by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
In his first full season in the Majors the Diamondbacks’ Patrick Corbin was probably one of the biggest surprises in 2013. Did anyone believe he could post the following numbers:
178 Strikeouts (7.69 K/9)
54 Walks (2.33 BB/9)
75.9% Strand Rate
You obviously could argue a little bit of luck, given his 22.2% line drive rate, but that’s hardly enough. It wasn’t tremendous luck that led to these numbers, he simply pitched that well. Does that mean he can replicate it? That’s an entirely different question.
Over his minor league career Corbin owned a 2.3 BB/9, including a mark of 2.3 over 187.1 innings at Double-A (2.6 in 52.1 innings at Triple-A, though that’s a rather small sample size). He was also consistent between the first (2.28) and second (2.42) half.
His strikeout rate also feels realistic, given his minor league career mark of 8.4 (8.0 while at Double-A). In fact, with a fastball that averaged 92.1 mph and a SwStr% of 10.7%, chances are he could actually take a step forward (in the second half he was at 7.96, and there’s even room for improvement on that number).
Between 2011 & 2012 his minor league groundball rate was 46.0%, making his 46.7% mark from 2013 look very maintainable. While it’s not an elite mark, it’s enough with his other skills.
The detractors are going to point to his monumental regression in the second half:
- First Half – 2.35 ERA, 1.00 WHIP
- Second Half – 5.19 ERA, 1.45 WHIP
It’s hard to argue against it, though a lot of that has more to do with luck than anything. He was extremely lucky in the first half (.247 BABIP, 81.9% strand rate) and unlucky in the second half (.337 BABIP, 68.6% strand rate). They always say baseball is a game of averages, so seeing things even out shouldn’t be surprising.
Yes, the line drive rate did increase as well (20.8% to 24.1%), but it’s not really enough. The skills are there and it’s possible he simply tired down the stretch. That’s not to say that he’s going to match his first half success, but he could easily find consistency and post numbers similar to his final line.
Throw in his ability to field his position (he was up for the Gold Glove Award) and his ability to limit the running game (only 2 SB allowed in 2013) and there’s an awful lot to like. In fact, here’s our projection for 2014:
200.0 IP, 14 W, 3.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 173 K (7.79 K/9), 55 BB (2.48 BB/9)
He will likely be overlooked by many, but don’t make that mistake. Corbin should be considered a very good option for 2014 and beyond.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Minor League Central, ESPN
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