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Why Florida Marlins’ Josh Johnson Is Better Than Colorado Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez

Tue, Jun 29, 2010

Player Projections

Ubaldo Jimenez has been absolutely filthy through 16 starts this season, going 14-1 with a Bob Gibson-like 1.83 ERA. The 26-year-old flame thrower even tossed a no-hitter back on April 17.

Likewise, Marlins‘ starter Josh Johnson boasts a 1.83 ERA and 0.96 WHIP through 16 starts, but hasn’t gotten the luck or the run support that Jimenez has.

While Colorado’s ace has struggled in his last two starts, Johnson has continued to dominate.

After a closer look, it’s become obvious that Johnson has out-dueled the N.L. Cy Young favorite through the first three months in nearly every major pitching category:

JIMENEZ 8.12 3.19 1.05 1.83 3.07 3.68
JOHNSON 8.92 2.25 0.96 1.83 2.47 3.16


Side notes:

FIP (fielder independent pitching) is a stat that measures factors only the pitcher can control. This helps us understand how well a pitcher has pitched, regardless of the defense behind him.

xFIP (expected fielder independent pitching) is an experimental stat which adjusts FIP and “normalizes” home run totals. Because research has indicated that home runs are a result of fly balls allowed and home parks, xFIP can be used to measure a pitcher’s expected ERA based on the average number of homers allowed per fly ball. This is a better indicator of a pitcher’s future ERA.

Using these stats to evaluate the two pitchers, we can conclude that:

  • Johnson (2.47 FIP) has been better than Jimenez (3.07) this season.
  • Johnson (3.16 xFIP) should continue to out-pitch Jimenez (3.68 xFIP) in the future.

Even if you toss out Jimenez’s recent struggles, (which have accounted for 18 percent of his totals hits allowed and 43 percent of his total earned runs allowed this season), you can still argue that Johnson has been just as good:

JIMENEZ 7.81 3.19 0.99 1.15
JOHNSON 8.92 2.25 0.96 1.83


Taking it one step further, Johnson has clearly out-performed Jimenez in other pitching categories such as:

  • O-Swing rate (percent of swings at pitches off the plate)
  • Contact rate (percent of contact made on all pitches)
  • First pitch strike rate (percent of first pitch strikes thrown)
  • Swinging strike rate (percent of pitches which result in swinging strike)
  O-Swing % Contact % F-Strike % SwStr%
JIMENEZ 27.0 79.2 59.9 8.7
JOHNSON 31.8 73.9 64.5 11.9
MLB AVG 28.4 81.0 58.4 8.3


In fact, Jimenez has been no more than an average pitcher by these standards, while Johnson ranks 17th, 3rd, 12th, and 2nd in these categories among qualified starters.

Now don’t get it twisted; I envy Ubaldo’s ridiculous pitching repertoire as much as the next guy. I refused to be blinded by win totals and ESPN, however, and therefore believe that Josh Johnson has been (and will continue to be) the better pitcher.

Image courtesy of: Michael G. Baron

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  • Luke

    You’re forgetting one important factor – Josh Johnson pitches at a much lower elevation than Ubaldo Jimenez. If you, or anyone else, is going to use the Coors Field argument against Rockies hitters, then you better make damn sure you give more credit to Rockies pitchers. Here are the road stats of Jimenez and Johnson.:

    Jimenez: 9-1, 1.23 ERA, 28 BB, 68 SO, .171 opponent .AVG
    Johnson: 2-1, 2.61 ERA, 10 BB, 15 SO, .218 opponent .AVG

  • Yurel

    Plus Josh Johnson has little to no help in the pitching staff. We count on him to give us 7 strong innings.

  • Nick Kappel

    That’s an interesting point, Luke. My argument would be that because Ubaldo is a ground ball pitcher, the Coors factor doesn’t apply as much as it would to a normal pitcher.

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