We’re getting to the point in these prospect reviews where even casual fans will recognize the names.
In the case of Tim Collins, there’s a very good reason for that – no other pitcher made more appearances than the diminutive Collins who led the team with 68.
He accumulated 66 innings and a 3.63 ERA. But, as always, numbers don’t always tell the whole story.
For the most part, Collins had a successful year. His ERA+ suggests he performed 14% better than the league average, and he struck out 8.1 batters per nine innings. He kept the ball in the park (0.7 HR/9) and batters had difficulty getting hits off of him (7 H/9 and a .216 batting average against).
So how is that not the stat line of a breakout rookie lefty?
That’s the number of batters Collins walked per nine innings. That contributed to a .349 on base percentage, so while batters only got a hit 21.6% of the time, they still got on base 35% of the time. The major league average was a .321 on base percentage with Boston leading the pack with a .349 on base percentage. In other words, Collins made every team he faced better than the Red Sox at getting on base.
As a result, his defense-neutral numbers don’t look good, since batters only got a hit when putting the ball in play about 27% of the time. Taking that good fortune out of the equation, his ERA equivalent would be 4.44 with an xFIP of 4.90.
True, that’s still not terrible, and Collins had a significant drop from the minors to the majors. Up until he was traded to the Royals, he had a 13.68 K/9 and 3.90 BB/9 through Double A. After being traded with Gregor Blanco and Jesse Chavez for Kyle Farnsworth and Rick Ankiel, Collins made his first appearance in Triple A, putting up 9.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9.
While the 8.1 K/9 is solid, the 6.4 BB/9 is a problem.
During the year, Collins seemed tentative and unwilling to trust his stuff. He also seemed to wear down after so many appearances towards the middle of the year. He appeared in 26 of the Royals first 46 games, never with more than 2 days rest. Part of that could be blamed on his being the only lefty out of the bullpen most of the year, but Ned Yost also seemed to go to him over other options.
His splits support this:
After a wicked May where batters hit four singles in 43 at bats – and that’s all – his June was disappointing as he saw his strikeouts decline, his walks stay high, and base hits fall in more often.
His workload was lightened in the second half and his strikeouts started to climb again but walks remained an issue.
Collins will be back in the bullpen next year, likely as the first left-handed option. Much of his success will depend on how he can command his pitches. His minor league numbers suggest he could be a dominant option but his upside will be limited if he can’t hit the plate.