Seriously? How can you accuse a guy of “cherry picking” when he mentioned just about every statistic possible FROM ONE START. Talking about one start is inherently cherry picking, and that’s fine, because that’s all he’s talking about.

      And where does he “discount the body of work he’s accumulated this entire season because he had one mediocre start”? He’s talking about one start, for Christ’s sake.

      A good pitcher that pitches to contact is inherently worse than a good pitcher who strikes people out. A contact pitcher is almost solely dependent upon the players behind him to get the batter out, while a strikeout pitcher can do it on his own. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay have a proven track record of striking people out at phenomenal rates and depending little on their defenses, and Ubaldo’s FIP, xFIP, and tRA are striking proof that he’s been the beneficiary of a lot of luck. This start was just a case-in-point, and that’s why Jack picked it.

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      • frank says:

        Just curious… the error bar on tRA on a one game sample size would be what… Would it be fair to say instead that tRA could range from 0runs – 6 runs if it appropriately used either a confidence level or an error bar?

        Using every possible statistic from one start doesn’t make the sample size bigger.

        PS – no strikeout pitcher can do it on his own unless he’s striking out 27guys a night… while a strikeout pitcher may be less reliant on defense, to say a strikeout pitcher can do it on his own is absurd hyperbole.

        Oh and FYI, Jiminez has a higher K/9 than both Halladay and Lee making that part of the argument even more ridiculous (their FIP’s are driven by walk rate)

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      • zywicmd says:

        haha. How is that pitcher inherently worse? The contact pitcher and the swing and miss pitcher are two different types… not better… not worse… Let’s not confuse fantasy baseball with the realities of baseball. A pitcher that has the ability to induce contact as poor as Ubaldo has, is dominance. Watch the game, watch the ground balls, and watch the so called line drives. There aren’t enough statistical possibilities to describe the difference between luck and skill.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        For a ball in play (contact) to be as valuable to the pitcher as a strikeout, he would have to allow somewhere around a .050 BABIP and get a ton of double plays. The reason for that is that a strikeout results in an out 99% of the time, while even the most weakly hit batted balls are going to drop for hits or be infield hits 20% of the time.

        I don’t think I have to tell you that a .050 BABIP is impossible for a pitcher to control – these are major league hitters, no pitcher has such good stuff that he can induce such weak contact on demand. Jimenez last year allowed a .290 BABIP.

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      • Rich says:

        “For a ball in play (contact) to be as valuable to the pitcher as a strikeout, he would have to allow somewhere around a .050 BABIP and get a ton of double plays. The reason for that is that a strikeout results in an out 99% of the time, while even the most weakly hit batted balls are going to drop for hits or be infield hits 20% of the time. ”

        Can you point out a pitcher who routinely strikes out 50% of the batters he faces? Because plenty of grounballers get 50+% GBs. An individual strikeout may be better than an individual ground ball, but early count ground balls lead to low pitch counts, which lead to more innings.

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      • zywicmd says:

        To me, that way undervalues the importance of a ground ball pitcher with electric stuff who hovers around 8K/9… It’s not like we’re talking about the reliances of a Mark Buehrle or John Garland.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Rich – GB% is not out of total batters faced but out of balls in play, whereas K% is out of at bats. It helps to actually know the definitions of stats if you are going to argue using them.

        And getting groundballs will lead to allowing more hits which will lead to more baserunners which will lead to more batters faced which will lead to more pitchers. It’s a fallacy that groundball pitchers have lower pitch counts than strikeout pitchers, and there is an article linked somehwere on this thread that proves that.

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      • DavidJ says:

        Tim Lincecum and Clayton Kershaw have “phenomenal” strikeout rates. Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay are merely above average. Lee and Halladay are successful because of their phenomenal walk rates, and in Halladay’s case, a phenomenal groundball rate. Halladay is as great as he is because he allows so few walks and so few extra-base hits (to go along with his good-but-not-great K rate). Plate appearances against Halladay actually result in a ball in play at a rate above the league average.

        I agree that Jimenez is not as good as Halladay, but it’s just not true to suggest that Halladay pitches to contact less or strikes out more batters. He doesn’t. The difference is the walks.

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      • He may not be discounting a body of work, true enough, but why pick this start to blog about? Why not talk about Halladay’s poor outing v SFG on 4/26, or his poor outing vs COL on on 5/12 or his poor outing v BOS on 5/23? Or Cliff Lee’s shelling vs SDP on 5/21? (if these have been covered, please, accept my apologies)

        It just seems that a lot of the blogosphere has made it a point to find ways to discredit the guy. I’ve even hesitated to write about him because I just don’t know what I’d say. His K9 and BB9 aren’t world-beating, but his absurdly low HR9 is incredibly impressive. Is it bound to rise? Possibly. What if it doesn’t? Do we just say “well, he got lucky”? Hypothetically (and I am saying this hypothetically, because I’ve been watching his starts just WAITING for the other shoe to drop), if his BABIP/HR9/LOB% DON’T simply regress to the mean, do we celebrate his dominance or eschew it? If he DOESN’T allow enough longballs to raise his HR rates to some semblance of normal, do we reward him for having enough movement on his pitches to keep the ball in the park, or do we just say he got lucky?

        I dunno. Seems kind of a “missing the forest for the trees” thing.

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      • B N says:

        He’s been getting lucky. I said it. There. How do I know? He pitched great last year too for quite a number of months of the season. Almost as good or as good as this year. And his ERA was actually HIGHER than his FIP for much of that. In fact, his ERA has been higher than his FIP for the last couple of years (probably due to some shaky Rockies defense).

        If anything, the reason he looks so good this year his a combination of an incredibly lucky LOB % and his defense not botching plays like they have in other years.

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  6. Jeremy K. says:

    Right, the same Cliff Lee who is so good he was in the minors at age 29? Give me a break. Ubaldo is a supremely talented young pitcher who throws 100 mph, throws 5 pitches for strikes, Ks 8.1/9 and induces ground balls at a 55% clip (top 10 in the league). What else is the dude supposed to do? Cook you breakfast in bed? Massage your feet in between innings?

    No this wasn’t his most dominant start, but how was Halladay’s last start? Unimpressive. Do his unimpressive starts elicit a post about how he pitched? No. So quit telling me he’s been lucky and just enjoy the ride.

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    • DT says:

      yes lets hold Cliff lee’s past accountable…what he also has a cy young award? that cliff lee? Jiminez has hit the lottery basically this year. Good performances but not the type his ERA would suggest.

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  7. edxs says:

    I had Ubaldo as the 15th best starter before today’s game. If he possesses the ability to induce weaker batted balls than normal pitchers, then perhaps his results aren’t quite as surprising. Unfortunately, I severely doubt that a guy who throws in the upper 90s is giving up weaker batted balls than most pitchers.

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    • Kevin says:

      Actually, he is. Getting solid contact on an upper 90s sinker isn’t easy. Combining said sinker with a variety of plus off speed/breaking pitches makes it exceedingly difficult.

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      • edxs says:

        His batted-ball rates and strikeout rates aren’t extraordinary.

        If you saw the game today, you would have seen the ball being hit all over the field, and it wasn’t just squibbers and bloops. The defense behind him was great and/or lucky today and, judging by his peripherals, all season.

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    • I said this above but I’m comfortable saying it again.

      .279 SLGa (.090 ISOa)

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I’m sure that Jimenez has good enough stuff with enough movement to force weaker contact on batted balls. I don’t believe that it is to the extent of a .279 slugging.

        You don’t think it’s possible, that Jimenez has allowed, say 20 fly balls in the gap this year, and 15 of them were caught vs. a league average of 10? I think that is very possible that something like that has happened here.

        My definition of luck is something that defies the probabilities. If Jimenez walks two hitters and then gets a groundball, that goes for a double play a lot yes, but it also goes for a hit a lot. Jimenezes ground balls this year have decidedly resulted in a more favorable outcome for him than you’d expect and I don’t think that’s a skill.

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      • @vivaelpujols

        combine the low LD% and the low SLG/ISO and I think they complement each other enough to make it believable. Of course, I’m assuming that the gap in LD% is conveniently filled with XBH, so, yeah.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        They do complement eachother, but if you look at other pitchers in baseball with similar LD/GB rates (Wainwright, Felix, Fister – seriously, Carmona, Hudson) their SLG on BIP is much much higher. I still believe there is a ton of luck in there.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      That’s a great point/observation.

      I don’t have reems of data on it, but just going by observations of 30 years, the harder they throw the faster they go is pretty much true.

      matter of fact, this year I got the privilege of coaching the greatest HS pitching matchup I’ve ever seen. Out lefty (upper 80s, undefeated for the season) versus their righty (low 90s, 1-loss through the season). The game was amazing, but the one thing you noticed right off … they don’t hit it often, but when they do hit it, it really goes. No 4-hop grounders. BTW, won the game on a walk off PH 3-run HR (4-1).

      There would be some “influence room” in terms of “jamming hitters”, or getting weaker contact with pitches such as a sinker. However, even at the ML level, the sinker would have to be far superior than the regular sinker to get ML hitters to consistently make weak contact.

      There’s a reason MLB shosrtops start out in LF and college and HS shortstops do not.

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  8. Rawktober says:

    I thought Strasburg was “King of the World”?

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  9. Dirty Water says:

    FG’s love affair with K’s is really starting to piss me off. Tell you what, boyz, why don’t we lock you and Dave Duncan in a room for the weekend and see who comes out the victor. I assume you know where my money’s going.

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    • Kevin S. says:

      Nobody’s forcing to stay. In fact, I think we’d all appreciate it if you left.

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    • B N says:

      If Duncan could afford to go sign the big K guys, he would. The reason why Duncan is known for pitchers with “other stuff” is that he’s good at scouting out non-obvious things that are still useful without shouting out statistically: “I AM A BIG K PITCHER WHO WILL BE YOUR ACE, PLEASE PAY ME VERY MUCH MONEY OVER TOO MANY YEARS.” So… in conclusion, Duncan is good because he can get value. But you’d be foolish to think he wouldn’t take a guy like Joel Piniero and dump him off the nearest bridge if it meant he’d get a guy like Lincecum or even Kershaw.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        I’m sure he would, but paying top dollar for a pitcher would not alter his philosophy, which in a nutshell is; know your batter’s weakness, avoid extra base hits at all cost, but pitch to contact, as it is less likely that you will induce a K than a ground ball out. Ground balls are harmless.

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  10. frank says:

    This is absurd… it is one thing to use FIP to predict future performance, but Jiminez FIP would leave him 7th in the majors – behind Phil Hughes and just ahead of Ricky Romero. Would Hughes also be considered more valuable than Jiminez at this point in the season?

    No doubt there is some luck involved in his stats, but the guy has given up 2 runs or less in 13 of 14 starts, 1 run or less in 10 of 14 – no doubt some luck and defense is involved but while you are counting line drives, flyballs, and groundballs are you looking at the quality of those batted balls and the game situation? Should we look at consistency of performance when considering value?

    At some point, folks need to realize while you can bury your head in the sand and ignore context when trying to predict future performance, you simply can’t just ignore context when evaluating past performance.

    Roy Halladay has given up more runs in his 2 starts against Boston and NY has Jiminez has given up all year. He is no doubt having an excellent year, but when we choose to rely on performance evaluation solely through K, BB, HR’s allowed (which is what FIP is), I think you lose a little information…

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    • Dirty Water says:

      but the guy has given up 2 runs or less in 13 of 14 starts, 1 run or less in 10 of 14

      Needs repeating, regardless if he didn’t K 20 with each start.

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      • eldingo says:

        …and the lack of runs is partly due to luck… which is the point of this piece

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      • Casadilla says:

        Please point out the events where luck occurred.

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      • zywicmd (baty) says:

        Where is this “luck metric” that keeps getting cited… If the luck measurement is really that accurate, then why doesn’t fan graphs have it attached to each’s statistical profile. These statistical explanations being cited are designed. And while combinations of analysis are strong arguments to imply, I’m not seeing anything concrete. They are not full proof.

        It’s easy to say that an occurrence is coincidental when we don’t have quantitative references to describe the happening. Just because there’s a gap in quantitative understanding it does not mean that that gap should be automatically attributed ONLY to luck. It demands a deeper understanding first.

        If you’re going to cite numbers as proof, don’t return a magical measurement (luck) as the reason. If luck is the reason, then he easily has the most consistent luck that statistics can buy.

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      • zywicmd says:

        …by the way, I do believe luck absolutely has a role in baseball, but to attribute that much luck to his consistency, feels very empty.

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    • I wish people wouldn’t attack each other like this. Saying that Fangraphs and their writers “bury their heads in the sand” is just condescending and not a good way to make friends – or more importantly, facilitate discussion.

      If you’re really pissed off about an article (and I won’t lie, Mr. Moore had my feathers a bit ruffled), walk away and come back when you care a bit less. Because telling stats people that we need to get away from our computers and watch a game (which is ironic, what with MLB.tv and all) is just going to get everyone all thickheaded and defensive, not to mention contentious.

      Also it brings out the trolls. It’s like tying your garbage in a tree while camping.

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  11. Pat says:

    Didn’t Halladay give up 6 runs in his last start? The most runs Ubaldo has given up in one game was 3 and that was in a game with horrible weather conditions. Seems like you’re contradicting yourself.

    Runs are what matters, not just his strikeout to walk ratio, which is still very good. I would say he is pitching to contact, but he barely gives up any hits, so I guess he’s a pitch to weak contact pitcher who has the velocity and stuff to still get a lot of strikeouts. He’s not a scrub like Lannan, Saunders, or Blackburn who just throws random stuff up there and waits to see where the ball drops in.

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    • ehhhhhhh not all runs are the same and you know it very well.

      A bases-clearing double to the gap is different than 4 consecutive seeing eye grounders (Aaron Cook, anyone?) and you know it. Sure, they go up on the scoreboard the same, but…yeah

      Most of Ubaldo’s runs have come via homer (and if that’s not 100% factual, it seems his moments of weakness have come to fruition via the homer…you know what I mean) and damn, he gave up the hell out of those runs. Verrrrry undeniable.

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  12. biondino says:

    I’ve been a big fan of fangraphs.com this season, but this one unimpressive article has convinced me that actually it’s a pile of manure.

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  13. vivaelpujols says:

    Here’s a question for you awesome FanGraphs commenters. Do you think Jimenez has truly pitched like a low 1’s ERA pitcher this year, or do you think he has gotten lucky, at least a little bit, thus far?

    His FIP, xFIP, tERA and SIERA are all over a run and a half higher than his ERA. None of those stats are perfect, but even tERA, which takes his vaunted batted ball stats into account, thinks his ERA should be ~2.6, and that’s by far the lowest estimate. There have been many pitchers (mostly relievers) who have stuff that is at least close to Jimenez’, and none of them have broken DIPS.

    Give us doubters something to hang our hat on as to why Jimenez is so goddamn special.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      Ah. phooey. FG is such that they would classify Scherzer as a far better pitcher than Hudson, because, in their basement opinion, K’s determine value, period. They’re just dead wrong on the subject. K’s no doubt reveal talent, but once a starter is experienced enough, they figure out that they’re pretty damn inefficient too. 100 pitch counts rule.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        That was a great argument, and completely relevant to the question in my post. You convinced me.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        “Here’s a question for you awesome FanGraphs commenters. Do you think Jimenez has truly pitched like a low 1’s ERA pitcher this year, or do you think he has gotten lucky, at least a little bit, thus far?”

        Yes, the guy has given up 2 runs or less in 13 of 14 starts, 1 run or less in 10 of 14

        “His FIP, xFIP, tERA and SIERA are all over a run and a half higher than his ERA. None of those stats are perfect, but even tERA”

        The Star Trek convention begins next week, I believe.

        “Give us doubters something to hang our hat on as to why Jimenez is so goddamn special”

        The guy has given up 2 runs or less in 13 of 14 starts, 1 run or less in 10 of 14. What, that’s not enough?

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        So would you also argue that Jaime Garcia is one of the best pitchers in the history of baseball? He hasn’t given up more than 2 ER in any start this season – that’s actually a longer streak than Jimenez!

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      • mattlock says:

        “Yes, the guy has given up 2 runs or less in 13 of 14 starts, 1 run or less in 10 of 14″

        Please answer the question.

        “The Star Trek convention begins next week, I believe.”

        Ad hominem’s are uncalled for and only damage whatever position you think you’re supporting.

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      • redsox9322 says:

        Dirty Water:
        Read this article about K’s and efficiency by David Gassko:
        http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/the-kazmir-conundrum/

        Back to Ubaldo: I do not believe that he’s a true talent ~1 ERA guy. However, I did notice that he has a 12.2% LD rate this season, indicating that few batters have been able to hit the ball solidly off Ubaldo. It’s possible that Ubaldo’s nasty stuff consistently induces weaker contact, though his LD rate has never been nearly this low (for his career, however, it IS somewhat below average, at 17.4%). So I’d lean more toward tERA in determining Jimenez’s true talent; in fact, his true talent ERA might be even lower than his tERA, due to weaker contact on other batted ball types (although his line drive rate will regress; does tRA* handle that regression properly?).

        On the other hand, the LD% leaderboard is not filled with guys with nasty stuff like Ubaldo:
        http://www.fangraphs.com/leaders.aspx?pos=all&stats=pit&lg=all&qual=y&type=2&season=2010&month=0
        Intriguingly, Fausto Carmona, who has somewhat similar stuff to Ubaldo (high 90’s sinker, though obviously far less control), has a 14.8% career LD rate and a line drive rate below 18% every year of his career.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        He has, thrice. Crap, you’re just arguing for the sake of your own personal excitement. Get over it, Jimenez is a damn fine pitcher.

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      • mattlock says:

        “He has, thrice.”

        Earned runs have little to nothing to do with the talent of the pitcher. That’s kind of the point of advanced pitching metrics.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        redsox9322

        Gassko applied all pitch data to support this theory. How does that universal data support the fact that highly talented pitchers need not strike every batter out, and that pitching to contact – when prudent – does the job more efficiently?

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      • Dirty Water says:

        redsox9322

        Gassko applied all pitch data to support this theory. How does that dataset support this FG’s article’s point that highly talented pitchers need to strike every batter out, and that pitching to contact – when prudent – may not do the job more efficiently?

        PS get a friggin editor, already

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      • SF_Matt says:

        mattlock, “Earned runs have little to nothing to do with the talent of the pitcher.”? Really? If you look at the ERA leaders (say, the top-10 ERA) over the last 10 seasons (or 20, or 5, whatever) you’ll see some mighty impressive names. If you look at the 51st-60th best ERA over the same time period, the pitchers will be much less impressive. Yeah, there will be some oddballs here and there, but to say they have “little to nothing to do with the talent of the pitcher” is just stupid.

        And that’s the type of statement that rubs people the wrong way. It’s like the FG diehards are so intent on showing how valuable certain stats are that they have to bash all other stats. We know FIP has value. We know xFIP has value. We know wOBA has value. But that doesn’t mean that a stat like ERA is unrelated to the talent of the pitcher.

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      • redsox9322 says:

        You said that “once a starter is experienced enough, they figure out that [strikeouts are] pretty damn inefficient too”.

        Gassko’s article disproved this statement pretty well, I think.

        Also, the article’s point ISN’T that “highly talented pitchers need not strike every batter out.” I think the disagreement comes from a focus on approach vs. a focus on results: a pitch to contact APPROACH may be helpful because it leads to fewer BBs and more GBs. However, if you can increase K’s without increasing anything else, that’s a good thing (though it may not be practically feasible).

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Well, like I said before, i don’t believe it did at all. Now if he wants to conduct the same research datamining the top 20 pitchers, i.e those talented in creating outs, fine, that’s different. But any conclusion partially based on how Joe Blanton responds to a given situation is pretty much moot to me.

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      • nice, I have tickets for that convention

        see you there dude!

        <3 deanna troi

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    • Todd Doug says:

      “Give us doubters something to hang our hat on as to why Jimenez is so goddamn special.”

      One thing to look is that Jimenez tends to stay out of counts favorable to hitters. Before today’s game, he only had 12 plate appearances with a 2-0 count, 27 PA with a 3-1. By consistently getting ahead of hitters and staying away from counts where he’s forced to throw a fastball, he obviously makes it that much more difficult for hitters.

      Obviously, he’s been somewhat lucky to this point (I’d be shocked if he challenged Gibson’s 1.12), but I think a pitcher with quality stuff like Jimenez tends to create his own luck, to a certain degree.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I agree. I think it’s certainly possible that given his stuff he’d be able to induce a BABIP of around .280 and a lower than average HR/FB ratio. Hell, he’ll probably even be able to strand more runners given his highish K-Rate and groundball rates.

        Still, like you say, it’s undeniable that he’s been lucky to this point (and I’d be brash enough to say a lot more than somewhat). Even the lowest estimates of his DIPS ERA is still over 1.5 runs higher than his current ERA (and the highest is over 2.5 runs).

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    • I can’t say he’s been low-1’s good. It’s sure as hell been fun to watch though.

      I will confidently say he’s been mid-2’s good, though.

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  14. shin says:

    Ubaldo is pitching to contact until he gives up a hit. If you watch him pitch, he throws harder once there are runners on base, looking for the strikeout.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      From FanGraphs splits: http://www.fangraphs.com/statsplits.aspx?playerid=3374&position=P&season=2010#advanced

      K/9 with the bases empty: 9.17
      K/9 with runners on base: 6.75

      Boy that was easy!

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I think there might be some correlation with his .158 BABIP with runners on base and the fact that he has a really low ERA. Anyone want to argue that he has the ability to allow a lower BABIP in that situation than the league does on in-the-park fly balls?

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      • mattlock says:

        Interestingly, through a cursory search of the top 21 pitchers this season, based on xFIP, five have increased K/BB ratios with men on base: Yovani Gallardo (9.57 to 9.66), Jaime Garcia (6.64 to 8.44!!!), James Shields (8.37 to 9.08), Phil Hughes (8.66 to 9.10), and Cole Hamels (8.45 to 9.34). Obviously there is a bit of a small sample-size issue, and I didn’t have time to look through their career numbers, but this could be an interesting study.

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      • mattlock says:

        Whoops, make that K/9 ratios, not K/BB. My bad.

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      • shin says:

        Thats fine; I was just trying to say that from watching him pitch, he is throwing harder (2-3 more mph on his 4 seamer) and trying to strike out more, doesn’t actually mean he IS striking out more. Its purely an observation.

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  15. Patrick says:

    Pujols,

    Thanks for doing the hard work here of defending an article that very much merits defending (though it shouldn’t NEED defending).

    Guys,

    Wake up and smell the modern baseball analysis. You are either complaining he’s being degrading to Ubaldo by writing about a bad start – I thought it was interesting and especially interesting to see such a close analysis of luck in a particular start, and he NEVER SAID UBALDO WAS A BAD PITCHER, or anything CLOSE to it – or tossing off already disproven ideas like “pitching to contact”. DIPS theory is nearly 10 years old now, give it some credit. (Or if you disagree, show us why you’re right.)

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  16. Joshe2424 says:

    So I guess instead of using advanced statistics to break down a pitcher’s performance and reveal something that may lie underneath the surface of a seemingly good performance, we should all high five each other and talk about how awesome Ubaldo is and how he’s going to break the ERA record. That would totally be the point of Fangraphs.

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    • LD303 says:

      Come on now, we all know the point of FGs is to be smug about liking advanced stats and make statements like this dude above did:

      “Earned runs have little to nothing to do with the talent of the pitcher. That’s kind of the point of advanced pitching metrics.”

      Earned runs… have “little to nothing to do”… with a pitcher’s talent.

      I know you didn’t say that, but your comment here ties into it so rather than posting this at the bottom of the thread I decided this would be a good place. I understand the shortcomings of stats like ERA and BA, but when people say things like that, or make sarcastic remarks about “well, maybe we should all just high five and talk about how this guy is super great when CLEARLY he is not according to xFIP, SIENA, and DIPS” I wonder if they can see the forest with all those trees in the way. The point of statistical analysis should be to better understand the game, not deconstruct it to the point that you either say things that contradict basic facts about it.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        The point of FanGraphs is to *objectively* study the game, or at least that is the point of sabermetrics in general. All the guys defending Jimenez are not offering any proof as to why Jimenez is able to have an ERA 2 points lower than his DIPS stats without being extraordinarily lucky.

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      • @LD303

        Earned runs don’t really have much to do with a pitcher’s talent. ERA is an excellent measure of the team’s run-preventing efforts with a given pitcher on the mound. Not just the pitcher.

        @vivaelpujols

        you forgot GB%. Extraordinary luck and GB%.

        also Troy Tulowitzki’s absurd lollipop throws from where 3B normally stands.

        COME ON if that doesn’t make a believer out of you, NOTHING WILL

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Haaaaave you met Brendan Ryan?

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      • EDUB says:

        @ Viva

        “All the guys defending Jimenez are not offering any proof as to why Jimenez is able to have an ERA 2 points lower than his DIPS stats without being extraordinarily lucky.”

        The problem here is that you are using DIPS as the end all be all of measuring a pitchers skills when this obviously isnt the case. DIPS has massive flaws as well. All hits other than HR’s are not equal. They just simply arent. There are groundballs that an infiled full of Ozzie Smith’s would never be able to catch, and there are grounballs that are routinely caught regardless who is in the field. FIP tells you none of this.

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      • pffff brendan ryan get that brendan ryan talk outta here TULOWITZKI is the name to remember

        although Ryan’s ability to grow a mustache WHILE SPINNING is pretty unbelievable. I’ll take that over Tulo’s mullet.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I haven’t said proof by using DIPS, I’m saying proof by actual facts instead of “he probably changes his gameplan with runners on base, which is why he has a *.158* BABIP in that situation”. How about going through Pitch f/x data and showing us what exactly he is doing to cause that ridiculous BABIP with runners on base.

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      • baty says:

        Understandable, but I don’t see how extraordinary luck is a very objective reason in describing a trend that has spanned almost 400 batters? I think the defenders are just saying that there has to be a lot more involved than that.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        400 batters is, uh, not a very large sample size. BABIP stabilizes (meaning it predicts 50% of it’s future value) at around balls in play (that’s balls in play, not even total batters faced):

        http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/r50_at_bip_1500_for_babip/

        The fact that he has a .230 BABIP this “late” into the season means effectively nothing.

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      • baty says:

        Sorry, I meant it just feels like the word luck keeps being used because we aren’t fully understanding what’s there.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Well I defined my interpreation of luck somewhere below. It’s when the pitcher’s actual probabilities are better than his expected probabilities.

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  17. Mark says:

    His K rates is actually slightly better with runners on. K/9 is misleading in this case.

    Bases empty – 23.5%
    Runners on – 23.8%

    His K rate with RISP is somewhat higher, though – 27.1%

    His BB rate, BABIP, and XBH% are what have been significantly better with runners on this year.

    I’d be curious to see how often he throws his 2-seamer vs. his 4-seamer with bases empty and runners on – if there’s a dramatic change.

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    • frank says:

      I do think it’s interesting that the BABIP against is .289 with the bases empty and .158 with runners on…. either he’s getting a lot luckier when people are on base or he’s doing the proverbial “bearing down” and making better pitches (or using pitches in different amounts or in different sequences, or in different locations) – to me that would be an interesting article/analysis. This may just be statistical oddity or variation, but it will be kind of interesting if that trend can hold for a season (or even multiple seasons)

      Interesting Roy Halladay also has a lower BABIP with runners on base than with the bases empty.

      Andy Pettitte also has a much lower BABIP with runners on than with the bases empty.

      Phil Hughes (who has similar FIP to Jiminez) has roughly the same BABIP with runners on (actally slightly worse). which explains why he doesn’t have as much of a FIP ERA difference.

      I know this is heresy in the SABR community, but is it possible some pitchers change their approach with runners on, then with the bases empty and that may be some of the reason why some pitchers outperform their SABR stats more than others?

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      • Kevin S. says:

        If pitchers could do something to increase their performance when runners are on base, why wouldn’t they do it all the time?

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Because then they wouldn’t be able to beat their FIP – duh!

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        It’s not blasphemy to suggest that pitchers change their approach with runners on base. In fact, it would be asinine to argue otherwise. It’s a reach to suggest that they’d be able to change their approach to the degree that they would allow a .158 BABIP (with identical peripheral stats) without a lot of luck.

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      • frank says:

        The why don’t they do it all the time is tired… the obvious reason is you exert more energy trying to get the strikeout with guys on (whether it’s throwing more pitches to set the batter up or dialing up a few mph on a fastball)

        Halladay is a good example of this.

        Check out the evolution of David Price this year… he clearly exerts more effort with runners on then say 2 out noone on. His speed and the way he works the plate is different to conserve both pitch count and just energy in low leverage situation.

        Bottom line you don’t do it all the time because you wouldn’t be able to sustain that high level performance as far into the game… are you seriously asking this question?

        I don’t know if it’s more scary that you asked the question or got someone on that bandwagon… .

        I know it’s crazy but a lot of times 5 shutout innings with 15 K’s is not as good as 8 innings with 2 runs and 4K’s

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        First define what “good” means and then I’ll respond to your post.

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      • frank says:

        Good = Halladay’s last 7 years…
        BABIP has been lowed EVERY year with men on…(since you rely on stats you can look this up quick)

        Good could also be defined by watching how he pitches with men on, but why watch games when you can look up stats?

        …and I don’t really care if you respond because clearly Halladay is just on hot 7 year streak with men on base…. what other plausible explanation could there be when a ball is put in play?

        FYI Halladay’s spread in BABIP with men on base/noone on = .108, Jiminez 131 (looks like it’s not just Jiminez getting lucky with men on base)…

        Just a thought is the absolute level or the BABIP with men on that is more important in determining luck or the relative drop from BABIP with noone on?

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      • Ubaldo’s Nono (yes, 6 walks, I know, shut up) featured like 4 innings of shaky pitching, and then Apodaca came out and said “hey your windup sucks tonight pitch from the stretch” and then the heavens parted and a dove landed on Ubaldo’s head and Atlanta continued to not get hits – but in a more dominated way.

        I’d wager some pitchers are better from the stretch is the non-silly version of my response.

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      • Gul Cratt says:

        If a pitcher’s curveball is their highest value pitch, why don’t they use that every single time? It’s not a leap to suggest that variation in approach can have value, whether that value is in deception or in not tiring out or whatever.

        I realize that’s a tangential point you were making, and I’m in no way suggesting that something concrete is going on here with Ubaldo’s RISP splits because I don’t think we have the data the analyze that properly. But that was just a poorly developed point you made, Kevin.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        I wasn’t really trying to develop the point at the time, and others have taken it and ran with the discussion, but if a pitcher could *consistently* improve his performance with runners on base, he’d be foolish not to. I understand that it’s not possible to throw the optimal pitch every single time, but if you always throw the optimal pitch with runners on, you’re still negating the game theory aspects to pitch selection.

        RMN, if somebody pitches better out of the stretch, why bother with the wind up? I know some relievers don’t.

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    • ben says:

      After seeing all the double plays he induced today I wonder if that is part of the reason why his k/9 rate is lower with runners on base.

      Each double play is 2 outs without a strikeout…(obviously)

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Yes, but A) Jimenez’s K% is the same with runners on base (K/9 is a misleading stat because it rewards pitchers who allow more baserunners and Jimenez has allowed fewer baserunners with runners on base) and B) pitcher’s don’t control how many double plays they give up, they control how many groundballs in double play situations they give up. And as I showed above, Jimenez is getting exceedingly lucky in that regard, getting many more double plays in DP situations this year than he should given his ground ball rate (along with his BABIP, HR/FB luck).

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      • Rich says:

        Except that its not:

        Bases empty – 23.5%
        Runners on – 23.8%
        RISP– 27.1%

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  18. The Tom says:

    So Halladay goes 6 IP with 5ks and 2BBs because he is elite and Ubaldo goes 8 IP 4k and 2BB because he isn’t thanks I was worried I didn’t understand

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    • edxs says:

      The two starts are easy to compare. They faced the same number of batters. Halladay struck out more. Halladay allowed way too many fly balls. Ubaldo allowed way too many line drives.

      Ubaldo’s start was slightly better. Neither was impressive, nor was either godawful horrible.

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      • The Tom says:

        right but as Paul Dean once said “I ain’t as good as Dizzy but neither is anyone else”
        Roy Halladay is among the best pitchers in baseball, so are Cliff Lee, Tim Lincecum, Josh Johnson, Adam Wainwright and no matter how much you try to argue otherwise Ubaldo Jimenez; who today completed his 14th quality start in 14 trys

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      • edxs says:

        You’d be crazy if you didn’t think Ubaldo was “among the best pitchers in baseball”. Let’s say that “best pitchers” means top 30, I think that’s fair enough.

        You’d also be crazy to think Ubaldo wasn’t getting results far better than his performance indicates, whether you are a scout with no access to any statistics or a spreadsheet wizard in Mongolia with no television or MLB.tv.

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  19. Dan says:

    Intangibles….

    I heard some broadcaster’s recount of what Ubaldo told him after the no-hitter. He has a fresh mental approach to each game this year, and his confidence level is at an all-time high, even when he gets in a jam. No one ever doubted Ubaldo’s enormous talent, but now that his mind in the right place, he is undoubtedly one of the best in baseball.

    Watching him pitch live this year reminded me of watching Pedro pitch in the late ’90s, only with more heat.

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  20. biondino says:

    What rankles about this article isn’t its veracity – apart from a couple of ungenerous interpretations, the stats aren’t lying as such (although no-one really knows the extent to which a pitcher like Ubaldo screws with the worth of FIP and its derivatives). He has been a lucky pitcher this season.

    What makes this a bad article is the bad grace with which it searches for any weapon with which to mow Ubaldo down. Coors Field rewards groundballers. Ubaldo has made this an art. Groundballs aren’t fielding independent, so FIP can’t possibly be the best measure of his skill.

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    • redsox9322 says:

      “Groundballs aren’t fielding independent”

      What do you mean? How do you know this is true? Can you give me some examples of GB pitchers outperforming their FIP? Does this mean that GB pitchers will outperform their FIP to the level that Ubaldo has this year?

      (I actually agree with the idea that GB pitchers might be able to slightly outperform their FIP, since they get more double plays, erasing baserunners)

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      • biondino says:

        I mean that if you’re only looking at Ubaldo’s Ks, HRs and BBs then you’re missing a massive amount of his pitching!

        I also mean that if you design a team around strong, quick defence and weak contact to said defence, then it is more worthwhile inducing groundballs.

        I also mean that a pitcher who gives up few air balls will give up fewer runs and get more outs. (this game may be an exception, but I’ll call SSS on that one).

        So, Ubaldo’s not setting a new paradigm that’s magnitudes different from any other pitcher, but what he is proving is that a low BABIP and a high strand rate ARE things that can be worke don and aren’t 100% luck based.

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  21. zoned says:

    I appreciate Fangraphs for a multitude of reasons but this is an amateur article I would expect to find on a blog. It’s obvious the agenda that is trying to be pushed, and while I don’t necessarily disagree that Jimenez is likely to regress and may not be the “True Talent” best pitcher in baseball right now (a dubious title at best), this article simply isn’t necessary. I expect the follow up “Javier Vazquez is a more valuable pitcher than Tom Glavine” in the coming days.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      YES! That name: Javier Vazquez

      I believe FG listed him as a top 5 starter last year. The rest of the world knows him as an incredible dog who can be counted on for two things: strikeouts and losses (must be bad luck lol)

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      • edxs says:

        Good luck finding a legitimate way to prove Vazquez couldn’t reasonably be considered top 5 last year.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        I can’t. But the observer in me knows that he sucks, and the same would be attested yo by GM’s everywhere, except those situated in the Bronx.. Vasquez throws a monkey wrench in the whole ‘wins are coincidental’ routine made by Sabermatricians. He can’t win with a career K rate of 8.15, others (betters) can with K rates far lower. God, that must make FG’s heads explode.

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      • Ray says:

        Why do you have Hitler as an avatar?

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      • edxs says:

        Do you offer trolling lessons? Seriously, you’re amazing. I started trying to respond as if you actually believed the things you say but I cracked up every time I ran into a blatant fallacy.

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      • we should change this site to “TheObserverInDirtyWater.com” because that observer is much better than anything else

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  22. WilsonC says:

    While he’s obviously not a true 1.15 ERA pitcher, what’s bothersome about this article is that it’s using statistics to evaluate a sample of one start. What can a single game’s tRA expectations really tell us about anything? The calculations used are more advanced, but the application is really no more meaningful than when a commentator mentions that Hitter A is 7 for 16 against Pitcher B.

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  23. Hitting them Hard says:

    I wonder if this article is written if Ubaldo is a Philie, Met, Yankee, or Red Sox

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  24. Marc says:

    Only fitting it came on his 13th win.

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  25. Mattlock says:

    SF_matt, you’re right. I didn’t word that properly. What I meant was, “Earned runs allowed _say_ little to nothing about the talent of the pitcher”. Invother words, just because a pitcher doesn’t allow many earned runs doesn’t mean he’s a good pitcher.

    For example, if a pitcher allowed nothing but flyballs that were caught on the warning track, or were brought back in by amazing leaping catches, he could end up with a perfect game, but by no skill of his own. Just because a pitcher doesn’t give up many earned runs doesn’t make him necessarily a phenomenal pitcher. He’s better than most other pitchers because he didn’t give up _more_ but ERA just can’t be relied upon as the end-all, be-all of pitcher evaluation. In fact, it doesn’t tell much oter than what all nine guys on the field did.

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    • The Tom says:

      Which is why we should ignore Cliff Lee giving up seven earned runs to the Padres because he had a 7K/0BB ratio so I gues he had an impressive 6 IP 11H 7ER performance

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    • EDUB says:

      “For example, if a pitcher allowed nothing but flyballs that were caught on the warning track, or were brought back in by amazing leaping catches, he could end up with a perfect game, but by no skill of his own.”

      But can we agree that if a pitcher allowed nothing but routine can-of-corn popups that a high-school outfielder could catch then it would be by his own skill? That’s the problem when looking exclusively at FIP, xFIP etc. They treat ALL batted balls other than HR’s as equal when this is absolutely,positively, 100% not the case. All balls in play other than HR’s are NOT equal.

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      • frank says:

        Exactly – quality of contact is something the stats rarely cover… a one hop grounder smashed through the 5.5 hole is treated the same as a weak grounder that a batter turns over on for an easy out. There are some pitchers who induce weaker contact (whether it’s command, late movement, deception via the delivery, etc)

        When you look at these over long periods of time there is predictive value (which is what a lot of what these stats were designed to do), but when you go back and try to re-write the actual pitchers performance in terms of a model based on only walks/K’s/HR’s (FIP) or simply use type of batted ball you lose context and more or less assume the value of a groundall off of Wainright is the same a the value of a groundball off of Chad Gaudin

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Of course all balls in play aren’t equal. Jimenez, given his stuff, probably has a lower than average expected BABIP.

        But currently it is around .230, which is so far below the average that he would literally have to have the best stuff in the history of baseball (and then some) to assume that it is all skill.

        Nobody is arguing that Jimenez’s ERA should match his FIP – they are arguing that his ERA should be a lot closer to his FIP than it is right now.

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      • @vivaelpujols, re: ubaldo’s stuff (mixing it up this time)

        come on I know you saw the fanshot on BtB with that one Ubaldo pitch

        nastiest

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      • EDUB says:

        @ viva:

        “Of course all balls in play aren’t equal.”

        Then why should anyone use FIP, ever. FIP says exactly that balls in play other than HR allowed are equal when that is just beyond absurdity.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        EDUB, FIP is a baseline. For the majority of pitchers, yes, BIP in play are equal or close enough to it. Not for all obviously. FIP is the baseline, you then adjust that number accorindgly based on the estimated quality of balls in play. I am arguing that it’s impossible for Jimenez to induce such weak contact as to expalin a low .200’s BABIP without a lot of luck.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Strasburg’s curve begs to differ.

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      • Curves are supposed to bend like that though.

        fastballs aren’t

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    • DAWG says:

      Mariano Rivera’s career postseason BABIP is .227 – obviously small sample size to an extent, but he has pitched a fairly large chunk of postseason innings, so it is POSSIBLE to produce a BABIP that low. You seem to be saying that nobody can produce the numbers he has, because nobody ever has before…but what proof do you have that shows Ubaldo is not different than anyone to come before? Your logic in this regard is circular.

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  26. razor says:

    Didn’t read through all of the posts but when UJ gets a lead he clearly pitches to contact more, especially if the lead is more than a run or so. That’s just smart. This is a game of innings. You want your #1 guy to help keep the bullpen aligned and ready to go for the NEXT guy.

    Ubaldo has apparently reached the stage where some are looking for stats to prove he’s too lucky. Will he regress to the mean from here? Of course he will, but is that really going to prove anything?

    Jerry Crawford has a small zone. He was tough on both pitchers from what I saw. Two different guys out there and that could have been a 10-8 game. I thought both Liriano and Ubaldo threw the ball great today. Ubaldo was unimpressive today? I wonder if you’d feel the same way had Ubaldo been pulled after 7 innings today when he had a little better looking statistical line?

    You know you are good when something like this is written. Good grief…

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  27. Jacob says:

    Ubaldo has had some relatively weak performances, sure. Is there really an article just to say that? Ubaldo picked off a runner and, given his penchant for getting the groundout, induced 4 inning-ending double plays today. I know his defense and where the ball was hit played a role, but ground ball pitchers should have more batters GIDP. Roy Halladay has let up 5 ER or more in a game 3 different times already this season… those were much weaker performances. Hell, he gave up 3 HR in his last start alone–more than Ubaldo has let up ALL season and he pitches half his games in Coors

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  28. Shaz_Bagl says:

    I’m not sure how its logical to present an argument that Lee or Halladay is having a better season based on what metrics predict their stats should be as opposed to the stats that Jimenez actually has. Maybe I’m old fashioned but results trump predictions in my book and anyone trying to make a case for any pitcher having a better season then Jimenez thus far is wasting their time.

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    • This is a very good comment. FIP/xFIP/tRA should be used to predict future performance, not grade past performance. The whole point of the game is to prevent runs. Jimenez shouldn’t be discounted for getting four double plays instead of four K’s and four popups.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Jimenez shouldn’t be discounted for getting four double plays instead of four K’s and four popups.

        Very true. However you can still argue that he was lucky to get those double plays instead of 25% of those ground balls going for hits and another 60% only going for one out.

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  29. Eric22 says:

    If Ubaldo had struck out three more guys and allowed one or two less LD’s we would not be having this conversation. That’s how silly this is.

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  30. MichaelCoughlin says:

    “This isn’t to say that Ubaldo Jimenez isn’t a great pitcher – I believe he’s squarely in the top 10 SPs in the league, if not the top 5.”

    “It’s starts like these that are the reason that we shouldn’t place Jimenez above such pitchers as Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, both pitchers who have performed at a higher level this season than Jimenez. ”

    I don’t believe this article brought up any real points in favor of saying Jimenez is better or worse than Lee or Halladay. The article picks out a few starts and intimates that Jimenez’s start was the kind that a better pitcher would not produce, despite both Halladay and Lee having had worse games this season (or at least games “as bad”)

    Is he the best starter in baseball? Who knows. That’s basically a completely subjective term to begin with. Do we value Halladay’s years of excellence of Lincecum’s (until recently) two years of Cy Young pitching? If Johan Santana has a no-hit, 12 K performance, do we still say, “Yeah, he was dominant for all those years AND he just had a great outing, HE’S the best.”? Does Harden’s ability to look like a god for 5 innings (historically) mean he’s really the best and that it’s just fatigue that does him in? Someone just brought it up that if Jimenez had left earlier maybe his line would look better (no idea if that’s actually the case, but it might be for all I know).

    Frankly, once you begin trying to pick who is absolutely better out of the top 5 guys in baseball, accounting for different leagues and divisions and only two months worth of data (2.5, I guess at this stage) you’re just being difficult for the sake of being difficult. If someone wants to say Jimenez has been the best pitcher in baseball it’s really not a giant offense against Sabremetrically inclined thinking. By ANY measure the guy has been amazing this year. This isn’t a case where folks are getting behind a 20 game winner who has a 4 ERA and voting him for the Cy Young simply because of his wins total. This is a guy striking out folks left and right (more K/9 than either Halladay or Lee) with a solid WAR and an FIP and xFIP that are really close enough to Lee and Halladay that, again, this is hardly an insult of any worth.

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    • frank says:

      “I don’t believe this article brought up any real points in favor of saying Jimenez is better or worse than Lee or Halladay”

      You mean other than the part of the article that states…
      “Roy Halladay’s 2.38 ERA is supported by a superior 2.67 FIP, making him the most valuable pitcher in baseball so far.”

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  31. An analyst that I respect a great deal said this about Ubaldo: “It isn’t that Ubaldo’s the most dominant at the top of his game, it’s that he’s the most dominant at the bottom of it.” This could not be more true. Halladay has given up 5 ER three times this season. Ubaldo has managed his results while pitching in horrible weather, being forced to drop 7mph on his fastball and having poor control. He never has a bad start. I have seen every Ubaldo start this season, and I have not once thought “he was lucky to get out of that jam.” The quality of contact off his pitches is consistently poor.

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    • Shaz_Bagl says:

      - The quality of contact off his pitches is consistently poor.

      Something I’ve observed this season as well, which is why some people seem to have such a hard time grasping just why Jimenez has been so successful this year. I guess if you have had the luxury of seeing all his starts it is easier to understand why his BABIP and HR/9 are so low.

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      • frank says:

        Look no further than Mariano Rivera in the postseason… sure some might naively look at his career postseason 0.74 ERA, but when you look at his FIP of 2.23 and his xFIP of 3.14, his 0.74 ERA is a house of cards governed by luck and the superior defensive teams the Yankees have had over the years who bailed him out.

        Best post season reliever ever? 2.18FIP, 2.64xFIP… that’s right….Brad Lidge.

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      • Franco says:

        Small sample size! Good Day, Sir!

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      • frank says:

        Mariano has 133innings… surely that is large enough to know that he has just been lucky in the postseason if ~100 innings is enough to assess Jiminez?

        I mean the guy should be much worse than his ERA suggests, right?

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I’m guessing that to put up a .74 ERA, yes, Rivera has had some luck.

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      • frank says:

        Everyone has “some luck”… he pitching at 1/3 of his FIP and 1/4 of his xFIP… that is MASSIVE luck when looking at FIP-ERA delta.

        Let;s put this perspective the phenomenal lucky run Jiminez has been on, Mariano has had that same run over his postseason career.

        You seem like a knowledgeble baseball fan… does Mariano strike you as an exceptionally lucky pitcher in the postseason? Much more lucky than other pitchers? Really?

        I’m not asking about some luck or a little luck but the kind of luck that would generate a 3X discrepancy with ERA (unless it’s the phenomenal defenses he had)

        GOOD GRIEF!

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        But they are plenty of pitchers that have had stretches where their ERA’s are 2.00 points lower than their DIPS stats. If you are going to use that a sign that those pitchers have some kind of skill then you have to also defend the Livan Hernandez’s and John Lannan’s of the world.

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  32. Franco says:

    Did FG get linked on a Rockies blog or something? 90+ posts in a couple hours, geez.

    Anywho, the article would’ve been a lot better if they focused on his overall season and his high level of luck. It’s impossible for even Jimenez’s mom to argue that he’s a 1 ERA guy. Cherry picking one start is just asking for fanboy backlash and defenses like “the line drives weren’t hit THAT hard”

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    • The Tom says:

      Nobody is a 1 ERA talent pitcher but this is first article on Fangraphs about Ubaldo since started this freaky run so lets just say it seemed a little weak. You don’t have to be a fan boy to look at FIP, xFIP, tRA or any advanced metric and tell immediately they are a flawed indicator Jason Hammel has a 3.61 FIP and Chris Carpenter has a a 3.86 who is the better pitcher, who has had the better year?

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      • You know, Jason Hammel had a better FIP than Carpenter last season too. He set the K/BB franchise record, but he tends to get hit pretty hard.

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      • Kevin S. says:

        You know small numbers are better than big numbers with FIP, right?

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        But you think ERA is a better indicator than those metrics?

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      • @Kevin. Of course I do. I mixed up several of the tabs I was juggling. Hammel has a better FIP in 2009 and 2010 than Carpenter in 2010 but not 2009.

        @viva. No I don’t. As I said above, his ERA should probably be closer to his FIP, but the disparity between the two can’t be 100% attributable to luck. This based on theory of the game and watching the game, so don’t expect numerical evidence. I’m an engineer with a heavy math background, so I understand statistics and representing real life occurences with numbers. I also know not everything can be comprehensively taken into account that way, much as we try. You’re seemingly saying 100% of the disparity is luck driven, while I postulate it closer to 80%. He won’t have an ERA of 1.15 at the end of the year, but it won’t be at 3.00 either (his FIP). Probably in the 2.50 range

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Andrew, I was referring to The Tom.

        I do not believe that Jimenez’s ERA – FIP differential is 100% due to luck. I have said that I readily believe that Jimenez has the ability to induce worse contact on balls in play given his stuff. I don’t believe it’s to the degree that his current BABIP would suggest. So I agree with you that his “true” ERA should be somewhere between his current ERA and his FIP.

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      • The Tom says:

        @Puj no ERA is not a great stat it has glaring weaknesses so does FIP Jarrod Washburn had seasons of out performing his FIP by 1.5 points. The point I am trying to make was about this article, using a single start as an example of why Ubaldo is inferior to Cliff Lee using K/BB as a metric is silly

        Cliff Lee had a 7k 0BB performance against San Diego which would be great but it went with 7 earned runs saying that k/bb is a valuable metric is true saying that it is the most important stat a pitcher can have is not true

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      • This format of threaded comments is not conducive to long conversations

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    • Shaz_Bagl says:

      “Roy Halladay’s 2.38 ERA is supported by a superior 2.67 FIP, making him the most valuable pitcher in baseball so far.”

      It seems to me that when you make the previous statement in an article attempting to discredit one of the best 14 game starts a pitcher has EVER had based on what advanced metrics say the results should have been you are asking for backlash from any fans with some common sense. Now if you want to agrue about whether or not these results are going to be sustainable thats fine but don’t try and convince people that a guy with a 13-1 record and a 1.15 ERA hasn’t been the most valuable/best pitcher in the league to this point based on the fact that he has outperformed his xFIP or has an uncommonly low BABIP, its absurd.

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      • Franco says:

        It seems like you’re arguing semantics. If we removed luck, than yes, Roy Halladay is the better pitcher and the stats will eventually show it to be true. By your argument, Livian Hernandez is one of the most valuable pitchers in baseball which is silly. There’s no value in luck.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Fuck off, Franco. Well said, Shaz.

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      • frank says:

        This is not just about semantics.. it’s about how to determine what’s more valuable to the team given the result has already happened. It’s people confusing what’s more valuable to a team AFTER something has already happened vs what is LIKELY to be more valuable to a team in the future (which ultimately is what I think SABRmetrics is about).

        Which pitcher has more value to his team for a game that has occurred:
        Pitcher A: 17groundouts, 10K’s, perfect game
        Pitcher B: 7 groundouts, 20K’s perfect game
        Pitcher C: 7 flyouts, 20K’s, perfect game
        (the perfect game is not important it could be 7 shuotout innings each and adjust the outs accordingly)

        Answer – The pitchers are all equally valuable to their respective team, because the result has already happened and each got 27outs whether through dominance, skill, luck, craftiness, a generous umpire, etc…but in all cases they got 9innings without allowing a run to score. (I’m assuming one of the pitchers didn’t have to throw 50 extra pitches and increase an injury risk or made the starter less effective in his next outing)

        Now if you ask which pitcher would I rather have going forward… well obviously if all other things were equal (like the competition they faced, park, weather, etc), I’d say Pitcher B.. and that is where FIP, xFIP and the like come in (and should be used); because they are intended to measure the likelihood of the outcome to continue to occur in the future (whether you call this luck, defense behind the pitcher, etc)… but it doesn’t change the result of the past.

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    • “Cherry picking one start is just asking for fanboy backlash and defenses like “the line drives weren’t hit THAT hard””

      so why write it? Why scour the surface of his season for the blemishes? That’s my beef with it.

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  33. Shaz_Bagl says:

    “It seems like you’re arguing semantics. If we removed luck, than yes, Roy Halladay is the better pitcher and the stats will eventually show it to be true”

    Your missing the point I never said Jimenez was the better pitcher, I said he’s having a better year thus far and its ridiculous to try and argue that right now. Also, any pitcher to put up a 1.15 ERA through the course of 14 games is going to have their fair share of luck, even if their name happens to be Roy Halladay, so I’m not sure how that dimishes the accomplishment in any way. If Jimenez continues to defy the metrics and finishes with 25+ wins and sub 1.50 ERA are you going to try and discredit his season because it was “lucky”? Halladay is a great pitcher but we are talking the first 14 starts of this season, and Jimenez has clearly had the better results and in the end that is what counts.

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  34. Larry says:

    If Roy Halladay had the start Ubaldo had, there would be an article saying ‘Roy didn’t have his best stuff and the results behind the actual numbers show it, but surely he made it work to his advantage because he is the No. 1 guy in baseball and that is what he does.’

    However, since it is Ubaldo, it goes ‘Ubaldo got lucky with one of the worst outings of the season for a guy who possibly can’t keep up his close to 1 ERA. This one lousy start shows his season is built on luck and it would be foolish to annoint him as the best pitcher in baseball.’

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  35. The Tom says:

    Two thoughts one Ubaldo himself said that he wasn’t the best pitcher in baseball that it was impossible the say one pitcher is the best, rather he said he is one of the good ones

    The second thought is that there is value in luck when that luck result in victories for a team, while there may not be predictive value in results the fact that Livan has won or kept his team in those games is just as valuable as when Halladay, Lee, or Ubaldo does it

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  36. For what it’s worth, if you go by Baseball-Reference’s WAR instead of Fangraphs, Jimenez is the top pitcher in MLB with 4.5. Halladay is 3rd in MLB at 3.2. Cliff Lee is…ahem…46th with 1.6. This was before Ubaldo’s start today

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Baseball reference WAR is based off of Run Average. Did you miss the entire discussion above where we argued that Jimenez’s run average was partially influenced by luck?

      Again, nobody is saying he hasn’t gotten results, we are saying he’s been lucky.

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      • Shaz_Bagl says:

        Once again, how does saying that he has been lucky discredit a 1.15 ERA over 14 games? It is impossible to have a run like this without some luck, and I don’t think anyone is claiming otherwise. Sometimes you can be lucky and good, right now this seems to be the case with Jimenez and it has produced some pretty impressive results. Also, how does it make any sense to assign more value to projections then results? Any interpretation of WAR that could have Halladay above Jimenez right now is clearly flawed, isn’t preventing runs the ultimate goal of every pitcher? Why even play the games if we are going to assign equal/greater weight to projections? Lets just plug in some variables and let the spreadsheets tell us who is best, results be damned!

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Like I said, nobody is trying to “discredit” his ERA. We are saying that Jimenez has gotten lucky (and I think to an extraordinary degree) to put up such a low ERA. Again, whether or not you think that is an attempt to discredit him is your business – I certainly have not said anything to that effect.

        The author of this piece chose to place more importance in Jimenez’s process than his results in terms of discussing his “impressiveness”. That’s a personal choice and it’s not right or wrong. It certainly doesn’t deserve the level of contempt that some of the comments are endowing upon Jack.

        Think of it this way. There are two things that you would look for in a baseball stat – performance and results. Results tell you value whereas performance tells you process. So what if someone thinks that the process is more important? I’d wager a lot of saberists think that way. It’s not like value is the only thing that contributes to perceptions of impressiveness. I don’t think there is a guy in the world who would say that Livan Hernandez has been impressive this year.

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      • Shaz_Bagl says:

        I appreciate your point of view but it seems to me like the anaylsis is more centered around projections vs. results rather then the performace or process. The stats project that his results should be worse then they currently are, while his actual performance on the field or “process” have led to the results he currently has. How much of this is or isn’t luck is most certainly a personal opinion. But I understand what your trying to say and my disagreement lies elsewhere.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        See I don’t agree that the “process” on the field should be congruous with results. If a guy walks the bases loaded with 1 out, then goes 2-0 on the next batter and gets a swing at a ball in the dirt for a hard groundball down the third base line that happens to go right at the third baseman for an easy double play, he allows zero runs so he had a valuable inning. But are you really going to argue that his process was good that inning?

        I would argue that he was valuable, but certainly not impressive.

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  37. Jordan says:

    Mr. Moore,

    Do you watch baseball on a regular basis? Have you ever seen Ubaldo Jimenez pitch? I severely doubt it. If you did, you would know that no pitcher in the league this year has come close to matching his performance and that his start on May 20 against Houston was the very definition of dominance. If not for a questionable scoring decision on a ground ball to Ian Stewart, it would have been his second no-hitter of the season. In writing this article, you sound like an ignorant ass that has nothing better to do that take uncalled-for potshots at a great pitcher and even better human being.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      And you sound like a giant fucktwat. No offense…

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      • Jacob says:

        Who the fuck are you? Moore posting under a pseudonym?

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Nope. Just defending a guy who put his neck on the line and gave us free content against crap like this:

        In writing this article, you sound like an ignorant ass that has nothing better to do that take uncalled-for potshots at a great pitcher and even better human being.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        Well, you’re not doing a very good job since your tone is just as bad as the writer’s.

        If I were to write this article it would go something like this “Jimenez’s incredible season continues”

        “Ubaldo, easily the most dominating starter in baseball, added to his season for the ages by inducing 4 DP’s in holding the powerful Twin’s lineup to one run. That’s 13-1, folks, in case you weren’t paying attention. Sure, a little luck is involved, as it always is with runs of this magnitude, but… yada yada yada”

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    • yeah, I responded on Purple Row as well. This is an absolutely godawful way to respond to something you disagree with or dislike.

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    • Miles says:

      “… even better human being.”

      I like how this is thrown at the end of the post as if to make anyone who slights Ubaldo in the slightest feel like a terrible person. Where does that statement come from? Not that I’m doubting that Ubaldo is a great person, but why put that there?

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  38. frank says:

    Jiminez has alllowed 13 runs to score this year while he has been on the mound in 14 starts … hang on I have to stop and think about that for a second.. … … luck or no luck that is just flat out absurd.

    Whether he gave up 13 solo HR’s that traveled 500 feet each or had 13 innings where he gave up 4 bunt singles in a row, he still has given up those 13 runs… Whether his team had to make diving plays all over the field or just stood there and watched while he struckout hitter after hitter,he still just gave up 13runs. The way the runs scored and how he got the outs can be indicative of what might happen in the future, but it doesn’t change the fact that he gave up 13 runs. Ultimately him giving up 13 runs (and obviously how they are spread out) is what has a certain value to his team. Do you think he’d have been more valuable to the Rockies over his first 14 starts if he had 20 more strikeouts and 20 less groundouts, but still allowed the same # of runs and pitched the same # of innings in each game? Why?

    What FIP, xFIP, SIERA, etc.. are telling us is whether or not this performance is likely to continue… obviously a guy striking out very other batter is less likely to deviate from past performance vs a guy who strikes one or two folks out a game. A groundball pitcher is likely to have more success than a flyball pitcher (generally), but it doesn’t change the past results.

    Sorry for the long post but this is where ultimately advanced metrics, intended to be forward looking, are getting abused and allowing past performance to essentially be re-written. The value Jiminez has to the Rockies is how many innings he can pitch and how few runs he can give up… whether he has 300 strikeouts over 100innings or 30 strikeouts, if he has allowed 13 runs that is the value to the team… In a 2-1 complete game victory the Rockies don’t gain extra value from the fact that Jiminez gave up 3 consecutive singles for that run to score vs allowing a solo HR… yet one would have a vastly different FIP than the other.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Again, Jack nor anybody in this thread has said that Jimenez’s results haven’t been valuable. *We are saying his has been lucky to achieve such results*. Whether or not you want to extrapolate that to his past worth is your prerogative, but nobody here is saying that.

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      • Shaz_Bagl says:

        “Whether or not you want to extrapolate that to his past worth is your prerogative, but nobody here is saying that.”

        You clearly are saying that if you believe that Roy Halladay has been more valuable then Jimenez to this point in the season, which the author clearly did. I don’t want to put words in your mouth so I won’t accuse you of doing so but that is the main beef that most people seem to have with the article, I know its mine. I won’t argue sustainablility or luck, I simply disagree with the assertion that Jimenez somehow has less worth then Halladay or Lee this season because he has out performed his xFIP, its a nonsensical stance.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        You clearly are saying that if you believe that Roy Halladay has been more valuable then Jimenez to this point in the season

        Where have I fucking said this? Seriously, show me where I said that Jimenez was not as valuable because he got lucky. All I’ve defended against is the idea that Jimenez has not gotten lucky.

        The only reason to use FIP for purpose of past value is to eliminate defense, because that is truly unrelated to the value of the pitcher. But most of the difference between ERA and FIP is *not* defensive performance, but rather plain old luck (bloopers falling just over the second baseman’s head, a disproportionate amount of double plays coming with runners on base, walking the bases loaded with 2 outs and having the hitter swing a bad ball out of the strikezone).

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      • Shaz_Bagl says:

        Dude, relax and read the whole thing.

        “You clearly are saying that if you believe that Roy Halladay has been more valuable then Jimenez to this point in the season, which THE AUTHOR clearly did. I don’t want to put words in your mouth SO I WON’T ACCUSE YOU OF DOING SO”

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Sorry, I missed the “if”.

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      • the problem is that saying “luck is involved” carries with it “and because luck is involved, we can’t say he’s good. Hell, with this kind of luck, I could probably have a passable MLB season. That’s right I said it. I’m as good as Ubaldo Jimenez. And more handsome.”

        well ok maybe not exactly that, and *I know you’re not intending it*, but citing luck insinuates “this is not real, it’s fake, and you shouldn’t be proud of it”

        granted the people reading that insinuation are typically overly defensive fanboys, but yeah.

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  39. Yoloslim says:

    The context and process of achieving “results” , ie. runs allowed, is certainly important to the value of the pitcher. A pitcher who gives up a potential home run ball that is robbed by the center fielder obviously contributed less to the out and run saved than a pitcher who simply struck out the batter. This article isn’t rewriting the results, but is trying to weight how much Ubaldo was actually contributing to the results.

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  40. vivaelpujols says:

    frank, I can only hope that you think Livan Hernandez has a similar ability to outperform his peripheral stats as Jimenez. His ERA-FIP split is even higher. And 2/5th of a season is a huge sample size, there is no way it’s just luck.

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    • frank says:

      Obviously that’s what i think….Livan Hernandez must have “literally” the best stuff in the history of baseball (help me out here… I’m using the word literally not in the “literal” meaning of the word but because I want my statement to sound bigger for no reason whatsoever – am I doing it right?).

      Find a single post where I said the FIP – ERA delta had no luck involved… what I’m saying is FIP should not replace ERA to measure past performance.

      FIP should be used to PREDICT future performance as in “it is unlikely that Livan will continue to sport his current ERA if he pitches the same way” or “it is likely Jiminez ERA will dropoff based on FIP”

      You know what a HR going off the foul pole is unlucky for a pitcher, a pitcher giving up a HR because the wind was going out is unlucky, a pitcher pitching in Citifield is lucky, a catcher holding on to a foul tip for strike 3 is lucky, a fielder dropping a foul ball which enables the pitcher to punch him out on the next pitch is lucky…Gee, I’m so glad FIP eliminates luck… it’s not like HR, K, BB go into FIP… oh wait…

      I will not translate Jiminez’s 13 actual runs into 30 FIP runs (or whatever the # will come out to)….. and thus say he has been less valuable than Halladay’s 28 runs allowed thus far. FIP says Halladay SHOULD have THEORETICALLY given up fewer runs but we have no clue if that’s true. Maybe it’s a 100% luck maybe it’s 50/50 luck/skill maybe it’s 10/90. but to treat FIP as if it is a luck elimination model is in my view silly; it is a model intended to predict future performance (that’s what models do).

      I’m just a fool for thinking past value does not equal BB, K, HR’s mixed in empirically determined ratios…

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      • Yoloslim says:

        Somewhat. We know from a huge history of data what value is added by each BB, K, and HR. This value should remain constant looking forward and looking back ON AVERAGE. To put it simply, say you win a game by flipping heads on a coin. You KNOW the value of each flip is .5 wins. You also KNOW that you are “lucky” if you flip the coin 10 times and get 10 wins. Your skill in flipping heads didn’t really change. You can even look back at your results and say you were still a .5 win flipper.

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      • Yoloslim says:

        Also, if you can’t trust the components of FIP to approximate the runs a player should have theoretically allowed, how can you possibly trust it to predict future performance? It’s a contradiction.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I have never mentioned anything about past value. I am saying *most of the discrepancy with Ubaldo’s ERA and FIP is due to luck, and not an intentional conspiracy to reduce strikeouts and allow more balls in play*. I agree that FIP should not be used for past value purposes and I have never said anything to the contrary.

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  41. Steve says:

    Halladay: 3.5 WAR
    Ubaldo: 3.2 WAR

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  42. Justin Mosovsky says:

    “Also, if you can’t trust the components of FIP to approximate the runs a player should have theoretically allowed, how can you possibly trust it to predict future performance? It’s a contradiction.”

    EXACTLY. I think that SO many people arguing that Jiminez is valuable would say that FIP is a better predictor of future performance than ERA is. Most intelligent people would probably say so given the data involved. It stands to reason that FIP should be a better predictor of PAST performance as well. Bottom line, if you believe FIP is a better indicator of future results, it is because you believe that tells you something important about a pitcher that ERA doesn’t. That SOMETHING is performance with a little less luck involved, or is someone here doing to argue that FIP is a better predictor than ERA because of something other than its ability to evaluate a pitcher? I’d like to start an argument to that effect, because that I think is where a real good discussion could be had. All the people who think FIP is a better predictor, (which we know it is), tell me WHY it is a better predictor if it isn’t because it is a better indicator of performance?

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    • Rich says:

      “It stands to reason that FIP should be a better predictor of PAST performance as well. ”

      No, it absolutely does not.

      If I flip a coin 10 times, and get 8 heads, ERA (actual results) says I should continue to get 8 heads per 10 flips.

      FIP, would say that I should get 5 per 10, IE:

      Current ERA : 8/10
      FutureERA: 8/10
      CurrentFIP: 5/10
      FutureFIP:5/10

      Assuming a fair coin, ERA more accurately describes the past, FIP more accurately predicts the future.

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      • Yoloslim says:

        You missed the point entirely. We want to look at the results and see how much of it was due to luck. Your .8 era coin isn’t REALLY “pitching”
        better than a .5 era coin. He’s just getting lucky. Ubaldo’s peripherals don’t show he’s a 1.15 era pitcher, he’s getting a lot of luck, therefore he’s not as valuable as a “true” 1.15 era pitcher because its not reproducible in the long term.

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  43. Eric says:

    I think this is a pretty stupid article. The manager expects the starting pitchers job is to limit the opposition to the lowest amount of runs scored as possible, and 8 innings and 1 ER is pretty impressive to me. Like someone said before, screw results, it’s all about how many LD’s you gave up!

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  44. Justin Mosovsky says:

    I guess I shoudn’t have said FIP should be a better predictor of past performance, but a better interpreter in my previous statement. My point still stands though, someone please say why XFIP and tRA are better predictors of future performance if they aren’t better interpreters of past results?

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  45. fanofdefenseagain says:

    And Fangraphs has reached the tipping point….

    This blog has become so popular that its readership has started to reflect the population at large (i.e. stupid people).

    I’ll always remember the halcyon days. To a man, I was consistently impressed by the intelligence and earnestness of the responses here.

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  46. fanofdefenseagain says:

    vivapujouls, I really admire your attempt to defend Jack Moore.

    I can’t imagine expending so much energy on these people

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    • Jacob says:

      They’re butt buddies. It goes with the territory.

      -6 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • The Tom says:

        See VEP is an intelligent analyst of baseball metrics and if anything is a guilty of falling a little too in love with some of them(FIP in particular) but he gives an earnest defense of his position you on the other hand need go back to Yahoo and make $uXor$ comments

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Thank you. I don’t really think I’m that much of a fan of FIP, I just think it’s really a really good baseline for measuring performance and it allows you to see exactly why certain things are the way they are.

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      • The Tom says:

        So then Carpenter just gets lucky?

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Chris Carpenter’s had a lower BABIP than league average for awhile now. That’s partially because he gets a lot of ground balls and doesn’t allow a lot of hard hit line drives. It’s also partially because the Cardinals infield defense has consistently been very good. I cannot tell you how many times Ryan has bailed out Carpenter.

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      • The Tom says:

        See I see Carp as pretty good comp for Ubaldo especially if he transitions away from the four seamer. They both induce a lot of bad contact and for good reason trust the defense behind them. Tulo isn’t in Ryan’s defensive class (although as a SS barmes might be) but Stewart, Tulo, Barmes, and Helton are all plus defenders and Ubaldo pitches with very similar mindset to Carpenter

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I agree. Even so, Carp’s BABIP is in the .270’s and low .280’s. And he’s been one of the best pitchers in baseball at inducing low BABIP’s. That’s exactly why I don’t think Jimenez’s BABIP is not influenced by luck.

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  47. Rich says:

    Why do people on here not understand what “luck” means in an advanced statistical context? It doesn’t mean luck as in “the coin came up heads 8 times out of 10″.

    It means “its not predictive because we have no idea why its happening”. But sometimes, it actually IS predictive. Sometimes, its not predictive, but its not luck.

    When a hitter has a BABIP of .400, sometimes its not because hes getting lucky. Sometimes its just because hes hitting the shit out of the ball. The fact that its unlikely to continue doesn’t mean its luck.

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  48. GT says:

    This is the first thread that Ive seen get ridiculous on fangraphs. Ubaldo is obviously impressive, other pitchers are also great, and stats are always changing.

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  49. WilsonC says:

    Have Cano and Morneau really been the two most valuable position players this year, or should we chop a little bit off their value for BABIP that are clearly helped by luck?

    I don’t think anybody disagrees that Ubaldo has gotten lucky this year, but that his results were luck-assisted doesn’t take away from the value he’s provided, any more so than Cano’s luck takes away from the value added by his .370+ batting average. There’s certainly worth in trying to filter out a pitcher’s true talent level using something like FIP, but a consistent standard should be used in determining value for pitchers and hitters, whether that standard is based on process or result.

    There’s really three elements to this article that I object to:
    1. The assertion that Halladay has been more valuable than Jimenez this year. He’s a better pitcher, but hasn’t been more valuable this year. A pitcher’s value is in preventing runs, not in how many runs his peripherals suggest he should prevent.

    2. The statement that starts like this one are a reason not to put Jimenez above pitchers like Halladay or Lee is an implication that Halladay or Lee don’t have these kinds of starts, which is false. ALL pitchers have starts where they don’t have their best stuff. Halladay’s had a few such starts as well this year. If 8 innings 1 run, no HR and twice as many strike outs as walks is an indication of one of a pitcher’s bad starts, he’s doing something right.

    3. There is some degree which batted ball classification is arbitrary, and the expected run values used for tRA are a yearly average, whereas in a single game the values may be very different. Were the liners hard, or were some in that hanging zone between line drives and fly balls? Did he challenge hitters more in low leverage situations to reduce his pitch count, reducing the run value of some of these liners? How many of the balls in play were on defensive swings, in counts that tend to produce poor results on balls in play? Did the Twins go in with a ball-in-play gameplan, figuring they had a better chance to chip away with singles rather than driving the ball? He may not have been at his best, but the article really doesn’t do a convincing job of telling it one way or another. Rather, metrics intended for use over a larger sample are being condensed into a single game. The numbers don’t tell much for so small a sample without scouting data to accompany them.

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    • Justin Mosovsky says:

      Who said that there would be an argument over how hard a line drive actually is? That person gets a star!

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  50. fothead says:

    Wow talk about mountains out of molehills on both sides of the argument. Extremes much?

    Now of course this point is not able to be suppported by advanced metrics ( at least to my knowledge) but I don;t claim to be a statistician or mathematican, but could the fact that Minnesota chose to run out a sub-par lineup and the fact that Colorado got off to an early lead have anything to do with Ubaldo’s stats in this game? Primarily the # of LD and K’s?

    Using convetional baseball logic (which I know most of you are allergic to) a pitcher who has been given a 3-0 lead in a pitchers ballpark against a team running out 4 near automatic outs would likely be more prone to try and let the other team beat him by putting the ball in play enough to cobble together runs. I know I would. Shit, if Drew Butera or Matt Tolbert are standing in there and you throw 100 MPH are you going to mess around and nibble, or are you going to throw it in there and try to make them beat you? I think the article pointing out the inferiority of the Twins lineup actually counters the point it is trying to make. But again this is using primarily conventional logic that I have accumulated in my nearly 30 years of watching baseball.

    Now before you numbers guys jump on me, I also feel that relying on specualtive, amateur observation to explain a season like Ubaldo’s is very shortsighted. I feel that touting his ERA and W-L record is outright dumb. And uninformed statements about how K’s are everything and pitchers who dont stike out batters are just as good is a load of BS. They dont get the point either.

    This conversation is a great case-study into the still wide difference in the SABR/oldschool baseball communites. The truth lies somewhere in between. Numbers can’t tell you the whole story alone, but nor can logic and observations because they can be extremely miseleading and biased.

    Most of you are so extreme.

    And Dirty Water is an outright POS. Anyone who would use Hitler as your Avatar is a worthless, despicable human being. Your obviously dumb, arrogant, bigoted and close-minded. You should be kicked in the groin. Twice.

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  51. LD303 says:

    What everyone fails to note here is that we can’t take Jimenez’s statistics seriously because he plays half his games at Coors Field. Just another guy in the long line of Dante Bichettes who have their numbers artificially inflated by that park. Put him at sea level, his ERA probably goes up to about 4. He’s slightly better than league average on a good day.

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  52. Michael says:

    OK, so it seems that people are once again confusing “past value” with “approach/skill/.” If we define the terms, it’d be easier:

    Past value is indicative of the actual runs Jimenez has allowed. Neither Jack nor VEP are denying that Jimenez did not prevent these runs from scoring. His ERA is 1.15 (or whatever) because it happened.

    Approach/skill/process describes how Jimenez has gotten there, and by DIPS metrics he has done so with a good deal of “luck.” Whether that luck is timing-based or defense-based or whatever, it’s there. VEP already made concessions about the likelihood of him having a below average BABIP; indeed, high-K pitchers often get less hits on balls in play because they have better stuff. But it would be difficult to deny that he has pitched as well as the results have shown. I think most people agree with this as well; I don’t think anyone is calling Jimenez’ performance or process a true 1-ish ERA, even if he really has allowed that many runs.

    Jack maybe chose the wrong thing to highlight by looking at just one start, but what he is essentially saying is correct: Ubaldo Jimenez maybe has not pitched as well as some other pitchers (though it is probably close enough to be splitting hairs), but his results have been better than any other pitcher. No one said he was a bad pitcher either, and in fact I recall FG writers praising Jimenez before this season as well. To suggest that perhaps he isn’t as good as he has shown is not to say that he isn’t good.

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  53. MauerPower says:

    I mean it wasn’t great but I don’t think it was unimpressive.

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  54. Guest says:

    This is one of the worst strings of posts I have ever seen because neither side is aware of what it is arguing, with the exception of one poster, fothead. The debate is really bewteen people who believe that metrics are perfect and those who believe they are flawed, but still useful.

    And, in reality, fangraphs has become the last haven of those who believe in the religion of statistics, blindly clinging to the idea that somehow metrics will perfectly predict every player’s performance every time. Even baseball prospectus, the gurus of metrics, admit that metrics are flawed. Some players outperform even the most advanced metrics (Ichiro), and some underperform (Javier Vazquez). In fact, that is why BP is so valuable, they look at the flaws in the metrics, understand them, and then try consider whether the metrics are really useful in a specific situation. And, not surprisingly, they have declared Jimenez more valuable than Halladay on their site in an article already. So much for “metrics” making the case for that; the best SABRmatricians don’t agree witht his post.

    And just to hit the point home that this site is well behind the learning curve on SABRmetrics, clinging to the hope that there is some metric that will make baseball perfectly predictable, here is a simple quote from BP shattering that vision: “Sabermetrics has long backed off the claim that pitchers do not control their batting average on balls in play (BABIP).” That is the fundamental claim behind this article, and the reason it is total garbage. Even sabermaticians (good ones anyway) concede that things like FIP, xFIP, etc. are not perfectly normalizing.

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  55. Coby DuBose says:

    This article is why many sabermetricians are not taken seriously.

    Did you watch Jimenez pitch against Houston on 5/20? I did. I was in Las Vegas, and had money on it.

    He gave up one hit, an infield single that Ian Stewart should have converted into an out. Beyond that, there was never a moment in the game where it appeared Houston had a chance to score. He shattered multiple bats in more than one inning. After the 2nd inning, I told my friend I wouldn’t be shocked if he threw a no-hitter that day. The fastball sat at 99 (according to the TV gun) until it was clear that cramps had cramped Ubaldo’s style in the 6th and 7th.

    I like advanced metrics. Some would call me a “stat geek”. But if those metrics say that his start against Houston wasn’t “impressive”, then there’s something wrong with what you’re using.

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    • Not David says:

      was in Las Vegas, and had money on it.

      You’re the only person in the world who cares.

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      • Coby DuBose says:

        Just stating that I had reason to watch the game closely, which is more than Moore can say in this instance.

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      • that wasn’t very nice

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      • Miles says:

        I think many of us watch intently for the love of the game or team moreso than anything else. If you need money on the line to watch a game closely (and shouldn’t you be watching previous games in order to better predict future performance than watching the current game, as you can’t really use any of that information to better your betting positions), then that should speak to some bias in judgement.

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  56. fothead says:

    LD303, I sincerely hope you are kidding. You have to be. Your logic is backwards. If anything, we should be all the more amazed that his ERA is that low based on the fact that he pitches at Coors. If he pitched his home games in LA, or at Citi Field or Seattle, then you can argue his home ballpark is artificially inflating his stats. Then you’d still be ignoring the fact that his home/road splits are just about even and that Coors is not the launching pad it once was. If it still made your Dante Bichettes and Vinny Castillas into Albert Pujolses, then he’d be 10x more amazing with the season he is having.

    Let’s face it guys, Ubaldo is a great pitcher any way you slice it. Whether you want to say he’s been lucky, or is not better than Halladay, Lee or any of the other “elites” you’d probably be right, and I’m sure Ubaldo would admit to it himself. If you look back, I’m sure no truly great season by pitcher has not involved a healthy dose of good fortune and this is no exception. Let’s give the guy his due. However what makes Halladay etc. “better” is the fact that they have done it for much longer and therefore can be counted on to continue what they have done.

    I also understand (as should anyone) that the better a player does, the more scrutiny they will be under at first until they’ve reached that level for a few seasons because baseball is hard. Very hard. To excel up and above your peers when you haven’t done so before is very good reason to question and look for the flaws, but also opens us up to splitting hairs too much.

    I dont care what team you are a fan of, there isn’t a single team in America, Japan or anywhere in the world that would soil themselves over the idea of having him leading their staff. And in the end, that is really what is important isn’t it?

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    • LD303 says:

      Thanks for getting the joke, dude. And you’re wrong about Coors- check the park factors. Even with the humidor it’s consistently in the top 3 for runs and hits and top 10 for HR. In 2009 it was #1 for both runs and hits- this year it’s #2 in runs, #5 in home runs, and #2 in hits. So yeah, Ubaldo is that good. As a Rockies fan I’m still furious about Matt Holliday being robbed of the 2007 MVP award “BECUZ HE PLAYS HIS HOME GAMES AT COORZ PARK” (approximate quote from east coast BBWA member). If Ubaldo keeps his ERA under 2.50 and wins 20+, it will be a tragedy if anyone else gets even a single first place vote for the Cy.

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  57. Coby DuBose says:

    This brings me to a fundamental issue that will hold back sabermetrics in general if it’s not remedied.

    Why did advanced analysis make such a charge? Why were Bill James and company considered luminaries? It began with questioning everything and understanding that we didn’t understand everything.

    Sabermetrics was built on the idea that our methods should be challenged. Now, it’s as if that approach has been abandoned. The new approach seems to be, “Well, we questioned it and we got some answers. So these are the absolutes and the final words on all subjects baseball.”

    Now sabermetrics is doing exactly what it hoped to correct. Instead of being open to new ideas and hopefully improving the way we understand the game, today’s sabermetricians do little more than defend the fort.

    Perhaps this is a result of the constant battle between the “old guard” and the SABR circles. Because sabermetrics (as an idea) has come under attack, the industry has joined together in defense of the actual statistics. It’s as if admitting the inherent weaknesses and acknowledging the issues would somehow justify the dissenting opinions. Thus, we can’t do it.

    Sabr-minded thinkers need to get back to defending the process, rather than defending the actual metrics. Not everything is perfect, but that shouldn’t make you all feel as if it undermines your work. Be open to new ideas and don’t make the study so absolute. That way, we can all move forward.

    2 cents.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Sabermetrics is about finding objective answers to the question in baseball. *objective* I am not defending the numbers, but using them as a baseline.

      I posted a detailed description of FIP above, which you would do well to read, and why it may be underrating Jimenez. However, I also show that it cannot be underrating Jimenez to the degree that his ERA suggest.

      And Cobly, I would appreciate you not ascribing agendas to saberists, because honestly your description could not be further from the truth.

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      • Coby DuBose says:

        You read a number of articles on this site, just as I do. Sure, there’s no spoken “agenda”, but the proof is in the offing. I’m well aware of what FIP entails, and this isn’t about FIP (or any individual metric). The bigger point is painting things that are not absolute as if they are absolute.

        Describing Jimenez’s 5/20 start against Houston as “unimpressive”, but why? I’m well versed on the virtues of missing bats and keeping the ball in the ballpark. But why do these have to be the absolutes of pitching? There’s more to learn about pitching and the ability to induce worthless contact. Perhaps there’s as much value in shattering a bat as there is in throwing a swing and miss slider. I resent the implication that this type of pitch and the converted ground ball out is in any way “lucky”. If one consistently saws off hitters, then it figures that a low batting average on balls in play will follow.

        I also think you’re a bit naive on the pursuits of today’s “new” sabermetricians. Take part and discussions and see if open-mindedness still rules the day. The truth is that it doesn’t, by long measure. There’s very much an “us against them” nature that prevents many writers/analysts from assessing the virtues of current metrics, and thus making appropriate adjustments.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        The bigger point is painting things that are not absolute as if they are absolute.

        Well you are guilty of the same thing. You can say that you believe Jimenez has the ability to control his BABIP to this extent, but that’s soooooo much more unlikely than what the saber guys are saying. It’s not like Jimenez is sawing off bats every time – his batted ball numbers compare favorably to Adam Wainwright (who I think is better than Jimenez, but that may be homerism).

        Anyway, I don’t consider FanGraphs sabermetrics because they don’t seem to do much in the ways of research anymore. I agree that there is a lot of homogeneity involved in the writing here.

        I consider this blog the best place for sabermetric banter these days

        http://www.insidethebook.com/ee

        Please tell me if you think that fits your description of modern day sabermetrics.

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  58. WY says:

    Absurd post by a college kid who’s full of himself and isn’t nearly as smart as he thinks he is. Almost a self-parody of sabermetric analysis.

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    • waynetolleson says:

      Yup. Another eight innings and 1 ER. Real unimpressive.

      I’m all for SABR, but at a certain point, the worship of numbers becomes as stupid as completely ignoring statistical evidence.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        You do realize that 8 innings, 1 ER are, in fact, numbers?! Why don’t you actually watch the guy pitch, huh, and stop relying on how many runs he gives up to determine how good he looked.

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      • @vivaelpujols

        I’m converting your reply into binary so I can make a proper response to it.

        Please wait.

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      • Shaz_Bagl says:

        So just for the record, BABIP, FIP, XFIP, HR/9 ect. aren’t numbers? I guess i’m confused now.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        They are numbers, but at least I’m being completely up front with my reliance on them. The guys who are saying “watch him pitch, he is awesome” are using ERA to prove their point.

        They are still using numbers, just different numbers, and not backing up their use of their specific numbers with actual proof. It’s ridiculous.

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  59. Kenneth Weber says:

    can’t wait for the general population to label Baldy the first “undeserving” or “lucky” 25+ game winner in big league history. You put him in Philly, Boston, NY or LA and statues will already be on blueprint, but since he’s in the mountains, he’s much easier to discredit.

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  60. fothead says:

    No Ken, that would be Bob Welch, 1990:

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=1013750&position=P

    lol. Worst 25 game winner in history. 1.65 K/BB?!?!

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  61. jimiu says:

    I really think the writer of article should have stated that “because of their FIP, xFIP, etc I believe that Halladay will be a better pitcher for the rest of the season.” Didn’t a voter use FIP vs ERA for his reason for voting for Vazquez last year over Carpenter? The luck argument never seems to come up with hitters when it comes to MVP talk. “Ah yeah, I can’t vote for Cano as “MVP” because he had a BABIP of .382 with a LD % if 18.2%. I’m voting for Pedroia because he has a 22.5 LD% but only has a BABIP of .274, without the luck he was much better this year.”

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  62. vivaelpujols says:

    I’m putting Jimenez at a 3.00 ERA going forward, just to put it on the record.

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    • Nick says:

      “consider that were [Ubaldo] to pitch 21 games over the rest of the year at a rate of six innings per start, allowing an exactly average 4.10 ERA and running up a 7-7 won-loss record, his line at the end of the year would be 18-8 with a 2.78 ERA in 213.1 innings.”

      Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2010/writers/tim_marchman/06/11/ubaldo.jimenez/index.html#ixzz0rERIO8uB

      So you must be projecting very elite stats for Ubaldo which contradicts what you and many of the other SABR nuts have been saying. Even if he regresses a shit load, he will still likely be the best pitcher in baseball and I don’t see a regression even close to a league average 4.10 ERA. Those stats were before his last start of 8 IP, 1 ER too

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        I’m using his current ZIPS projection adjusted for the fact that ZIPS will regress him to the league average and his scouting profile is clearly above average.

        And most “SABR nuts” think that Jimenez is one of the best pitchers in baseball.

        http://www.insidethebook.com/ee/index.php/site/comments/the_most_valuable_pitchers_in_baseball/

        I personally think it’s outside the top 5, but that’s just me.

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      • edxs says:

        I’d project him at a low-3s ERA from here to the end of the season. There’s no question he’s a great pitcher, but there’s a number of guys whose performance has impressed me more. Wainwright and Weaver have pitched exceptionally well, and I’d project guys like Haren and Liriano to do better as well, even though their results haven’t been overwhelmingly impressive. Haren’s results have been downright ugly, and I think he’s making a case for the unluckiest man in baseball.

        As for your statement about him being the best pitcher in baseball, I doubt it. He may combine with his team’s defense to be the best defensive combination in baseball, in fact I would bet on it. Nevertheless, I am fairly confident there are at least a half-dozen pitchers who will have contributed more to their team’s winning than he will.

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  63. jimiu says:

    I’m wondering what 200 innings of a FIP at or around 1.15 would actually look like Pedro 1999 has a FIP of 1.39 and that seems to be the only time I see a FIP under 2.00. So if you want to deserve a sub 2.00 ERA you need to K about 13 per 9 and allow less than 2 walks per 9. someone with more time and energy want to compute what a FIP of 1.15 would look like for someone pitching 200 innings, show Ks, BB, H and HR?

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    • Franco says:

      The only other comparable would be Bob Gibson’s 1968 season. 1.12 ERA, 1.77 FIP, 240 BABIP, 86.7% LOB….. over 300+ innings!

      This is still a freak outlier by a great pitcher, but Jimenez would still have to outluck even Bob here.

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  64. Casper says:

    This whole comments thread reminds me of the Southpark episode where the atheists are trying to kill each other because they can’t agree on answer the The Great Question. The whole episode – as well as this threatd – is encapsulated perfectly in one quote from it: “Our answer to the Great Question is the only logical one. Our Science is great. Let us not forget the great Richard Dawkins who finally freed the world of religion long ago. Dawkins knew that logic and reason were the way of the future. But it wasn’t until he met his beautiful wife that he learned using logic and reason isn’t enough. You have to be a dick to everyone who doesn’t think like you.”

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  65. LD says:

    You’ll have to forgive Rockies fans. They seem to care way too much about the perception of their favorite team.

    As a Rockies fan, I’ll say this: He has performed well this year. It’s been partially luck-driven, absolutely. That doesn’t change the results, it just indicates that future results probably won’t be as sterling.

    I’m going to enjoy this ride for as long as it lasts and not get my panties in a bunch whenever someone says his performance has been luck-based. I encourage the petulant Purple Row readers to do the same… You’re making the rest of us look like douches.

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    • The Tom says:

      being in the forgotten time zone and being ignored by voters in everything from the NFL HOF to the ROY and MVP races has give the purple cre

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      • Andy says:

        When has the Denver area been ignored by voters?

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      • The Tom says:

        Todd Helton had a 8.8BR or 8.6FG WAR season barely crack the top 5 in NL MVP voting, Tulo was the best defensive short stop in baseball and was the second best rookie in all of baseball his 5.4 WAR stacked up nicely to Brauns 2.8 WAR but he still was not ROY, the NFL HOF is what put the chip there everything else just feels like history repeating

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    • The Tom says:

      being in the forgotten time zone and being ignored by voters in everything from the NFL HOF to the ROY and MVP races has give the Colorado crew a chip on their collective shoulder no doubt, but this was a pretty shallow piece of reporting and kind brought the shit storm on itself a bit.

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      • LD says:

        This proves nothing, Tom. It proves that a subjective vote isn’t objective. Nice work. Way to represent PR.

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      • The Tom says:

        The shit storm comment had to do with how Jack stated something subjective(Who has been the best pitcher so far) as objective and using the shallowest of evidence to “prove” it.

        If I point out that Denver fans have felt overlooked in the past, and are defensive about how their players are perceived how does reflect badly on a blog?

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    • hey

      I am SO being levelheaded here

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    • Nick says:

      Who says Ubaldo defenders necessarily are Rockies fans? You sound like an asshole who is completely full of himself… Don’t let your unhappiness in life cause you to take it out on an internet board.

      “You’re making the rest of us look like douches.”

      LOL. I don’t think Rockies fans are douches (I’m not a rockies fan btw), but I think you’re a douche. How did that happen?

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  66. jimiu says:

    Can someone tell me if today’s line for Carlos Silva: 6IP, 6H, 4K, 0BB, 1HR, 14 GB (3 for hits), 3 LD (2hits, 1HR), 3 FB (1 H) game was better than Ubaldo’s game yesterday? I’m not sure anymore.

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    • The Tom says:

      Evident the Wash!!!

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    • anonymous says:

      According to Moore, most definitely. But then again, Silva isn’t Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee (of all the pitchers, he chose 29 year old Cliff Lee who spent most of his career in the minors) so that means Moore thinks he’s shit anyway.

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  67. Paul says:

    So I guess nobody read this article, huh? Bummer. :)

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  68. CircleChange11 says:

    As much as an eight inning, one run start can be unimpressive in the major leagues, this was it. Jimenez only struck out four batters while walking two. He allowed eight hits while allowing seven line drives and only inducing two swings and misses.

    Disclaimer: When I read baseball information or make observation I do so from the perspective of a coach first, playe second, and stat’s geek 3rd.

    When I read the information quoted above from the article, rather than assume that Ubaldo was pitching differently, I assume that the Twins approached Ubaldo differently.

    My guess is that they decided to jump all over the first fastball strike they saw, rather than chance going deep into the count, where UJ will put them away in embarrassing fashion. I think we’ll see the same thing with Strasburg, b/c once you get behind in the count with these guys your chances decrease into the “no hope” realm.

    It’s starts like these that are the reason that we shouldn’t place Jimenez above such pitchers as Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay, both pitchers who have performed at a higher level this season than Jimenez. Lee has a well-documented 15 K/BB, which would easily be the best mark in Major League history. Roy Halladay’s 2.38 ERA is supported by a superior 2.67 FIP, making him the most valuable pitcher in baseball so far.

    Who are the idiots that feel they need to rank pitcher’s in a numerical list? Why?

    Why not just throw Jimenez into the group of “Pitchers we don’t want to face”?

    And it’s not because of “starts like this” because Lee and Halladay have had “starts like this” (that really is a dumb thing to say) in their careers. People don;t put Jimienez on par with Lee & halladay for a few possible reasons: [1] he hasn’t been as dominant for as long, [2] he does not excel in the metrics one prefers, or [3] to be contrary. UJ is having a historical season, and yet it doesn’t show as much in the metrics this websaite favorsd, so the performance must be marginalized. Sad, really.

    The article seemed to serve no analytical purpose and really just functioned as the literature stick striking the reader’s hornets nest.

    In terms of FG quality commentary versus other general fandom websites, we are becoming more like them instead of the other way around.

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  69. dbf says:

    Simple question. What is the empirical evidence that deviation between ERA and tERA, FIP and xFIP are due to luck? Is there any or is it based on an assumption that pitchers have no influence on the outcome of HR/FB or hits/LD? People treat these stats as though they are gospel, please tell me what is the evidence that they are everything people think they are? (This is an honest question that I would like an honest answer to).

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    • Yoloslim says:

      Advanced metrics consistently perform better at predicting future success in not only advanced metrics but simpler ones like era as well.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        can you demonstrate or support your comment?

        Predicting long-term or short-term future success?

        Can you suply an example of an advanced metric being able to demonstrate significant future predicting properties, in a way that professionals would find it meaningful to interpreting a player’s contributions and possible future performance.

        In other words, I’m asking which metric predicts future performance better?

        I ask because it seems past performance is what predicts future performance, and the selection of the metric seems to have as much to do with preference and familiarity as anything else.

        It seems many metrics function as a means of isolating an individual’s contribution from an outcome that includes teammates as to determine each player’s individual value.

        As for the predicting success part, isn’t the “predicitng success” part (here at FG) just looking at a player’s XYZ and comparing it to their career norm and then expecting regression to the mean?

        I say this because if there were a metric with strong predicitive powers with a high degree of accuracy, that would be the single most important metric in the baseball world. I don’t know of that metric, but if it exist, I’d sure like to know more about it.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I guess, the most important question to me is whether any of the metrics has a really STRONG predictive power, or if we just give FIP, xFIP, and other DIPs a lot of credence because they’re better than ERA.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      There has been at least 10 years of literature on DIPS is why it is more predictive, and why the differences indicate luck. Not all of it’s conclusive, but there is a lot of evidence out there. I’m sorry, but if you haven’t read anything about that than you are either new to sabermetrics or living under a rock.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        VEP,

        I don’t mind google-searching for info on DIPS. But, I did want to ask if you had a specific link in regards to what you feel is the best information on DIPS and its predictive propertires in regards to an individual’s future performance.

        Thanks in advance.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Nevermind. I was thinking DIPS was something different than it is.

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    • vivaelpujols says:

      Here is an article the summarizes the finding of DIPS (read at the end):

      http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/confessions-of-a-dips-apostate/

      Sorry for being a dick.

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      • dp says:

        Thanks for the link–and for the apology. For the record, your response was kind of dickish. In any event, I do have a life, consuming career, family…etc and have not read the latest on all the advanced statistics. I just thought it would be interesting to do so and rather than wade through everything, most of which is pointless (for example explaining the rationale for the stat, but providing little evidence), I wanted to hear the best evidence to decide for myself how much value to put in the advanced statistics.

        For what it is worth, I am somewhat of a novice on advanced baseball statistics, but I do know numbers. I played around with some of the stats on this site and found that (in an admittedly limited sample) that xFIP from one year was more predictive than ERA at predicting ERA in the next year, but the advantage, while significant, was very small. Also, there was a slight trend that seemed to indicate that pitchers who beat the xFIP one year were more likely to beat it the next year-maybe that effect goes away in larger data sets. I’m sure others have run these numbers on larger data sets and have firmer conclusions–I’ll read your link.

        Obviously, these stats have their value and are more valuable in evaluating and predicting pitcher success than traditional stats. However, there is a huge leap to go from saying that a stat is more predictive to saying that where the stat fails is random chance (especially in the case of any one particular pitcher). Even the best statistics are poor at predicting the pitcher’s stats in the next year, so there are enormous possibilities for real effects hidden in the noise of pitcher variability.

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    • Ryan says:

      The stat geeks come up with flawed models for what should theoretically be a pitchers performance based on certain independent variables and then try to argue that the deviation between what the pitchers numbers should be and what they are is just due to luck. It amazes me that people who profess to be so smart can be so intellectually lazy. Luck and randomness do play a role in baseball but I can’t believe that luck plays as much of a role as people make it out to be in reality. For example there is no way to distinguish between a weak liner that is caught and a hard liner that is caught. If a hard liner is caught, that could be more easily attributed to luck, as the fielder was lucky to be in the right place. However a weak liner being caught should not be attributed to luck and the pitcher should get credit for inducing poor contact. Since there is no way to formulate an independent variable that expresses whether a liner (or a ground ball for that matter) is hit well or softly, people will just say the pitcher got lucky.

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  70. Lionofthesenate says:

    jimenez is not regressing to 3.50 or whatever. The stats geeks do not have a measue to account for speed of fastball. They do a good job idenitfying how ground balls and fly balls lead to runs, etc……what is utterly lacking is any kind of measue that accounts for speed of fast ball and how speed can damper the likelihood of even batted balls from being hit hard. What is it worth to have a 90mph fb? What about a 95mph fb? 97? 99? How does speed impact babip? Or hr rate on fly balls. No way this is not a factor.

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  71. Larry says:

    Jimenez probably will not win 25 games, he will probably not end the season with an ERA below 2.00, but if nothing else – all I need to know whether Jimenez will continue his success is if he will be able to continue to throw 95 and up consistently [with command].

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  72. Doctor_Teh says:

    Lol, not much more can be said to all of this, but wow.

    The only thing I would add, is that I THINK people like VEP are trying to say that yes, Jiminez has had great results, amazing results so far, but if we essentially repitched this season, giving each pitcher the exact same situations and amount of luck that he has received, and did it infinite times, Halladay (or Lee or whoever you pitcher of choice is) would give up even fewer runs.

    That probably makes no sense to anyone but me, but the point is that, yes, Jiminez is great but if other great pitchers had received his luck and defense, over enough times to eliminate random performance, he would most likely not produce the best results, making him not necessarily the most valuable to his team so far this season, despite the fact that his results have CLEARLY been the best of any pitcher.

    Gogo gadget confusing post!

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      That probably makes no sense to anyone but me, but the point is that, yes, Jiminez is great but if other great pitchers had received his luck and defense, over enough times to eliminate random performance, he would most likely not produce the best results, making him not necessarily the most valuable to his team so far this season, despite the fact that his results have CLEARLY been the best of any pitcher.

      You’re right that doesn’t make sense to me. It doesn’t make sense to me because people don’t get credit for what they might have done, or what they had the potential to do, only what they DID. All that matters and all that we KNOW is what has happened. We can claim to knopw what might have happened, but that is just a claim, no matter how much we try to justify it.

      How do we check to see if other pitchers would have been as dominant or more dominant in the same scenario?

      Let me guess.
      [1] Start with a set of metrics and/or assumptions.
      [2] Run every process based on those metrics/assumptions.
      [3] Get the expected result based on assumptions and expectations.
      [4] Claim validity because assumptions and expectations were fulfilled.

      We assume we are starting with the accurate and “right” basis and then we everything works out we claim it valid, and when it doesn’t w call it luck? Seems to work a lot like a “self-fulfilling prophecy”.

      Doesn’t it seem a bit ridiculous that we’re even having the discussion whether Hallday, Lee or another pitcher would have had a better season if he were in Jimenez’s situation?

      What would we say to someone that was going on and on about someone other than Gibson having the potential to have a better season in ’68? That’s right, we’d tell him to sit down and shut up.

      I think once we start trying to quantify outcomes based on potential we’re screwed, because we’re starting with a foundation that we do not know (potential).

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  73. Gul Cratt says:

    The eternal problem with isolating “luck” in sports is that we really truly can never know exactly what is luck and what isn’t, for any given specific event. Also, personally, I think we tend to focus too much on the luck involved in BABIP and too little on the luck involved in K%. Because strikeouts are completely field independent (catchers excluded of course), it’s an excellent way to remove the defense from the equation, but the problem is, the batter remains in that equation, and so there’s still a significant non-pitcher variable at play. Just as there is probabilistic noise in the overlap between ground ball outs and ground ball hits, for instance, there is also probabilistic noise in the overlap between strikeouts and balls in play. It’s convenient to treat BABIP as completely luck-dependent and strikeouts as luck-independent, but when the entire focus of the discussion is on luck, we can’t be lazy there.

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    • Gul Cratt says:

      vep, as you’re obviously well-versed in the literature, do you know of any articles that address the luck involved in strikeouts? Every FIP and DIPS article I’ve read tends to treat strikeouts as “eliminating luck,” which seems to make the mistake of focusing only on the “post-strikeout” luck involved (which is obviously zero since there’s no event occurring) and ignoring the “pre-strikeout” luck involved. I’d like to see someone smarter than me address this, as it’s possible that I’m misinterpreting something or overestimating the effects of that “strikeout luck.”

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Are you trying to say the strikeouts also have a degree of luck involved in them? I would agree with you completely. In fact, I previously wrote an article in which I basically said as much:

        http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/article/working-title/

        The outcome of each pitch thrown is effected by many other things outside the pitchers control (the batter, the umpire, ballpark factors, defense, and birds in the case of Randy Johnson), so I agree that it’s not just BABIP that is influenced by luck, but pretty much every baseball stat there is.

        However, based on year to year correlation testing and other such things, it’s been shown that certain areas of pitcher performance (BABIP, HR/FB ratio, LOB%) are much more influenced by luck than others (strikeout rate, walk rate, ground ball percentage). Over 15 starts, a players strikeout, walk and ground ball rates are going to be pretty much reflective of the pitchers talent in those areas, but stuff like BABIP and LOB% are not a good representation of the pitchers actual performance (seriously, they are terrible, BABIP stabilizes at around 1500 balls in play, which is like 5 seasons).

        The ultimate goal would be to isolate the pitchers performance from the batters, umpires and fielders, which is what I was proposing with Pitch f/x in the article linked above.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        BABIP stabilizes at around 1500 balls in play, which is like 5 seasons

        This is the kind of stuff that cracks me up. I know it’s the nature of statistics, but I still find it humorous.

        So, basically after 5 seasons of being really good, the numbers can tell us that a player is just really good and not just really lucky.

        Wow. *grin*

        So, basically, BABIP and other stats that involve luck are not all that useful on telling us anything about the players we need assessment on the most (young players).

        We don’t really need the advanced metrics to tell us something about a player that’s played in the ML for 5+ years. He is what he is.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        So, basically after 5 seasons of being really good, the numbers can tell us that a player is just really good and not just really lucky.

        Nope, that’s not what it means at all. It means that after 1500 balls in play, past BABIP has a .50 correlation with future BABIP. The reason we care about that is that by using this formula:

        r = x/(x+c)

        Where r = the correlation, x is the amount of balls in play and c is the point at which r = .50. That tells you how much you need to regress BABIP to league average for an individual pitcher. So it’s a continuous function.

        But thanks for the assumption about what that number means. Those are always great.

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  74. Jay says:

    For those keeping score at home, we’ve had six uses of the word fuck, six shits, two bullshits, three dicks, four douches, one cunt, one twat and remarkably three Hitlers.

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  75. Lee says:

    Ubaldo Jimenez has been lucky, but let’s not miss what the advanced stats are. He has a FIP of 2.93, an xFIP of 3.61, and a tERA of 2.84. To argue that the “advanced metrics” don’t tell us anything is silly, since they still suggest that on skill, Ubaldo Jimenez is one of the best pitchers in all of baseball. However, even without knowing these stats, I think we can all agree that a 1.15 ERA in this day and age, is luck. That doesn’t discredit him, since I doubt a mediocre pitcher could put up these numbers without nearly impossible amounts of luck.

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      The big issue, to me at kleast, is how we use the word luck.

      Luck in Ubaldo’s ERA isn;t the same luck as one of us winning the lottery.

      Ubaldo has done a lot of things to “stack the cards” in his favor in the luck department.

      Sure some of it is randomness and variability (i like those words better than luck). But, as you state, it isn’t as if anyone is capable of that amnount of “luck”.

      Bob Gibson had a whole bunch of “randomness” in his 1.12 ERA. I guess at this point, I wonder “who cares?”. We all know that some “randomness” plays into each and every outcome/season.

      It seems that we, as a group, are needlessly splitting hairs over something inconsequential just to have something to fight about … and there seems to be a need for some to marginalize Ubaldo’s pitching, as if we have to rank pitchers week by week in a list. Hint: We don’t.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Jimenez has a .158 BABIP with runners on base. His double play percentage is twice the rate of league average despite only getting about 1.2 times more groundballs than the league. I consider that to be massively lucky.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I agree. I should be more clear of when I am being serus and when I am being flippent for fun sake.

        UJ is a very good pitcher with electric stuff, but not as dominant as his stats are displaying.

        Once his stats “normalize”, we’ll start hearing the “What’s wrong with Ubaldo” stuff.

        As a curoius point, I have to wonder if a pitcher has ever had this much “luck” (aside from Tom Browning’s no-hitter *grin*).

        Ubaldo came into the league with electric stuff, but without the dominance. I would imagine that some guys in that situation continue to be the same guy throughout their career while others improve control and command (learn to pitch as it might be said), and improve. This would be in comparison to the Dwight Goodens and Tim Lincecums of the world that come into the game dominant and are unable to sustain that clear dominance (but still be really really good).

        I wonder, just for discussion sake and not make any point, how much of this season’s stats are Ubaldo imprving as a pitcher, and how much is luck? Future performance will tell that I suppose.

        I would also imagine that ther have been pitchers that have went through streaks similar to this before, and that this situation gets all of our attention because it occurred at the start of the season where the season stats represent “the streak”, so it’s obvous to all.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        The spelling is horrible. Good Lord.

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  76. anonymous says:

    I think everybody knows that if these numbers were Roy Halladay’s, the douchebag author would be talking about how Roy has been so dominant and turns up his game a level when he has runners on base and is being crafty on the mound. Those would be the reasons for said “luck” whereas when it’s Ubaldo, he’s just been straight up getting lucky. I mean, that’s the only way he can be pitching better than the SABR heads’ gay fantasy lover Roy, isn’t it?

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  77. ragamuffin says:

    Talk about people taking themselves too seriously…

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  78. griffstees says:

    @ubaldo

    Thank you Ubaldo, you are a gem. This year I drafted you in the 6th round of my keeper league draft. Cliff lee and Roy Halladay went in the first round, and i was worried. You were the third pitcher on my list, but I kept waiting to select you. I had traded my first round pick, took McCutchen, Cruz, Dunn, (a player i wont mention due to hatred), and then you. Sir, you are keeping me in the race for the playoffs. Thank you.

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  79. irony says:

    Can’t wait for the “Halladay’s 2nd consecutive unimpressive start” article tomorrow.

    When the most valuable pitcher in the NL, has 2 poor starts (including 5HR’s allowed), I wonder what the analysis will be?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      I can appreciate what you are getting at, but I hope we don’t have another negative article that serves no other purpose than to degrade some of the best pitchers in baseball or minimalize what they are accomplishing.

      What these starts show us is that even the best are still human. It also illustrates the difficulty of being consistently great at the highest level … as Pujols previous “slump” also illustrated.

      Two wrongs don’t make a right. But, instead of another negative article to “balance it all out”, I’d rather the authors just change their tone when writing articles. As we all know, it’s not always what you say, but how you say it (myself included).

      I, personally, don’t want to read a negative article about Jimenez, Strasburg, Halladay, Lee, etc. It should be assumed that we as informed readers understand that “it all evens out over time”.

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  80. IHEARTVIVAELPUJOLS says:

    I HEART VIVA EL PUJOLS! And btw Dirty Water, Hitler sucks.

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  81. CircleChange11 says:

    It’s not like this start is just one isolated incident – see 5/26 vs. ARI – only 3 Ks and 1 BB, or 5/20 vs. HOU – there are times that, despite his ace stuff, he doesn’t quite dominate hitters like his ERA suggests he has.

    I looked up these game to try and see what is different in them versus his “dominant starts”, b/c I suspect that teams will start to jump on the 1st FB strike they see to avoid getting behind in the count and to especially avoid 2-strike situations.

    Do you realize in one of those game, he threw a 7-inning 1 hitter on 92 pitches where he did not allow a single line drive and only 3 foul balls? That has to indicate some type of weak contact, even when contact is made.

    The other game is not “that good”, but then you look at the 6 hits over 8 innings on 101 pitches, and you start to see a possible trend … He ain;t throwing all that many pitches, and IMO, it’s likely due to teams not letting themselves get into 2-strike counts. In this game he did give up more FB’s (how deep I don’t know … and it’s also possible for guys to hit flies on pitches up in the zone where they chase).

    I’m trying to determine what the “deep basis” for these starts being ‘unimpressive’ is because there seems to be a lot of missing and important information.

    What am I missing?

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    • bobbo says:

      you’re missing that strikeouts and FIP are all that matter as a pitcher, actual results and winning ball games are irrelevant, happen by luck, and cannot happen if you’re not roy halladay or cliff lee

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  82. ASD says:

    “Ubaldo’s Unimpressive Start”

    Sick sample size.

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    • ASD says:

      FWIW, I am a HUGE Rockies fan/homer, and vivaelpujols is right about just about everything in this thread. But don’t forget, the advanced metrics he is citing still demonstrate that Ubaldo is a very, very good pitcher. He’s just not a 1.15 ERA pitcher going forward (HINT: no one is). The reason he has a 1.15 ERA is a combination of good pitching and good luck. Don’t be offended because your favorite player is lucky, it happens all the time.

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    • Yoloslim says:

      That’s the whole point, he’s not saying Ubaldo sucks. He’s saying he had an unimpressive start. It’s you that is reading too much into it.

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  83. Steve says:

    I think analogy is helpful. Say there is this violinist. She doesn’t have perfect pitch, has issues with her mechanics, and misses notes here and there. Her teachers (experts) agree she’s mediocre by analyzing the fundamentals of what produce good music. But then she goes out and plays a concert and the reviews are great. The over the top reviews continue in her next few performances.

    There are two questions here:
    1. should we be impressed with her performance?
    2. going forward can we expect her to continue to wow audiences?

    I think the answer to 1 is “yes” which is what Ubaldo supporters are emphasizing. The fact is that people liked the music–even if it was just because they came to the performance is a good mood, or the rest of the orchestra played over their heads. The fact is that Ubaldo won 13 games and has hardly given up any runs. Results win games.

    The answer to 2 is, in the baseball world, obviously “no.” Ubaldo can’t keep this up. He might regress enough that–based even on results–Halladay will win the Cy Young. I think most of the animosity toward Ubaldo is based on a feeling that he is getting credit not just for winning 13 games but for the expectation he will win 25, which isn’t going to happen. They want people to acknowledge that Ubdalo is overrated, which grinds their gears. (If you watch basketball, think of the Church of Kobe to understand how someone can be irked by hype.)

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  84. Internet T1 says:

    Like any game, the first moves should be the best. The same thing as playing chess, the first ten moves should be the best otherwise you will suffer in the whole duration of the game. What Jimenez is same thing as what other players experienced. May the guy has no condition on that time. It is not really his game.
    The good thing is there is still another game where he can performed well. We in Internet t1 will monitor their next games.

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  85. jim says:

    wow, vivaelpujols really was a huge douche through this whole thread

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