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  • Talking Pitching: Kevin Correia

    When the Twins signed Kevin Correia this offseason, they knew his ceiling was not high as, say, Francisco Lirianoís would be. They also figured that Correiaís floor would not be as low as Lirianoís either. Their goal was to acquire some semblance of consistency that was grossly lacking in 2012.

    To their credit, the Twins got just that Ė a pitcher who made every start and, after tonightís outing, will have accumulated almost 200 innings. Sure, the win/loss record and ERA were reflective of a slightly below average starter but when it comes to value, his innings total help offset that gap. According to Fangraphs.comís valuation metrics Correia has been ďworthĒ 1.1 wins above replacement equaling $5.5 million in value Ė or a surplus of $1.5 million compared to his $4.5 million actual contract for 2013.

    With the exception of Anibel Sanchez and the aforementioned Liriano, no other starting pitching free agent was able to provide as much value as Correia has. With one year remaining on his two-year deal, Correia will likely be one of the few carry-overs to the 2014 rotation.

    He recently answered a few questions from TwinsDaily.com:

    Correia on his approach after switching from the National League to the American League:

    No, it comes down to trying to get batters out one at a time. In the National League obvious there are different situations, like thereís a pitcher involved and you are going to have more bunting situations and you are going to be taken out of the game maybe a little earlier because your spot is coming up to bat, but as far as when you are out on the mound I got what I got. Iím gonna try to attack you with what I got that day, with the best stuff that I have. It doesnít really change league to league.

    Itís more of just learning the hitters a bit, their approaches and just going from there.

    On being able to limit stolen base attempts:

    I think Iím just quick to home plate. Iím comfortable slide-stepping and getting the ball quickly to home plate. Some guys like a big leg-kick and it is harder for them to slide-step and Iím comfortable with it. Itís hard to run on a slide-step. Not to mention Joe Mauerís been there most of the time and if you want to go on the slide-step, heís probably gonna throw you out. So itís tough.

    On his best pitch:

    For me itís any given day it can change. Thatís how I pitch. I donít have one pitch that if they know itís coming, I might be able to get it by them. I work on being able to throw four different pitches for strikes at any point in the count. So it really changes thorough out the game.

    On making changes to his approach:

    Iíve changed my whole career. I came up as a hard-throwing four-seam guy with a circle-change and a slider. Now I throw more two-seam fastballs, a curveball and a split. I mean, you are constantly changing. I think if you are going to play as long as I have you have to make adjustments and I have done so when I needed too.

    On throwing his changeups to same-sided hitters:

    I mix it into righties, I mean, not as often as I do to lefties but like James Shields, heís got an incredible changeup and he can throw it all day to righties. I just think I am forced to throw all my pitches.

    I throw a split and a circle-change. I think my split is more like a changeup and my circle-change is more like a split. I donít know why itís been like that, but I try to use them both and whatever one feels better that day.

    On stats:

    I barely look at my ERA or anything like that. I think I was kind of before that stuff started so I never really factored that stuff in.

    On game preparation:

    I look at video a lot. I know my stuff isnít moving a ton. I face these guys four times this year and Iíll watch pretty muchÖIíll get the lineup and Iíll watch how I faced all these guys before. I donít really look atÖa lot of guys like to look at a pitcher who kind of compares to them and how they pitched them but I kind of like how Iíve done in the past because it gives me and idea of what they might be looking for or whatever theyíve been successful off of. I go with feel a lot. I like getting in a game and feeling how it is going.
    This article was originally published in blog: Kevin Correia Talks Pitching started by Parker Hageman
    Comments 28 Comments
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      I admire much about Kevin Correia, his evident grit for example, even if I disagreed with Ryan on signing him (and now admit that Ryan seems to have gotten the results he paid for). But this quote amused me, with my emphasis added:

      I barely look at my ERA or anything like that. I think I was kind of before that stuff started so I never really factored that stuff in.

      I thought we signed Kevin Correia, not Candy Cummings.
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      What. Sabermetrics and stats were invented in 2006.
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      What's ERA is that a new stat dropped out of the matrix? If I was him I wouldn't look at it either.
      The sad thing is he was likely our best starter when he should be our #5 starter. Kind of explains 90+ losses.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Correia has been a fine fifth starter type of guy this season. The problems are that a. (depending on how you are counting) he has been the second best starter for the Twins this season and b. he is paid much more than a fifth starter.

      A couple of comments:

      They also figured that Correiaís floor would not be as low as Lirianoís either
      Career low FIP for Liriano was in 2008 with 5.89. His 2012 FIP was 4.54 and his career average FIP is 3.62. Correia's career average FIP is 4.51, which is very close to that of Liriano in 2012. Also it took him 3 season in the majors to get a FIP under 5. So unless the above statement describes the unfortunate perceptions of the people who are ru(i)ning the Twins, it is grossly unfair to Liriano.

      With the exception of Anibel Sanchez and the aforementioned Liriano, no other starting pitching free agent was able to provide as much value as Correia has.
      Totally disagree with this statement and as a matter of fact, the data shows that Correia has provided less value (unless you look at ERA and W-L) than another FA SP the Twins have signed:

      Pelfrey: 3.99 FIP, 2.1 WAR, Fangraphs "Value": $10.6M
      Correia: 4.46 FIP, 1.1 WAR, Fangraphs "Value": $5.5M


      Not sure where you got that statement, about Correia being the second most valuable FA SP in baseball after Liriano, but it is wrong... He is the second most valuable FA SP the Twins signed
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      Totally disagree with this statement and as a matter of fact, the data shows that Correia has provided less value (unless you look at ERA and W-L) than another FA SP the Twins have signed:

      Pelfrey: 3.99 FIP, 2.1 WAR, Fangraphs "Value": $10.6M
      Correia: 4.46 FIP, 1.1 WAR, Fangraphs "Value": $5.5M


      Not sure where you got that statement, about Correia being the second most valuable FA SP in baseball after Liriano, but it is wrong... He is the second most valuable FA SP the Twins signed
      WOW. Something is completely broken with the Fangraphs.com stats! Should probably send them an email. According to B-R.com, Pelfrey is -0.3 WAR. I think that is much more accurate depiction of his season. I stand by my statement that Correia has been far more valuable than Pelfrey this year.

      Career low FIP for Liriano was in 2008 with 5.89. His 2012 FIP was 4.54 and his career average FIP is 3.62. Correia's career average FIP is 4.51, which is very close to that of Liriano in 2012. Also it took him 3 season in the majors to get a FIP under 5. So unless the above statement describes the unfortunate perceptions of the people who are ru(i)ning the Twins, it is grossly unfair to Liriano.
      FIP. FIP. FIP. FIP. FIP.

      Interestingly enough, there are other things that can lead to having a lower floor, such as a fairly extensive injury history or being yanked out of the rotation two seasons in a row for poor performance. From the Twins' perspective, Kevin Correia was a "safer" investment.

      FIP.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      WOW. Something is completely broken with the Fangraphs.com stats! Should probably send them an email. According to B-R.com, Pelfrey is -0.3 WAR. I think that is much more accurate depiction of his season. I stand by my statement that Correia has been far more valuable than Pelfrey this year.
      Then you have to fight Baseball Prospectus as well


      The way B-R calculates WAR is broken, especially for pitchers; Fangraphs and BP are much better data sources .
    1. Parker Hageman's Avatar
      Parker Hageman -
      The way B-R calculates WAR is broken, especially for pitchers; Fangraphs and BP are much better data sources .
      Here's what I know -- Pelfrey's getting a ton of FIP points for not allowing as many home runs as Correia. After all, the FIP formula starts off with 13*HR. FIP is used in both Fangraphs and BP which makes complete sense why it significantly overvalues Pelfrey's season in comparison to Correia's (especially when Correia had a better walk rate and similar strikeout rate). When you look at the EXPECTED FIP (xFIP) which neutralizes the home run rates, we find that Correia (4.26) comes out better than Pelfrey (4.54). Similarly, B-R's WAR, rather than using FIP, neutralizes the runs allowed to account for opponents, park, etc. This, to me, is a better accounting system.

      This isn't to discredit Pelfrey's season either. I think he did do well -- just not as well as the Fangraphs/BP.com WAR/WARP suggest.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Parker Hageman View Post
      Here's what I know -- Pelfrey's getting a ton of FIP points for not allowing as many home runs as Correia. After all, the FIP formula starts off with 13*HR. FIP is used in both Fangraphs and BP which makes complete sense why it significantly overvalues Pelfrey's season in comparison to Correia's (especially when Correia had a better walk rate and similar strikeout rate). When you look at the EXPECTED FIP (xFIP) which neutralizes the home run rates, we find that Correia (4.26) comes out better than Pelfrey (4.54). Similarly, B-R's WAR, rather than using FIP, neutralizes the runs allowed to account for opponents, park, etc. This, to me, is a better accounting system.

      This isn't to discredit Pelfrey's season either. I think he did do well -- just not as well as the Fangraphs/BP.com WAR/WARP suggest.
      Preaching to the choir about FIP (and xFIP), btw. I do agree that their seasons were similar. Pelfrey did have a higher (5.9 vs 5 K/9) and higher BABIP (.337 vs .314), which go on his side (in addition to HR/9, which I think is not much meaningful). Can we settle on SIERA, which is probably my favorite (complicated) pitching metric (ref on previous link if anyone cares) even if a rate metric and value is cumulative?. Correia's is 4.57, Pelfrey's 4.63. Practically identical.

      This whole point, remember, started from the statement that "Correia was the third most valuable FA SP other than Liriano and Sanchez", which I disputed.

      Here is the list of the 2013 pitching performances, ranked by SIERA (in reverse order, need to click to short by lower).

      FA SP SIERA in (just counting down to Correia & Pelfrey) :

      Sanchez: 3.17
      Kazmir: 3.52
      Liriano: 3.56
      Haren: 3.60
      Greinke: 3.74
      E. Santana: 3.76
      Blanton: 3.92
      E. Jackson: 3.98
      Feldman: 4.06
      Maholm: 4.16
      Colon: 4.24
      Lohse: 4.25
      Dempster: 4.26
      Saunders: 4.49
      Bedard: 4.54
      Correia: 4.57
      Pelfry: 4.63


      And probably missed a few...
      So hardly third most valuable by any means. Really.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      KC has been an asset to the Twins this year. It's frightening to think about who might have filled his 31 starts. Walters or Hernandez, anyone? Yeah, he's not a #1 or #2, but he's been a solid major leaguer. We've certainly seen a lot worse.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Well said, big dog, Correia has been exactly what the Twins and fans should have hoped. He was actually much better than I would have guessed. I'll never understand the 2nd year of the contract, but he's been well worth the contract this year, in my opinion.
    1. ChiTownTwinsFan's Avatar
      ChiTownTwinsFan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Well said, big dog, Correia has been exactly what the Twins and fans should have hoped. He was actually much better than I would have guessed. I'll never understand the 2nd year of the contract, but he's been well worth the contract this year, in my opinion.
      What do you think next year will look for him?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Well said, big dog, Correia has been exactly what the Twins and fans should have hoped. He was actually much better than I would have guessed. I'll never understand the 2nd year of the contract, but he's been well worth the contract this year, in my opinion.
      Again, as a fan, it doesn't matter to me if he earned his small FA contract or even exceeded it a bit. The problem most had with signing him is we needed a huge improvement in our rotation and Ryan went out and got the guys he did. Nice he lived up to low expectations, as we sit with the worst rotation in baseball.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      Again, as a fan, it doesn't matter to me if he earned his small FA contract or even exceeded it a bit. The problem most had with signing him is we needed a huge improvement in our rotation and Ryan went out and got the guys he did. Nice he lived up to low expectations, as we sit with the worst rotation in baseball.
      I think it is important to separate two very different things.
      1) Ryan promised the fans a big upgrade in pitching. It didn't happen.
      2) Corriea did at least a good a job as anyone could have expected.

      One person didn't do his job, one person did his job or better. Blame should only go to one of those parties. Credit should go to the other.
    1. clutterheart's Avatar
      clutterheart -
      Do we need to have a retrospective on Terry Ryan? It seems he did far better than I gave him credit at the season start. - and I am a Ryan basher!

      2013 Additions:
      1 - Correia - he pitched not terrible. - I expected terrible
      2 -Pelfry- He pitched bad - I expected horribly bad
      3 - Worley - He pitched horribly bad - I expect decent

      I think Ryan expected more from Worley & Diamond. If both of those guys had decent seasons, Corriea's impact would've been far more positive and this season might have not been the disaster it was.

      Should've Ryan expected that Worley & Diamond would both spend July and August pitching in AAA?

      I'm not sure anyone would've predicted that...

      Does Ryan deserve a passing grade this year? - No. But the "F -" I gave him at the start of the year might need to be reevaluated.
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      And even when Worley wasn't in AAA, he should have been. His and Diamond's struggles were the two big problems that turned this situation from bad to disastrous, and made Ryan's reliance on bounce-back hopes for Pelfrey and Harden and whomever an even bigger problem.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by big dog View Post
      And even when Worley wasn't in AAA, he should have been. His and Diamond's struggles were the two big problems that turned this situation from bad to disastrous, and made Ryan's reliance on bounce-back hopes for Pelfrey and Harden and whomever an even bigger problem.
      both of them came into this season recovering from injuries...just like Pelfrey and the long shot Harden (though not as severe as Pelfrey and Harden)
    1. big dog's Avatar
      big dog -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      both of them came into this season recovering from injuries...just like Pelfrey and the long shot Harden (though not as severe as Pelfrey and Harden)
      Very true. In retrospect those "minor" elbow scopes were much more dramatic than a lot of us thought they were going to be. At least I hope Worley's troubles were related to surgery so that he can bounce back next year.
    1. jorgenswest's Avatar
      jorgenswest -
      Another Pelfrey/Correia comparison.

      Among starters Correia has the fewest pitches per plate appearance at 3.69 and Pelfrey the greatest at 4.00.

      Does it matter? Maybe.

      Pitch count has allowed Correia to go deeper into games more often.

      Fewer pitches per plate appearances allows Correia to work quicker. There is at least anecdotal evidence that defense is improved when a pitcher works quickly. Better defense behind him won't improve his FIP, but it will improve his ERA.
    1. panolo's Avatar
      panolo -
      I think for what we had in the cupboard and what we wanted to spend, KC was valuable. I would have much rather he pitched out of the 4 or 5 hole but with this staff he was forced to be a front end guy. He did I expected him to do: take the ball, eat up some innings, pitch quick, and be decent.

      I was never for the signing but I didn't think it needed to be crucified like many others did.
    1. John Bonnes's Avatar
      John Bonnes -
      Quote Originally Posted by panolo View Post
      I think for what we had in the cupboard and what we wanted to spend, KC was valuable. I would have much rather he pitched out of the 4 or 5 hole but with this staff he was forced to be a front end guy. He did I expected him to do: take the ball, eat up some innings, pitch quick, and be decent.

      I was never for the signing but I didn't think it needed to be crucified like many others did.
      Perhaps not. Context was everything in this case. The primary thing that was criticized was the second year, and that still seems like a bad idea, IMHO. But mostly it had to do with the need for top-end pitching and instead signing a bottom-of-the-rotation guy. If the Correia signing would have been the 3rd signing the team made, after signing Dempster and Marcum, it might have been puzzling but not damnable. But as a primary signing, it seemed like the team wasn't serious about solving its starting rotation problems. Which they weren't.
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