Wanted: Ubaldo Jimenez Community Analysis

We realize the post: Ubaldo’s Unimpressive Start, caused a bit of a stir in the comments section with many people agreeing and disagreeing to various degrees.

Because of the strong opinions on both sides of the argument, we’d like to invite those with particularly strong thoughts and analysis on Ubaldo Jimenez’s continued success to submit posts to our community blog.

We will publish the two most well thought out and detailed posts on the agreeing side and the disagreeing side in our Community Blog as well as our homepage, as long as we receive submissions that are up to the high Community Blog standards.

To begin submitting an article, click here.

I would also like to take a moment to remind people to please be courteous in the comments section. Ad hominem or any sort of personal attacks on people will not be tolerated, so please keep it civil. We would like to continue to keep our comments completely open.

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David Appelman is the creator of FanGraphs.

83 Responses to “Wanted: Ubaldo Jimenez Community Analysis”

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  1. Ewing says:

    I have nothing to really offer for an article but I did some quick research on something that intrigued me. Check out a comparison between Ubaldo and Pedro 2000 in their first fourteen starts:


    1.15 ERA
    1.00 WHIP
    2.43 K/BB
    7.8 K/9


    1.55 ERA
    0.78 WHIP
    7.05 K/BB
    11.9 K/9

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  2. I worry the “two sides” are not clearly defined. Confusion seemed to run rampant about what exactly was being argued

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  3. Kirsh says:

    Yes, I think some clarification would be helpful. Are the two sides simply whether or not he’s getting lucky?

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    • I think in general, the questions that there seems to be the most controversy over are:

      Is Ubaldo getting lucky? (And if so, how lucky?)
      Is Ubaldo the best pitcher in baseball?

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      • Dirty Water says:

        There is a 3rd question you have conveniently ignored. What motivated the writer to spit on Ubaldo’s brilliant season?

        Apparently, it’s because Ubaldo doesn’t strike enough batters out to suit Moore’s taste. That was my controversy.

        1) Ubaldo is no luckier than Grienke was last year, or Cliff Lee before him. CY seasons are inherently lucky.
        2) Ubaldo is easily the best starter in baseball. He probably won’t be next year, and he wasn’t last year, but this year, at this point, he is blowing all others away.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        I wouldn;t say Cy Young seasons are inherently lucky, because the pitcher who wins is often very good consistently.

        Sure, you’ll get a Bob Welch with 27 wins due to the run support.

        But, most times, the Cy Young winner was dominant all season long.

        However, when you get a season like UJ’s this year, and there is some luck involved.

        Probably similar to John Tudor’s 1.95 ERA season, but UJ definately has more “stuff” than Tudor’s great location and change of speeds and endless ground balls to the best defensive shortstop of all-time (and perhaps the outfield with the best range in history).

        As a side note, I wonder if the 1982 Cardinals or 1985 cardinals had one of the top defenses ever (by whatever metrics available).

        But, really there seems to be an over-eagerness to marginalize UJ’s season … whereas we celebrate Gibson’s 1.12 season as if it was “all him” … neglecting the era he pitched in primarily.

        It’s as if we just can;t sit back and enjoy it, or as if we have to “counter” all the attention in the mainstream media … as if we have to find something “hidden” that shows our intellectual superiority. That’s my only complaint, and it’s not that big of one.

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      • LD303 says:

        I agree completely with what CircleChange says above. My issue with the article was not with the author’s choice of statistical measuring sticks, but with the article’s tone. The title wasn’t “Jimenez’s ERA doesn’t tell the whole story” or something to that effect- for some reason it had to use “unimpressive,” which is unnecessarily pejorative. There was also this line:

        “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.”

        Look, if you’re tired of the MSM attention Jimenez has been getting, that’s fine. If you want to use advance metrics to show that he’s been lucky and probably won’t continue to keep his ERA where it is, that’s fine. But when tone of an article on a blog more or less dedicated to objectivity takes the tone of “GOD, AREN’T YOU SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THIS GUY? I SURE AM- AND JUST SO YOU KNOW, HE DOESN’T STRIKE OUT ENOUGH GUYS FOR MY TASTE,” that’s obnoxious. That’s all. Even as a huge Rockies fan, I can agree with most of the content of the original post (although like many commenters noted, I think it’s pretty useless to evaluate stats that a player has already earned by comparing them to projections). It was the tone that I thought was pretty useless. “Here’s some information that might make you reconsider the degree to which Jimenez has been dominant” is fine. “GRRRRR I’M SO SICK OF HEARING ABOUT THIS GUY” really isn’t. And the article definitely came across as the second.

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      • Dirty Water says:

        It is contradictory to opine that wins are mostly luck, yet ‘Cy Young seasons are (not) inherently lucky’.

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      • @Dirty Water, we’re offering anyone the chance to write an analysis on Ubaldo. If you think Jack is valuing his strikeouts too much, feel free to submit an article on why that’s the case and we’ll gladly consider it for publication.

        @CircleChange11, we’re not out to rain on anyone’s parade. Jack just called it like he saw it and he actually did say “This isn’t to say that Ubaldo Jimenez isn’t a great pitcher…”

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        All depends on the “degree” of luck we’re saying is inherent in a Cy Young season.

        I don’t think wins are, on average, “lucky”. I think the best pitchers who are consistently very good will get wins more than other pitchers.

        But, I do acknowledge that there are seasons where Bob Welch can have 27 wins during a 1.8 WAR and Steve Stone can nab the award with a 3.2 WAR season. It happens, but not a lot.

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      • verd14 says:

        Here’s my problem, which has come up in my fantasy league with owners complaining about an “unlucky” schedule, phrasing anything around the word “luck” is far too subjective. I think the better question would be “Will UJ sustain his low ERA vs his other peripheral stats”.

        @Circle Change “All depends on the “degree” of luck we’re saying is inherent in a Cy Young season.” How can you apply some sort of magnitude to something that doesn’t even exist? There is no degree of luck.

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  4. Or says:

    Ubaldo’s getting lucky. Very lucky. But having seen him, the amount of weak contact he induces is ludicrous. The low BABIP makes a lot of sense and I could see him being a guy who regularly overperforms his expected numbers.

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  5. KG says:

    Not to fan the flames, but Halladay had an unimpressive start today. Of course, there’s no article on that.

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    • kbertling353 says:

      Fangraphs normally doesn’t post articles on weekends…

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    • WY says:

      KG is right on the money, actually. He picks on Jimenez for an “unimpressive” start (in which he allowed 1 ER in 8 IP, regardless of the other stuff), yet ignores the fact that Halladay (among others) have had plenty of even more “unimpressive” starts. For that matter, EVERY pitcher is going to have unimpressive starts now and then over the course of the season — even Cy Young winners. I don’t see why Jimenez’s game was so noteworthy.

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      • DT says:

        it’s cuz his numbers are so skewed by luck. 90% + LOB,, incredibly low BABIP, not that high K/9 or k:B. His FIP and xFIP are both way over his era.. Luck is a factor for all pitchers but Jiminez seems to have hit the jackpot.

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      • When you rarely allow more than one baserunner in an inning and almost never allow one to third base, your LOB% is going to be very high. Stranding a two out single isn’t very lucky

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Again, Andrew, are you arguing that Jimenez has *not* been lucky this year?

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      • Jeremy K. says:

        Pujols, yes, Jimenez has been lucky. But I have to believe, without doing the exhaustive study, that nearly all pitchers that have had Cy Young caliber seasons have combined great luck with great talent and skill as Jimenez is doing this season. Would I say he’ll be the best pitcher in baseball next year? Probably not, but he is having the best season so far this year. Also, I am also waiting for Mr. Moore’s article on Halladay’s Unimpressive Outing from this past weekend, which was also against the Twins coincidently.

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      • vivaelpujols says:

        Okay, thats fine, but people seem to want to give Ubaldo credit for his >90% OBP and a his .230 BABIP and his 3% HR/FB, instead of just acknowledging that a ton of it is luck.

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      • Good lord viva….Practically every post I have made has stated that he HAS been lucky, but NOT as lucky as numbers in a Fangraphs page might suggest. I will not say it again, so understand me this time. He HAS been lucky, but he has also been VERY good. Not all stranded runners have an equal chance of scoring. He has had the bases loaded on him just twice, and runners at second and third just once.

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  6. frank says:

    The other question that I think was being asked was not who was the best pitcher, but who has been the most valuable pitcher, as the author went out of his way to reference FIP as the reason Halladay was more valuable (which also seemed superfluous in an article talking about one of Jiminez’ starts)

    What’s a bit odd is even ignoring today, the K rate is about the same, Halladay has given up more HR’s (by a good margin), so the only reason Halladay’s FIP is better is due to walks. I think some people took issue with how Halladay could be considered more valuable based more or less solely on fewer walks allowed.

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  7. George says:

    How was Halladay’s start unimpressive today? 8 strikeouts, no walks, a ton of groundballs….the high number of hits were completely the result of bad luck on balls in play.

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    • EDUB says:

      Why is it automatically bad luck on balls in play instead of perhaps leaving some pitches over and getting hit hard by professional baseball players.

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      • opisgod says:

        Probably because groundballs up the middle aren’t hit hard, just throwing it out there.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Why is it automatically bad luck on balls in play instead of perhaps leaving some pitches over and getting hit hard by professional baseball players.

        You can do a search for BABIP and find more info on all the research that went into. But, the quick and dirty is this, research showed that pitchers have very little control on whether the balls put into play go for outs or hits. That the “average BABIP” is right around .300. So, if a pitcher’s BABIP is way over .300, he’s getting unlucky. If it’s well under he’s getting lucky on BIP.

        Pitcher’s do have an “individual norm” so to speak, which is their career BABIP.

        I’ll post some of the BABIPS of some dominant pitchers that we could compare UJ to.

        Feller = .271
        Gibson = .278
        Ryan = .275
        Pedro = .291
        Schilling = .304
        Clemens = .294
        Maddux = .289
        Lee = .305
        Halladay = .299
        Big Unit = .302
        UJimenez = .283

        So, Jimenez’s current BABIP of .239 is well under the .300 average and also well under his own career average, so it’s said that he is “getting lucky on BABIP”, instead of chalking it to Ubaldo finding some superhuman way of getting guys to hit the ball and result into outs at a much greater rate than other great pitchers.

        As a point of interest, Gibson’s BABIP in his 1.12 ERA season of 1968 was .240 … about 30 points lower than his career average (which is fairly consistent). Not surprisingly, Ubaldo’s ERA of 1.15 and BABIP of .239 are damn near identical to Gibby’s.

        I hope this answers what you were asking, if not it was worth it to note the similarities between BG’s and UJ’s BABIP and ERA.

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      • Jason B says:

        Excellent post and reply, CircleChange. Don’t know if you contributed a fan article or not, but you summed things up rather tidily there.

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    • WY says:

      Halladay also gave up two HR today.

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  8. jeffrey says:

    I have a concern over the K/9. The GB% is nice and the shaved walks is good and probably the byproduct of more First strikes.

    HOWEVER. Lowest swinging strike rate of Ublado’s career says the high K/9 is likely unsustainable. Other SwngSwk% comps have low 7 k/9s and i would expect at least a half strikeout per game less hereforward.

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    • The Tom says:

      If you leave a guy looking stupid by backdooring a 99mph 4-seamer to him it won’t be a swinging strike but it is sustainable

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  9. CircleChange11 says:

    Just looking at his numbers, his K% is right at his career average, while walks are down. His GB% isn’t that much higher than his career rate.

    What’s unsustainable is his …

    [1] BABIP (2010: .239; career: .283);
    [2] LOB% (2010: 91.2%; Career: 74.0%)
    [3] HRA stats (HR/9 = 0.27, HR/FB = 3.9%)

    The HR stats are most meaningful to me because those result in immediate runs (at least 1 run per HR). So if you sprinkle in a few hits via BABIP normalization, and combine that with some HR’s … it wouldn’t take that many HRs to jump his ERA up a run or two given the ~100 IP sample size.

    The LD% and FB% don;t mean a whole lot to me because I don;t think there’s established consistency in how those 2 are determined.

    He’s “on pace” to give up half as many walks and HRs as he did in 2009. I think it’s reasonable that he will both [1] maintain the walk rate and chalk it up to improvement, but [2] probably give up more than 6 HRs on the season.

    Still, looking at his numbers and given that we’re basically 1/2 way through the season, I think he has a good chance at ending with a sub-2 ERA, barring a similar letdown to what Haren experienced last year. I say that because there’s only ~130 more innings to pitch for him, and even if he pitches at his “career norm” from here on out, he’s still going to end up with one of the best seasons in the modern era.

    When it comes to UJ, I think I’m unclear on exactly what we’re debating … what degree of luck has he experienced, how good he’ll be the rest of the season, will he top Gibson’s 1.12 (uh, no.) or what?

    We’re also going to be looking at a 26yo pitcher that would have put up back-2-back ~6 WAR seasons.

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    • Jason B says:

      More good stuff with comparisons to career norms and everything. It helps to take all the loaded terms like “lucky”, “league-best”, and “(un)impressive” out of the equation and just look at what the numbers tell us.

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  10. Gul Cratt says:

    My problem with the article is a complex one, and I’m not sure I’m being fair. To me, the primary value of this site’s articles lies in the authors’ willingness to probe beyond the surface analysis and popular opinion and explore new questions in order to elevate discussion. This article, on the other hand, is a very straightforward analysis that asks the obvious question that would come up after glancing at Ubaldo’s stats (“Is Ubaldo playing exceptionally well or just getting exceptionally lucky?”) and it reaches the obvious conclusion that would come up after glancing at Ubaldo’s peripherals (“It looks like it’s mostly due to luck.”) This is a conclusion that can be reached by any one of us employing cursory analysis of the data, and from what I’ve been seeing on various message boards and blogs around the sabr-sphere, most of us HAVE reached this conclusion.

    Of course, neither FanGraphs nor Posnanski (my two personal Holy Grails of baseball writing) had written articles on Ubaldo up to this weekend, and I know I’ve been eagerly anticipating an article from either of those two sites for a good month and a half now. My disappointment in Thursday’s article came mostly from the realization that it was just restating what every single person in the community had seemingly already discovered for themselves. Nothing new was added to the discussion.

    I think I might be too unreasonable with my expectations; maybe there ISN’T anything new to add about Ubaldo at this point. But if that’s the case, and all you can do is restate what is already common opinion, why write the article at all?

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    • Thanks for this, a very well thought out and helpful critique and something we’ll keep in mind.

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      • Keanu's Favourite Line says:

        Related: In the most recent second base rankings on rotographs, the author mentioned in comments the reason for one player’s exclusion from the list was the RoS ZiPS ranking. If blind numbers are going to be what determines such things, why not just list the RoS ZiPS numbers for the position and be done with it?

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  11. Kirsh says:

    I don’t think Jimenez should be acclaimed as the absolute best pitcher in the game just yet. He has a wonderful package of pitches and is clearly smart enough to use them to best suit his needs, but he’s still only been even in the discussion of best pitcher for two months. I’d like to see a bit more sustained success before I say he’s better than Halladay, Greinke, and Lincecum.

    That said, no way is he getting lucky. He’s overpowering everyone he faces. Even when he’s not striking batters out, he’s just sawing them off. He has a psychological edge on everyone he pitches to.

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  12. bobbo says:

    i’m a rockies fan who almost makes a point in my life to watch every ‘ubaldo day’ (i also call it ‘win day’), and if you think ubaldo isn’t the best pitcher in baseball right now, regardless of luck, you’re an idiot. halladay, lee, and every other pitcher you guys seem to think is jesus just because they don’t walk people often have had far worse starts, and no one wrote an article about them; someone posted something about how if halladay had had this start, he would be writing about his ‘great game without his best stuff’ or whatever, but because ubaldo is actually outperforming your vaunted FIP, xFIP, tERA, and whatever the fuck else voodoo you want to talk about, the author has a personal vendetta against ubaldo. why isnt it possible that ubaldo isn’t this good? just accept him as good and be happy and shut up. people on this site are the kind of people who think ty cobb is the 49th best hitter in history because he’s 49th on the all-time walk list.

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    • Brett says:

      No people would look at all the stats and assume Ty Cobb is top ten all-time.

      Also, if you think stats like FIP is “voodoo” then perhaps Fangraphs isn’t the site you should be trolling…

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      • bobbo says:

        i used the word ‘voodoo’ to convey the sense that the major people
        around here think one number, like FIP or xFIP, explains everything in the universe and nothing else can have any value.

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      • R y a n says:

        No one is saying that, but they provide a better picture than the stats and “observations” that many people still use.

        But seriously, if you don’t want to deal with anyone using these stats, don’t come to FanGraphs.

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      • Devon F says:

        @bobbo You used the word “voodoo” to inaccurately stereotype this site and its readers. The article on Ubaldo isn’t a thesis, it’s a valid opinion about projecting his future performance. It was generated using fact-based evidence from multiple statistics.

        The comments on the article also reflect the collective intelligence from the community as well. It’s interesting how you chide us for over-valuing statistics, then proceed to stereotype the entire website with no evidence.

        …Guess that’s why I come here for the intelligent baseball conversation.

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  13. jack says:

    how about this one? Ubaldo is filthy. enough m* f* said.

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  14. del says:

    When you throw 96-98mph and every pitch you have causes hitters to just beat the ball into the ground there’s only so much luck involved there. He’s been on his way to this for a couple years now, this just happens to be a career year breakout. He’s going to be right there with the Lincecums of the league for a very long time to come. Its not difficult to figure out why someone like Jiminez or Felix Hernandez is able to dominate, throw the ball really really hard and induce a crazy amount of grounders.

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  15. Mark says:

    Does anyone outside of Colorado actually think he’s the “best” pitcher in baseball? The recent post, and comments, were mostly directed at the quality of his recent half-season – how dominant he’s been this year vs. how lucky he’s been this year.

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  16. Holgash says:

    He’s certainly one of the best pitchers, and he’s having a dominant (as well as lucky) season. With each and ever start, though, I’m starting to think that Strasburg is already the best pitcher in the Majors. I would like to see him face a real offense, though.

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    • KG says:

      I would love to see a Strasburg vs. Jimenez game. That could be a game for the ages. Just hope they both hold up. But man, those kids can pitch. Would be fun to see them hit against each other, too.

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  17. Mark says:

    Strasburg might have the best stuff in the majors, and he’s probably pitching the best right now of anybody in the majors, but let’s see him have at least one 200 innings season before we crown him the best pitcher in baseball. 3 starts, or a half-season of greatness in Jimenez’s case, is a pretty small sample size to be declaring someone the best in baseball.

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  18. WilsonC says:

    I think the ultimate conclusion – that Jimenez is one of the top 10 pitchers in baseball, possibly the top 5, but shouldn’t yet be considered the best pitcher in baseball – is something that many would agree with and few would take offense to. It’s more the tone of the article and the methods used that deserve criticism.

    The article feels like a platform to discredit a player’s performance. It starts with the notion that his recent start wasn’t all that impressive, uses a fairly shallow analysis to justify that statement, and then uses that start (which was by no means a bad start) to place Jimenez behind other pitchers in an anecdotal way. It feels like an article written to push an agenda rather than a fair assessment of Jimenez’ pitching (though I don’t think that was the author’s intent) and the controversy as a result is not surprising.

    Beyond that, I think it was a wasted opportunity. The idea that his performance is unsustainable should be obvious, and anyone can click on the leader boards to see where his FIP ranks, but the article doesn’t ask a single question as to whether there’s anything beyond luck that’s contributing to his over-performance. His raw numbers this year have been good with the bases empty, but ridiculous with runners on – purely chance, or is he also adjusting his pitch selection in an interesting way with men on base? People have mentioned lots of broken bat contact – is that a factor for him in reducing BABIP, or SLG on contact? Is there anything unusual about the counts in which he’s giving up contact? Are there any elements other than the results that indicate a change in approach?

    The lack of questions, I think, reflects a feeling shared by many that metrics like FIP and xFIP, while useful, are not infallible, and to use them in a case like Jimenez without asking the appropriate questions as to whether there are elements present that could help him outperform those metrics can come across as a touch dogmatic.

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  19. fothead says:

    Can anyone maybe provide any links to studies done pertaining to the correlation (or lack thereof) between BABIP and pitch data such as velocity, first pitch strikes, swinging strikes etc? Is there even anything like that?

    I think the main disagreement here (or at least a big one) is the concept of “inducing weak contact” and how repeatable that actually is. I’ve always thought chalking BABIP up to mostly luck, particularly for pitchers, is shortsighted. However, FIP etc certainly have their merits but I think more lies beneath under the actual quality of pitches being thrown.

    Logically speaking you’re not going to tell me Mariano Rivera has the same chance of being hit hard consistently as does say, Nick Blackburn. Or any pitcher who throws with significant movement like Ubaldo can be centered on the barrel as easily as a soft tosser

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      Pitchers that allow fewer line drives generally have lower BABIPs. However the difference between the superstar pitcher and the average guy in terms of BABIP may be around “20 points”, but it’s not going to be something like 60 points or anything dramatic like that. The difference is going to be in K/9, HR/9, K:BB

      I agree that the BABIP idea/fact was something that was difficult for me to accept initially as well. What seems to be the basis is when ML batters hit the ball, they generally strike it similarly (rgardless of pitcher). Again, that’s on average … not eliminating every time a dominant pitcher indiuces a weak GIDP or a broken bat nubber, but on average. The difficulty with the top pitchers is actually making enough contact to put something significant together. You aren’t going to get a bunch of walks, so you’re going to have to get a decent amount of hits combined with some extra bases, and therin lies the difference … the best pitchers don;t allow a bunch of hits or home runs (in general).

      I saw something intersting last night, John Tudor’s BABIP dropped 30 points (for 2 straight years) as he came to StL from PIT … when he left for LA, his BABIP returned to his higher career numbers. He didn’t get any different contact in StL, only had a much better defense.

      It is very interesting how an individual pitcher’s BABIP sort of normalizes in a rather narrow range over the course of their career.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        It is very interesting how an individual pitcher’s BABIP sort of normalizes in a rather narrow range over the course of their career.

        Eh, scratch that. Some do, some don’t.

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    • Dirty Water says:

      I’d settle for the BABIP for ground balls, liners and fly balls, individually. No way do balls beaten into the ground result in a .300 avg, not with a half way decent INF defense anyway.

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      • edxs says:

        FB – 0.154 baserunners, 0.49 outs
        GB – 0.33 baserunners, 0.80 outs
        LD – 0.70 baserunners, 0.29 outs

        Ground balls don’t get you a very good batting average (about .240), but they do get a lot of baserunners (reached on error, fielder’s choice, etc.)

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      • edxs says:

        Sorry that’s 0.74 outs for a FB

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  20. fothead says:

    Furthermore after reading WilsonC’s comment, I’m wondering why broken bats are not a tracked stat for pitchers. Relatively easy to track, sure it may be slightly inaccurate when a bat cracks but doesn’t shatter all over, btu I’d bet that leader board would be a who’s who of “lucky” pitchers who “overproduce” according to some more advanced analysis.

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  21. paulzilch says:

    I don’t think Ubaldo can keep this up as he has certainly been lucky in posting an ERA around one.

    That is not to say that Ubaldo will not turn in a solid rest of the season or win the CyYoung award. It is extremely difficult to predict record breaking seasons and an ERA in the low ones or anywhere near it would not be supported by his peripherals.

    First off, Jimenez has unsustainable BABIP and stranded runner rates that are completely out of line with his career numbers. He has a .239 BABIP(with a .283 career) and a 91.2% LOB rate(74% career). As these numbers continue to level off with more “unimpressive” Ubaldo starts, he is going to give up more in the area of two or three runs per start rather than the zero or one he has been. With good but not career year K and K/BB rates, there are too many base runners and too much contact to sustain a 1.10-1.15 ERA. Furthermore, I know it isn’t the Colorado of the late 90’s, but more runs are bound to come.

    That all being said, predicting a career year with an ERA around three or even in the high twos would have been a reasonable hypothesis. Jimenez has a great fastball, leading MLB in velocity and dominating his opponents at a +11 runs last year and +19 this year. With a 10 MPH difference between his heater and his changeup last year you can see why the changeup was nearly a +10 last year. This year the changeup is still complimenting the heat well with a +7.6, but with only a 8 MPH difference in velocity. Still a really good arsenal overall but this is just more evidence to support the naysayers for a record breaking season with the small regression with his primary complimentary pitch.

    With a 1/3rd of a run improvement in ERA from his first season to his second, and a half a run jump from his second to his third, a projected ERA of around three or under would have been a very reasonable prediction for Jimenez. A two and a half run improvement in ERA isn’t impossible of course. Relatively speaking this is still an offensive age in baseball when you compare it to the late 60’s. Ubaldo still pitches in Colorado and there are so many other reasons why nobody has sniffed Gibson’s ERA record.

    Don’t get me wrong, if anyone has the stuff to do it, it is Jimenez. I would be surprised though if he posted anywhere near a sub two ERA.

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    • The Tom says:

      His numbers are also a bit skewed by the downpour game at Coors where he gave up 3ER and walked 5 in 6 innings when he could barely see the plate. That game shouldn’t even have been played and Ubaldo was routinely hitting 92 on his fastball, and he still managed a quality start.

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  22. paulzilch says:

    My last post deals with Jimenez in a sort of vacuum. Much of this debate is over use of relative terms like “unimpressive”. When I read the article by the fangraphs editor, I did not take use of that word as describing Ubaldo by any standard. I took it to mean by his lofty standards. I suppose I can see why Rockies and Ubaldo fans would feel like this was an unfair term to use. So, maybe the way his performance was described was a little unjust but at the same time, I don’t think those that are upset really read between the lines too well.
    The bottome line is that the article was meant to elude to the point that his recent performance has been unimpressive in comparison to the rest of his eye popping starts this year. Furthermore, we should expect starts more in line with the results his peripherals predict which isn’t a dig at Jimenez or his fans.

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  23. Mark says:

    Is there a stat for “weak contact”, or something similar?

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  24. Tyler says:

    OK, I’ve got a question regarding baBIP; two, actually.

    Jiminez’s baBIP is awesomely low right now and everyone is looking at this as a major reason why he’s eventually going to see his ERA turnover (and related stuff like FIP, xFIP, etc).

    I haven’t been following Colorado, so the first thing that pops up in my head is,

    1) How good is Colorado’s defense?

    Presumably, higher-quality defensive guys around him (compared to league average, compared to last year, etc) could be a starting point for evaluating how sustainable his current numbers are. Good fielders can make plays that average fielders can’t, which might help a pitcher outperform his FIP, etc.


    2) Has anyone looked at the numbers to see if there was any pitcher who routinely held a baBIP under .250 for a full season (and more importantly, more than one) in the live-ball era?

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      2) Has anyone looked at the numbers to see if there was any pitcher who routinely held a baBIP under .250 for a full season (and more importantly, more than one) in the live-ball era?

      In another Ubaldo thread, I showed that Bob Gibson’s season in 1968 was very similar.

      Gibson: 1.12 ERA, .240 BABIP
      Jimenez: 1.15 ERA .239 BABIP

      Gibson’s career BABIP was .278

      It should also be pointed out that Gibson’s season came in one of the most pitcher friendly eras in modern history. So, not only did Gibson have that going for him, but the BABIP was 38 points below his career average … a very dominant season in which he received his share of luck on BIP.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Also in that thread I showed John Tudor’s BABIP when he came to the Cardinals in 1985 and 1986.

        In 85, he had a “carer year”, posting a 1.93 ERA, when his previous best was 3.03. His BABIP in 85 was .243, 20 points better than his career best.

        In 86, he had another really good season, with a 2.92 ERA on a .255 BABIP season.

        In 87, a half season his BABIP jumped to .291.

        After leaving StL, his BABIP jumped to the 2nd highest of his career at .337.

        When he returned to the Cardinals in 1990, his BABIP lowered to .239.

        As i have said in numerous threads, Tudor made a living in StL getting hitters to pull outside pitches to the greatest defensive shortstop ever.

        The Cardinals’ defense in 1985 was … Name (Total Zone)

        1b – Jack Clark (-11)
        2B – Tommy Herr (-5)
        SS – Ozzie Smith (20)
        3B – Terry Pendelton (24)
        LF – Vince Coleman (11)
        CF – Willie McGee (-1)
        RF – Andy Van Slyke (1)

        So, basically a soft-throwing lefty got batters to pull the ball to 3 very good defensive players (Smith, Pendleton, and Coleman). For the life of me I cannot figure out McGee’s total zone rating, the man covered so much ground it’s ridiculous. My guess is some of his absent-mindedness cost him, because he sure did have some gaffs.

        Tudor’s BABIP on other teams was around .290, with StL, he averaged .245. Right pitcher on the right team at the right time.

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  25. Mark says:

    Colorado’s defense does show as one of the best this season, statistically. But that defense isn’t allowing any of Colorado’s other starting pitchers to post low BABIP’s.

    Cook – .297
    Hammell – .325
    Chacin – .303
    Francis – .304

    Two barely under league average BABIP, one barely over, and one significantly higher.

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    • This is an interesting point, but with a large fallacy. You shouldn’t be comparing those pitchers BABIPs to league average – compare them to career norms. Check this (you got some of the guys mixed up):
      Cook – .303 in 2010 (.306 career)
      Hammel – .325 (.330 career)
      Francis – .297 (.312 career)
      Chacin – .304 (rookie, so career norms and MiLB norms mean nothing)
      All five Rockies pitchers have BABIPs below career norms. So the defense probably IS helping out the pitchers.

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      • frank says:

        So I understand .303 vs .306 and .325 vs .330 is not noise and = better defense?

        When you say all five Rockies pitchers are below careers norms that is highly misleading… 2 are below norms, 2 are essentially flat and 1 is a rookie (no data) Oh and the Francis data point is on about 140 balls in play… so 15 point delta equates to 2 fewer hits obviously that is better defense?

        I really do wish folks on this site would understand the concept of statistically significant when using stats.

        Let me restate… the defense IS probably helping Jiminez, we have no clue on ANY of the other Rockies pitchers unless we want to abuse statistics.

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  26. Dirty Water says:

    O, this should be fun. Wednesday, the best pitcher in baseball meets the best bats vs RHP in baseball, who are also 10-2 vs the junior circuit, to boot, and HOT. I wonder if Ubaldo wins while K’ing only 4, Moore writes another piece on how terrible a pitcher he is. Although, to be honest, after what BOS and NYY did to Halladay’s 2010 pride, I’m not going to be surprised with seeing Ubaldo’s first shellacking.

    He’ll be on my bench that day.

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    • Not David says:

      Strawmen make for a pretty weak arguments.

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    • Yoloslim says:

      Trollers gotta troll

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    • CircleChange11 says:

      No matter what he does in that game, people will maintain their current opinion.

      He cannot “make up the gap” between his history and Halladay’s history in one season, let alone one game.

      All he can do is keep having another great 5-6 win season. When (I didn’t say if) he does that for 3-5 seasons, he’ll get his due.

      He’s at that “awkward” point in his career where he is transitioning from mega-talented prospect to dominant ace, and it’s not always easy to know exactly where he ranks on the “The List”.

      FWIW, I think ranking pitchers in a “best” list is stupid, inaccurate, and something fans like to do so they can argue (Okay, arguing can be fun on occassion).

      Jimenez definately fits in the “best pitchers” group, and that’s all that matters to me.

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  27. I’m totally biased on this issue, as I am a Colorado native & Rockies fan. Ubaldo is a BEAST period. You don’t “Luck” your way to a 13-1 record and a era slightly over 1. This man is still hitting 98mph+ in the 7th+, just like a few years ago, except he didn’t know really how to pitch yet.

    Rockies defense has been very suspect this year, the offense has been bipolar, which was supposed to be the strength and the pitching staff has surprisingly carried this team. Without Ubaldo Rockies are kicking it with the D-Backs or worse. So far this year he should be the leading MVP & Cy Young leader IMO.


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    • CircleChange11 says:

      You don’t “Luck” your way to a 13-1 record and a era slightly over 1.

      Actually, that’s the crux of the discussion. Ubaldo is a great pitcher, but much more in the line of an ERA in the mid/high 2’s … which is darn good.

      The difference between a 2.90 ERA and 1.15 ERA could be “luck”, if the difference in his pitching sats is BABIP.

      Some of Ubaldo’s success is due to his reduced walk rate, and more is due to only allowing 3 HRs. His career best for a season is 13 HRA. So, he’s on pace to cut that already low number in half … which would be ridiculously possible if it were due to increased skill.

      FWIW, Bob Gibson’s 8 season saw his ERA cut in half, and the reason was a BABIP 35 points below his career average … almost identical to UJ’s situation.

      No one is suggesting that BG and UJ are “lucky pitchers”, only that during their historical season their already great numbers were drastically reduced to some lucky breaks (namely the batters weren’t “hittin em where they ain’t” at the same ratethey did in the other seasons against the same pitchers).

      It’s not like Ubaldo and Big Bob happened to stumble upon some skill for 1 (or a half) season that they could never replicate again. That’s where the term luck comes in.

      For example, if a .330 career batter his .411 due to his BABIP being 60 points higher than his career average, people would not ssume that the batter only learned how to hit “really well” for one season … he would have simply caught some breaks on balls falling in. Remember in Bull Durham where Crash explains “one extra dying quail, a goundball with eyes, gets through per week ad it’s 50 points added onto your batting average? That’s “luck on BABIP”.

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    • Yoloslim says:

      The you’re so good it can’t be luck fallacy.

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  28. Not Jack Moore says:

    Moderation Note: If you impersonate one of our authors, you will lose your ability to comment.

    Outstanding start by Ubaldo. I take back my last article, as, admittedly, I had never seen him pitch before. Tonight though, Ubaldo thoroughly dismantled the Red Sox with 7 strikeouts, zero walks, and 6 ground balls. No, he didn’t win, but xSPOCK and xKIRK indicate he should have – he was just unlucky.

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    • jaybow says:

      Don’t forget that his BABIP, HR/FB, and LOB% pushed more toward average.

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    • CircleChage11 says:

      I hope this doesn’t turn into something where we, as a community, start to root against great players just so we can stick it some commenters.

      Ubaldo is coming back down to Earth. Who knew? Didn’t all of us expect him to go 32-1 with a 1.15 ERA?

      If you look at the situation, the things that people have complained about were …

      [1] Singling a pitcher out for not having absolutely dominant games every time out.

      [2] Not understanding what “lucky” means in terms of BABIP and LOB%.

      [3] A tone in some of the comments that *could* be seen as mocking Ubaldo’s success.

      I’m pissed (grin) because no one mentioned Carpenter when talking about the NL’s elite.

      Hopefully Thursday won’t be “Ubaldo Sucks Day”, and we can all keep perspective. Just sayin’.

      It would be interesting (and likely revealing) to compare Ubaldo’s 1st 8 starts with his last 8 (or however many he has made). Might just do that later. Could be a good example of “regression to the mean”.

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      • CircleChange11 says:

        Ubaldo by Month … Averages Per Start

        Stat — Apr/May/June

        IP — 6.2/7.2/6.1 (June: – IP)
        BF — 26.4/27.8/28.5 (June: + BF)
        H — 4.0/4.0/7.3 (June: +H)
        HR — 0.0/0.2/0.8 (June: + HR)
        ER — 1.0/0.7/3.0 (June: + ER)
        SO — 6.2/6.5/7 (June: + K)
        BB — 2.8/2.0/2.5 (June: +~ BB)
        GB — 9.2/10.2/9.5 (June: ~ GB)
        FB — 5.0/5.8/7.0 (June: + FB)
        LD — 3.0/2.2/3.0 (June: +~ LD)
        Strikes — 70.4/66.3/65.8 (June:- S)
        Balls — 41.2/43.7/44.25 (June: + B)
        Pitches — 112/110/110 (June: ~ P)

        Lots of things are pretty similar. The differences tha impact the most would be [1] hits per start (almost doubled), [2] Home Runs Allowed (4 times as many, you know what I mean) … Hence, Earned Runs (tripled).

        Interesting that his strikeouts are increased. MOF, aganst BOS (no wlks) his strike % was the highest it has been this month.

        BABIP and HRA.

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    • Shaz_Bagl says:

      I’m not sure if this is a legitimate attempt at comedy, or a round about way of shoving an “I told you so” post at anyone who disagrees with your analysis. Maybe this start is the beginning of Ubaldo’s regression, but I wonder if you’ll be as smug if he rips off another 20+ scoreless inning streak the next 3 games. Either way it seems like a childish move on your part.

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  29. jaybow says:

    Good thing they pulled him tonight before his ERA went any higher.

    Everyday something happens that makes me doubt FG less and less.

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  30. Kcr says:

    Miguel olivo caught like 30 of Zack greinkes starts last season, Zack greinke was crzy good in 09 but is not good this year. Olivo is now on the Rockies catching ubaldo jimenez. Olivo has magic cy young powers

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