"Chacin's talent might not be any less than Ubaldo Jimenez's, even right now."
I'm sure many saw this and had the following reaction: "THAT'S ASININE!!!!!!!!"
/Fan goes to compare Jimenez's and Chacin's numbers as he mutters to himself...
"This guy is an idiot. He either has no clue how awesome Ubaldo really is or he's placed Chacin on a pedestal where he simply doesn't belong. There's not a snowball's chance in he..................."
/Finishes comparing the numbers.
"Huh?...... Really? ..... That's Just ..... Mr. Cockcroft may be right?!?!?!"
I know Ubaldo, at first I couldn't believe it either but there's a chance that Chacin might actually be as good as you. Don't worry though, you're still the ace for now.
The birthday's of Ubaldo Jimenez and Jhoulys Chacin help make their career paths remarkably easy to compare. Ubaldo was born on January 22nd, 1984 while Chacin was born almost exactly four years later on January 7th, 1988. Even more convenient is that they both started pitching in the Rockies' minor league system when they were just 18 years old; Ubaldo at Casper for 62 innings in 2002 and Jhoulys for the DSL Rockies for 72.2 innings in 2006.
If we're trying to compare the two, one way to do that might be to say that Chacin should be doing everything four years after Ubaldo. In other words, spring 2011 Chacin should be right where Spring 2007 Ubaldo was. Well if that's the case, then Chacin is well ahead of the standard Ubaldo set.
Ubaldo did pitch 7.2 innings with the Rockies late in 2006 after being a September callup but he would spend more than half of his 2007 season in the minors. Chacin on the other hand already has 148.1 innings of major league experience going into 2011 and an almost guaranteed spot in the rotation.
What I find most astounding though is the difference in the minor league career's of these two players. Look at the numbers in the box below.
During his five seasons in the minors, Chacin posted an ERA that was two full runs better than Ubaldo's while walking significantly fewer batters and surrendering fewer home runs. Ubaldo did have the advantage in strikeout numbers but even that is a smaller margin than you might think.
What can we conclude from this? Well, I think it's pretty safe to say that the 23 year old Jhoulys Chacin is a better pitcher than the 23 year old Ubaldo Jimenez was. That doesn't mean that the 26 year old Chacin will be better, or even as good a pitcher as the 26 year old Ubaldo was last season; but it does put Chacin on quite a path to stardom.
Back in November, Andrew Fisher wrote Chacin's player review and touched on his increased K/9 numbers since coming to the majors. In the comment section of that piece, I pointed out that Chacin's 7.9 K/9 rate in the minors was better than most people gave him credit for and that could explain some of the jump we saw when he got to the majors this season. Even I'll admit though that a 9.2 K/9 ratio in the majors is ridiculous and probably unsustainable for Chacin.
With that said though, look how well some of his numbers from last season (albeit in small sample size) compared to Ubaldo's career year.
Ubaldo's obviously better but that's not what you want to take away from this. What's important here is that Chacin as a rookie posted an ERA, K/9, and BB/9 numbers that come close to UBALDO'S CAREER YEAR. While it's likely that Chacin's K/9 rate will drop next season as Andrew mentioned, it's also possible that his BB/9 and HR/9 numbers could improve since those were huge strengths in the minors. And if that happens, we've got a pitcher who will put up Ubaldo like numbers, only at a younger age.
Remember a couple of years ago when Rockie fans would see the talent in Ubaldo and say that if he ever learned to limit the BB's and HR's he would become a hitter's worst nightmare? Well last season, we finally saw Ubaldo harness his talent and become that dominant force on the mound. Here's the key to the whole thing though, Chacin is much closer to putting it all together than Ubaldo was at his age, and while Ubaldo probably has better pure stuff than Chacin, Jhoulys's control has been so impeccable for a young pitcher, that he has a chance to be just as effective.
We are talking about a guy who has had success everywhere he's pitched and knows how to locate all of his pitches exceptionally well. Despite Baseball America only ranking Chacin as their #71 prospect going into last season, he has a career 2.40 ERA in the minors and has never posted an ERA higher than 3.14 at any level down there. They really missed the boat on this one but at least they weren't alone.
Maybe it's because he isn't flashy, maybe it's because it never quite feels like he's dominating you, or maybe it's because some people are still trying to figure out how to pronounce his first name, but for some reason, Chacin has been constantly underrated by scouts, media, and fans alike for his entire career. All this guy's ever done is post a consistently low ERA. Dare I say he's almost "Machine" like?