As Aaron noted this morning, Ubaldo Jimenez has been nothing short of amazing to begin the season, going 10-1 with a 0.78 ERA so far. He has now put in 11 straight starts in which he has allowed two earned runs or fewer. Astounding, yes. But unprecedented?
Alas, no. At least not in terms of the low earned-runs streak. As Raphy at the excellent Baseball-Reference Blog noted after yesterday’s game, one guy actually started his season with 12 straight games in which he allowed two runs or fewer. The man: Edinson Volquez in 2008. Wasn’t expecting him.
The others on that list are an interesting lot. Juan Marichal’s 1966 actually makes Jimenez’s 2010 look rather pedestrian, as Marichal had an ERA of 0.59 through ten starts and a 60/8 K/BB ratio. No one was touching the Dominican Dandy in the early going that year.
But I guess the most striking thing on the list is what’s not there: truly historic seasons. Yes, there’s a Cy Young award in there — Greinke’s 2009 year — but no seasons that people remember forever like Bob Gibson’s 1968 or any of Sandy Koufax’s big years. As Raphy notes, just about all of those guys fell back to Earth a bit after their fast starts, some of them in a pretty major way (see, Moore, Barry; 1969). Really, Marichal’s was the only big time season there, and even then he was bested by Koufax in the long haul that year.
This isn’t to rain on Jimenez’s parade. What he’s doing is fantastic and, at the moment, he’s got to be considered the favorite for the Cy Young award (sorry, Roy). But it is premature to call his season historic for the simple reason that such streaks aren’t generally sustainable and there’s a lot of baseball yet to be played.