Sep 23, 2013; Seattle, WA, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Tim Collins (55) pitches to the Seattle Mariners during the 7th inning at Safeco Field. Mandatory Credit: Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Tim Collins May Be at the Crossroads


Jul 14, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Tim Collins (55) delivers in the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

For years, it appeared as though Bret Saberhagen had a strange affinity for odd numbered years. Saberhagen won the Cy Young Award in both 1985 and 1989, and through the first ten years of his career, he was generally better during those years that ended in an odd number. It was just one of those random trends that can occasionally appear in baseball, without any logical reason for it.

While it is still early in his career, Tim Collins appears as though he may be following in Saberhagen’s footsteps, at least as far as the even/odd year performance goes. Collins put together a decent rookie season, going 4-4 with a 3.63 ERA, striking out 60 batters in 67 innings. Although he only gave up 52 hits, Collins walked 48 batters, limiting his effectiveness and leading to a 1.493 WHiP for the season. Yet, Collins was only 21 years old, and was likely to improve upon those numbers going forward.

That progression certainly occurred in 2012. Collins improved his control, walking 34 batters in 69.2 innings of work. Meanwhile, his strikeouts skyrocketed, as he struck out 93 batters, posting a strikeout to walk rate of 2.74. As Collins continued to challenge the opposition, his overall numbers improved as well. For the season, Collins was 5-4 with a 3.36 ERA and a 1.278 WHiP. The only potential concern was the increase in home runs allowed, as Collins gave up eight home runs that season.

Then came the 2013 season. At first glance, it would appear as though Tim Collins had a year similar to his 2011 campaign. His strikeout rate declined to under a strikeout per inning, and his WHiP increased to 1.444. A 3-6 record and an ERA of 3.54 helped make the 2012 season appear to be an aberration.

Yet, some of the positives from the previous year carried over. Collins had a similar walk rate in 2013, walking 28 batters in 53.1 innings of work. He kept the ball in the yard, allowing only three home runs during the season. The biggest issue for Collins was that he got hit more often. After allowing approximately seven hits per nine innings over his first two seasons, Collins allowed 8.3 hits per nine innings last season.

So, what changed? In 2012, Collins went away from his changeup, relaying more upon his curveball and fastball. While his fastball was hit hard, Collins held opponents to a .105 batting average on the curve, proving the axiom of ‘less is more’ to be accurate in this case. In 2013, neither the changeup nor the curve were as formidable. He had gotten a swing and a miss 30% of the time on the changeup in 2012, and the curve was missed on 12.8% of swings. Those numbers declined to 19.5% and 7.5% respectively in 2013,

It could simply be a matter of the opposition figuring out the diminutive lefty. Through June 22nd, Tim Collins was actually improving upon his 2012 numbers, posting a 2-1 record with a 2.02 ERA and a strikeout to walk rate of exactly two to one. Opponents had managed a batting line of only .202/.294/.255 against him. However, from that point on, Collins struggled to a 1-5 record with a 5.06 ERA. The batting line against him rose to .280/.369/.421, as Collins was used in lower leverage situations as the season progressed.

Based upon the raw data, it may be fair to wonder if Collins can recapture the form he displayed in 2012. He mixed his pitches at roughly the same rate, yet was unable to achieve the same amount of success. Opponents adjusted to how Collins performed for approximately a season and a half – now Collins has to adjust back. That ability to adjust may be the biggest factor for Collins in 2014. Perhaps he starts throwing fewer fastballs, or being more selective with the pitch in general, as opponents are hitting over .300 against the fastball throughout his career.

It may be too early to give up entirely upon Tim Collins, as he will be only 24 years old to start the 2014 season. However, his Royals career may be at at crossroads. With a number of pitching options on the cusp of contributing at the major league level, Collins may find that the Royals no longer have room on the roster for him.

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  • unclejesse40

    I am a Tim Collins fan. I know I literally added nothing to the conversation, but because of my fandom I am probably the wrong person to critique him.

    • Dave Hill

      The interesting part of Collins’ two seasons, to me, was that he really did not do anything differently. I just wonder if the league caught up to what he did in 2012. Now, he needs to adjust.

      • unclejesse40

        I would agree with that. The front office either will have faith that he can go back to 2012 form or they can package Collins with one of the following Dyson/Maxwell/Cain. Just not sure what you would get with that type of package. I would think that Hoch would have more value as part of a package deal because of the crazy good statistical year he had. I feel like I am beating a dead horse but I think we need to trade Hoch this off season because his value in a trade may never be this high again.

        • Dave Hill

          I would agree with trading Hochevar and/or Davis. The Royals would be able to free up some money, which could potentially go towards signing another starting pitcher. The only problem with trading Hochevar is that he is a free agent next season, and may not pan out as a starter. Do teams really want to spend that much on a setup man?

          • unclejesse40

            I am still holding out hope that Santana will return on a Kyle Loshe type deal. I would be totally cool with a 3-4 year deal around 12-14 million a year. If we get Santana back I would trade Hoch and Davis for salary relief and for a low level high upside lottery ticket prospect. If it plays out that way you won’t hear me complaining even if Hoch and Davis go on to be good somewhere else.

  • unclejesse40

    I might be wrong on this but it seems like in 2012 Tim Collins used to have a can of chew in his back pocket but I can’t remember if that can was there in 2013, hmm I wonder if this is the missing link? Again I am a Collins fan so my take on this is going to be heavily bias.

  • moretrouble

    My impression of Collins last season was he lost command of his breaking pitches during his bad streak. Hunter can probably check on that — Hunter is very good with stat analysis. It is far too early to “give up” on Collins, but he needs something extra to be a dominating pitchers. In the pen and being a lefty, he doesn’t have to be dominating to be effective, but does have to throw all his pitches for strikes, mix his pitches well, and keep from wearing down, which is also something that’s a concern.