You know that this article is about the Nationals’ Jordan Zimmermann so I can’t play my game of ‘Who am I?’ Instead I’ll just start out this review of the young righty by listing some numbers that explain just how effective he was in 2012 for the NL East Champs.
Zimmermann had the 7th best ERA in the NL in 2012 at 2.94. That surpasses the marks of guys like Cole Hamels (3.05), Cliff Lee (3.16) and Madison Bumgarner (3.37). Moreover, since the start of the 2011 season, among hurlers who have tossed at least 350 innings, Zimmermann’s ERA of 3.05 is the 13th best mark in all of baseball. He’s an ERA ace during that time.
Zimmermann had the 11th best WHIP in the NL last season at 1.17. Moreover, since the start of the 2011 season, among hurlers who have tossed at least 325 innings, Zimmermann has posted a WHIP of 1.16, the 16th best mark in baseball. He’s a WHIP ace during that time.
That’s a pretty good start to speaking to the value of a guy in the fantasy game, is it not?
One factor that has held back Jordan’s value somewhat in the fantasy game is his low wins mark. In 2011 he made only 26 starts as he worked his way back from Tommy John Surgery. He won just eight of those 26 starts. Last season he upped that start mark to 32 and saw his win total swell to 12. Still, his total of 20 victories the last two years is one less than teammate Gio Gonzalez won last season. Moreover, those 20 wins mean 59 big league hurlers had more victories that last two seasons. Admittedly, not very exciting. Still, his arm is healthy and that should lead to even more innings moving forward which should increase his chances at picking up W’s though it should be noted that the Nats were EXTREMELY diligent about limiting Zimmermann’s innings in 2012. He may have made 32 starts but he was never allowed to pick up more than 21 outs (he threw exactly seven innings nine times).
Among that same group of hurlers (min 350 innings pitched), Zimmermann’s K/9 mark of 6.98 since the start of the 2011 season is just 36th. It’s not an awful mark by any means, but it’s far from the type of total one would normally assign to a fantasy ace (153 Ks in 195.2 innings, his marks from 2012, are solid but earthshaking). On the flip side of that coin we find a hurler who is pretty adverse to four wide ones leading to a free pass. He’s not just anti walks, he detests them with a passion. In our group of starting pitchers his mark of 1.87 walks per nine innings the past two years is an elite total that has him inside the top-10 (seventh best actually). Put that sold K/9 mark together with an elite BB/9 mark and the result is a 3.74 K/BB ratio the past two years, the 11th best mark in baseball. Nothing to dislike about that at all.
Perusing the other usual suspects for pitchers yields some so-so information. For his career his 9.3 HR/F ratio is pretty league average (his career 0.90 HR/9 mark is slightly below league average). His 1.16 GB/FB ratio is slightly better than normal, though it should be noted that in three of his four seasons that mark has been 1.28 or higher (it was 0.94 in his first year back from surgery, 2011). Putting aside the one outlier we’d be looking at a number like 1.32, and that would be a bit more exciting (duh). In each of the past three seasons he’s allowed a batting average against in the .250′s, hardly a shock for a guy who owns a career .255 mark. His xFIP has been unchanged the past two years at exactly 3.78 (his SIERA has only changed by a tenth from 3.70 to 3.80). Playing into the belief that it will be hard for him to repeat his sub three ERA of a year ago is the fact that his left on base percentage of 79.3 percent his a significantly high number (nearly five points better than his career mark). Some slightly regression here will likely lead to an increased ERA in 2013.
Zimmermann is not an elite pitcher. I don’t worry about the win-loss record, we all know how variable that can be, and h’s also proven the last two years that he will do nothing to damage you in the ratio categories either. The data would seem to hint at a slight increase in ERA though, even if his WHIP remains stable, and with a lack of an upper echelon strikeout pitch Zimmermann seems primed to be what he has been the last two years – an extremely attractive, high level SP3 option in mixed leagues.
By Ray Flowers