The Ubaldo Jimenez trade talk has been a hot topic of conversation lately, and one tweet from Buster Olney irked me to investigate Jimenez's performance over the last three seasons. While Olney says that Jimenez is similar to AJ Burnett because of his "enigmatic inconsistency," but the numbers prove otherwise.
Jimenez's ERA has fluctuated from 3.47, 2.88 and 4.08 over the last three seasons, but Jimenez is a model for defense independent fielding statistics. His FIP over the same period is 3.36, 3.10 and 3.42. Furthermore, Jimenez's xFIPs from the 2009-2011 seasons are 3.59, 3.60 and 3.59.
Jimenez is a model of consistency whose ERA either rises or falls in a given season because of BABIP and strand rates. Additionally, his peripherals over the last three seasons are remarkably similar.
AJ Burnett's xFIP's are 4.23, 4.49 and 3.86 over the last three seasons, and his strikeout rates have varied over that period of time from 8.49, 6.99, and 7.54 K/9.
However, some general managers should be wary over Jimenez's decline in velocity. He averaged 96.1 mph last season with his fastball, and that number has dropped to 93.4 in 2011. As a result, his swinging strike rate has dropped from 9.1 to 7.6 percent.
If the Rockies do decide to trade Jimenez, he will be the top starting pitcher available and will be a consistent starter in both leagues. I bet that some general managers looking at Jimenez floated the idea of his inconsistency to Olney because of posturing. In the end, Jimenez will probably stay with the Rockies, but the club is doing due diligence with the think starting pitching market.
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