05/21/2010 01:46 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Ubaldo Jimenez's Blazing Start Prompts Comparisons To Gibson, Valenzuela

Few would argue that any major league pitcher has been better this season that Ubaldo Jimenez. The Rockies' righty has leads the league in wins after dominating the Astros Thursday night.

Jimenez is now 8-1 with a 0.99 ERA.

His hot start has already generated cautious comparisons to some of the all-time greats. ESPN compared Jimenez's numbers through 9 starts to Bob Gibson's 1968 season for ST. Louis, which is widely considered to be among the best seasons by a pitcher in the modern era.

While--as ESPN notes--all historical comparisons this early in the season are limited, Jimenez has actually been better through the first quarter of the season than even Gibson in '68. Gibson was just 3-4 with a--still impressive 1.34 era--through his first 9 starts in his best season.

ESPN points out that Jimenez becomes just the 5th pitcher to win 8 of his first 9 starts and have an ERA of under 1.00. The last was Cy Young winner Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.