Ubaldo Jimenez is Both Really Good and Not As Good As You Think

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↵Lost ↵in the hubbub over Stephen Strasburg's phenomenal debut was ↵the idea that though Strasburg's really, really good, Ubaldo Jimenez is in ↵another stratosphere. Let me explain why he is -- and why he isn't.
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↵Jimenez ↵pitched ↵a rain-shortened "complete game" to get his 12th win. And it was ↵his worst outing of the year: Three earned runs, five walks, and the worst ↵percentage of strikes (just 53.7 percent; his next worst is 56.2 percent) on ↵his season, all of that coming over just six innings. Even his bad days are ↵pretty good.
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↵Jimenez ↵leads the majors in wins, ERA, and opposing batting average, at an absurd .178. ↵Through 13 starts, he's given up fewer earned runs than Zack Greinke did ↵through that many to begin last year, and has a sub-2.00 ERA at Coors Field, ↵too. He's also thrown ↵this pitch, and a ↵no-hitter. He's been awesome.
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↵But ↵he only ranks third among MLB pitchers in ↵Wins Above Replacement, behind Roy Halladay and Francisco Liriano, and he's ↵been the beneficiary of some truly fantastic luck so far. 
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↵His strand rate-the percentage of ↵baserunners he allows to score-is a ridiculous 90.8 percent. He boasted a ↵minuscule 1.8 percent fly ball/home run rate a week ago; after homers in ↵each of his last two starts, that percentage has soared ... to 4.0 percent. His ↵Batting Average on Balls in Play is an anemic .232, well under his career .282 ↵rate.
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↵All ↵of those stats are usually more luck-based than skill-based, and point to Jimenez ↵being buoyed by fortune and defense. His Fielding Independent Pitching is much ↵less impressive than his gaudy ERA, tellingly: Jimenez' 2.92 mark places him ↵eighth in the majors, behind lesser-regarded talents like Josh Johnson and Phil ↵Hughes.
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↵Basically, ↵Jimenez is having a dream season so far, and getting aided by things he can't ↵control breaking his way. His good fortune could continue, but it also might ↵well turn for the worse towards the middle of the year, and his massive leads ↵in ERA and wins could evaporate in kind.
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↵If ↵voting were held today, Jimenez would likely win the NL Cy Young, edging ↵Halladay. But time may prove to be his toughest foe this year, and he could ↵easily go from being the consensus best pitcher in baseball to a Cy also-ran.
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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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