2012 in Review: Ubaldo Jimenez

Troy Taormina-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Ubaldo Jimenez was acquired by the Indians at the 2011 trade deadline, in exchange for four minor league players, most significantly Drew Pomeranz and Alex White, the team’s top two pitching prospects. Jimenez was a bust over the final two months of 2011. He entered 2012 looking to redeem himself, but with a lot of questions surrounding him.

2012 bWAR: -0.9 (Age 28)

2012 Salary: $4,200,000

2013 Contract Status: Team option for $5,750,000 or a buyout of $1,000,000

Jimenez's 2012 wound up being a disaster too. Rather than trying to present it in narrative form, I’m just going to highlight a few of the ways in which he was unsuccessful, because there are many to choose from.

THE PITCHES:


His splitter lost so much velocity (from 89.3 MPH in 2011 to 83.7 MPH in 2012) that he was forced to abandon it almost entirely (going from throwing it 12.4% of the time to just 2.1%). There aren’t a lot of pitchers who throw the splitter, but among the 11 qualified starters in MLB who do, Fangraphs’ PITCHf/x data (all pitch data here comes from Fangraphs’ PITCHf/x boards) has Jimenez’s splitter rated as the very worst in 2012.

He also threw fewer two-seam fast balls, leading him to rely more on his four-seam pitch, which fell from 96.2 MPH in 2010 to 93.9 MPH in 2011, to 92.5 MPH in 2012. This loss in velocity crushed the value of his fastball. In 2010 it rated as the second best pitch of any qualified starter in baseball. In 2012, it rated as the 6th worst pitch.

He threw his curve a bit more too, but it was the 10th worst curveball in MLB, so that wasn’t helping him any either.

THE RESULTS:


Here are Jimenez’s numbers since joining the Tribe:

Year


Age


Tm


W


L


ERA


G


CG


SHO


IP


H


R


ER


HR


BB


SO


ERA+


WHIP


H/9


BB/9


2011

27

CLE

4

4

5.10

11

0

0

65.1

68

43

37

7

27

62

77

1.454

9.4

3.7

2012

28

CLE

9

17

5.40

31

0

0

176.2

190

116

106

25

95

143

72

1.613

9.7

4.8

CLE (2 yrs)


13


21


5.32


42


0


0


242.0


258


159


143


32


122


205


73


1.570


9.6


4.5


Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

· Jimenez’s -0.9 bWAR rates as the 5th worst among qualified MLB starting pitchers in 2012.

· His 9.68 H/9 is 14th worst in MLB and his 4.84 BB/9 is the 3rd worst. Add those two together and you get a WHIP of 1.613, which was the second worst in all of baseball.

· His 5.40 ERA was the 3rd worst in MLB, while his ERA+ of 72 was 2nd worst.

Those figures all compare him to his contemporaries, but I’d like to stack him up against Indians franchise history too:

· His 4.84 BB/9 is the 14th worst in team history and the very worst mark since 1971.

· His 1.613 WHIP is the 11th worst in team history and the very worst for a full season since 1982.

· His 5.40 ERA is the 5th worst in team history.

· His ERA+ of 72 is the 2nd worst in team history.

· His -0.9 bWAR is the 7th worst in team history.

CONCLUSIONS:


Jimenez was one of the worst pitchers in baseball this year and had one of the worst seasons in Indians history.

The 2011 trade made some sense at the time, in theory. The Indians were only 1.5 games out of 1st place at the time and Jimenez had been one of the very best pitchers in 2010. On the other hand, the Indians were just 23-36 over the previous ten weeks and Jimenez didn’t seem to be the same pitcher he’d been in 2010, and a low-budget team trading away their top two pitching prospects is always a dicey proposition.

That neither Pomeranz nor White pitched well in 2012 for Colorado takes some of the sting off the trade, but it seems like a bad one for the Tribe nonetheless.

Place in Indians’ 2013 Plans: There hasn’t been much in Jimenez’ time in Cleveland to suggest he’s worth bringing back. His option amounts to an additional $4.75M, which isn’t nothing, but also isn’t much money for a starting pitcher. I believe the front office will decide it’s worth gambling he can bounce back to decency, if not excellence, and Jimenez will be brought back next season and given a spot in the rotation.

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