FanPost

Ubaldo Jimenez Could Be An Even Better Signing Than We Think

The main theme surrounding Ubaldo Jimenez's season in 2013 with the Cleveland Indians was redemption. He had terrible stats going into the All-Star break, but redeemed himself by finishing off with an excellent second half and an even better final six weeks of the season. All in all, he finished with a 3.30 ERA, 9.6 K/9, and 13 wins. With a bWAR of 2.7 and an even better fWAR of 3.2, Jimenez went back to respectability after an atrocious 2012 and an iffy 2011. But that doesn't even tell the whole story. Plenty of SABR-friendly stats back up that what Jimenez did in 2013 was legit, and projections show that more good things are to come in 2014.

Jimenez's advanced stats were right around his career marks, with a 10.3% walk rate just slightly below his career 10.5%, and a BAA of .235 virtually equal with his career .236 mark. He did have a little bit of luck, with a high strand rate of 76.5% and a FIP of 3.43 showing that there may be a little bit of regression, but many of his suitors are good defensive teams and will keep that strand rate high and his ERA low. He was actually a little unlucky with balls in play, as batters hit .304 against him on balls in play, higher than his career .292 mark. This can be attributed to worse defense behind him; while Nick Swisher and Asdrubal Cabera are no slouches in the field, they don't approach the defensive level of Troy Tulowitzki and Todd Helton, who Jimenez had behind him as a member of the Rockies. Signing with a team such as the Rangers (now that they have lost Derek Holland for half the season) would give Jimenez an excellent defense behind him once again and the BABIP against him would return to closer to, if not below, his career numbers.

The one thing that looks like it certainly will regress in 2014 for Jimenez is the strikeouts. Jimenez has a very good career K/9 rate of 8.27, but the 9.56 K/9 that he posted in 2013 came out of nowhere, and while the league is becoming more strikeout prone as a whole, I don't think there's any way that Jimenez could pitch as many innings as he did in 2013 and reach any higher than a 9.2 K/9 rate. Of course, it's draft pick compensation that's keeping Ubaldo on the market, but he could be a signing that's worth 12-15 million dollars a year, as long as he can keep his walks low and his strikeouts high. I already addressed the strikeouts dropping slightly next year being virtually imminent, but how about those walks...?

Jimenez walked 3.94 batters per nine in 2013, close to his 4.04 career mark. The point that can be made here is that Jimenez can still walk a lot of batters and be immensely effective on the mound. Walks are always an issue to GMs, managers and scouts when looking at a player, but it shouldn't be much of an issue for Jimenez. He keeps the ball on the ground (career 47.6 GB%, 0.73 HR/9), and he would make a solid number two or three starter for whichever team ponies up the money to sign him. I wouldn't pay anything ridiculous for him, but it doesn't take a very long time to look at the stats and realize that he could very easily be worth the money he'll be getting paid.

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