The Kansas City Royals are coming off their best season since 1989, and are looking to improve on their 86 wins in 2013. Going forward, we are going to take a closer look at the players that should play significant roles for the Royals in 2014, as they try to make their first post season appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.
If you want read the other completed profiles, just click here. This link will be updated as we add more profiles over the upcoming weeks.
Today we take a closer look at left handed reliever Tim Collins.
Listed at 5’7″, 165 pounds, Collins has been dependable and durable in this first three full seasons with the Royals. He has pitched in 190 relief innings in those seasons, including 53.1 in 2013. His consistency has been a hallmark as well. His 3.54 ERA and 1.444 WHIP in 2013 were just slightly higher than his career marks of 3.51 and 1.400.
Collins is a deceptive power pitcher. In 2012, he average 12 strikeouts per 9 innings, an outstanding mark. That number fell drastically last season to 8.8, which is still a fine figure. It is worrisome when a pitcher has such a drop in his strikeouts ratio because there could be something going on, like maybe his arm is wearing out a little.
One of the biggest concerns for Collins has always been his control. He walks entirely too many batters. Last season, he walked 4.7 per 9, again, just a tick worse than 2012. This is certainly holding him back from being a dominant reliever. If he is striking out 12 per 9, it is much easier to live with his walks. With his strikeouts dropping more than 3 per 9, those walks are harder to put up with.
One of Collins biggest assets is that he is more than just a left handed specialist. His Batting Average Against is very good no matter from which side of the plate a hitter stands. His BAA is .226 against righties, and .221 against lefties are both nice marks. In fact, left-handed hitters have more power against Collins than right-handed hitters do. In 49 less career plate appearances against him, Collins has allowed two more home runs (9) to left-handed hitters, than to right-handed hitters (7).
This effectiveness against both handed batters increases his value to the Royals, and allows Ned Yost to put him into a game against any hitter. He doesn’t have to pull him against righties.
It is also nice that Tim Collins can’t really be pigeon-holed as certain type of pitcher. According to Fangraphs, Over the course of his career, 39.8% of all batted balls against him have been ground balls, and 42.2% have been fly balls. In 2013, each of these numbers were down slightly as he gave up a 20.5% Line Drive Rate, which was well above his career average.
Collins is still a very effective reliever, and could be a shutdown arm out of the bullpen if he could just reduce his walks significantly. He is very small for as hard as he throws, so the Royals will want to keep a close eye on him to make sure that the stats from 2013, which were not quite as good as 2012, are not a sign that his arm has issues.
Of course, 2012 may have been an outlier season, as far as his K Rate. His numbers last year were not far off at all from his 2011 rookie campaign. Really, only his superb strikeout rate in 2012 stands out as the possible anomaly.
Collins just signed a deal to avoid arbitration that will pay him $1.36 in 214. That doesn’t seem to much to pay for a steady, reliable left-handed bullpen arm in this day and age, especially when he is not just a lefty specialist.
If Collins can just reproduce his career averages, with less walks, he will certainly earn his salary. Long term durability is a worry with Collins but he can still be an effective pitcher for Kansas City in 2014.