Fantasy Fallout: Alex Cobb Finally Signs, But His Outlook Is Now Even Worse…

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

While there are still a few names left on the free agent market that seemingly could make an impact, we’ve finally got clarity on the high-end names with Alex Cobb’s signing.  He’ll reportedly spend the next four seasons in Baltimore, hardly an ideal landing spot for any pitcher.  He does have a history of pitching there, so let’s see how he’s fared in his new home ballpark:

Year
Innings
ERA
20124.23.86
20136.01.50
20149.05.00
201717.15.79

We would have more data had he not missed nearly two years due to injury, but the 2017 mark alone would raise a red flag.  Last season there were two key numbers that create concern:

  1. 6.42 K/9
  2. 47.8% groundball rate

The groundball rate would appear to be a solid number, but the owner of a 54.0% career mark it’s a significant step backwards.  He did show something late in the season, with a 57.8% mark in September, but that was his only month above 49.6%.

There was an overall key change in approach from prior to his injury, which could help to explain the change.  Previously Cobb had been throwing his split-finger fastball roughly 34% of the time, but last year it was down to 14.40%.  Prior to getting hurt each time an opposing hitter put a splitter in play it was a groundball more than 60% of the time, so it makes sense.

It also helps to explain his strikeout rate, as it always has been his biggest swing and miss offering.  Using that less led to a 6.7% SwStr%, meaning the potential for a rebound isn’t there (barring an alteration).

Could a fresh voice in his ear lead to him going back to what he had been doing?  Maybe, but that takes time and having missed all of spring training that’s a commodity he doesn’t have.  Instead we have to expect things to remain the same, with Cobb showing little strikeout potential and carrying a greater risk of home runs (especially in a ballpark that’s much friendlier to opposing hitters).

The name may have appeal, but Cobb simply isn’t a pitcher to invest in for 2018.

Sources – CBS Sports, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catchers03/14/1802/02/18
First Basemen01/08/1802/09/18
Second Basemen01/15/1802/13/18
Shortstops03/21/1802/27/18
Third Basemen03/09/1803/06/18
Outfielders1-20: 03/18/18

21-40: 03/19/18
1-20: 03/12/18

21-40:
Starting Pitchers1-20: 03/24/18

21-40: 03/24/18
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Relief Pitchers02/12/18--

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