As the world continues to be hyper about “what have you done for me lately,” fantasy baseball owners rejoice. It’s nice when your opponents look at 2011′s stats and think they are gospel because then guys who had bad years last year fall through the cracks. Even better if the guys between the cracks are in the form of hard throwing 200-K capable pitchers with great names. On draft day, saying Ubaldo Jimenez should give you an immense amount of joy. It’s a fun name to say, it’s hard to mess up, you can throw a lot of accents in it and most people will look at his 2011 stats and think you’re crazy for drafting him.
Sure, his 4.68 ERA and 1.40 WHIP were unpalatable. But, really, his year wasn’t that different (aside from teenager-level negative noise) from his previous seasons.
In 2009, he struck out 8.17 batters per nine innings, walked 3.51 batters per nine and had .280 BABIP and a 73.5% strand rate.
In 2010, Jimenez struck out 8.69 batters per nine innings, walked 3.74 batters per nine, and had a .271 BABIP and a 76.5% strand rate.
In 2011, he stuck out 8.60 batters per nine innings, walked 3.73 batters per nine, and had a .314 BABIP and a 65% strand rate.
From 2009-2011, Jimenez averaged a 3.63 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 K’s. During that time frame, his 44 wins are tied for seventh most and his 592 K’s are 13th most.
If you want someone to blame for 2011, pick a spike in his HR/FB rate, a criminal strand rate and increased BABIP. In addition, for whatever reason, Jimenez relied on his changeup more than ever. This resulted in a big decline in swinging strikes and an uptick in contact. Jimenez will get his mojo back and figure out he needs to bring his slider and curve more often in 2012.
Certainly, he wasn’t as good as he was in 2010, but is nowhere near as bad as he was in 2011. Expect a 3.50-3.75 ERA, 1.27 WHIP and 190+ K’s in 2012.
Jimenez could be the best value at starting pitcher in 2012.