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Not many players in baseball will raise a greater debate about their potential production in 2011 as Ubaldo Jimenenez will. So we know a couple of things about him for sure; he’s a 6’4 27 year old right-handed Dominican who throws gas. So much gas in fact, that he has been clocked at 101 mph in games, with a 99 mph two-seamer. That’s right, I said 99 mph two-seamer.
Did he just break out last year with the two best months of his career, or is there still some more magic to be squeezed out of this guy? I say yes, and yes.
Last year basically showed a tale of two different pitchers, both named Ubaldo Jimenez. One pitched in April and May, and the other in June and July.
The Ubaldo who pitched in April won five games with a 0.79 ERA, and in May won another five games with a 0.78 ERA.
The “other” Ubaldo that pitched in June won four games with a 4.41 ERA, and in July had a 6.04 ERA with only two wins.
But here’s something interesting to consider; the batting average against Jimenez in consecutive months of April – July was .186, .160, .264, and .210. So while in July he had and ERA of 6.04, the avg. against him was only .210, which is far from terrible.
This leads me to believe that these two Ubaldos are actually the same guy. That his ERA in April and May were rather exteme and lucky, and that his ERA in June and July of the very same year were treacherously unlucky.
July heat is rarely kind to anyone’s ERA in Colorado. But these peripheral numbers show signs of some bad fortune for Jimenez in 2010, who in the beginning of June was having one of the best years we’ve seen in the past century.
Coors is still a hitters park, but not nearly the way it was before the days of the humidor that they use to contain the balls before games. In 2010, Jimenez only gave up ten hrs, and just four of them were at Coors Field. His fly-ball rate really isn’t nearly as much of a liability as some may perceive it to be.
It was almost as if in the course of just one year, he experienced the extremes of good and bad luck that Cole Hamels did in ’08 (good luck) and ’09 (terrible luck). So it seems to me that Ubaldo’s 2011 ERA should fall somewhere in between, perhaps in the 2.70 – 3.30 range with another 200+ strikeout season.
That’s not bad, right?