Patrick Corbin was a wonderful arm to have owned in 2013. In your mixed league maybe you took him in Round 28 or something late, but chances are pretty fair that he may not even have been drafted after a rookie season in which he had a 6-8 record, 4.54 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. He blew past those numbers in 2013, he won 14 games with a 3.41 ERA and 1.17 WHIP, but it was a tale of two halves. Which pitcher will show up in 2014, the first half All-Star or the second half slug?
With an intro like that I might as well start with the numbers that Corbin produced before and after the All-Star break in 2013.
Pre: 11-1, 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, .206 BAA Post: 3-7, 5.19 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, .289 BAA
I think it should be obvious that Corbin isn't Clayton Kershaw, but he's also not Edinson Volquez. So what gives? That last number is pretty telling isn't it? Why the .083 point game in batting average as he turned batters from Elliot Johnson in the first half into Pablo Sandoval in the second? It's pretty much as simply as saying his BABIP of .247, an extremely low number, shot up to .337 after the break. Neither number is “right,” but when combined his season long mark of .283 is still pretty solid. And that last phrase, “pretty solid,” is how I would describe Corbin. Here comes the player breakdown.
As for the ERA it dropped from 4.54 to 3.41 from his rookie season to 2013. Did he deserve that drop? I'll continue to point out why he didn't, but here are some raw numbers just to look at.
2012: 3.71 SIERA, 3.73 xFIP 2013: 3.64 SIERA, 3.48 xFIP
According to those two measures not much changed from 2012 to 2013 to explain the more than run drop in his actual ERA.
His 7.23 K/9 rate as a rookie improved to 7.69. He actually improved the rate up to 7.96 in the second half. However, he's not a dominating K arm by any means but he showed some slight year over year improvement and his total of 178 Ks is pretty substantial in this day and age.
Though Corbin improved his K-rate in year two, he walked a few more batters in year two. It wasn't a drastic uptick by any means, but his BB/9 mark went from 2.10 to 2.33. The end result is that his 3.44 K/BB ratio from his rookie season dropped slightly to 3.30 in year two.
You might be starting to notice a trend that will go throughout this review – Corbin pretty much pitched the same way that he did in 2012 in 2013 yet his ERA, WHIP and record all improved markedly which is odd given that...
After a 23.3 percent line drive mark in 2012 that mark was 22.2 in year two. After a 45.7 percent ground ball rate in 2012 that mark was 46.7 in year two. After a 1.47 GB/FB ratio in 2012 that mark was 1.50 in year two.
Same, same and same.
After a 13.5 percent HR/F ratio the mark dropped down to 10.1 percent in year two leaving him with an 11.3 percent mark for his career. All three marks could be posted in 2014 and there would be nothing but acceptance as all fall in the realm of the expected. As a result of the lowered fly ball rate his HR/9 fell from 1.18 to 0.82. Again, it could easily revert to 2012 levels in 2014.
Same yet again.
One area that he did improve greatly in was in retiring left-handed batters. Here are the slash lines he posted against lefties the last two years.
2012: .325/.375/.368 2013: .203/.273/.263
I ask you, can he sustain his 2013 levels in 2014? Can't think so even if he started throwing his a bit more (up from 16.4 percent of pitches to 23 percent in year two).
Here are his 2012 numbers followed by 2013.
Swings on pitches outside the strike zone: 33.3 and 35.0 percent. Swings on pitches inside the strike zone: 68.5 and 64.5 percent. Batters contact rate: 81.8 percent, 77.9 percent.
Same, same and same.
He did improve significantly in one aspect, he got ahead 0-1. As a rookie his first pitch strike rate was 58.6 percent. In year two that mark substantially improved to 70.2 percent.
So we've got the same K-rate. The same BB-rate. The same fly ball rate. The same ground ball rate. The same HR/F ratio. The same swinging rates.
Despite all that same his ERA dropped more than a full run? I'm not buying it, and neither should you. If I had to guess I'd point to his career numbers (3.80 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 3.34 K/BB, 1.40 GB/FB) as being the much more likely outcome for 2014 than a repeat of his 2013 effort. In fact, I'd be a bit surprised if he is able to match that WHIP in the coming season so I still view Corbin as a moderate add in mixed leagues for 2014 and not someone you should be targeting taking early as a staff ace. He's just not that guy.
By Ray Flowers
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The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Thurs 7 PM, Fri. 9 PM EDT), Ray also hosts a show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.
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