It took until late February, but the Baltimore Orioles finally made a splash in the free agent market when they inked RHP Ubaldo Jimenez to a four-year, $50 million deal to immediately improve their starting rotation. Many wondered why Jimenez over someone like Ervin Santana and today we wanted to show you why Jimenez is a perfect fit for the Birds.
First and foremost, let's state the obvious. Jimenez is a high quality starter who has a great track record of durability as he has made at least 31 starts for sixth straight seasons and has thrown at least 176 innings in each of those year's as well. Baltimore desperately needed a guy who could not only bring some quality to the rotation, but eat up some innings in order to help preserve the bullpen's workload.
Those were the obvious reasons he would be a great fit in Baltimore, but let's take a look at some other numbers that show he is a perfect fit in Charm City and more specifically, Camden Yards.
When you make 30+ starts in a season, the 20 home run allowed mark is considered the benchmark for starters in deciding whether or not you are prone to the longball or are good at avoiding it. It does not take a diehard fan to know that Camden Yards is a hitter friendly park and the home run is quite prone to happen. Jimenez, who pitched six years in Coors Field in Colorado, which is one of the most hitter friendly ball parks in all of baseball, has only allowed 20 or more home runs in a season once! That is quite an impressive stat and bodes extremely well for the Orioles. He also boasts a great home run per nine innings ratio at just 0.7 for his career.
Although he does have a tendency to walk some batters, he makes up for that with two great stats. During his career, Jimenez strikes out 8.3 batters per nine innings, and the ability to strike people out goes a long way to avoid the big inning and get out of jams. Last season, he struck out 9.6 batters per nine innings, which was a career high and ranked fourth in the American League.
What's the second stat? Jimenez is one of the best groundball pitchers in the game which is great in amongst itself for the Orioles, but when you add to it the quality of defense he will now have behind him with arguably the best defensive infield in the game today, his ability to get double plays will be astounding.
The great fit argument continues on. When you watch Baltimore's starting pitchers, the one thing that sticks out is their inability to continue their great outings once they begin facing hitters for the third and fourth time in a game. Jimenez does not have that issue. When facing a hitter for the third time in a game, he holds hitters to a .244 average, and when he faces them for a fourth time in a game he holds hitters to a miniscule .224 average. Those are very impressive numbers, no matter who you are.
Another minor issue Jimenez has dealt with throughout his career is his knack of throwing wild pitches, but again, he fits in well in Baltimore when you realize that he is going to have one of the best defensive catchers in the game in Matt Wieters behind the plate, which can help any pitcher reduce the amount of wild pitches he throws.
The list goes on an on, but it is easy to see how Jimenez is an extremely great fit for the Orioles. What do you think? Did you want to see them get Santana over Jimenez? Let the debate ensue by posting a comment!
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