Monday, June 21, 2010

Rox Talk - Week 11

The Week That Was
A 3-3 week against the Twins and Brewers. The Rox currently stand at 36-33. Four games back from division leading San Diego in fourth place. Currently 21-13 at home and 15-20 on the road, the Rox have outscored its opponents 311-269 (expected wins is 39 versus historical wins at 32). On pace for 85 wins with 730 runs scored and 632 runs against. Playoff indicator (Runs scored/Runs Against ratio) is 1.16 (>1.16 indicates high playoff potential).

The Rox win some, lose some. They just seem to be oscillating between a couple game. Last year at this time the Rox couldn't lose. Two years ago they couldn't win and so this year we seem to be in between. Looking at the schedule I suddenly see a really long stretch ahead for the Rox unless they suddenly find their offense. Three with Boston, three with Angels, three with Padres, four with the Giants, three with St Louis, and finally three with the Padres before the All Star break - that is just an insane schedule. If Rox make it to the All Star break with any sort of winning record then they will definitely be in the mix in September.

Ubaldo Jimenez - Once in a Lifetime Season?

If you had told this Colorado Rockies fan ten years ago that our team would have a pitcher who could possibly start the All Star game and then possibly win a Cy Young, then this fan would either say you were crazy or believed the Rockies had moved to another city. I don’t pretend that our team is the center of the baseball world rather I know the Colorado Rockies are stuck in no man’s land. We are neither East Coast nor West Coast. Our team is rarely seen and our players simply don’t get the respect they deserve due to the Nintendo Ball that was played here in the 90s. Why do I bother with such an introduction?

Well I think this explains the case of Ubaldo Jimenez. On April 17, Jimenez became the first player in franchise history to throw a no-hitter. Jimenez’s story was a feel good moment for the Colorado Rockies. Jimenez is a nice kid, with a fast ball like no other, pitching for a team where pitchers go to die. The media gave him his due and moved on to Oakland’s Dallas Braden. But this was only the beginning and Jimenez has since then rattled off ten more wins. At 13-1, he has done something only two other pitchers can claim to have done in MLB history. Sometimes this doesn’t fit well with the baseball media establishment. This was supposed to be the year Roy Halladay was going to sweep into the NL and blow batter’s away. Baseball although sometimes works in mysterious ways and Colorado should definitely not have a pitcher that can be so adverse to runs (only 13 so far). So what tends to happen? Articles start to sprout up touting the statistical mumbo jumbo that Jimenez is simply lucky, that it is all a smokescreen, and that eventually the stats will catch up and he will be revealed as an imposter. That is the funny thing about stats, when the outlier shows up, the men behind the numbers rationalize away the beauty of baseball, and either discount the player or the situation. The all telling models have become so complex that these outliers just shouldn’t exist. This is in no way a complaint about the new generation of stats. I love them. I love that the history of baseball is the statistical record. What I don’t like is when stats are used to manipulate the reader into dismissing great performances. What Jimenez has done to start 2010 has been simply amazing. For comparison’s stake let’s look at how Jimenez’s numbers compared to 1968 Gibson’s season and 1986 Clemens’ season. The first graph shows BABIP

Data would suggest that Jimenez was on par with the big boys at least through 10 games. Since then it would appear Jimenez is trending back to the mean. Should be interesting to see where Ubaldo goes from here. He did have that rough start in the rain and during the next stretch of games against the leagues best ought to determine whether this is something to remember. I just want to see 20 wins! But why be a downer let's focus on the goo things

His numbers - Jimenez is 13 -1. He has pitched 101.1 innings. He has allowed 65 hits and 13 runs. He has struck out 88 and allowed 36 walks. He has averaged 7.2 innings an outing and has an average game score of 69. Batters are hitting 0.189 against him. Of the 385 batters he has faced only 56 have gotten to a full count. He has faced 75 batters with runners in scoring position and they are batting 0.147. The telling stat for the home team is that he has won 13 of the 36 Rockies victories and ten of wins have come after Rockies losses. Regardless of any stat a pitcher’s job is to put his team in the position to win. How the pitcher gets there is some crafty pitching, some luck, and timely hitting by your side. Baseball is a long season and time will tell whether these numbers will hold up. I think Jimenez will probably hit a rough patch in July and August. The team behind him is in disarray. Scoring runs has been the Rockies Achilles heel not to mention an on and off again bullpen. His innings pitched has raised a few eyebrows but I also think that when he is on the mound the players behind him step up. In an unmeasurable stat I do think a single player’s performance can bring out the best in his team mates so who knows what might happen. Heralding a particular player at this point in the season as the greatest is a bit premature. At this point though I know I would take Jimenez as my starter is I needed to win one game.

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