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February 19, 2014

Transaction Analysis

Orioles Embrace Ubaldo's Upside

by Sam Miller and Mike Gianella



BALTIMORE ORIOLES
Team Audit | Player Cards | Depth Chart

Not long ago, on Effectively Wild, we were asked a hypothetical question about two pitchers. One produces A.J. Burnett’s average season, every time, with no fluctuation. The other is realistic: he produces good years, bad years, great years, lost years, average years. In an absolute sense, the pitchers are equal and have the same expected value, but would a GM tend to pay more for the volatile one or the certainty?

In 2014, PECOTA expects Ubaldo Jimenez to produce a 3.73 ERA in 171 innings, good for 2.1 WARP. It expects Matt Garza to produce a 3.66 ERA and 2.0 WARP in 164 innings. In other words, they’re practically identical in quality and in quantity, overall. They were born two months apart, they are both right-handed. Yet perhaps no pitcher in baseball portends more fluctuation than Jimenez, and no pitcher in baseball has been more consistent than Garza, about whom we recently wrote: “He has never had an ERA over 3.95; he has only once in those seven years dropped below 3.69.”

And so, we have our answer, right? Garza got four years and $50 million, and while under the intoxicating effects of a vacation reportedly turned down the Angels’ take-it-or-leave-it offer of four and $52. Ubaldo, cutting it close to the start of the season, has now signed for four years and $50 million. Given the value of the compensation draft pick the Orioles forfeited to sign him, they paid ever so slightly more for Jimenez than the Brewers and Angels offered for Garza, which fitsPECOTA favors Jimenez ever so slightly over Garza. The answer to the question: Fluctuation doesn’t matter.

And boy oh boy will Ubaldo fluctuate. This tweet is less than 11 months old:

Related Content:  Baltimore Orioles,  Ubaldo Jimenez

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