Baseball HQ Facts/Flukes: Zimmermann, Kubel, Minor, Pence, McDonald

by BaseballHQ.com on February 26, 2013 @ 12:23:58 PDT

 

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By Brent Hershey

Zimmermann: Under-the-radar ace? … As long as he's on the same team as a healthy Stephen Strasburg (RHP, WAS), Jordan Zimmermann (RHP, WAS) is not likely to be called an "ace." But let the numbers since his Tommy John surgery in 2010 make their case:

Year    IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  H%  S%    G/L/F   BPV
====   ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ==  ==  ========  ===
2011   161  3.18  3.75  1.7  6.9  4.0  30  74  39/19/42   95
2012   196  2.94  3.78  2.0  7.0  3.6  30  78  43/23/33   94

Among the arguments:

  • San Francisco Giants OF Hunter Pence
    Pence, Bay Area don't agree?
    Zimmermann is still just 26 years old; he's still a year or two from his prime.
  • He's shown excellent base skills from the start, and has maintained his Ctl/Dom numbers throughout his 58 post-surgery starts.
  • His G/L/F tilted toward a ground-ball profile, especially over the first half of 2012 (50%).
  • He's done it with a bit of S% fortune, but nothing extravagant.
  • Back-to-back mid-90s BPV seasons attest to his broad skill set.

To be fair, his ERA the past two seasons was at least a half-run better than it should have been. But at his age and experience, a step up in xERA would not be a surprise. He won't be cheap once he wins 15 or so games, but Zimmerman's a current low risk/high reward pick.

Kubel becomes a power force … It appears Jason Kubel (OF, ARI) likes Arizona. Whether is was mainly the ballpark switch -- Chase Field just might be Target Field's polar opposite -- a blossoming skill set, or something else, the question is: Can it be repeated?

Year      AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  h%    G/L/F    PX  hr/f  HR
====     ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ==  ========  ===  ====  ==
2009     514  .300  .292   10   79  33  39/20/42  151   16%  28
2010     518  .249  .256   10   78  28  38/19/43  117   12%  21
2011     366  .273  .250    8   77  33  35/21/43  117   10%  12
2012     506  .253  .265   10   70  30  33/23/44  176   19%  30

There are enough holes in this profile to make us skeptical:

  • Though the overall HR spike was impressive, Kubel's Headley-like second half (19 HR on 26% hr/f) seems more like a fluke.
  • When Kubel approached 30 HR before in 2009, his contact rate yielded a much higher xBA. Since then, xBA says about .270 is the best one can hope for.
  • He still has trouble with lefties (.736 OPS).

The mix of a poor contact rate, strong FB% and the near-doubling of hr/f seems to indicate that although Kubel may have some value hitting home runs, his thirties will be filled with quite a bit of all-or-nothing swings. With a contact rate this low, getting to 30 HR again will be a chore. Except his power to flatten out in 2013.

As for Mike Minor, Hunter Pence, James McDonald?

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