Bjarkman: Ismel Jimenez approaches ‘unbreakable’ Cuban pitching record

From SABR member Peter C. Bjarkman at Baseball de Cuba on January 2, 2013:

Easily the most unapproachable record in the full annals of modern-era Cuban League baseball is the 1966 back-to-back no-hit, no-run feat of Aquino Abreu.

It is almost beyond imagination to envision another pitcher surpassing Abreu with three consecutive no-hit and no-run masterpiece games. But when it comes to career standards (as opposed to one-time flukes) then the argument swings to Orlando Hernández.

A decade and a half after leaving the island El Duque still owns the career record for winning percentage (126-47, .728) making him by this important measure the most successful of all modern-era Cuban League hurlers.

Of course it must be noted that the one-time Industriales hero earned his place in the record books in large part because he left the island in mid-career, after only ten full seasons. While the subsequent decade brought Hernández considerable success in the North American major leagues, it is rather doubtful that a .700 winning ledger would have survived another ten-plus years of Cuban League action.

The same can be said for another .700-plus pitcher and eventual MLB-convert, José Ariel Contreras (117-50, .701). Had either El Duque or Contreras opted to play out an entire career in Cuba their equally impressive lifetime ledgers would almost certainly have experienced some considerable late-career erosion of their stellar winning numbers.

Read the full article here:

Originally published: January 2, 2013. Last Updated: January 2, 2013.