Our 2011 fantasy baseball projections will be released one-by-one until the top 100 players have been revealed. These rankings consider past achievements, current performance and expected future results based on standard 5×5 H2H settings.
On the surface, 2010 was a banner year for Ubaldo Jimenez. He no-hit the Braves on April 17, and established his repertoire as one of the nastiest in baseball, while boasting the best average fastball velocity in the majors last season, at 96.1 MPH.
2010 was the third consecutive season in which Jimenez’s innings pitched, wins, strikeout rate, ERA, WHIP and batting average against all trended in the right direction.
A closer look, however, uncovers a tale of two seasons.
After his start on June 27, Jimenez boasted a league-leading 1.15 ERA with a 1.00 WHIP, 7.82 K/9 and 3.20 BB/9 in 101 1/3 innings. It appeared as though he was ready to ascend into the elite tier of fantasy pitchers.
Following June 27, however, Jimenez posted less-than-average totals: 4.34 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 9.43 K/9, 4.19 BB/9 in 120 1/3 innings.
While his strikeout rate skyrocketed, so too did his ERA and WHIP as luck finally caught up to the Rockies’ No. 1 starter. The .253 and .205 BABIP that he posted in April and May respectively were foolishly ignored by most fantasy managers, and while he recovered with a very good month of August, Jimenez failed to record consecutive quality starts in July or September.
So what now? Was his 2010 season a complete fluke?
As I mentioned before, Jimenez has improved in many statistical categories in recent seasons. Despite a free agent-like ERA of 4.34 after June 27, his season ERA settled in at .288, his FIP at 3.10.
He’s clearly not as good as the first two-and-a-half months of 2010 suggest (nobody is, in fact), but he shouldn’t be as bad as July and September suggest, either. The biggest thing holding him back from the elite ranks is his walk rate (3.74), fourth highest among starters with at least 200 innings last season. Posting a mark in the low threes would drastically improve his value, but there’s nothing pointing to an improvement.
Heading into 2011, the 27-year-old should still be considered a fantasy asset – just not the best pitcher in baseball like it seemed nine months ago.
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