Patting My Back: Pat Corbin And Shelby Miller
My last week on TDG was none to kind to the ego.
In my weekly column, I made the world aware of an embarrassing comparison I made between Jesus Montero and a future Hall of Famer, then questioned the future of a man I once believed to be among the best prospects in baseball.
In our second installment of A Podcast For Your Eyes, I was forced to talk about Montero, Eric Hosmer and Will Middlebrooks: three former prospect sweethearts who are crushing more dreams than fastball these days.
And finally, in the waning moments of PFYE, The Sequel, I betrayed my better self by revealing to the world that I had succumbed to the affordable evil that is Yellowtail wine.
I need to get back on my game, and what better way to do so than to spill 600 words on how right I was on two pitchers carving up the National League as we speak?
This week, no panic button shall be pushed. This week, my back shall be patted.
Pat Corbin (SP, ARI)
Corbin popped up on my radar the same way he likely popped up on the radars of many others: when he was the “other” player traded to Arizona, along with Tyler Skaggs, for Dan Haren back in 2010. Largely viewed as a back-of-the-rotation filler arm or perhaps a 7th inning reliever, Corbin never appeared on any industry Top 100 lists, and it’s unlikely he would’ve appeared on any Top 150 or even Top 200 lists. The likes of Ian Kennedy, Dan Hudson, Skaggs, Trevor Bauer and even Andrew Chafin and David Holmberg surpassed him on most organizational depth charts. He was largely an afterthought.
But while Corbin never dominated in the minors, he really never had a poor stint or season, either. In 160.1 innings in Double-A in 2011, he posted a FIP of 3.62 while posting a K/9 of nearly 8. In 2012 he went for a 3.01 FIP in 52.1 Triple-A inning, seeing the strikeouts play up at only the expense of a modest uptick in walks. And last season, in the majors, Corbin put up a pedestrian buy acceptable 4.00 FIP in 107 innings, exhibiting good control but a propensity for giving up the long ball.
For the reasons above and more, I’ve had Corbin listed as a sleeper in the D-Backs organization for several years now, and advocated drafting him in deeper leagues before the season began. I know Bret was high on Corbin too, and while expecting him to keep his ERA south of 3.00 for a full season isn’t realistic, I’d like to just point out that ZOMG GUYS WE GOT ONE RIGHT.
This piece by Mike Mulvenna on BtBS does a phenomenal job of explaining Corbin’s success to this point, and I largely agree with the conclusion: the regression monster will noms Corbin’s HR/FB, LOB% and BABIP measures, but there’s a noticeable uptick in stuff here and he can stick as a mid-rotation starter for a long time. Great success.
Shelby Miller (SP, STL)
I was not the first man on the Shelby Miller bandwagon, but due to his performance in the first half of 2012 and the cries from the TINSTAAPP (not the TOOTBLAN) crowd, I was certainly able to get a good seat. The man who was once almost kept in the minors in favor of Joe Kelly has been flat-out dominating to this point, posting a 9.79 K/9, 2.37 BB/9 and 2.44 FIP in 57 MLB innings. If you own him, you should be exciting.
Time for more self-congratulations: I ranked Miller as the best Fantasy SP prospect for the 2013 season, and the third-best SP prospect for long term leagues, behind only Dylan Bundy and Gerrit Cole. Given Bundy’s injury and Cole’s lower probability, there’s no way Miller wouldn’t top the list if I could re-order them today.
To fully appreciate Miller from a Fantasy standpoint, you need to take context into account. He plays for an organization that’s excelled in grooming starting pitching over the last several years, he plays for a winning team with a good offense and he plays in the National League. Unless you could replicate that exact scenario in, say, Petco Park, it’s a tough set of circumstances to beat. Miller will contribute in big ways in K, W and ERA this season, and while is 0.93 WHIP isn’t likely to remain so low, he’ll be no slouch in that area either.
Whereas Corbin is poised to be a solid No. 3 starter for the foreseeable future, Miller is a genuine TOR threat and someone who should spend several seasons in the top tier of Fantasy starters. As with all pitchers, there will be some bumps in the road, but there are not many young arms I’d rather have right now than Miller. He’s the real deal.