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May 27, 2010


The Best Pitcher in the NL is ...

by John Perrotto

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There are plenty of pitchers having fine seasons in the National League. But with the calendar nearing Memorial Day — the traditional one-third mark on the baseball season — the question is: Who is the best pitcher in the NL?

To weed through the very strong field to determine the answer, we'll use three Baseball Prospectus metrics that measure starters, counting only those who have pitched at least 50 innings, and awarding points in the same manner of the new Cy Young voting system that will be unveiled in November by the Baseball Writers Association of America — 10 points for first place, seven for second, five for third, three for fourth and one for fifth.

First, let's look at SNLVAR (support-neutral league value above replacement),which gauges how many more wins a starting pitcher provides throughout the course of the season than would a replacement-level player, which represents someone who could be claimed off waivers or purchased off a Triple-A roster:

Pitchers Ranked By SNLVAR

This means Jimenez provides 3.4 more wins than someone who can be claimed off waivers.



Ubaldo Jimenez


Roy Halladay


Tim Hudson


Adam Wainwright


Tim Lincecum


Next, we will look at FRA (fair run average). This is a simple statistic: It measures how many runs per nine innings a pitcher allows while also including the number of baserunners a starter bequeaths to his bullpen when pulled in the middle of an inning.

Pitchers Ranked By Fair Run Average

This ranking considers runs allowed per nine innings, plus the runner the pitchers leaves on base when taken out of a game.



Ubaldo Jimenez


Roy Halladay


Tim Lincecum


Livan Hernandez


Josh Johnson


Finally, we'll take into account BP's newest pitching metric, SIERA (skill-interactive earned run average). This stat estimates ERA through walk rate, strikeout rate and ground ball rate while eliminating the effects of park, defense and luck.

Pitchers Ranked By SIERA

This metric does not consider the effects of the park, defense and luck.



Tim Lincecum


Tommy Hanson


Dan Haren


Adam Wainwright


Roy Halladay


Tally the three metrics up with the scoring system and the top three are: Jimenez (20 points), Lincecum (16) and Halladay (15). In case you're wondering, Jimenez is ninth in SIERA with a 3.35 mark.

Jimenez would certainly be the pick of the BBWAA if voting were held today because he is putting up eye-popping numbers in the traditional statistical categories. The Colorado Rockies right-hander shut out the Arizona Diamondbacks for eight innings on Wednesday night to raise his record to 9-1 and lower his earned run average to 0.88 through 10 starts. The 26-year-old has allowed just 42 hits in 63 1/3 innings to go with 61 strikeouts and 24 walks.

So whether you look at it through the prism of the new statistics or the old ones, Jimenez has clearly been the NL's best pitcher through the first third of 2010 season.

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

7 comments have been left for this article. (Click to hide comments)

BP Comment Quick Links


Is SIERRA really biased when it comes to walks?

May 27, 2010 11:30 AM
rating: 0

Am I the only one who thinks it a bit of a bad sign moving forward that Jimenez's strikeout rate has really nosedived the past two or three outings?

May 27, 2010 12:01 PM
rating: 0

I'm not concerned about it at all. I've seen all of Ubaldo's starts, and the fact is, he's getting guys out with a minimal amount of pitches, as his groundball ratio is outstanding, and the Rox have a pretty good infield defense. His velocity is still 96-98 by the 8th inning. He's not 'trying' for strikeouts, it's just that teams are swinging early, and grounding/popping out.

May 27, 2010 17:04 PM
rating: 0
Michael Bodell

I think it is the same reason Halladay gets dinged by SIERA. He pitches to contact to trade strikeouts for groundouts. It results in slightly less impressive SIERA type numbers, but more efficient pitching letting him pitch more IP.

May 27, 2010 18:53 PM
rating: 0
Benjamin Harris

How far down is Jimenez in Siera?

May 27, 2010 16:20 PM
rating: -1
Kris Ericson

First paragraph after the last chart.

May 28, 2010 11:38 AM
rating: 0
Richard Bergstrom

Times like this I wonder why I have to go to ESPN.com to find out in-season groundball rate...

May 27, 2010 22:41 PM
rating: 0
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